Serrano: Unity festival targets peace, boosts tourism
Concerned that Nigeria could be thrown into another conflict if the activities and body languages of some people, especially the youths are not checked on the social and traditional media, Jennifer Tokunbo Serrano hopes to useUnity Festival to rekindle patriotism, and love for one another and nip in the bud the already rising tension among the various ethnic groups in the country.
Jenny, as she is called in some quarters, wants to use the platform to tell Nigerians and the various political gladiators that they do not need to fan the ember of war, as no country in the world would be ready to accommodate Nigerians with it teeming population when the war begins.According to her, the idea of the festival came to her as a result of a two-month survey she carried out on the social media to find out what Nigerians want.
She said: “I discovered the love for the nation is missing; that is, our patriotism is waning. Some respondents even asked, ‘Is Nigeria a nation or a mere geographical entity? However, they all agreed that despite our differences, there are still some aspects of relativity they love. These aspects, they said include entertainment, music, movies, food and the arts.’’
Knowing this, Serrano has to use art and culture to bring out the negative effects of hate speeches, mudslinging and ethnic chauvinism on our politics and economy. She said: “We have to use what the people love to teach them what they do not know.”Planned to hold on October 1, Independence Day, the event with Unity as theme will be preceded by a carnival parade at the Governor’s Office, Alausa, Ikeja, Lagos. It will also feature dances and unity songs from different ethnic and religious groups on floats to Muri Okunola Park, Victoria Island.
According to the festival anchorperson, the project is non-political and strictly targeted at fostering unity among the different ethnic groups, redefining Nigerian culture, boosting cultural and intra-national tourism. She observed that Nigeria’s independence has always been celebrated in the manners the colonial administrators designed it for us with little or no participation by majority of the people, adding that she hopes to make this year’s celebration a funfilled one spiced with cultural entertainment and bonding the people.
Apart from music and dance, Serrano noted that school outreach project has been attached to the festival, adding that this will take organisers to different public and private primary and secondary schools in Lagos and other states across the country to share messages of peace, patriotism and oneness.
“We shall share with the pupils in different private and public schools through drama and dances the messages of peace and unity, bring out the negative effects of war. We shall as well give them some refreshments to put them in the mood of Independence celebration. As part of celebrating Nigeria, we also intend to demonstrate our messages by meeting some of the needs in the schools aside from giving books and stationery to the students. The school outreach will be a continuous project, as we shall move from Lagos State to other states of the federation, including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja.
“The festival will also feature art exhibitions, folklore corner with various traditional characters telling their stories, fashion show, dances by different traditional groups, comedy and presentations by traditional and religious leaders. There will also be a creativity corner for the children to showcase some of their crafts such as soap making, tie and dye, mat weaving, indigenous cooking competition among others. This is to add colours to the festival and bring out our cultural relativity and diversity.
Serrano disclosed that on October 2, there would be a dinner night at Intercontinental Hotel with the topic of the keynote address on Nigeria Unity and Culture. According to her, the venue will be used to reward some Nigerians and organisations that have worked and are still working for the peace and unity of the country, after which the festival will shift to the Northeast in December and in February 2020 to the Southsouth, while the Middle belt region, Southeast and Northwest will have it in April, June and August 2020 respectively.
Artistes billed for the fiesta include, Phyno, Teni, 2Face, Jidenna, M.I, Falz, Tekno, Adekunle Gold, Ice Prince among others. According to Serrano, “these artistes musical products represent the festival’s core messages of peace and unity.” She disclosed that the festival will be free for all, as the dominant issue concerns all Nigerians and assured of full security in all its venues.