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Salon Africana's 'The Fabric of Courage' celebrates FESTAC '77 cultural legacy

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Salon Africana's 'The Fabric of Courage' exhibition Celebrates FESTAC '77 Cultural Legacy

It was an extraordinary celebration of the cultural legacy and enduring significance of FESTAC '77.

Conceived and curated by Grammy-nominated jazz vocalist, writer, and scholar Somi Kakoma, the salon-styled exhibition presents a captivating array of photographs capturing the essence of FESTAC '77. This collection includes remarkable large-scale images by acclaimed American photographer, Marilyn Nance, who made her first return to Nigeria since 1977, for the opening preview of the exhibition. Nance not only participated in FESTAC '77 but also meticulously documented the journey of the American delegation to the festival. The exhibition also showcases Tam Fiofori’s iconic work, "The Crowd at FESTAC '77", which captures the atmosphere of the opening ceremony, along with photographs sourced from the archive of the Centre for Black and African Arts and Civilisation. Additionally, the exhibition features a video installation by Kakoma and a sound installation curated by Chimurenga, further enhancing the immersive multidisciplinary experience.

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Another highlight of the opening night was a riveting performance by Somi and her international band, culminating in a moving homage to the late South African icon, Miriam Makeba who was one of the remarkable roster of great artists like; Stevie Wonder, King Sunny Ade, James Brown, amongst many others who graced the FESTAC stage in 1977.

A thought-provoking panel session featuring luminaries such as; Jahman Oladejo Anikulapo, Culture Curator, Producer & Communicator, and Executive Program Director of the Culture Advocates Caucus; Professor Duro Oni, Fellow of the Nigerian Academy of Letters and Retired Professor of Theatre Arts at the University of Lagos; Marilyn Nance; and Honorable Aisha A. Augie, Director-General of the Centre For Black and African Arts and Entertainment, underscored the importance of revitalising the archives of FESTAC '77 for historical relevance. The discussion centred on the imperative to make these archives more accessible, ensuring that future generations can appreciate the cultural significance of the festival.

Also present were representatives of the government, Idris Aregbe – Special Adviser to the Lagos State Governor, Tourism, Arts and Culture; Ayo Adeagbo - Special Assistant to the President on Arts, Culture and Creative Economy and other notable guests from the Lagos creative community and Lagos society. Their presence added an invaluable dimension to the event, enriching the dialogue and deepening the appreciation of FESTAC's profound cultural legacy.

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“The Fabric of Courage” is on view until April 14, 2024, at the Old Printing Press, Lagos Island.

Salon Africana is a boutique cultural production agency and record label dedicated to challenging homogenised notions of African cultural production. Through curated experiences that celebrate artists interrogating African identity politics with a cosmopolitan spirit, Salon Africana invites audiences to reimagine the global Black experience and honor the transnational, immigrant, and indigenous communities from which these artists emerge. For more information, visit www.salonafricana.com or follow @salonafricana on social media.

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