By Dapo Falade
The Yoruba Community in Austria, “Ègbé Ọmọ Odùduwà Vienna Austria”, last Saturday, held the first ever virtual Cultural Festival by Nigerians in Diaspora in Vienna.
The festival, tagged Adire Virtual Carnival, was the first of its kind in any part of the world and it was held in collaboration with the Nigerian Mission in Austria.
In a statement by its coordinator, Engineer Oluyemi Ogundele, the 2020 edition of the Adire International Carnival, the biggest Nigerian Cultural Festival in Diaspora, would have gone uncelebrated this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
He said but the yearly tradition was sustained by the timely intervention of the organising committee, adding that the event was organised in commemoration of the 60th Independent Anniversary Nigeria.
“The physical celebration of the cultural event has been postponed 2021, due to the pandemic. The date and time of the virtual event was made to coincide with the original date and time set aside for the original event,” he said.
According to Ogundele, the event was under the distinguish chairmanship of Ambassador BB Hamman, the Charge d’ Affairs of Nigeria Embassy, Vienna, Austria and was attended (virtual) by many prominent Nigerians including government officials, traditional rulers and heads of government agencies.
He said the Ogun State government was represented by the Commissioner for Culture and Tourism, Dr Toyin Taiwo, while the chairman/CEO of the Nigeria Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), Honourable Abike Dabiri-Erewa, was also present at the virtual adire carnival.
The royal father of the day was the Olota of Ota Awori land, Oba (Professor) Dr Adeyemi Obalanlege and others in attendance included Iyalode of Yoruba land, Iyalode Alaba Lawson, Director General of NACCIMA, Ambassador Ayoola Olukanni DG NACCIMA, and former Ogun State Commissioner for Culture and Tourism, Mrs Yewande Amusan.
Others include Erelu Tuwase from the United Kingdom, Senior Special Assistant to Ekiti State Governor on Tourism Development, Ambasssdor Wale Ojo-Lanre, President, ATTAWON, Mrs Omolola Itayemi, Erelu Funmi Rotiba and others.
In his opening remarks, Ambassador BB Hamman thanked the organisers for the good initiative and appealed to Nigerians to be good citizens and abide by the law of the land and also canvassed unity amoung them.
President, Ègbé Ọmọ Odùduwà Vienna Austria, Aare Olanrewaju Fagbodun, alsothanked everyone for being part of history and for promoting the rich Yoruba and Nigeria Cultural Heritage.
He further stated that Ègbé Ọmọ o Odùduwà Vienna Austria organised the event in commemoration of the Vienna Adire Carnival 2020 which would have been celebrated on Saturday.
“The activities were scheduled to start from Thursday, July2, 2020 with Nigeria-Austria Business Forum; Friday, July 3 with exhibition of African Mask and Masquerade Dances at the Weltmuseum Wien.
“All these would have been capped with the parade of our rich and elegant cultural heritage today (Saturday), starting from the Nigerian Embassy in 3rd District of Vienna, through the Ring in the First District of Vienna to the famous and prestigious Hofburg Palace that houses the Weltmuseum Wien.
“Man proposes but God disposes! Who would have known that we will not be able to physically celebrate the carnival this year, all due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.
The event has now been postponed to 23rd-25th June 2021, just as the chairman of NIDOE Europe, Austria chapter, Engineer Smart Ifedayo Ogunbunmi and president of the Nigeria Community in Austria, Tajudeen Bello, harped on the need for unity amoung Nigerians and appeal to all Nigerians to be of good behaviour.
They also agreed with Ambassador Hamman on the need to continue to positively showcase Nigeria before the rest of the world.
The coordinator of the event, Ogundele, said it was not easy to assemble so many prominent personalities together for a virtual event at this crucial time.
He however thanked God for making it possible and appreciated the support of all those who made it possible and added that it showed the love and passion people have for cultural heritage and, by extension, tourism and commerce.
The participants were entertained by musicians, including Segun Michael Obejor (a juju musician based in the UK), Mutiu Ishola, European Fuji Ambassador and the magnificent drummer Ayantunde Anslem from Munich, Germany.