Abuja’s creative industry welcomed a new bride, Heritage Africa Village Square (HAVIS), penultimate Saturday with gusto.
It was an evening dedicated to Nigeria’s cultural exploits as HAVIS opened its doors for a teaser of things to come, at the event which was also a media parley involving journalists from across the country.
As is expected of every new bride coming ready to run her home, the new creative hub showed guests that it was well prepared to live up to expectations as it dished out regal displays of dance, storytelling, masquerades and poetry, among others.
Guests gathered at the amphitheatre under the starry night and clement weather, hungrily watching and absorbing all laid that was laid out before them. The performances took senior citizens down memory lane and enlightened the younger generations and foreigners some more, about African community life which most of them had only read about or heard from oral narratives of their forbearers.
The evening opened with the distinct sounds of a music ensemble including traditional performers from the Benue Arts Council, Gbagyi dancers and Jazz act, Cef. There were also solo performances which gave youngsters an opportunity to showcase their talents.
Nimble steps synergised with deft fingers, as they harmonised to form well-choreographed movements and rhymes which got the audience nodding or dancing in approval.
The audience also showed their satisfaction with applauses and sing-alongs. There were also echoes of “oh I remember watching this as a child,” or “I have read about them but I am seeing them live for the first time.”
Each performance was ushered in with an insightful narrative educating the attentive audience what it was about.
Addressing the group, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, renowned scholar and culture don, Prof. Duro Oni described the hub as a first of its kind in Nigeria housing facilities to cater to the needs of adults and children interested in outdoor and indoor spaces for the arts.
He said, “The creativity industry, the cultural industry has been yearning for a very long time, for private sector involvement. For many years, we clamoured for the National Endowment Fund. It has yet to take off.
“The centre is set to empower practitioners and make the arts employ many youths. Although it is evolving, there is already a performance arena. There will be training facilities and there is already an MOU with a Chinese institute on language training and exchange.”
For HAVIS’ Creative Entrepreneur, Mr. Moses Ayom, the enthusiasm the current administration has shown towards the creative industry was more than enough reason to invest in the sector as his own way of giving back to society having been a direct beneficiary of the arts, himself.
He said, “my own experiences have shown that the sector is one through which one can touch the lives of millions.”
Ayom, who has also created an identity for himself with quality service in Nigeria’s hospitality industry, said, the sector has provided him a platform to empower people by giving them a means of livelihood.
He said, “We have talents in Maiduguri, Kebbi, Cross River and in many other parts. Some of them can produce paintings better than what we hang in Lagos and sell for millions a piece. With this centre, we can bring them to exhibit their works and even take some of the works to the international market.”
Stating that Lagos’ Terra Kulture inspired HAVIS, Ayom said he was breaking norms and making facilities like golfing available to the poor and their children as he didn’t consider it a sport for the rich.
Expressing gratitude to Ayom, Prof. David Ker, a former vice chancellor of Benue State University and chair of the Advisory Board, said, “We must appreciate the privilege he has given us. I remember telling him that art is business – though he keeps saying he wants to give back to society.”
With a goal to tap into northern Nigeria’s under harnessed creative mine, HAVIS is tailored to be a one stop destination for all things creativity. The facility which is still work in progress, houses exhibition spaces, a nine-hole golf course, boat club, residency units, picnic area, roof top entertainment space, bookshop, library, coffee lounge as well as open air catering among others.