With a mission to preserve the Anaañ history, language and culture, as well as promote its cultural heritage, Nto Annang Foundation (NAF) is set to hosted this year’s edition of the Annang Festival of Arts and Culture (AFAC).
Organised in partnership with other Anaañ organisations, the cultural festival is billed for December 20 and 22, at the Ikot Ekpene Township Stadium and Ikot Ekpene Plaza, both in Akwa Ibom State. This year, the festival will be reflecting on the theme: Harnessing Anaañ Cultural Assets for Economic Gains.
The festival, which enjoys the endorsement of the National Council for Art and Culture (NACA), Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC) and Akwa Ibom State Ministry of Culture and Tourism, promises to be one of the biggest showstoppers and largest fiesta in 2019, with a bumper package for tourists and guests to enjoy.
Now in its third edition, the national President of the NAF, Abom Ephraim Okon, said arrangements have reached advanced stage for the hosting of the event. According to him, it promises to be a colourful and exciting showpiece of the cultural wealth of the Annang people, with exhibitions spanning both the intangible and tangible heritage of the people and spiced by culinary display, arts and craft as well as live performances by notable Nigerian musical Icons.
Okon said efforts are being made to ensure that every component of the festival display the vast and unique cultural assets of the people of Annangland and how the people can take advantage of them to enhance their living. With endorsement from the state government and the National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC) among others, he’s optimistic that the three-day fiesta is geared towards developing and promoting travel business in the state.
“The event shall model strategy for effective travel trade business, cultural synergy and enduring unity through culture and tourism as a special purpose vehicle. This model we intend to replicate for global peace efforts and to mark our cultural product at the international stage,” said Okon.
He stressed that the festival, which debuted in 2016, has helped greatly in developing the tourism market of the state, as it has gone in a long way in generating tourist traffic to the state and Ikot Ekpene in particular. He disclosed that the projected tourist traffic for this year is pegged at 15, 000.
According to him, the rich and enlarged content of the festival this year include colourful cultural display from over 5, 000 cultural revelers; 800 spectacular masquerades display; Annang warriors trek, drum ensemble of over 5, 000 extinct African drums; art exhibition and colloquium/cocktail party for VIP and foreign envoys.
Others are Night of legends; Ujai Annang beauty pageant; Annang language essay competition; Annang hall of fame induction ceremonies; inauguration of children royal troupe; and festival theme song/Annang ballad.
The Night of Stars and Beauty comprised the cerebration of the Anaañgness, the Annang Hall of Fame and the awards of excellence to deserving sons, daughters and friends of Anaañ; dance, poetry, arts and performances by star studded squad of renowned artists in Nigeria and this will be crowned with the Ujai Annang Beauty Pageant.
Also speaking on the festival, the Executive Director of Akwa Tourism Development Company Ltd (ATDC), Mr. Ubong Ekpe, whose company is consulting for the festival, said the partnership is informed by the need to promote Annang and re-enact its unique cultural heritage. He stressed that the festival is aimed at exposing the Nigerian people to the city of raffia and its colourful and attractive heritage.
According Ekpe, Annangland is host to the 500 year old Usaka virgin forest, custodian of 400 years old Iso Ekpo Nkwubia mask, the mythical blue river of Ukanafun, the Ibibid Abak traditional stool of Annangland and the oldest raffia dunes in Africa.