The programme was aimed at showcasing the “Africanness” iof indigenous foods peculiar to different ethnic groups and their relevance to the people’s health.
Clement Adeyi, Osogbo
Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife, Osun State, reverberated with a gale of cultural and traditional splendor recently when the institution showcased a sociocultural programme tagged: “Ife Festival of Food and Identity.” Hosted by the Institute of Cultural Studies (ICS) of the university, the event attracted eminent dignitaries from different parts of the world including tourists, traditional rulers, business technocrats, academics, government officials and students.
It was witnessed by the Yoruba, Igbo, Hausa, Ibibio, Igala, Urhobo, Ishan, Itsekiri, Nupe, Tiv tribes among several others who had a feel of their cultures and traditions in the context of their indigenous foods. Two months ago, the logo of the festival was unveiled by Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka.
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The programme was aimed at showcasing the Nigerian “Africanness” in the context of indigenous foods peculiar to different ethnic groups and their relevance to the people’s health needs. It was also intended to draw the consciousness of the different tribes (of people) to the need to maximize the potentialities of their indigenous foods with a view to promoting their cultures and traditions.
The Vice Chancellor, Professor Eyitope Ogunbodede, stressed that indigenous foods, instead of chemicalised foods, especially junks, contributed greatly to a healthy living.
He disclosed that OAU would continue to promote the food festival to project the culture and tradition of the people and orientate them towards enjoying indigenous foods:
“It was against this backdrop that the Institute of Cultural Studies initiated the food festival which had come to stay in the university’s sociocultural preoccupations as an annual event. The festival aims at showcasing the rich diversity in Nigerian Cuisine and delicacies, thereby creating awareness on Nigeria’s rich food culture and tradition and it inestimable values to human life.”
The celebration was marked by cultural dances, music, theatrical activities, adult and children’s cooking corner, food competition, food tasting, symposium art and photo exhibition.
In line with the vision behind the festival, celebrity shelves were built where important dignitaries were invited to cook their favourite dishes and serve people from their ethnic groups. This enhanced the popularity of the dishes as people had the opportunity of savouring their indigenous foods, thereby making them to be proud of African and their indigenous culture and tradition from the perspectives of local foods and their health values.
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With everybody participant eating the local and or indigenous food peculiar to them, the food festival created a bond and affinity among the different tribes who dined together, thereby putting tribal and ethnic difference behind. The indigenous dishes were served at the elder statesmen corners with a view to promoting the culture and tradition of the people.
One of the remarkable moments of the event was when Soyinka performed a symbolic cutting of yams to signal the flag off of the festival. He described the festival as very unique and critical to a healthy living to the generality of Yoruba race and the participants.
Diverse exquisite African dishes such as Iyan (pounded yam), amala, fufu, tuwo shinkafa, efo riro (vegetable soup), egusi, gbegiri and oha were served in accordance with people’s ethnic and cultural backgrounds.
Another highpoint of the programme was after Soyinka. The museum is the storey building located in the heart of the university. It was the official residence of the playwright when he lectured at the Department of Performing Arts.
Ogunbodede enthused that the university dedicated the museum to him as a tourist centre to continue the legacy that he (Soyinka) set in African culture and tradition as well as OAU through his literary works.
Ogun State Governor Ibikunle Amosun represented by his deputy, Mrs. Yetunde Onanuga, said: “Anything and everything about Wole Soyinka simply excite us. Although Wole Soyinka goes beyond our state and indeed beyond the shores of Nigeria, nonetheless, we are pleased that he is one of the Nigerian figures that have helped to place our nation on the world map and, for the good reasons.
“As for the Wole Soyinka Museum, our association will go beyond today’s event. Ogun State will continue to identify and support this facility in a way that will guarantee its viability, relevance and sustainability.” He announced a donation of 1,000 bags of Ofada rice to the OAU students.
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