By Victor Gotevbe
September 2017 will be very much remembered in the history of Nigeria and Finland as a month where Nigeria´s culture and art ensemble showcased the richness of the Nigeria people, her heritage, identity and vast diversities and beyond far away Helsinki, Finland. For Finland it was 100th year as an independent country and For Nigeria, it was a few days to the commemoration of its 57th Independence, and most importantly 20th Anniversary of the passing on to the great beyond of Music legend, Fela Anikulapo Kuti.
The occasion was the Nigeria Culture Week Finland Exhibition in the International Cultural Centre CAISA, Finland where works of Abolore Sobayo, Chibuike Uzoma, Aderemi Adedeji and Homto Dopkesi were on display. The Nigeria Culture Week Finland, the first of its kind highlighted several cardinal aspects of the Nigerian society, its resilience and diversity.
Fela also known as “Abami eda” was the main subject of interaction. The piece titled “Echoes” by Abolore Sobayo paid glowing tribute to the several messages, lifestyle and identity sustenance that Fela stood for. In declaring the Exhibition opened, the Director of the Centre, Catia Suomalainen-Pedrosa paid glowing tribute to the artist and the essence, which is on display in Finland. Beyond Fela´s story was the underlying impact and influence of his mother Funmilayo Ransome Kuti on him, a role that resonate with the Finnish Society.
Funmlayo Ransome Kuti embodies the values that Finland has long promoted, gender equality and participation in nation building similar effort attributed to the famous Finnish writer Minna Canth who apparently has been recognized by Finland and is the First woman to have her own official Flag day, the “Minna Canth Day celebrated 19th March of every year.
Echoes as an exhibition has brought to the Finnish society the values and messages that Fela stands for such as fairness, equity, social justice, power to the people, servant based leadership, equal opportunity to mention a few and these messages found a place in the Finnish society and values attracting hundreds of viewers during the month long exhibition.
According to the Convener of the Nigeria Culture Week Finland Exhibition, Abayomi Magbagbeola who also doubles as the Secretary of the Nigerian-Finnish Association, “the Nigeria Culture Week is intended as a yearly celebration of the rich cultural diversity of the Nigerian people in Finland and by extension the Nordic countries and it is intended to promote cultural and intellectual exchange between Nigeria and Finland, deepen relations and open up possibilities for increasing trade and development partnership between Nigeria and Finland”.
As Nigerians and indeed the world celebrate Fela and his legacies, it calls for reflection in our present day society, our interactions and development as the labour of love of our heroes shall not be in vain just as their values will continually echoes all the way in the Artic region.