FOR LACK OF DANCE…THE (IN)SECURITY OF DANCE WITHIN THE NAFEST SPACE

FOR LACK OF DANCE…THE (IN)SECURITY OF DANCE WITHIN THE NAFEST SPACE

‘Tosin Kooshima TUME (PhD)

Department of Fine Art, Rhodes University

o.tume@ru.ac.za

Abstract

The annual National Festival of Arts and Culture (NAFEST) is primarily designed to celebrate the rich cultural heritage of Nigeria, showcase the potentiality of arts and culture in the nation, and strengthen national unity. The multiple ethnic groups in Nigeria were set in their own ways and traditions long before the emergence of Nigeria. These ethnic groups produce a plethora of cultural festivals which bear the unique stamp of their individual ethnic identity. However, NAFEST is a national platform which serves as a meeting point for all the ethnic cultural festivals, even as it embodies the Nigerian soul and identity. Dance is at the core of the diverse cultures within Nigeria, and as such, occupies a prominent place in the history of NAFEST. Each year, NAFEST comes as an empty space, and only becomes a memorable place after being bestowed with tremendous value in terms of hosting venue, theme, and artistic events amongst others. The living arts performed at NAFEST require that they be performed to be experienced. Consequently, the dances performed at NAFEST are archived through the bodies of the dancers, and in the memories of the festival partakers. Thus, the performers become the medium, and the festival becomes a national archive of the living arts of the various ethnic groups in Nigeria. Lamentably, dance has been conspicuously missing as an artistic event in recent editions of the festival. The omission of dance in NAFEST activities is by administrative design, however, it gradually removes the art from the memory of the festival. This depicts a major insecurity for the dance art in terms of its artistic integrity and commercial viability. Anchored on the theory of space and place, this article probes the place-ness of NAFEST, and investigates the dynamics of security within its space. The paper which collates data through participant observation and interview methods, conceptualises NAFEST as a space with boundless potentials, and identifies dance as one of the several arts which transforms it into a meaningful place. It argues that the de-placement of dance in NAFEST activities connotes insecurity for the art and its practitioners in Nigeria.

Keywords: Dance, NAFEST, Security, Space and Place.

Biography: 'Tosin Kooshima TUME

‘Tosin Kooshima TUME holds a BA in English, MA in Theatre Arts, and PhD in Performing Arts from the University of Ilorin, University of Abuja, and University of Ilorin respectively. She is an award-winning playwright, performing artiste, theatre creator, scholar, and culture consultant. Her research interests include choreographic theories, African festivals and theatre, feminist identities in African literature and performances, and trends in African dance practice. Oluwatosin teaches playcreating, dance choreography, theatre music, and production workshops in the department of Theatre and Media Arts of the Federal University Oye-Ekiti, Nigeria. She is currently on a postdoctoral fellowship with the NRF/DST South African Research Chairs Initiative (SARChI) in Geopolitics and the Arts of Africa, under the Arts of Africa and Global Souths research programme, in the department of Fine Art, Rhodes University, Makhanda, South Africa. Her scholarly articles are published in several international books and journals.