Dates back to 1977, did you know that a Nigerian prophet once said the nation’s problems could actually be traced to 1977.
This was when the then head of state Chief Olusegun Obasanjo invited people in Africa to bring their idols into Nigeria. Maybe it was due to the lack of knowledge and research of the prophet that did not let him know that Nigeria problems started long even before then. Recall that the oil embargo happened in 1973 which resulted in the inflation of oil skyrocketing 4times over. Also, Nigerian currency was in between $1.00 – $1.60 which means our funds can be embezzled without any significant negative effects on the Nation Economy.
According to the statistics then, over 16 thousand artiste across Africa, America, Europe, Canada and the Islands came to Nigeria for second world black and African Festivals of Arts and Culture. This event was to be held in Lagos, which the preparations kicked off in 1965 but the Civil war struck the idea in 1967.
The main question that year was whether Nigeria would still exist or not. Nigerian government spent money on infrastructures, facilities and centric construction for Festac 77.
Artistes who performed at the festival include Steve Wonder from United State, Gilberto Gil from Brazil, Bembeya Jazz from Guinea, Mighty Sparrow from Trinidad,Makeba and Franco Luambo. At that time it was hosted as the largest pan African gathering to ever take place in total about 50plays, 150music and dance shows, 80films, 40art exhibitions and 200poetry and dance sessions were staged.
In 1977, Nigeria was in party mood and the military government of Obasanjo let the world know about every thing that was working well for the country. The economy was okay, numbers of armed robbers could also be counted; there were no kidnappers compared to now. Nigerians travelling to other parts of the world were enjoying good exchange rates. Nigerian government made almost 3million loan to the British Museum for the mask of Idia; a 16th Century Sculpture depicting the queen mother of Benin.
The proposal was rejected because they said the mask was too fragile to withstand over sea. They rejected our offer for a stolen artifact proven of Nigeria origin, founds were committed and effort were heightened; but it was also a time of mismanagement we failed to realize that diversification. At that time, Fela resigned from the FESTAC participation committee comprising of Hubert Ogunde, Wole Soyinka, and Ola Balogun. He was hosting shows at the Kalakuta Republic to criticise the government while the FESTAC was going on. People were then cutting the major events for Fela Shrine. What Fela was doing at that shrine was more exciting and more raw than any other programs at the festival. But the aftermath was something else ooo.
Festac 77 hits over $300million in the 70s, but I will like to say something as a country if I begin to calculate the amount of money squandered between 1990 and 1999. i begin to wonder how rich this country is or should I say was? The amount many administrations have mismanaged or that which some individuals have stole and I look at where. Compared to where we are now. Nigeria has a lot of money. A past Nigerian leader once said Nigeria problem is not about money but how to spend it on a low voice. Those people we call leaders have no vision at all.
Obasanjo made a clarification at Unilag that FESTAC was not fetish.