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Shall our dance heal us? Thematic explorations of cultural diversity for national unity in selected dances at NAFEST 2012

Tosin Kooshima Tume


Since the amalgamation of Nigeria in 1914, managing its cultural diversity has proved to be onerous. Hence, one of the tasks imposed upon the handlers of the National Festival of Arts and Culture (NAFEST) is to position culture as a tool to negotiate national unity. This paper examines the thematic treatment of national unity and peace through cultural integration in selected dance performances of the 2012 edition of the National Festival of Arts and Culture (NAFEST) in Nigeria. The study adopts the participant observation research method for data collation, and borrows insight from the theory of multiculturalism to interrogate the selected dance pieces. A descriptive and interpretative analysis of four States’ dance entries at the festival, reveal an exploration of the dynamics of the ethno-cultural and political interactions within each State. We also find that deliberate efforts were geared towards addressing the festival theme of peace and economic empowerment in the dance performances under study. The study, therefore, recognizes NAFEST as a viable platform to negotiate national unity. It also identifies that the artistic exploration that led to the creation of the dances under study, has positive implications for national cohesion, peace, and development. The study concludes by advocating a viable choreographic approach which could further entrench the ideology of NAFEST as a unity festival.

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 2449-1179
print ISSN: 2006-1838