WHY WE'RE HOSTING THE WORLD IN OSOGBO â€“ RICHARD SOYOMBO
Come Monday, August 23, the ancient town of Oshogbo and Osun State capital will host renowned scholars and culture enthusiasts around the globe. The international guests are billed for the first edition of the Global Conference of Black Nationalities being organized and facilitated by the Osun State government in collaboration with UNESCO, the Centre for Black and African Arts and Civilization (CBAAC) and the US-based Dedeus Group Incorporated.
Other participating agencies include the Federal Ministry of Tourism, Culture and National Orientation, Centre for Black Culture and International Understanding, Oshogbo and Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
Mr. Richard Soyombo, chief consultant and facilitator of the conference said, the first edition of the global event is neither a reincarnation of FESTAC'77 nor the Black Heritage Festival organized in Lagos. Rather it is an intellectual platform for the international community to deliberate meaningfully on the contributions of the Black Race to global development.
According to Soyombo, who said that the conference would necessarily expose Black culture and civilization to the world, the conference also promises lots of opportunities for participants at the level investment, technological innovations, cultural revival and tourism promotion.
Soyombo, whose company, Dedeus Group actually proposed the conference to the stste government, said only a culture-loving governor like Oyinlola could have seen the vision of the global event and promptly given his approval. Although Soyombo recalled that Governor Oyinlola did not give his approval until UNESCO'S endorsement, the fact that the state government and its people are endowed with immense cultural values and sites makes Osun the natural host of the conference.
The consultant who has since been selling the idea of the conference across the globe equally disclosed the quality of guests expected at the maiden edition. His words: 'In order to realize the full potentials of the conference, we have proposed three phases; including the past, present and the future. By this we want intellectuals around the globe to brainstorm on the impact of Black culture.
We also want to showcase the best designers/artists which the Black Race has produced with a view to highlight their great contributions to humanity. Lastly, the conference aims at engaging non-Africans and Africans in Diaspora on how to create a sustainable environment for development.
Among other opportunities for development, Soyombo cited the values of eco-tourism, while listing the waterfalls at Erin Ijesha as centers of attraction for visitors and holiday makers both within and outside the county. Also Soyombo listed other major achievements of the conference, noting 'The conference seeks to promote international understanding and inter-religious dialogue.
Some presidents of some foreign countries, ambassadors, notable traditional rulers and the intellectuals are all involved. The African Union, UNESCO, the United Nations and ECOWAS, among others, have expressed interest in participating. President Goodluck Jonathan is expected to open the conference open while ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo is the Chairman of the opening session and keynote speaker.
Specifically on cultural tourism, Soyombo described the various monuments and historical sites in the state as a major revenue earner. His words: 'We have very many landmarks and historic places to show to the world in Osun State. Apart from the Osun-Oshogbo festival which holds during the period of the conference, we have such ancient places like Ile-Ife, which are the cradle of the black race and several other monuments of great significance.
We believe we have a very rich past and a very pleasant present which we can showcase to the world to reflect a beautiful future, if we work towards it. And we hope the conference an annual event such that the whole world will continue to visit us like they visit Israel and other tourist's destinations. In short, we are determined to make our state Nigeria's foremost tourist destination and fortunately, we have a secured environment.'
While highlighting the national outlook of the conference, Soyombo, who insisted that the global event which shall feature a major colloquium on slavery and slave trade in Africa is not restricted to Yoruba land also explained 'Participants will have the opportunity of meeting with royal fathers like the Ooni of Ife, the Sultan of Sokoto, the Alaafin of Oyo, the Oba of Benin, the Asantehene of Ashanti Ghana and the Obi of Obinugwu who is the president of the South East Nigeria Traditional Council.
More importantly, the proceedings of the conference and the communiquÃ© will be published in English, French, Portuguese and Spanish as well as Swahili with the intention of getting all interested people to read and understand the positions of various peoples on various issues to be discussed. I am positive that at the end of the event, we would have succeeded greatly in removing the veil off so many important vexed issues and also promote international understanding and world peace.
It is not a crime to get the people of the Western world to know much about us as we know about their societies. This forms our own contributions to on-going efforts to contribute to knowledge sharing and the development of a new global information order.