NIDEFEST 2014

NIDEFEST 2014

NIDEFEST, 2014 will stimulate the interest and redress the neglected area of our economy and it would substantially uplift the standard of life of the Niger Delta people through involvement and participation in this epoch making event.

With an ambitious programme for tourism development, the Niger Delta region is set for the first ever Niger Delta Festival of Arts and Culture aimed at assisting the nine states of the Niger Delta in jump starting a cultural revival and promotion of culture/heritage of the region for domestic and international tourists.

THE OLOBIRI OIL WELL
The Oloibiri Oil Well was discovered and drilled in June, 1956 and described as the first ever oil well known in Nigeria. This location is a potential tourist site and able to act as a “Pull Factor” for both domestic and international tourists seeking adventure and knowledge in Nigeria. This site could be developed for edu-tourism, where researchers, students and other people in Petro-Chemical Engineering, History, Geology, Archeology, etc would come to study and carry out works in their area of specialization and this of course would further enhance the living standard of the people of the area.

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Another place of interest that could act as a ‘pull factor’ for tourists is The OLD RESIDENCY in Calabar, Cross River State see fig. above. It is a pre-fabricated wooden building, shipped in parts from Britain to Old Calabar, where it was erected on the top of a consular Hill in 1844. It was initially known as ‘The Government House’, after which the Hill itself was named ‘The Government Hill’ With its imposing storey structure and spacious halls, it remained one of the finest examples of early colonial architecture in Nigeria. The entire top floor and the walls are made of overlapping boards of Scandinavian red pine (pitch) wood, incasing wooden structural pillars and beams framework. On the ground level it is supported by iron columns and angle-iron beams. The original roof was of slates (shingles), isolated from the sun with thatch, but later heavy-gauge corrugated zinc sheets were placed on top.

There is a spacious corridor between the ceiling and the multi-layered roof isolated heat, while sashes windows and shuttered walls provided adequate ventilation for the occupants. The ornate lattice work and step rails on the front stair case, cast- iron decorative grills on the ceilings, as well as the decorative ceiling dome over the central hall and the brass fittings on the windows and walls, enhanced the beauty of the building.

A storey brick annex at back, contained the kitchen and store rooms, joined by an internal staircase, and bridged to the main building by two roofed passages at top-floor level. Behind it, two arched sentry boxes sheltered the guards, watching over the detainees in the basement. Other out-buildings housed the service quarters and a workshop-garage.

The Old Residency was linked to other governments downhill by a well-set road, with brick canalization and gas street lighting. Two intricately-wrought lamps standards stood in front of the house, providing security light. Since early colonial times, two iron canons guarded the front porch.

The Old Residency has housed the early consular administration of the Oil Rivers/Niger coast Protectorate and the protectorate of Southern Nigeria. After the amalgamation, it contained the household and office of the Old Calabar province. In the 1950’s it was used as a ministerial guest-house and later for the state government offices. The building, declared as National Monument No. 20 on August 14, 1959, has now been rehabilitated by the National Commission for Museums and Monuments and was opened to the public as museum of Old Calabar History in 1986.

BACKGROUND

The programme is designed to assist governments of the Niger Delta states to develop their cultural and tourism industry by ensuring a comprehensive, united and effective representation at National and International levels; with a view of ensuring that appropriate micro and macro strategies are adopted. These strategies make the development and maintenance of an environment in which the culture of the Niger Delta and potentially local tourism will prosper, a national priority, in which the business sector will be able to achieve successful growth and development, while ensuring the protection of our natural and cultural heritage. Ondo people are endowed with very rich cultural and traditional heritage which if properly harnessed can promote democratic values, economic and social development of the Niger Delta region, Nigeria and indeed the entire Africa and the world at large. For instance the Mare’ Festival organized by the State Government acts as a “pull factor” for both national and international tourists who visit Idanre, in Ondo State for the festival. The feeling is always that of genuine love, joy, oneness, unity, thankfulness and harmony shared amongst the people. The scenic ambiance and the natural environment make the whole experience electric and memorable. There are infrastructural facilities put in place to accommodate and play host in organizing the first ever Niger Delta Festival of Arts and Culture (NIDEFEST, 2014)

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INTRODUCTION

According to a former curator of the National Museum, Lagos, “culture is a sum total of the way of life of a people”. It is partly spiritual, partly material and partly human. It is an all –embracing phenomenon and tells a story of a man in his environment. In some environments culture could be a main ‘pull factor’ which influences visitor’s initial decision to travel to destinations in different parts of the world. Thus in most part of the world particularly Africa and in Asia cultural attractions are usually perceived as being unique and sacred. The recognition of the role of culture in creating and reinforcing a people’s identity has in recent years, played a significant role in the growing interest in the diverse aspect of cultural tourism.

