The Jubilee Park in Tamale on Thursday, November 1 was the place to be when it played host to a variety of traditional dispalys during the Northern Regional Festival of Arts and Culture (REFAC).
REFAC was held to select cultural troupes and other performing arts to represent the Northern Region at the National Festival of Arts and Culture (NAFAC) slated for Koforidua, Eastern Regional capital.
Hundreds of patrons including expatriates and tourists could not hide their admiration and excitement at the level of cultural display and dexterity exhibited by the various traditional groups that took part in the festival.
Held under the theme " Empowering the youth through culture, tourism and creative arts for wealth creation" the festival brought together performing groups and traditional authorities from 17 municipalities and districts across the region.
Among the municipalities and districts that participated in REFAC are Yendi, Savelugu, East Mamprusi, Karaga, Central Gonja, Mion, Nanumba North. Nanumba South, West Gonja, Gushegu, Chereponi and the Tamale Metro and each performed drama and a traditional dance peculiar to their area.
Patrons were treated to a sketch performed by some of the districts under the Ghanaians Against Child Abuse (GACA) project to educate the public on child abuse.
A drama to staged to educate the public on child abuse at REFAC
And when it came to dance, the audience was spoilt for choice. They enjoyed dance pieces such as the Kinachunn of the Komkombas, Baamaya of the Dagombas, Billa, Takai, Tora, Simpa and Jera.
The Dagombas and Nanumbas seized the opportunity to emphasise the rotation of the pelvic girdle in the Baamaya dance and pivot turns, torso swings and calculated foot stamping in the Takai dance.
In her remarks, the Executive Director of the National Commission on Culture (NCC), Madam Janet Edna Nyame said the theme for REFAC 2018 aims at developing a sustainable tourism pivot on Ghanaian culture and creative arts as a key to accelerate national development through empowering the youth to ensure a strong revival of a vibrant creative economy to improve and advance tourism, arts and culture industry.
She said, the festival is also a unifier because it brings together chiefs and elders to the festival grounds.
"REFAC is designed to exhibit diversities of arts, crafts and culture of the people in the Northern Region and to bring the traditional authorities and their people from different cultural and social settings to celebrate the aesthetic and philosophical harmony of the various cultural expressions of the people", she stated.
She urged the youth to see arts as a source of income rather than a hobby, adding that “the ultimate success of economic and social development programmes depended on the active participation of educated, trained, preserved, organised, disciplined and skilled youth force in the development process.
"The modest and important step towards restoring the dignity of the youth is to empower them on the creative and visual arts and cultural heritage potential interests of starting businesses and entrepreneurship of their own", she added.
Speaking at REFAC, the Northern Regional Minister, Mr. Salifu Saeed, urged the various cultural groups to work hard and showcase the rich culture at the national festival to attract investors into the region.
A rep from one of the districts receiving a certificate of participation from Mr. Saeed, Northern Regional Minister
"Tourism today is gold that can never be depleted and we have the Mole National Park among others and even the dances are well enough to generate the kind of tourism attraction we need within the country and beyond", he said.
Gonjas exhibiting the traditional dance
A dancer riding a dummy horse made from plastic at REFAC