UNESCO Enlists Sango Oyo Festival in World Heritage List

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The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) has included the Sango Oyo Festival in the list of World Heritage.

A statement signed by the Oyo State Commissioner for Information and Civic Orientation, Prince Dotun Oyelade, reveals that the body inscribed the festival at the 2023 Eighteenth Session of the Intergovernmental Committee Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage.

In the statement, the Commissioner for Culture and Tourism, Dr Wasiu Olatubosun, reacted that the inscription had ranked Oyo State, and indeed Nigeria, amongst the countries of the world, as a giant in the tourism industry, and by extension, cultural proliferation.

He stated that the next Sango Festival in Oyo Town, which would hold in August 2024, would be witnessed by over two thousand international tourists across 167 countries of UNESCO, noting that UNESCO recognition of the festival during the last Sango Festival Celebration, August 19th this year, is worth celebrating.

Olatubosun expressed optimism at the feat saying: “It is a beacon of expansion in the economy sector of the state, as well as unprecedented growth in the hospitality business, with the astronomical influx of tourists in a space of time.”

The session, chaired by H.E. Mr Mustaq Moorad, Ambassador and Permanent Delegate of the Republic of Botswana to UNESCO, is currently ongoing at Kasane, in the Republic of Botswana from Monday, 4th to Saturday, 9th December, 2023.

The representative of the Honourable Minister of Arts and Culture and Creative Economy in Nigeria said: “Inscription of Sango Oyo Festival as a global recognition is a testament on the representative list of intangible cultural heritage of humanity by UNESCO.”

He noted that the recognition is to further showcase the rich history of Nigeria’s cultural diversity and the significance of the Sango Oyo Festival in preserving and showcasing Nigeria’s heritage, thus acknowledging the importance of the cultural element.

The statement says the Sango Oyo Festival embodies the spirit of unity, tradition, resilience and colour that defines the nation, which serves as a beacon binding together a people with cultural vibrancy on the global scene.

Responding at the Convention, Dr Paula Gomes, the Cultural Ambassador to the Alaafin of Oyo, appreciated the recognition by the Committee for the nomination of the Sango Festival of Oyo, which had been in process for a decade, stressing the significance of Sango to the Throne of the Alaafin, the Yoruba Kingdom and the Global Community.

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