Obilugwu Chinenye writes on why the neglect of Nigeria’s rich culture should be re-awakened, especially in the face of economic recession.
Nigeria is a home to over one eighty four (184) million inhabitants and two hundred and fifty (250) ethnic groups, with each of these ethnic group differing in one way or the other. A country with huge ethnic groups should have tourism as one of its main economic resources, but rather we have oil and gas as our major if not only economic resource.
Culture is the way of life of a certain group of people, and if it is the way of life then why aren’t we showcasing or trying to exploit this God giving resources. Nigerians today try to promote western culture as its own way of life, but truth be told, western culture only modernised its norms and ideology so why is it hard for us Nigerians to modernise our own culture, especially on the premise that we are called the Giants of Africa.
A few of the events which promote intrinsic cultural values that should be promoted by the government are highlighted below;
The media attention given to these events should be high that is because it attracts a lot of tourist. Events such as One Lagos Fiesta: This is done every year during the Christmas period celebrating the love for African music. You may think that One Lagos Fiesta doesn´t necessary showcase the African brand of music but if will look closely Musicians like Olamide, Phyno, Adekunle Gold, Oritse Femi and others who sing in the mother-tongue to remind us we are still Africans.
Calabar Carnival: popularly known as Nigeria street party has been held since 2006 and the festival brings about two million spectators and is usually held at the end of the year.
Argungu Fishing Festival: The Argungu Fishing Festival is an annual four-day festival in the town of Argungu in the north-western Nigerian state of Kebbi. It began in the year 1934, as a mark of the end of the centuries-old hostility between the Sokoto Caliphate and the Kebbi Kingdom. The festival is held on the Sokoto River in February or March. Thousands of fishermen equipped only with nets compete to catch the largest fish.
Carniriv: This an annual festival, held in Port Harcourt, Nigeria. The Carnival starts few weeks before Christmas, and lasts for seven days. During this time several ceremonial events are held, most of which hold some cultural and or sacred significance. The Port Harcourt Carnival bears certain uniqueness as it combines two carnivals - a purely cultural carnival and a contemporary Caribbean style carnival- in one. This gives it an edge over all other regional and continental carnivals, and presents with the principal advantage which must be consummately exploited.
Eyo festival: The Eyo Festival is held in Lagos, Nigeria. It is usually performed in Lagos Island. Eyo also refers to the masquerades that come out during the festival. It is widely believed that Eyo is the forerunner of the modern day carnival in Brazil. No one is to wear hats during the festival.
Igbo New Yam festival: The New Yam Festival of the Igbo people (Orureshi in the idoma area, Iwa ji, Iri ji or Ike ji, depending on dialect) is an annual cultural festival by the Igbo people held at the end of the rainy season in early August.
Igogo Festival: is an annual festival held in Ondo State, Nigeria. It is a festival that usually lasts for seventeen days in which the Olowo of Owo and high chiefs of Owo Kingdom are dressed like women to celebrate and pay homage to Queen Oronsen a mythical wife of Olowo Rerengejen in appreciation for her protection.
Ofala Festival: is an annual ceremony practised by the indigenes of Onitsha in Anambra State.The festival which is described as the most important surviving traditional ceremony of Onitsha indigenes is celebrated within two days mostly in December and January in honour of the Obi
Osun festival: The Osun Festival is held at the end of the rainy season, usually in August, at the Oshogbo Sacred Forest. The week-long festival is held in honour of the river goddess Osun, an important Yoruba deity.
Sangofestival: is usually held in August at the palace of the Alaafin of Oyo. The festival which is observed in over forty countries in the world is held in honour of Sango, the thunder and fire deity.
Sharo / Shadi Festival: Shadi flogging competition is a traditional rite of passage for Jafun Fulani men; each young man must stoically endure a flogging to demonstrate his manhood. The young man only qualifies to marry if he passes the test, which is administered by another youth of about the same age and size. Most do pass, but carry scars from the ordeal for the rest of their life. Sharo is generally staged at the time of the dry-season guinea corn harvest, and again during the festival of Id-el-kabir.
These are the highlighted few and other more should be given the top priority because these events tell the story of Nigerian culture. Although the most notably globally celebrated festival in the history of Nigeria is the Festac 77 which was held for a month, such event should be something the Nigerians Government should invest in to make the economy better and stronger. If the Government puts much effort into Culture and Tourism as they put into the Oil and Gas sector they would realise that there revenue to be gained in manifold, and Nigeria’s rich cultural heritage would be celebrated and preserved.