‘It seems that the combination of nostalgia for the past, the need to reassert national and local identities have had a dramatic effect on the supply of cultural tourism’. Thus it could be argued that cultural attractions are crucial for the development of tourism at the local, regional and international levels.

The development of tourism in Africa in general, and the development of cultural tourism in particular, are at their incipient stages. However, there is a great variation of tourism development in the fifty-three (53) African countries. The variation in tourism development ranges from the dominant (i.e., most developed) to the late entrants (i.e., least developed). Within this spectrum of tourism development, countries such as Kenya in the east, Mauritius and Seychelles in the Indian Ocean, Morocco and Tunisia in the North, South Africa and Zimbabwe in the South, and Cote d’Ivoire and Senegal in the West, (the so- called African success stories in tourism) have a well established tourism industry, whereas, other countries such as Nigeria, Cameroon, Eritrea, Sierra Leone, Angola and Zambia, for one reason or another, have limited tourism development, but by comparison have considerable potential for future development.

However, even in those African countries, especially in the eastern and southern Africa, which are considered a ‘success story’, the development of tourism is currently narrowly focused on a limited tourism product based on wildlife safari and beach tourism. Even in those countries, especially in Senegal and Cote d’Ivoire in West Africa which have developed elements of cultural tourism, the product is targeted to a narrow market segment, mainly the Africa Americans and other Africans in the Diaspora.

Thus, in the Niger Delta, the rich and diverse indigenous cultures (i.e., the living heritage of the Niger Delta people), with the Niger Delta’s multiplicity of ethnic materials and non-material culture has not been developed for tourism. Nevertheless, the diverse indigenous culture of the Niger Delta people can be perceived to having a latent comparative advantage in the development of cultural tourism because they posses unique cultural and nature based attractions. These are the very tourists’ attractions which people from major tourist generating countries are looking for.

Within the global context of tourism development, with the rapid economic growth and increasing affluence in most parts of the world, the number of international and domestic tourists visiting local communities and other destinations in Africa and in the Niger Delta in particular will continue to increase in the foreseeable future.

The development of cultural tourism in the Niger Delta will in the long run assist in the promotion of cross-cultural understanding between the local host communities and tourists. Tourism will therefore assist in removing existing stereotypes and misrepresentations of indigenous cultures of the Niger Delta. In this regard, cultural tourism may well contribute to the promotion of regional and international harmony thereby bringing about cross-cultural understanding. Cultural tourism has to be explained within the broader context of culture. In this regard, culture can be viewed into inter-related perspectives: the psychological perspective- what people think (i.e., attitudes, beliefs, ideas and values), and what people do (i.e., ways of life, artworks, artifacts and cultural products). From the psychological perspective, therefore, culture is seen as the organized system of knowledge and beliefs, in which the people structure their experiences and perceptions, formulate acts and make choices between different alternatives. Thus, it can be said that culture is both a psychological and physical phenomenon. Culture is a product of human psychology which has manifestation in the physical world, usually created as a purposeful technology which enhances living, including beautification of technological objects or arts.

In most instances it is the physical aspect of culture (i.e., visiting cultural sites and monuments) which has tended to dominate the development of cultural tourism. However, ideally, cultural tourism should involve both the psychological and physical expression of the people in a given setting. Cultural tourism covers not just the consumption of the cultural product of the past, but also of the contemporary culture or a way of life of a people or region. Cultural tourism can therefore be seen as covering both heritage tourism (related to artifact of the past and the natural endowments such as mountains, caves, wilderness, climate, landscape) and art tourism (related to contemporary cultural products).

The development of cultural tourism in the Niger Delta should take into consideration the two perspective of culture. This is due to the fact that, when we talk about the Niger Delta culture as it relates to tourism, we are talking about the living culture of the Niger Delta people which is usually based on arts performance and dance, and contemporary ways of life of the Niger Delta communities.

