As part of efforts to promote domestic tourism, the Director-General of the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC) Mrs. Sally Mbanefo, has included the Osun Children’s Cultural Fiesta as a major component of the annual OsunOsogbo Festival.
At the just concluded OsunOsogbo Festival, Mrs. Mbanefo noted that there must be an inclusion of culture/tourism in the school curriculum to enable children grasps the basics of same as they grow.
Her words: “The children’s cultural fiesta has come to stay as part of NTDC’s promotion of the cultural festival. We are reaching out to schools and talking to them to make tourism part of their curriculum. As part of subjects that they must pass, let the children grow with the culture, proud to speak their languages anywhere in the world. If you are fluent in English and unable to speak your mother tongue, you seem lost.”
The NTDC boss made these comments in a speech delivered at the Osun Children Cultural Fiesta held at the Ataoja’s palace in Osogbo on August 21, 2014.
She extolled the rich Yoruba culture saying that the Corporation is determined to ensure that all the cultural festivals in Nigeria would be promoted and marketed to the outside world as part of Federal Government’s effort to make tourism a major revenue spinner for the Nigerian economy.
On the children’s fiesta, NTDC organized competitions to encourage the children. They came in four categories like drumming, dancing, cultural fashion parade and Yoruba spelling and a total sum of two hundred thousand naira was expended as prize money to the winners of the various competitions. She said the festival is a veritable platform for cultural exchange in the country.
“It is a channel at which culture is being exhibited and exchanged to the world.
“South West Culture is the richest because civilization came early and was properly documented and handed down to generations.
“Osogbo Festival is unique to the Corporation and is included in our calendar of cultural events. Osun cultural festival is very unique to NTDC because it is one of the numerous festivals of international recognition, enlisted as the World Heritage Site by UNESCO including Sango Festival that has been exported to over forty countries of the world,” she said.
Mrs. Mbanefo noted that the festival witnessed a ground breaking collaboration between NTDC and Osun Government, adding that the partnership necessitated a team of researchers from NTDC being on ground to collect data of many tourists both local and foreigners that attended this year’s festival.
“This is done because the Corporation must seek to determine how popular the festival is to the world and get records of the tourists that attended the festival. The idea is for the federal government to determine its commitment to continuing support for the festival,” she said.
Mr. Ayo Olumoko, Managing Director, INFOGEM Limited and Marketing Consultant of the Festival, lauded the efforts of NTDC in promoting the Osun Cultural Festival with the inclusion of the Children Cultural Fiesta. According to him, the synergy with NTDC has become necessary in view of the fact that government alone cannot drive domestic tourism.
“Mrs. Mbanefo has set a pace, the State of Osun and the organizing committee of the event appreciates her efforts,” he said.
Meanwhile, it should be noted that the great Osun Osogbo Festival is a ceremony celebrated annually for twelve days. It is celebrated to mark the commemoration of events that led to the founding of Oshogbo town and the renewal of ancestral bonds between the Osun goddess and the people of Osogbo.
This pact of association, which is rekindled every year in the month of August is said to be the foundation of the festival celebrated in memory of the goddess and the pact of association.
Osun is the Yoruba impersonator of the “water of life” and the spiritual mother of Osogbo. Osun goddess, according to the belief of the worshippers and faithful is a giver of children and cures infertility and other ailments. People around the state believe that any barren woman who drinks the water drawn from the flowing river must conceive and give birth to children.
Osun is believed to be one of the wives of Sango, the god of thunder and former king of Oyo. She is widely worshipped in Yoruba land and specifically along the stretch of the country through which the River Osun flows