By Josephine Obute
Lagos – Activities commemorating “Lagos @50’’ remain the best culturally celebrated festival in the annals of the state, says Lari Williams, a veteran artist.
Williams told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) during a visit to its Lagos office on Tuesday that Lagos State should be celebrated as it clocked 50 years after it was created.
It had remained a city/state where several artists of repute caught their artistic teeth, he said.
NAN reports that Williams, popularly called Uncle Larry by his fans, would also clock 50 years as an artist in September.
The agency also reports that Lagos State was carved out of the defunct Western Region on May 27, 1967 during the military administration of Gen. Yakubu Gowon.
Gowon then appointed the then Brig.-Gen. Mobolaji Johnson as the first military governor of the state.
The veteran artist lauded the planning committee of the “Lagos@50’’ programmes headed by the Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, for coming up with activities that had been attracting local and foreign tourists and visitors to the state.
NAN reports that some of the activities to mark the golden jubilee of the creation of the state include the inauguration of various road projects across the state by the state government and the celebration of the popular “Eyo” festival last Saturday.
He said that he was happy because “Lagos@50’’ celebrations coincided with when he would be marking the golden jubilee of his acting career.
Williams also commended the state for consistently promoting the culture and tradition of its citizens, adding that this had made the state unique and attractive to settlers and foreigners alike.
He advised the state government to encourage the development of the entertainment industry which Lagos had been and is still known for by appointing tested professionals to manage its art institutions and heritage sites.
He said, “As a child, I was an ardent follower of Lagos masqueraders that include: the “Eyo’’, the “Igunuko’’ because they were beautiful sites to behold.
“The colourful festivals and masqueraders became sources of attractions to visitors and tourists to Lagos. This is why the state has been growing in population by people from diverse backgrounds,’’ he said.
He commended Gov. Akinwumi Ambode for promoting the entertainment industry in the state and for planning to build five new theatres in the state and also renovate the National Theatre.
Williams said this would further boost the theatre tradition in the state.
He also advised the government to set up a hall of fame where it could preserve names and monuments of notable veterans who had contributed positively to the development of the industry in the state.