ArtsLiterary Review

My aim is to host unified world class festival – Segun Akanni

By Damiete Braide

Prince Segun Akanni, the publisher of the Drum Online newspaper, has disclosed that the second edition of the Pan-African Drum Festival, scheduled to take place on June 27 and 28, 2024 in Canada this year, will be more elaborate in terms of quality of guests and celebration of culture and tradition.

The maiden edition of the festival was held in Mississauga, Canada, last year July 28, 2023, which witnessed a display of Nigerian arts and culture among other cultures.

Going memory lane, Akanni said the first edition was massively celebrated by Nigerian Canadians, Africans, Canadians, Europeans and a lot of people from different parts of the world. It was more successful than what we expected and the number of dignitaries that graced the occasion. 

The Organiser of the festival hinted, “I aim to build a unique and unified world class cultural programme through the annual Pan-Afrika Drum Festival. We are fast losing our cultural identity and orientation and there is a need to revive and preserve our cultural heritages and values. Culture encompasses a lot of things.

“My target was to start the festival in a small way, I never expected it to turn into a big carnival. Our projection was to have about 100 people, but the attendance on that day was overwhelming.

“I will say that it has never happened in the history of blacks in Canada. There was an assemblage of  25 drummers that performed on stage. A different set of percussionists from Nigeria, Europe, America and Canada came and performed on stage.

“There was a German who played the talking drummer and spoke the Yoruba language fluently. He is a Bata drummer and is so passionate about Nigerian culture. He is so passionate about Nigerian culture. People were thrilled to see a white man play the Bata drum and speak the Yoruba language. Our culture is unique but some Nigerians have neglected and abandoned the culture. We were able to showcase African culture in a positive light.

Talking about his plans for the second edition of the Pan African Drum Festival, Akanni said,  “I have friends from America, Europe, Ghana, Togo, Benin Republic, Kenya, South Africa, Uganda, Burundi and Tanzania and they have called to assure me that they will like to be part of the second edition to make it bigger, better and more colourful.”

Akanni revealed that the maiden edition was self-funded, “ I did not get any grant or money from anyone to host it. But now, I want to collaborate with stakeholders, corporate organisations, and institutions that have an interest in promoting arts, culture and tourism to be part of subsequent editions.

“Some of the activities for the second edition include a courtesy visit and interactive sessions with the Premier of Ontario, Doug Ford; Mayor of Brampton, Patrick Brown; Mayor of Toronto, Olivia Chow; and Mayor of Kitchener, Berry Vrbanovic. Others include cultural and tourism sectors, like the Canadian Council For The Arts, as well as some Canadian media organisations.

There will be entertainment and other fascinating activities, such as lecture presentations, art exhibitions, drum competitions, beauty pageants/ fashion shows, award presentations, cultural performances, and other colourful side attractions.

Furthermore, as part of the strategic efforts to facilitate the visa application process for guests, cultural icons and festival enthusiasts coming from different parts of the world, the Immigration Refugee and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has accredited the festival with a special event code.

Another attraction is that the theme of the festival will incorporate other African Drum festivals into a unified festival which serves as an opportunity to showcase our rich and diverse cultural values and aesthetics on a global stage.

He said, “There will be exciting and new programmes that will commemorate Canadian Multiculturalism Day on June 27, which will be held across major cosmopolitan cities in Canada every year.”

Other activities lined up for the epoch-making festival include the inauguration of Africa Media Nite Out, which is expected to honour and celebrate African journalists who have made remarkable contributions towards the growth and development of journalism in Africa.

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