Those who doubt that our culture is skill-driven and inspired may need to research the birth and history of our national festivals
Historically, Nigerian people are generally known to be very hardworking. Indeed, our peoples’ way of life can be seen from the perspective of the age-long devotion and orientation to farming, cloth-making and weaving, wood carving, fishing and cultivation of strategic and systematic trade lines across various communities and sub-ethnic nationalities that helped define recreation and festivals.
Like elsewhere in the world, where certain old and historical human endeavours helped advance contemporary and modern discoveries in arts and crafts, not excluding science and medicine, museums and monuments as bowels of knowledge of the past were all fronted to help humanity, a people or nation to appreciate and possibly revisit the indigenous concepts that caused a revolution in human survival and development.
That informs why the discussion on culture is a wide subject and could be used without manipulation to revive a dying culture and way of life of a people at any given time. To the Nigerian space, there is no denial that we have come to the crossroads, where certain aspects of our culture, particularly how our ancestors proved beyond doubt that skill acquisition, even though at that time considered inadequate, is the best way to survival, as families were faced with challenges of increase in population and attendant pressure on developmental needs and aspirations.
Last week in Lagos and for the first time in organized travel exhibition, the National Council for Arts and Culture, under the national cultural resources task master, Otunba Segun Runsewe, brought to the fore the need for Nigerians to revisit and encourage skill acquisition as a way not only to create jobs and make money but also the solution frontier to accelerate rural and home-grown socio-economic development.
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In Abuja late last year, during the renamed International Cultural Expo and the Arts and Culture Festival in Kaduna, Runsewe’s NCAC had made skill acquisition the major driver of our national cultural rebirth. It is a strategic orientation that he has decided to pursue, having been convinced that each of Nigeria’s cultural festivals and artistic colouration was intangibly woven to showcase our skills in bead-making, farming, cloth-weaving and even the local manufacturing and fabrication of farming, hunting and security implements, to power socio-economic agendas.
To certify the huge population of Nigerians who thronged Eko Hotel, venue of Akwaaba Travel Market, where NCAC stand became the engine room of this discovered reality may not really count but the general acceptability by Nigerians particularly housewives and the young to immerse themselves in learning a skill, thereby willing to contribute to national development and family survival, gladdens the heart.
From cloth design, bead-making, soap-making and such likes, it now can be seen that our culture never encourages laziness and docility but a call to self-development and contribution to the betterment of the collective.
Those who doubt that our culture is skill-driven and inspired may need to research the birth and history of our national festivals such as Ekpe festival of Abia, Kwagh-Hir dance of Benue, Leboku yam festival of Cross River, Iwu festival of Delta, Igue festival of Benin and the Argungu fishing festival of Kebbi. Indeed, the near symbolic relationship and national skill empowerment content in these festivals does stand the national discussion on how to mainstream our cultural value chain as chief driver of our rural socio-economic direction.
Related to all these are the positive attributes our cuisines and gastronomic evolution, which again Runsewe has repackaged at NCAC with focal attention not only on local consumption but for international demands on all our areas of agricultural by-products such as garri, yam flour, beans flour and attendant beverages such as kunu and palm wine, all birthing a possible revolution of Nigeria’s food culture export such as the Chinese did centuries ago.
To end this piece, the Nigeria Day at Akwaaba showcased a refreshing confidence that Nigeria and Nigerians can truly make a mark in the quest to drive both local and international visit to Nigeria, if only we can support and take advantages of multiple strength in numbers and the rebirth of age-long forgotten skills.