China, Azerbaijan And Brazil Light Up MUSON Festival, 2019

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The International Cultural Night, a new addition to the MUSON festival lineup of events this year, was a massive success by all standards and one can only hope that the festival continues to showcase such foreign contributions at such level to strengthen cultural ties between Nigeria and other participating countries.

At the Shell Hall of MUSON Centre on Wednesday, October 23rd, , the audience clapped recurrently while being entertained by the colourful display of exotic costume and incredibly fantastic dances from Azerbaijan, Brazil and China during the International Cultural Night at the annual MUSON Festival of the arts.  The new segments of the festival brought a different vista and injected into the festival mainstream another event that attendees can look forward to as the festival continues to evolve into its finest form.

One of the spectacles of the night was the Chinese Lion Dance. In Chinese Folklore, it’s believed that the Lion Dance helps to repel evil spirits, brings ample good luck and fortune. In the same vein, on the night, the dance took possession of the well-illuminated stage– agile lions displaying a variety of skills to the audience’s delight. The dance did dispel all forms of boredom enlivening the faces of people who watched with bated breath. In their different presentations, the Chinese lions were simply awesome.

Dance with Gaul was a one-woman show performed by Billura Bayramova-Bernard, which equally left the audience spellbound. At the end of her performance, Billura who was an integral part of putting the dances together said, regardless of the short notice to prepare for the festival, the International Cultural Night was very important because it availed the platform to portray different cultures from different countries more especially that of the Azerbaijani people.

“International cultural Night, in my opinion, has a great role to play in Lagos life.” Mrs Bayramova-Bernard began. “The fact that it was a new idea this year, and the short notice to organize it, in general, I can say it was nice but I think the entrance should have been free. This edition can be improved upon subsequently and of course, I am already looking forward to another round of this amazing segment come next year if the festival committee would consider it befitting to be included in the lineup of events. The stage was good, program great and the dances beautiful”. She concluded.

The Brazilian and Colombian Troupe were not left out of the electrifying show. Their dances were equally greeted by a resounding ovation from an excited audience. Reminiscent of a typical Calabar Carnival, the beautifully adorned dancers swayed symmetrically to the rhythms from drums and other musical instruments. However, it was the Ofala dance by Arts Afrique Dance Troupe that brought the audience back home from their foreign reveries courtesy of their fabulous cultural display bordering on the new yam ceremony as performed annually by Onitsha people.

Giving historical context just before presentation,  it was revealed that Ofala derives from the two root words Ofo and Ala, meaning– authority and land respectively and that, the annual festival is specifically celebrated by the Onitsha people.  To give respect to their ancestral lineage, a short homage was paid to the Oba of Benin who is the paramount ruler of the Edo people from where the Onitsha people are believed to have migrated to their present location.

The Footprints of David had given an apt curtain-raiser at the beginning of the eclectic cultural dance extravaganza. They didn’t disappoint in portraying the rich western Nigerian heritage. Also, the Sharo Dance from Northern part of the country was on hand to perform a dance that highlights the philosophy of ‘winner takes it all in marriage ceremony” popular amongst the Fulani people of Kaduna State.

Speaking after the performances, the CEO of MUSON Centre Mrs Ayo Jafojo said the idea of having an International Cultural Night was mooted by one of MUSON’s patrons Mrs Francesca Emanuel and then supported by Billura Bayramova-Benard who similarly advocated for the inclusion of foreign troupes from Brazil and Azerbaijan. An award was thus given to the different dance troupes by the Vice Chairman of MUSON Centre Mr Louis Mbanefo (SAN).

The 2019 MUSON Festival came to a glorious end on Sunday with commanding performances at the TOTAL Festival Gala Concert featuring Rebeca Omordia- the Nigerian-Romanian piano virtuoso, Micheal Volhardt, MUSON Choir and the MUSON Symphony Orchestra. The amazing outing on Sunday was a cherry on the cake for a hugely successful festival this year. Come next year, like old wine in new bottles, the festival promises to improve on whatever feats recorded in the previous year.

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