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JANUARY 1, 2015 9:21 AM BY ANDY EGBON
BENIN CITY -United States-based Human Rights Activist, Mr. Frank Ekhator has condemned in its strongest terms, the attack on Edo culture by some unscrupulous religious Ministers, describing it as not only diabolic, malicious and ignorance, but ideological and fanatically driven for soul-wining and financial gratifications.
In a paper he delivered at a ceremony in Boston last Saturday, marking the celebration of Igue Festival by Edo people, Mr. Ekhator identified them as unscrupulous tricksters and cash and carry religious preachers who mask themselves as men and women of God.
In an electronic mail to The Nigerian OBSERVER in Benin City, Ekhator noted that
“Igue is a worldwide Edo people end-of-year traditional Thanksgiving and get together event.
But recently, the festival has been under attack by some persons, he refered to as unscrupulous tricksters and cash and carry religious preachers who mask themselves as men and women of God.”
Mr. Ekhator, President of Edo United For Homeland Empowerment (EUFHE), a human rights organization with headquarters in Boston called on all Edo people to resist such malicious attack on their culture in any shape or form.
His words: “Brothers and sisters, wherever you find yourself, do not accent or allow the blackmail, denunciation and denigration of our cultural heritage continue without challenge and enlightenment of the perpetuators’ fallacies.”
It is a responsibility incumbent upon us, he continued to educate those who are naively and vaguely connected to the Benin history. “A story that must be told never forgives silence.”
He thundered out: “The cook and bull story about our rich and enviable culture must be condemned by all loyal and well-meaning Benin people.”
“We cannot allow this cultural vandalism against our heritage to continue without resistance. Brothers and sisters don’t sit on the fence.”
He called on all Edo people everywhere to join in the celebration of “our cultural heritage as done by the West Indians and the Chinese people and the Americans with the Thanksgiving and Halloween every year.”
He disabused the minds of people fed with wrong information about Igue festival, explaining, “Igue is not an anti-Christ or pagan celebration as it is being fawned in some familiar quarters today.
The onslaught against our culture is not only diabolic, malicious and ignorant but ideologically and fanatically induced for obvious unsuspecting soul-winning for monetary replenishment.”
In trying to expose and mock religious ministers who survive at the expense of other religions and cultures, Mr. Ekhator had this to say: “It is no calculus, but common arithmetic that as student enrollment grows in a profit-oriented school, so shall the revenue and profit margin increase.”
“Americans celebrate Thanksgiving, the Christians celebrate Xmas, the Muslims celebrate the Ramadan, the Jews, Hanukkah, African-Americans, Kwanzaa, the Ibos New Yam, the Yorubas, Ake, and in the end, the Benin people of Nigeria celebrate every year Igue to mark various events, including the one that led to 1897 Benin massacre.”
Mr. Ekhator said that given the significance of Igue, to not celebrate it is to forget that Edo was a nation before it was invaded by the British in 1897, an event which followed the denial of British trade mission access to Oba (King) Ovonramwen Nogbaisi during the celebration of Igue festival.
“Our rich cultural heritage worth millions of dollars looted during the invasion is scattered all over notable Western Museums today, including the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Massachusetts and Igue celebration remains a way to bring light to this injustice.”
According to him, Igue represents the unbroken immortalization of a generational transfer of record of our cultural heritage and accomplishments.
M. Ekhator stated categorically that “Igue is spiritual to the bona-fide Benin person. The Christians start prayers with the touch of the head and Igue prayers start with the touch of the head with offerings to God.” He vehemently denounced the notion that such a ritual is idol worshipping.
“In the Bible, there is no place where it is written that your head is an idol worshipping just as there is no place that celebration of remembrance is evil or paganism, after all, human existence is about good remembrance.
So Igue is about the remembrance and celebration of the event that shaped Benin people and history.”
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