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By IKHUEBOR VIKRAM OSARUMEN
Culture is one of the most dynamic and unique aspects of one’s existence and a strong binding cord that glue the society and her people together in unity. It has also over the years directed the path and way of behavior and life of the people; it also coordinates the activities of the social lives of the people.
Culture, traditions, belief and the way of life of the people differ from community to community, town to town, city to city, society to society, state to state, country to country, it continues throughout the globe.
As some takes their culture very seriously, so some play with their own, importing western culture all in the name of civilization and westernization. The African culture has been at the receiving end as most of our norms and values that our fore fathers guard jealously is thrown away all in the name of civilization.
The Benin culture is one that is loved and cherished by the people of the kingdom and it is held in high esteem and practiced to the fullness because the people has a remarkable connection with history and the city is known as the cradle of black civilization and the rough of westernization in Africa and the World at large.
Benin the ancient city as it is popularly referred to is a city of pride for the people as it is the seat of power housing the Oba of the Kingdom His Royal Majesty Oba Erediauwa and the Comrade governor Adams Aliu Oshiomhole. Yearly, this city and other cities across the state host citizens and non citizens alike to different festival that makes the city a place to visit. Among these numerous festival to promote the rich culture of the binis include Ugie Ewere and the Igue-Edo festival which is almost going into extinction.
Talking about Ugie Ewere and Igue-Edo, these festivals are as old as the ancient history of Benin and that of the Pyramid of Egypt; as such the Benin people can’t afford to throw away these festivals which contribute to the rich and valued Benin cultural heritage that has placed us in the map of the world.
These festivals and others should be held in high esteem as this is what has made our culture rich and valued world over and its one of the symbol, signs and significant memory of peace, progress and love; the pivot of cohension of the Benin Kingdom.
The present neglect of our rich culture in pursuant of civilization and westernization is eroding our cultural values. Our traditions, beliefs and norms that made us respected across the globe is gradually phasing out, and it appears that we are no longer the cradle of black civilizations, no thanks to our youth who will take over from us the dream of promoting and propagating our rich Edo Culture . But this dream is fading away in our very eyes and if the trend is not checked as quickly as possible, we will lose our value in no time.
We should be proud of our culture and embrace it like other ethnic groups in Nigeria. For instance, the Igbo, Hausa, Calabar and some other ethnic groups across the nation are proud of their culture and guard it jealously. Till date they still celebrate the New Year festival, Arugungun fishing festival, masquerades dancing etc. But for the Benins, we like the western culture compared to our own rich culture. We should make china our role model; these people don’t play with their culture as they practice it where ever they find themselves in the world.
We have been brainwashed by some identified and unidentified element that have hypnotize our mind against our rich culture making us to believe that by practicing our culture through the celebration of various festival is idolatry. We have believed these prophets of doom sent to destroy the rich Edo culture and instead of resisting them, we have accepted and turned our back on our culture.
These elements of cultural retrogression travels back to their domain to practice their own culture but come here to preach against our own. These prophets of doom and non-native in the kingdom are on ground to jeopardize our rich cultural heritage.
It is most time very painful to note that some of our people who claimed to be patriotic citizens of Benin Kingdom collaborate with these non-natives to destroy our rich cultural heritage which our ancestors handed over to us with pride to nurture, tend, valued and passed from one generation to the other. This generational transfer of cultural heritage is now under threat by these intruders who are hell bend on destroying it by all means, irrespective of the consequences for the people, the kingdom, the state and the nation at large.
It would be of utmost importance to ask our leaders who are saddled with the responsibility of preserving and maintaining our culture and traditions what is wrong with the most celebrated festival like the Ewere were festival; Igue – Edo festival; Eho (New Yam festival); Ikpoleki festival; Ighele/Edion investitures; Ewuwu/other masquerades etc.
It’s important to state here categorically that all these festivals that made the Edo Culture very rich, adorable and most desired are all gradually going into extinction and now over run by western culture with our cooperation. This is the reason for this article to draw the attention of the appropriate authorities to spring into action to rescue the Bini culture from being strangulated by foreign culture which we are embracing with gladness.
Conclusively, we all should come together like the people of China has done and is still doing today to protect and rescue our culture from the hands of non-natives, prophet of cultural doom, enemies of our culture and form those whose mission is to wipe out completely and force us to embrace their own foreign culture with a hidden agenda. Our culture, tradition, customs, belief and norms that has kept us in unity since our creation should not be allowed to die, this job of rescuing our culture lies with you and me.
OBA GHA TO OKPERE ISE