Nobel Laureate, Emeritus Professor Wole Soyinka, flagged off the Ife Festival 2018, tagged “Festival of Food and Identity, symbolically slicing a tuber of roasted yam, even as he described the festival as unique and critical, inspired by deep religious convergence, homogeneity and conference which the Ife Civilization represents.
The festival, packaged by the Institute of Cultural Studies, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife was aimed at celebrating the African Culture within a medley of traditional and contemporary performances, dance, music, theatre, adult and children’s cooking corner competition, food tasting, symposium, art and photo exhibition.
In his address at the opening ceremony, the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Eyitope Ogunbodede, said that the University since inception, has been living up to its motto: “For Learning and Culture” by promoting and preserving African cultural values.
He added that he is very delighted to be the Chief Host of this festival holding ten (10) years after the last edition held in 2008, reiterating that the aim of the festival is to foster interrelationship between members of the community and the generality of Africans.
In his words, “this food festival will show case our rich diversity in Nigerian cuisine and delicacies thereby creating awareness on Nigeria’s rich food culture and our capacity to survive as a people through the adoption, presentation of relevant food and material culture”.
Also, the Ogun State helmsman, Governor Ibikunle Amosun, represented by his deputy, Dr. Yetunde Onanuga, appreciated the University for the honour done to the literary giant and Nigeria’s foremost radical socio-political critic, Professor Wole Soyinka, by converting the apartment he lived in while in the services of the University to a museum for his works and his arts collections.
The Ogun Deputy Governor said that the Ibikunle Amosun – administration has been promoting culture and tourism in the state adding that the Department of Culture had to be changed to Ministry of Culture and Tourism to accommodate the new vision of the government among which were the expansion and revamping initiative in the local adire production industry; restoration efforts of Olumo Rock, Bilikisu Osugbo Shrine, among others.
While disclosing that the state government had similarly invested heavily in agriculture, especially in the cultivation of “ofada rice”, Chief Onanuga enjoined all-and-sundry to make ofada rice their right choice, saying that the health benefits of ofada dwarf those of the imported brands of rice.
She hinted further that the Ogun State government in line with the federal government’s desire to end the nation’s excessive and dangerous dependence oil, has put thousands of parboiled Nerica Mitres rice under cultivation, maintaining that Ogun State is one of the contributors to the strategic gains reserve of the federal government. “Our administration will always continue to support all initiatives on national food security and for sustainability”, Onanuga stressed.
Similarly, President Paul Kagane of the republic of Rwanda, who was represented by the Commissioner for Agriculture and Animal Resources, Dr. Geraldime Mukeshimana, called on African peoples to jettison foreign food which are often associated with diseases like obesity, hypertension and diabetes among others.
The Rwandan President’s emissary who said that people are living in the era of food production, stated that God, in His wisdom, has provided various African foods for the nourishment of the body under different climatic conditions”.
Dr. Mukeshimana admonished other African countries to emulate Rwandans, whom she said value their food, language and culture, charging them to do away with foreign food consumption in favour of their indigenous food.
Earlier while delivering his welcome address, the Director of the OAU Institute of Cultural Studies, Dr. Ayoh Omidire appreciated all who graced the opening ceremony of the festival, stating that each tribe and ethic group has food peculiar to them as part of their identity.
He re-echoed the submissions of other speakers by advising that all should discountenance fast food garnished with different seasonings known to have adverse effects on health.
Omidire challenged all to always patronise local food that are nutritious, contending that the Yoruba race has the best food, culture and tradition.