CATHOLIC SECRETARIAT OF NIGERIA

Department Of Pastoral Affairs; Inculturation and Translation Unit.

National Catholic Festival Of Arts And Culture(NACAFAC)

General Framework For NACAFAC 2016

By Fr. Evworo Moses Iyara OSA

Unit Secretary.

INTRODUCTION:

The National Catholic Festival of Arts and Culture (NACAFAC) is an initiative of the Inculturation and Translation Committee, of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria. Its current Episcopal chairman is Most Rev. Gabriel ‘Leke Abegunrin, the Archbishop of Ibadan. This is the second edition, and is proposed to take place at the Oba Akenzua Cultural Centre Airport Road, Benin City on August 2nd-5th 2016. With the theme; “Faith and Cultural Values: Celebrating God’s Mercy and the Dignity of Marriage”, the festival is aimed at making the Gospel message more comprehensible and relevant within the context of the diverse cultures characteristic of various ethnic groups in the country. It is also meant to foster unity in diversity among the various ethnic groups and cultures that constitutes the Catholic Church in Nigeria.

The pastoral benefits of the 2016 National Festival of Arts and Culture (NACAFAC) cannot be over-emphasized. This is especially true when we consider the current global degradation of human cultural values in some parts of the world, especially with the current trend to discredit the moral foundations of marriage as an institution founded by God and family life in general. Deriving from the latter phenomena, the drama presentation recommended for this festival is to focus on traditional marriage ceremonies. Its aim here is to address the challenges of high- cost expenses, and some prerequisites, prospective couples incur due largely to duplicity of rites, which entails in some cases, bloated dowry payments and procedures before couples eventually contract their marriages in church. In this vein, the Drama presentations at the festival will provide a unique opportunity for participants, Catholic faithful in general, experts in tradition and culture, and our Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria to observe useful insights and materials that can facilitate the search for pastoral ways to harmonize (Inculturate) Traditional and Christian rites of marriage into a single composite rite; and conversely help to reinstate confidence in the dignity of the marriage institution.

 

2. FESTIVAL CONTENTS:

Highlights of the festival shall include: Paper Presentations, Arts Exhibition and Drama/Tradional Dance.

Arts Exhibition: This shall feature a display of curated or Visual Artworks by participating provinces and accredited groups of persons. These works are not limited to photographs, paintings, ceramics, textiles, prints, drawings, or sculpture but must strongly align its theme or subject to the overall theme for the festival with some allegiance to Faith, Cultural Values and Marriage: The Nigerian Experience.

 

Traditional Dance: Significantly, dance in traditional Nigerian society is majorly infused with music so that both radiate as a single artistic phenomenon. In this regard, each province is expected to present a robust representation of the vibrant dance and music forms that are indigenous to a province. Indeed, a hybridisation of these forms is encouraged especially when they offer a new perspective in liturgical celebrations. However, this can be essentially derived from the marriage ceremonies of individual provinces. Special care must be taken to ensure that all forms of dance, music and costume is not contrary to Christian sensitivity and values.

Drama Presentation. This should focus on any typical Rites of Nigerian traditional marriage ceremonies. It should significantly proffer another prism for aligning it to the Church’s celebration. Where imperative, the Province shall present a performance that interrogates the twining of the Traditional and the Church without losing the very essence of the Sacrament. [See General Guidelines].

Paper Presentation: Two (2) papers shall be presented to highlight the meaning, challenges and benefits of Inculturation in the Nigerian scenario. Proposed topics are:

Fetish Beliefs and Practices; the Challenge of Inculturation in Nigeria.

Fidelity in Christian Marriage; the Contemporary Nigerian Experience

Duration of Festival: The festival shall run for Four days. The first day shall be arrival and accreditation, while the middle two days shall accommodate performances interspersed with Keynote address and paper presentations; concurrently, the arts exhibitions also run. The last day shall be closing mass and departure.