This is unlike western cultural initiatives that are mainly based on monuments and other forms of western material heritage. Furthermore, Africa and indeed the Niger Delta in the minds of outsiders are understood to be the cradle of mankind. Most visitors therefore may seek to understand a bit of themselves through African traditions (existing and contemporary) and cultures in addition to, or perhaps in spite of, the artifacts and beads that are purchased to take home as souvenirs and gifts.

Critically, there is a danger of cultural tourism studies being product-based rather than market-based, this is so because, developing cultural attractions for tourism does not mean necessarily that tourism will come knocking on the door. With increasing supply of cultural attractions, there is stiff competition among attractions on the local, regional and international level. Tourists will not come unless their needs are met; this means that it is important to understand the structure and development of cultural tourism market.

In the demand side of cultural tourism, it shows that cultural tourists are generally well educated compared to other market segments and; the main motivation for visit to cultural attractions is the desire to learn new things. Particularly, cultural tourists are usually keen to learn about the history and local culture of the places they visit. In this aspect, therefore, the Niger Delta has a comparative advantage because most of the cultures in the Niger Delta are the living heritage of the contemporary people with their diverse art performances, dances and other forms of contemporary expressions. These are the very attractions that most modern cultural tourists are in search of.

It is argued that after a given cultural attraction; say ethnic art or indigenous dance performance has been developed for tourism; one of the challenges that are to be tackled is development of appropriate interpretation services that meet visitors’ needs and expectations.

Consequently, cultural presentation and interpretation should involve more than the exchange of mere information, and should inspire and even provoke the visitor to be able to experience and probably to relive a given cultural experience or cultural phenomenon. It is interesting to highlight the warm, friendly and peaceful nature of the people of the Niger Delta through tourism. The Niger Delta region is abound with many God -given resources ranging from human, natural, cultural, heritage and built resources. The Niger Delta Festival of Arts and Culture is committed to the promotion of cultural tourism in the region. More still it is as a result of the commitment of GROWTH AND SUREREST INTERBIZ SERVICES and their partners to address this important and over sighted area of the economy.

NIDEFEST, 2014 will stimulate the interest and redress the neglected area of our economy and it would substantially uplift the standard of life of the Niger Delta people through involvement and participation in this epoch making event.

Culture means so much to people all over the world. Indeed in the Niger Delta Region, we share the same nostalgia about culture.

Though there are different cultures across the sub region. There is no state across the Niger Delta Region that you can fail to spot out the intrinsic peculiarity that is common to it.

Culture in a way is a saleable commodity. This is so because the world is dynamic. People want to see new things; they also want to know new things. Of course people want to explore new ideas, try on new attires, taste new cuisines and even want to try new therapy, e.g. acupuncture, herbal medicines, learn new crafts and artifacts, enjoy new dance steps, experience natural gifts and talents (natural drummers, wood carvers and sculptures, folklorists, mat makers and traditional artists/trade like local fishermen, farmers and musicians).

NIDEFEST, 2014 will act as a window to the world to attract tourists to the region most importantly, this festival would act as a tool that will open up the region and explode its tourism potentials/resources. It will also enable its people to generate income, diversify the local economy, preserve culture, conserve the environment and provide educational opportunities.

Tourism as a by-product of culture will attract business development and business men into the region. It is an excellent platform to disseminate knowledge and expose the natural heritage/ culture and the resources of the region to national and international tourism providers and stakeholders and indeed the International Development Organizations and interest groups.

An important element of this festival is the incorporation of youth’s contingents across the region, representatives of youths groups, non-governmental organizations, community-based organizations, cultural organizations/groups, diplomats, oil prospecting, all corporate bodies, individuals and other interested stakeholders in positioning the region for intensive tourism activities and patronage.

It will also enable the ‘Niger Deltans’ to participate in the tourism business that will be sustainable over a long period of time. Through this festival, an awareness of the economic viability of the area will be highlighted. It will not be out of place to start planning for a strong alternative for mineral resources (oil) in the region. Over the years, oil has been the main stay of the region’s resources and indeed that of the nation. As citizens of the Niger Delta, something sustainable has to be adopted and our culture has to be packaged to the world as tourism products.

Tourism is sustainable, it is inexhaustible, and it is as a matter of truth: life. The culture of the people of Niger Delta, as would be showcased in the festival will generate interest among both domestic and foreign tourists.

We are now dolling out our drums to the world that Niger Delta region is peaceful and bereft of militancy, kidnapping, youth restiveness and other negative vices.

See event website at NIDEFEST 2014

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