The sounds of Yoruba Traditional, Drums trumpets herald the 80th Birthday celebration of Chief Mathew Olusegun Okikiola Aremu Obasanjo.
This year celebration is unique having been programmed by notable scholars, backed by the Minister of Information and Culture Alhaji Lai Mohammed and in collaboration with Center for Black and African Arts and Civilization, all aimed at bringing to memory lane FESTAC 77 held 40 years ago in Lagos, Nigeria. The colorful event started on 2rd March 2017 with prayers at the church to commemorate of the birthday.
Grand opening of the celebration heralds the presentation of forty traditional drums, and dancers dressed in Yoruba attire, danced to the native drums while dignitaries watched with keen the sporadic display depicts festival activity in the town.
In his opening speech the celebrant Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, thank those who witnessed the occasion as a landmark, emphasizing that God was kind to him despite being a sinner; the scenario of the event was remarkable which clearly remind him that his birth is a monumental to his generation and Africans and indeed the mother earth.
He was ecstatic in his speech such that the talking drums could signal the voice of heavenly birds present at the occasion.
Chief Obasanjo uniqueness in the discharge of his duties to the fatherland and Yoruba race, said he “ I am extremely grateful to God and VIP, traditional rulers, special guests, community leaders, civil servants, politicians, market men and women for their contributions in making the event memorable, this tumultuous welcome accorded to me is a pattern that reminds one that earth is a place for good people who had served their citizens and are rewarded for standard attainted in human uplifted, today also bring to lime light the FESTAC ’77 hosted by Nigeria in the promotion of black race in the world, all these need to be accorded honor in the epoch making event” he enthused.
Highlight of the celebration includes the formal commissioning and unveiling of the plaque erected in honor of Chief Obasanjo at the entrance of the main Presidential Library.
Another significant event was the commissioning of a mosque he built, while appreciating God’s blessing upon him in this life despite being a Christian, he believes in Muslims participated largely in his life styles hence the dedicating of a mosque for worshippers to gather and give glory to God in his mercy and blessing to the people.
The chairperson of the memorable event was President Ellen Johnson sir leaf of Ecowas Assembly, who described the occasion as spirit pouring blessings to the people as all witnessed the symbolic event that heralds the birthday celebration.
In his own remark, chief host, His Excellency Governor Ibikunle Amosun spoke thus “ I am indeed happy to be a part of the event, which depicts that our papa and brother Chief Olusegun Obasanjo has been regarded a spiritually endowed citizen of Nigeria, Africa and world which culminated to this occasion all that in life you must contribute a meaningful program to the social, cultural upliftment of human race” he remarked while contributing to the occasion Susan Donius of National Archives and Records Administration pointed out that she has never witnessed a birthday ceremony of this magnitude in life, which makes the ceremony colorful and eventful in this annals.
In addition, Dr. Christopher Kolade a veteran Journalist spoke on the double ceremony which he named. Mark of lifestyle honors to a distinguished leader who has contributed immensely to shaping lives of our people who also has been a hero in time of war.
Leader of the people, democrats whose military regime woefully hand over power to democratically elected civilian administration in 1979 he noticed.
Furthermore, Profession Akin Mabogunje Chairman OOPL was quick to reminds all that the gathering of African leaders, Ambassadors, Politicians, Community leaders, Traditional rulers even common people, the dynamic leadership of Chief Obasanjo and remarkable in prints he made on earth all these contributed to the success of the event, he enjoined all to copy the legacy of ex-president, ex-head of state Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, and history of elder statement in Nigeria will be incomplete without mentioning his contributions to Nigeria, Africa and indeed world body.
It is necessary to appraise the writings of Minister of Information and Culture Alhaji Lai Muhammed who said “I am particularly pleased because today’s program – the symbolic display of forty African Drums heralding the commemoration of the fortieth anniversary of the Second World Black and to Africa Festival of Arts and Culture is designed to honour an illustrations Son of Africa, a culture advocate, a true Pan – Africanist Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, on the occasion of his eightieth birthday.
He further asserts “Indeed the history of FESTAC’77 hosted by Nigeria in 1977 would be incomplete without reference to the person of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, the dominant feeling frequently expressed before the festival was that no justification for devoting scarce resources to cultural matters that was important to humanity was simply science, technology and space exploration, but you all would agree with me that culture is the basic for all science and technological development”. He enthused.
The Hon Minister commented on the forth coming 40th anniversary of the FESTAC ’77 “the expo would offer veritable platform for show casing and eventual exploration of Africa’s creative services worldwide the theme readily brings to mind the need to rethink not only the essence of FESTAC 77, but to explore how Black and African Arts and Culture can serve as a value for engaging the 21st Century imperatives in Africa and beyond.
When asked to comment on the event, the Director General of (BAAC said “eighty years ago, unusual star appeared in the firmament eighty years ago God gave a special gift, not only to Africa but indeed mankind as a whole” in paying a deserved tribute to this iconic hero, it is very difficult to identify the special aspect of his life, one really calls to mind that here is a man who has been a soldier / statesman an ebullient administrator, a successful farmer, a profound thinker, prolific writer and a quit essential crusade for the total emancipation of Africa and the Black race from the last vestiges of colonialism, neo colonialism oppression domination and from man’s inhumanity to man.
It is Obasanjo’s eternal credit that FESTAC 77 covered the entire gamut of Black and African Cultural heritage but more importantly, he ensured that the even had an academic dimension to it, through the colloquium tagged the Arts and Civilization of Black and African peoples. The current economic quagmire of Nigeria is the fall out of the neglect of her cultural industries and creature economy. Nigeria is very rich in such simple things as poetry, leather, works, textiles, blacksmithing and a host of others.
He opined that as it may, it is curious coincidence that we are celebrating the 40th Anniversary of FESTAC 77, the pillar and driving force of the epoch making festival is equally celebrating his eightieth birthday, while calling for the partnership of NGO and corporate bodies to also maximize the opportunities that are inherent in this programme.