Efforts by the socio-cultural group, IREP – Ikorodu Division Renaissance Foundation, to stage the first-ever Asa (man on delicate stilt sticks) festival,have not only moved closer to its realization, they have also brought about positive indications that the Lagos State Government would endorse the cultural display as an annual tourism activity.
Indications to this emerged during a courtesy visit by the group to the Lagos State acting Commissioner for Tourism/Special Adviser on Arts & Culture, Hon. (Mrs) Adebimpe Akinsola at her office in Alausa on Thursday, October 5, 2017.
The IREP team, which has been going round the Yorubaland to visit various traditional rulers, cultural groups and attending festivals in its quest to drum support for the festival which is slated for November 4, 2017, was led on the visit by its founder/scout master, Hon. Sanai Agunbiade, the Majority Leader of the Lagos State House of Assembly.
While addressing her visitors, Hon. Akinsola stated, “I am now more than eager to support IREP in staging a very successful Asa festival and achieving its primary objectives of researching, documenting and preserving cultural and traditional values in Ikorodu division”.
“Asa festival will thrive and we shall ensure that it is celebrated annually as a festival that cut across Ikorodu division”.
“The governor is interested in the development of arts and culture in the state. Left to him (the governor), he wants to be having one festival after the other to keep the state engaged and attracted to both local and foreign tourists”.
Expressing her disappointment at the rating of Ikorodu division in terms of state recognized monuments, sites and other cultural centres, Hon. Akinsola stated that it is self-inflicted.
“It was disappointing to detect that the whole of Ikorodu division, despite numerous artefacts, monuments, places of interest and palaces that spread all over it, could only boast of three recognized monuments. The problem is lack of projection. We are to be blamed for it”,she stated disappointedly.
“I think IREP emergence will help in projecting Ikorodu division’s cultural values”,she submitted.
“We shall ensure that the festival happens. Our creative and other departments have been mobilized to start working on it. I am very sure that something positive will happen in terms of State government’s support”.
The acting commissioner also assured that Asa and other festivals and cultural displays are going to be listed in the State’s Cultural Road Map for 2018.
“The governor has requested for our programmes for next year and I can assure you that Asa, which is a very rich cultural display, will be listed”.
Stating why it is pertinent to preserve cultural heritages, Hon. Akinsola said: “Any community, state or country that abandons its culture lost its identity and everything. Our identity is our food, clothe, behavior and everything”.
Speaking earlier, Hon. Agunbiade stated that the group is visiting the Commissioner to officially present its agenda on a culture that is almost dying and sought for the support of the state government through the Ministry of Tourism, Arts & Culture.
“We are here to officially present the IREP’s agenda to you as a major stakeholder in the Ikorodu division project and the Commissioner in-charge of State’s arts and culture.”
He listed the group’s aims and objectives as research, document and preservation of the various aspects of Ikorodu’s culture.
“Asa, which is IREP’s first major agenda in its quest to bring about the rebirth of Ikorodu division’s cultural heritages, involve lot of things”
“Arrangement has been concluded to stage a colorful Asa festival come November 4. We have gone round interviewing the custodians and visited educational and research institutions to access information. It is worrisome to let you know that there is very little on display. IREP reseach work is going to be a major research work on Asa”, he stated confidently.
“The entire Obas in Ikorodu division has endorsed the project and even the number one custodian of Yoruba cultures, the Ooni of Ife, has also given his blessings”.
He added, “Oonirisa wrote the foreword to the book written n Asa and also promised to attend the Asa festival in person because of his interest. In actual fact, it was Ooni that picked the date for us”, he emphasized.
“We are glad that this is happening at a time when our own person from Ikorodu division is in charge of tourism. Asa festival will put the state at a level beyond where it is current is”,Hon. Agunbiade stated with confidence.
Listing some of the achievements of the group since inception about two years ago, Hon. Agunbiade stated: “We have been achieving some of our aims even before the festival. Aside raising our people’s consciousness and converting the research works into a book, we have also been able to establish Eleku-in-Council as an umbrella body for the Asa custodians; detect other towns outside Ikorodu with Asa tradition and encouraged the youths to develop interest in the cultural display.
Others achievements mentioned by the lawmaker were erection of Asa statue and award of contract for the production of Asa miniature, which would serve as souvenirs to important visitors to Ikorodu dvision among others.
At the visit were directors and head of departments in the ministry, while IREP team included IREP Co-chairman, Kunle Adelabu, Miss Abike Allison, Mr Yakub Ajalogun and Mr Pelumi Olalekan.