Oniudele Gold holding aloft a live painting of Ambode while Footprint of David was performing on Children’s Day celebration… in Lagos
Youth talent and how to invest in it for a better future for the young ones took centre stage at Children’s Day celebration last Sunday at Government House, Alausa, Ikeja, when Lagos State governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode and his wife, Bolanle, hosted a select Lagos society alongside children and their parents to ‘A Special Evening of the Arts.’ The event turned out as a celebration of Ambode’s third year in office and the 51st anniversary of Lagos.
After dignitaries that included first military governor of the state, Deputy Governor of the State, Dr.Idiat Adebule, Brig. General Mobolaji Johnson (rtd), wife of Alhaji Lateef Jakande, Alhaja Sikirat Jakande, Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, Lagos State Commissioner of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Mr. Steve Ayorinde, Chief Kesington Adebutu, Sen Solomon Olamilekan, Olu Jacobs and Joke Silva, among others had settled down, Benita Okogie rendered the national anthem before 11 years old Anjola opened the evening with a stirring poetry rendition titled ‘I Am Lagos,’ which eulogised Lagos as the centre of excellence and a melting point for everyone.
There was no doubting governor Ambode’s passion for the arts, as he reaffirmed his commitment to the development of tourism, hospitality, entertainment and sporting excellence (T.H.E.S.E). A documentary on Lagos Sate, particularly showcasing the city as a place for the flourishing of the arts and culture as well as tourism was shown. Also, the governor’s achievements in the past three years as well as some of his ongoing projects formed another documentary.
A group of young, talented children called Dream Catchers, who were discovered through a talent hunt, organised at the instance of Ambode, took the stage. It performed some traditional and foreign dances to the admiration of the audience. Another discovery in Ambode-inspired comedy contest, Aproko, wooed the audience with his brash and fresh comic wits. Another such discovery and recording artiste, Ishola Idris, also known as Opizzy, showed his jazzy rap fusion with fuji and left the audience reeling from his sheer energy and raw talent.
Another young group, Dance Na the Main Thing, did a fusion of traditional music made up of Eyo masquerade dances, lagos three wise men, Michael Jackson dance moves and more traditional dances in an eclectic manner. In fact, the group showed the past, present and future of dance and how easily they can combine to form a synergy. QDance group, too, followed suit with its abstract, contemporary dance that gradually blended with traditional dance. In all it was a bundle of raw talent that the Lagos melting point could only engender.
Nevertheless, the centre of dance attraction for the night was Footprints of David (FoD), based in Bariga. Its inspiring formation and objectives and what it has achieved in taking children from the slum and streets of a disadvantaged neighbourhood to cities in Europe and beyond makes FoD’s journey a grass-to-grace story. With its costume that is a blend from all ethnic groups in the country, FoD is a dance group for the future. Led by its founder, Mr. Seun Awobajo, FoD endeared itself to the audience with its dexterous drumming and dances although the limited space was a constraint to its expansive dances.
Spectacularly, a member of Footprint of David, Oniudele Gold, did a live painting of Ambode while the group performed and would hold the painting aloft to bring the dance to rousing close.
Ambode was particularly excited that some of the mothers allowed their children to be part of the dance group and singled them out for special recognition and honour on stage. He encouraged them in the hope that other parents would not stand in the way of their children in their expressed aspirations. In Footprints of David, the children have found a refuge, where they are meaningfully engaged.
According to the governor, “Whatever I want to give you (the mothers) is not enough but I love you from the bottom of my heart!”
The governor, who was full of admiration for the spectacular show displayed by the various performing arts groups, particularly Footprint of David, said the state would nurture the budding of talents to enviable heights.
According to him, ‘’I am inspired by the deep and descriptive message conveyed in their performance, particularly when they said, Lagos! We are the future and the future is now, which according to their rendition, there is hope for Nigeria and only unity will lead us to the future.”
He said Lagos excels because of the exceptional talent of its vibrant and creative youths, noting that the state has the largest concentration of talented youths in education, innovation, arts, literature and sport anywhere in the black world. He said it was why the state chose to celebrate them “with one of the gifts we are renowned for in the world, the performing arts! This is in line with our promise to make tourism, hospitality, entertainment and sport a centre-piece of our developmental agenda for the youth in our state.”
Also, Ayorinde commended the consistence of Ambode in providing strategy and direction for enriching the arts experiences in the state.