Lagos explodes, as Eko 2012 begins
THE usually boisterous Lagos environment has assumed a new crescendo following the influx of the cream of Nigerian youths for an event seen as the harbinger of good fortunes for several of them.
It is the 18th National Sports Festival (NSF), which opening ceremony holds today at the Teslim Balogun Stadium, with the contingents of the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, gathering to begin their journey to stardom.
Over the years, the NSF has produced many budding athletes, who went on to become some of the best athletes of the world, and this 18th edition, like the maiden edition of the event hosted by the state in 1973, is being looked upon as one to reignite the spirit of friendship among Nigerians.
on Monday at the Teslim Balogun Stadium, the Main Organising Committee (MOC) for the festival told Nigerians that the stage was set for one of the most memorable events of the 12-year old 21st century Nigeria.
Already, the hostels of the University of Lagos, Yaba College of Technology and the Federal Technical College, Akoka, are fully occupied by the athletes, some of who are coming to the city for the first time.
According to the MOC Secretary, Abba Yola, the stage is set for the event expected to feature over 10,000 athletes and 1,000 technical officials, as well as a sizeable number of supporters of the 36 states and the FCT.
Yola revealed that all the 36 states and the FCT would compete in various sports events, including athletics, badminton, basketball, boxing, chess, cricket, cycling, handball, hockey, judo, kick-boxing, taekwondo, tennis, swimming, squash, scrabble, football, volleyball and traditional sports, among others.
He added, however, that only Lagos would feature in all the events. Aside the events on the tracks and fields, visitors to the Centre of Excellence have been guaranteed the time of their lives.
In today’s opening ceremony, the organisers have put together a spectacle that would feature the history of Lagos and what makes the state the centre of excellence.
According the Artistic Director of the opening and closing ceremonies, Peter Badejo, the event will be far different from the previous editions of the festival, as the ceremony will explain the rich culture of Lagos State.
“When we look at the message of the past editions of the festival, the content of their displays is always the same,” he noted. “It is always highlighted with fire display but we thought we could be different because Lagos is very rich in terms of its culture and its formative experience.
“So we feel it would be good to look at the content we have, as I have mentioned before. We thought it would be good to tell some kind of formative story.”
The United Kingdom-based director explained that fire display, Eyo masquerade, contemporary dancers, royal dancers and calisthenics are some of the highlights of today’s event, adding: “I feel the migration story of how people came to Lagos would be interesting.
“There are many stories about Lagos; this one of the Olofin coming from Ile-Ife, and the mythology of the methodological story that goes around it, where the Awo and Ise, which is the Osuka, has to be put on a river.
“The first place where it sank, which is the Isheri, that is where the Isheri people came from and they have spread into Lagos. The same place where the pot finally sank in Ido, that’s where the Awo is, is called the Awori and the Aworis and Isheri’s are the ones who have spread all through Lagos.
“So we look at that story and we loosely put it around all the contents we have and that makes the story of the show from the beginning to the end. Among the art that developed, we chose music.”
The director, who said he had researched into the history of Lagos to build a concept for the Eko 2012 Games, added that the event, which would be a big cast of 4,000 people in different capacities, would also accommodate late Fela Anikulapo Kuti’s song, entitled, “Water no get enemy.”
According to him, about 200 members of the late legend’s dancers were used in the production as well as his band. He said: “Well, it is a big cast. We have almost 4,000 people in different capacities. We have content of the whole show – the masquerade, carnival and dancers; we have calisthenics of a thousand pupils.
“We have masquerades, like I said, carnival, we have the Eyo dancers, the royal dancers and the royal female drummers, who initiated Eyo from its beginning. Then we have the contemporary dancers, who come with their expression in things like the anthem, theme music and National Anthem.”
Badejo said that among of the great musicians that call Lagos their home, including Ayo Bankole, Shodeke and Fela Anikulapo Kuti, “we thought this is an opportunity to use Fela Anikulapo Kuti’s concept of music because water is very important to Lagos.”
The team, he noted, has been training together for about three weeks, and as individual groups for a month, and Nigerians would witness an opening ceremony as never seen before.