The 33rd National Festival for Arts and Culture (NAFEST 2020) has commenced in Jos with the theme, “COVID-19: Cultural Dynamism”.

Declaring the Festival Open,plateau State Governor Simon Lalong expressed the optimism that the festival will highlight the universality of arts and culture and the promotion of cultural values and norms.

According to him,” arts and culture represent the foundation of all civilizations and we cannot therefore pretend that all is well in our society where long cherished values have been threatened or even greatly eroded.”

Describing the theme and choice of location if this year’s NAFEST has apt,Lalong said Plateau remains the miniature Nigeria as people from every part of the country reside here and consider it their first home.

“You will agree with me that the choice of Plateau State to host the 33rd edition NAFEST was not a mistake as we can confidently say that the festival has actually come home. Plateau State remains the miniature Nigeria as people from every part of the country reside here and consider it their first home.

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” Hosting this event in Plateau State is also another confirmation of the restored confidence that people have in our State with the Restoration of Peace.”

“It will be important for us to demonstrate at this festival that our cultural endowments and artistic varieties can be used for wealth creation and empowerment.

” I therefore challenge practitioners of Arts and Culture to step-up to the challenges of the COVID-19 new normal by being proactive, creative, and resourceful in deploying our vast and untapped resources to reposition the industry in our quest for a better Nigeria. This industry has great potentials for absorbing many of our youths and creating opportunities.

Today we face threats and related crimes such as kidnapping, banditry, terrorism, corruption, intolerance, disrespect for traditions, corruption among others which negate the culture and traditions of the ethnic groups we belong to. We have to reflect deeply on this and begin to retrace our steps in such a way that we preserve not only our cherished cultural values, but also the future of our society.

” My hope is that as various contingents showcase the cultures and artistic endowments of their States, people will appreciate the diversity and beauty of Nigeria in a manner they have not done before.”

Indeed, technology can greatly assist us document, transmit and store our Arts and Cultural endowments effectively. However, the misuse of technology particularly the social media can make us loose our cultural and artistic values within a twinkle of an eye. This is why we must continue to advocate for the responsible use of the social media by all. Just like I have said elsewhere, no one seeks to control, gag or muzzle the social media. Rather, we must put in place mechanisms to ensure responsible usage.