By Bridget Chiedu Onochie and Daniel Okejeme, Abuja |
04 December 2023 |
.As he officially presents Arts And Crafts Village to the Diplomatic Community
The Director General, National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC), Otunba Segun Runsewe, last weekend, officially invited the diplomatic community to explore the salvaged Arts and Crafts Village.
The village, which is strategically located adjacent Abuja Continental Hotel (former Abuja Sheraton Hotels and Towers), has undergone tremendous transformation, having been recovered from former users, who the D.G said, misused the space.
Also, following the fire that gutted the cultural market, NCAC embarked on renovation exercise that gave the once littered and unkept environment a facelift.
Today, the Arts and Crafts market has become a one-stop destination for art enthusiasts and lovers of serene environment.
For Runsewe, reopening of the arts and craft market was one sure way of rebranding Nigeria and showing the diplomatic community the cultural strength of the country.
Over 23 nations were represented at the event, including the People’s Republic of China, USA, Bulgaria, Botswana, North Korea
Spain, Jamaican and Cuba.
Others are, Mexico, Bangladesh, Cameroun, Congo, Republic of Benin and Portugal.
In their respective goodwill messages, the diplomats commended the Runsewe-led NCAC, saying that dedicating the cultural village to the diplomatic community was a subtle way of rebranding and marketing Nigeria to the international community.
According to them, the village will afford them the opportunity to experience Nigeria through Abuja.
They also lauded the transformation that took place at the village, stressing that it would be difficult for someone who saw the village few years back to recognize it because of its new look.
Speaking at the event, the D.G revealed that four diplomats invited him to their countries because they could see that Nigeria was very serious with cultural repositioning.
Addressing the 23 diplomats who graced the occasion, Runsewe, who is also the President, World Craft Council (WCC), stated that he promised Nigerians that he was going to give them the best market, a promised he said, has been fulfilled.
He said: “With over 23 countries present, how best can we sell our country.
“Nigeria is peaceful and safe for investors, that is the reason we have all these ambassadors here.
“The market has been closed for over five years as hoodlums used the place for drug trade and for hiding stolen cars and keeping kidnapped victims but when I took over, I pledged to put an end to it.”
Adding: “The market will be opened from 6 am to 6 pm everyday and once we are done with the electrical connections, it will be closing 9pm everyday.
“The diplomats have an unlimited access to this place and they are free to set up shops here to showcase their culture”, he said.
Speaking to the media, the Cultural Counselor, Embassy of PRC in Nigeria and Director, China Cultural Center, Mr Li Xuda, stated that the event was a wonderful and amazing trip.
He said: “I think the opening of this cultural market will provide us the platform to let the people know more about Nigeria’s history and culture. I have tested many Nigerian delicacies and have seen the beautiful and amazing culture.
“This event promoted a mutual understanding between Chinese and Nigerian government and it will enhance a good relationship between the two countries.”
Formal Nigerian footballer, Mr Segun Odegbami, stated that It was a pleasant shock to see such an edifice in a serene, culturally-rich and nicely-place environment.
He said “Nigeria is at a phase where we are exploiting soft diplomacy and art and culture is clearly one area. Nigeria has conquered musically, sport and literature are conquering and now is the time for art and culture. What Runsewe is doing is just incredible.”
The Ambassador of Bulgaria to Nigeria, Yanko Yordanov, stated that he was feeling very enthusiastic because idea of the cultural village was a very important initiative that gave the diplomats the opportunity to experience more about Nigeria’s cultures, traditions and arts.
“There is a lot of similarities between Bulgaria and Nigeria especially in the area of culture and arts. We will do our best to set up our own shop here.”
One of the shop owners and a member of the Female Art Association of Nigeria, Miss Uwabo Irene, stated that she was very happy for the reopening of the market because it will avail them the opportunity to showcase their works.
She thanked Otunba Runsewe for his efforts in bringing back the market and prayed that he continues to grow from strength to strength.