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Saturday, 28 November 2009

Rekindling the Black Sprit :






BY GBENGA SALAU
STUDENTS of Creative Arts department, University of Lagos began their third yearly African-Caribbean Festival last week with a carnival float involving students dressed in the costumes of countries with black people such as Ghana, Jamaica, Peru, South Africa, and Trinidad and Tobago.
The float started from the school’s main auditorium through the university’s main road, Distant Learning Institute (DSI) and to the Faculty of Social Science, where the train terminated its exciting parade. The festival however, continued with a series of stage plays performed by each group.
As the carnival train moved round the campus, visitors, students, lecturers and staff of the institution were seen peeping through the windows of offices and cars to have a glance at the colourful parade; some even stopped and parked their cars to take pictures of the carnival team.
The costume of each of the team was done to reflect the peculiarity of each country. They were dressed in the colours of the countries, but the Nigerian communities who were dressed in the traditional outfits of the major ethnic groups.
As the team moved round, the students sang and danced to music dished out by the Deejay and to the admiration of passers-by. At some point, each of the bands displayed dance steps peculiar to the country it represents.
The coordinator of the festival and a lecturer in the department, Mr. Onyekaba Cornelius Aka, in a chat revealed that the University of Lagos’ Afric-Caribbean Festival involves a series of celebration, which is often preceded by a carnival. 
He said that the carnival is the first step, before other aspects of the festival that include cultural dances, drama and cooking competition.
“Forget all what Aristotle said about how the Greek invented drama and those stuffs, the truth is that Africa by its nature has always celebrated life. It is only the Africans that have songs and dances for almost everything that they do, from the time they were born to the time they die,” said Cornelius-Aka, who himself had been a notable practising culture journalist before going into the academics.
He added, “there are other things we use to celebrate life. If you ask yourself what was the sustaining spirit for these slaves that were captured and transported to West Indies?; how did they survive the harshness of sea life? You will discover that if not for the African spirit, which is embodied in songs and dances, they won‘t have survived.”
He observed that carnival is an African spirit because Africans love to celebrate, and they celebrate everything. Africans are the only people that celebrate both life and death.
After the carnival team terminated its march round the campus at the new Faculty of Social Sciences, The GuardianLife sampled opinion of one of the students on the carnival:
Omowunmi Dada: “Nothing good comes easy; this whole festival is an outcome of hard work, dedication, discipline and quest for knowledge. Basically, it has been so awesome. It has really tasked us as students because as Nigerians, we have to look into other African countries and other countries where blacks inhibit. The concept is to celebrate black as a colour, to make us understand that all over the world, wherever you find blacks, they are Africans. Fine, slave trade took some of our people to the Caribbean, yet, they remain blacks. They are still Africans and blacks are beautiful, we are one family, though we find so many of us in the Diaspora.”



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