Cultural re-awakening as group tasks Nigerians to promote education, awareness of heritage

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By Josfyn Uba

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The 2023 World Heritage Day celebration may have come and gone but the sights and sounds still reverberate in the minds of the audience at the Forest Indigenous Arts and Craft Market (FIACM), Delta State Film Village, Asaba, the state capital. The FIACM, an integral part of the Delta State Film Village, Asaba, is a facility for the preservation and promotion of indigenous tangible and intangible arts as well as cultural expression.5 25 2

The event, which was the maiden edition of the annual global celebration, was a cultural rebirth. It was a convergence of cultural enthusiasts, scholars, students and art lovers where they spent the day seeking various ways to rekindle the African tradition and revive the cultural heritage.

Based on this year’s theme, ‘Heritage Changes’, FIACM organized a roundtable discussion, essentially on the preservation of African tradition to commemorate this year’s event with the rest of the world.

The event, which had all the trappings of an indigenous peoples’ show, kicked off at about 3pm with awe-inspiring traditional flute and musical interludes from an all-male dance group known as the Okanga Cultural Dance group, peculiar to the Anioma people of Delta State, as well as the heritage documentary presentations. A touch of beauty and spectacle was added by two women and the group founder, Washington Uba, who were colorfully dressed in their native ‘’Akwa Ocha’ attire as they danced round the arena.

Dr. Ndudi Francis of the Denis Osadebe University, Asaba delivered the keynote address titled, ‘How do local and traditional knowledge systems contribute to developing viable climate adaptation measures’ while Mr Henry Erikowa, Falcorp Mangrove Park boss, Warri, who was represented, did justice to the ‘SDGs Goal #6 Awareness’.6 46 4

The special guest at the occasion was Kesta Ifeadi, founder of the Organization For the Advancement of Anioma Culture (OFAAC).

The students’ spectacular cultural dance added spice to the event while a 12-year-old traditional flutist, Okwa Akpele, who came in company of the Oganga Cultural Dance group, was the icing on the cake. The young flutist held the audience spell-bound with his creative ingenuity.

The celebrations came to a climax with a town and gown session featuring students of Theatre Arts Department, Dennis Osadebe University, Asaba alongside their lecturers and head of department in a conversation and review of Ikenna Emewu’s new book titled, “

‘My Ancestors’ Shrine.’

Ikenna Emewu, is a renowned author, journalist and Executive Director of AfriChina Media Center. The book is a thorough and condensed study of African culture where he spoke extensively on the use of ‘traditional strategy to combat the threat of climate change’.

Washington Uba, founder/project coordinator, FIACM, Delta State Film Village, Asaba, stated that the collaborative effort is in building bridges between the university and his organisation, fostering a sense of shared identity and purpose, with the aim of promoting the arts and culture.

Uba called for more effort towards preserving and promoting the education and awareness of our collective African heritage for future generations.

As activities marking the day came to a close, FIACM called for more effort towards promoting education and awareness of the collective African heritage, stressing that not only does a people without heritage lack nobility but are also not fit to live.

He said that Africa is a continent of rich and diverse cultures, each with its unique traditions, customs and beliefs. And these cultural heritages are an important part of the continent’s identity and history and must be celebrated and preserved for generations to come.

“It is important to recognize the value of African culture and heritage. The richness of our culture is something that should be shared and celebrated, and it is up to all of us to ensure that it is not lost or forgotten,” he added.

Uba, who is also an environmentalist and climate change awareness advocate, stressed that preserving and promoting our culture and heritage is not just about maintaining traditions and customs from the past, but rather about recognising the role these traditions play in shaping our future.

“By embracing and promoting African culture and heritage, we can help to create a strong sense of identity and pride among African people, and inspire future generations to build upon the achievements of the past.

“In addition to celebrating and preserving our cultural heritage, we can also share it with the world. By promoting African art, music, literature and other cultural expressions, we can help to increase awareness and appreciation of the richness and diversity of our traditions”, he stated.

World Heritage Day, also known as the International Day for Monuments and Sites (IDMS), endorsed by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) to create awareness of the need to protect and celebrate tangible and intangible heritage assets of tribes, groups or societies that were inherited from past cultural heritages. Examples of tangible cultural heritage include buildings, monuments, landscapes, archive materials, books, works of art and artefacts. Intangible culture is folklore, traditions, language and knowledge while natural heritage, includes culturally significant landscapes and biodiversity.

This international day is observed every 18 April of each year around the world with different types of activities, including visits to monuments and heritage sites, conferences, round tables and newspaper articles.