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Adire Heritage Festival… A lift for Nigeria’s indigenous textile industry

Adire and bead stand at the festival. PHOTO: Iroko Events

While Nigerians at home still shamelessly ape and patronise foreign products without putting any premium on inherited, indigenous products, much less raising their profiles to international standard, those in the Diaspora are singing a contrary, heartwarming tune. The Adire Heritage Festival, which ended last Sunday at Freedom Park, bore out the Diaspora’s passion and awareness that looking home-wards, both for cultural and economic re-engineering, is how America and Europe conquered the world, with soft power and turned Africans to be poor mirror-images of the west.

This year’s festival, the second, was aimed at showcasing Yoruba textile, adire, heritage on a global platform through fashion, music, lifestyle, poetry, sculptures, dance, and food.

According to U.K.-based head organiser of the indigenous textile fest, Mr. Omotunde Komolafe, the festival, which holds yearly, both in Nigeria and Europe, is a means to encouraging Nigerians in the Diaspora, who are doing great to come home to share their ideas and also give back to the community, where they were born. He also noted that Nigerians must begin to appropriate their inherited indigenous creativity, knowledge systems and products, innovate and modernise them to suite current trends and profit from them the way the west does.

With government talking tourism and seeking new ways to generate wealth for the country away from oil, Komolafe said, I” believe this (adire festival) will be a good medium for tourism and wealth acquisition.”

The festival turned out to be a call for the unity of all cultures, as it featured a variety of displays from Nigeria’s major tribes. Over 40 brands, companies and vendors showcased various indigenously fashioned wares that were pleasantly unique on account of the craftsmanship and innovativeness that went into their making. Komolafe said although adire is a Yoruba indigenous fabric, the significance of promoting culture through the festival lies in its embodiment of other Nigerian cultures, a representation of the whole and a medium to call attention to other indigenous cultural products lying fallow all over the country and still waiting to be harnessed.

To qualify for a stand at this year’s festival, exhibitors were expected to have a running business or brand with which they could showcase their brands that must also have something original to Nigeria or Africa. Some of the brands present were Crowngis, Expression, Vivid Arts Gallery, Esoe-remo, Harpheez Art, Teranga Art Gallery, Great Sparkles1 Events, House of Little Treasures, among others.

While giving her expectation of the festival, CEO of House of Little Treasures, Nike Denis, said: “I think that anything African is something that sparks global interest. It sparkles within us, not to talk of the people that would come from other countries for such festival. People have travelled far just to be here and I am really excited to be able to showcase all the beautiful things that we have here in Africa.”

Eriata Oribhabor-led Poets in Nigeria (PIN), a not-for-profit literary initiative designed to stimulate interest in poetry writing, reading and performances across the country, was also part of the adire cultural fiesta. Eleha Ibrahim, a member of the poetry group, said Poets in Nigeria were partnering with the organisers to showcase “what we have here in Nigeria in terms of literature, books, and spoken word performances. We want to eradicate the wrong idea that poetry is limited to only written forms. Poetry in Nigeria has been reformed from what it used to be. Poets today have collaborations with music artistes, and poetry has been gaining a very huge audience by fitting into various aspects of our society,” he said.

Poets in Nigeria members performed pieces on the closing day to spice up the cultural fest. Other music and performance concerts were an extra that added spice to the festival. Mary Whyte and her band, an Igbo rap artiste, Chuka, with his afro-genius swag that wooed the audience and Amarachi Atama, whose performance chants in Igbo struck a cord brought the festival to a glorious end. There were also Chuqa Ndu, Ben Priset, Vala Kids Dance Academy and Womba Africa Drummers. Other highlights included, fashion show, arts and crafts show, raffle draws, gele (headgear) contest, and hair show.

Komolafe also explained the significance of the iconic venue, Freedom Park, to the festival’s mission. According to him: “The park has historical value, as it was constructed to preserve the history and cultural heritage of Nigerians. Freedom Park has become a venue for diverse social events and recreational entertainment. A lot of people come in and out daily for a variety of events at the Freedom Park!”

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Adire Heritage Festival


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