 

3. DRAMA PRESENTATION: CALL FOR ENTRIES - GENERAL GUIDELINES

       3.1   THEME: Faith and Cultural Values, and Marriage: The Nigerian Experience

PREAMBLE

The nuclear family that develops from marriage is the basic cell of society… Now more than ever, that basic cell is under pressure from modern society. It can be hard to hear the Church’s voice of Truth in the midst of all the noise.

Pope St. John Paul II

Marriage in Africa is an interesting phenomenon with familial dimensions. It is the institutionalization of complementary relationship between man and woman. It is a process which takes several steps; it comes into fruition not as a result of a single ceremony but many with inter/intra-familial significance. It may present as an alliance between two individuals but in a magnified sense an alliance of villages, communities, clans, families, etc. African marriages are a socio-spiritual affair which exude and bring new life and hope. It is a fertile space for a child to be raised. Indeed, marriage aestheticises the African worldview thus providing a platform for dialogue and reconciliation beyond ethno-religious and socio-cultural divides. Present realities underlined by cross-cultural boundaries, however, have tended to question this phenomenon. The Church faithfully upholds marriage as Sacrament notwithstanding the babel of voices which presently tend to re-imagine marriage and also determined to impose a devious conception of it on the African landscape.

Drama, as one of the critical components of the proposed National Festival of Arts and Culture (NACAFAC), is an important feature that seeks to bring to the fore, the trado-ethical Foundation of Christian Marriage, using a variety of performance nuances. Each Province would be required to present a play whose thematic preoccupation shall be the traditional marriage rites/ceremony of any chosen culture or dominant ethnic group in their Province. The major thrust of this presentation is to reveal the moral contents of the making of our traditional marriages, for possible extraction and fusion (Inculturation) into the Church’s marriage rites, without prejudice to the structure of the rite.

 

3.2 What the Play Organizing Committee expect from the Drama Presentation?

The answer is quite simple. It must not necessarily be religious in tone but it must reflect soundness in the interpretation of Catholic principles and traditions with a strong bias towards an African cultural and epistemological appreciation of marriage. The POC expects possibly a re/visioning of marriage in Nigeria against the reflection of competing cultural realities.

Indeed, some thoughts reflected here may provide an impetus:

Marriages occur between a man and woman across provinces and cultures, how does the Church intervene in providing a veritable atmosphere for familial bond and growth?

How does the Church respond to the extravagance of some wedding ceremonies?

Is it possible for us to revisit the symbolic items (ring, flowers, etc.) used and dresses worn by couples at Church marriages to reflect our culture?

Can the Church highlight and align Catholic nuptial tradition with local cultural practices while still upholding her cherished Sacrament?

Can we question and interrogate existing practices and how they can moderately encourage a deep-seated appreciation of a convergence of sort that still maintains Catholic principles?

Is there a difference between marriage and wedding and how does this translate in Catholic tradition?

What are vows? How are they manifested in traditional situations and how might they be aligned and concretized in the Church?

 

3.3. SCOPE OF THE DRAMA: The drama presentation shall be competitive but this is only meant to promote the spirit of commitment among the participating Provinces, and not to demonstrate the superiority of one culture over the other. As much as possible, the drama presentation must play around certain areas of emphasis, which serve as a guide for the performance. These may include:

a. The Rite of Introduction/Presentation of the bride.

b. Payment of Dowry

c. Handing-over of the Bride, and

d. Church Solemnization

 

3.4. PARAMETERS FOR THE PRESENTATION:

a. Each Province must present a cast and crew of not more than twenty five (25) persons.

b. Each entry must present an original play which must be at least 25 minutes in length, but may not exceed 30 minutes, including the time spent in changing a scene during the course of the performance (but not including the specified times allowed for setting and striking the whole production). [An original play is translated as one, which, as at the last date for entries, has not been performed before an audience].

c. Each play is substantially encouraged to be total; highlighting the richness of music and dance to the overall development of the story whether incidental or dramatic.

d. A copy of the play where possible must accompany each entry (by the closing date for entries) and will be returned after the Festival. [A synopsis may be accepted at this stage BUT the complete play-script must be submitted before the start of the festival].

e. Each Province will be entirely responsible for providing its stage properties and scenery and for ensuring that they