Aubrey Williams, ‘Olmec Maya - Now and Coming Time’ 1985
Aubrey Williams
Olmec Maya - Now and Coming Time 1985
© The estate of Aubrey Williams

This was the second Black and African Festival of Arts and Culture (see World Festival of Negro Arts in Dhakar in 1966). The participants used the event to devise a strategy of cultural empowerment: they wanted to protect black culture from being destroyed by other cultures and stop it from being seen only in the context of primitive museum artefacts. Today many see Festac as the turning point in the development of a black global consciousness. It enabled artists to talk about identity, discuss issues of cultural awakening and think about their collective survival. Yet there was criticism at the time with some African nations refusing to take part due to the political situation in Nigeria, while the President of Senegal, Leopold Senghor, abdicated his position as co-patron of the festival.

Artists who exhibited at Festac included Winston Branch, Ronald Moody, Mercian Carrena, Uzo Egonu, Armet Francis, Emmanuel Taiwo Jegede, Neil Kenlock, Donald Locke, Cyprian Mandala, Ossie Murray, Sue Smock, Lance Watson and Aubrey Williams.