The call for restructuring of Nigeria is one clamour that vibrates through the entire polity in the history of the country, but as patriots, one may ask what is the missing link and where does Nigerians get it wrong. Culture is an identity that any man wears and lives on everyday, because culture is the way of life of the people. Nigeria is in search of its cultural identity as the proliferation of Western culture had eroded her main existence as a nation, hence the call for restructuring is inevitable.
A nation without identity is bound to be plagued with myriad of problems, hence the need for cultural renaissance that will promote indigenous values of selflessness, courage, patriotism and discipline. The recent celebration of cultural renaissance in the ancient city of Ile-Ife is very relevant in this regard, as it clearly showed the sectional summation of Yoruba beliefs, in terms of how they live, worship, relate their moral values and norms that govern their existence. SOLA JACOBS was there and writes.
Culture had been made to sound archaic and made to belong to the past, and on daily basis people leave their culture for that of others. Either one knows or not, culture is the main identity of a group of people, which governs all facets of their lives. It is a known fact that when you destroy the culture of the people, you had succeeded in wiping out their existence, but through decades, culture is subjected to changes and it is dynamic, not static.
African development was arrested because of its partition by western world which had since arrested its development and tailored virtually all its facets of life to reflect Western culture which is alien to African culture.
Nigeria as a nation consists of various ethnic groups and the diversity of its culture had been its strength, as it promotes unity, selflessness, love, peace, patriotism and dedication to good course.
Culture of various ethnic groups tend to promote their values and it has been passed from generation to generation, but the reverse is the practice today, as we have declined and failed woefully, both formally and informally in passing the baton to the next generation.
To bridge this gap, the House of Oduduwa through the concerted effort of the Arole Oduduwa, Oba Enitan Adeyeye Ogunwusi had embarked on cultural revival to combat the menace of disunity, corruption, decadence of moral values and other vices that had given rise to criminal activities among the youth.
The need to rejig and relive the life of our heroes and heroines who had made societal and humane sacrifices and dedicated their lives for the people, like the historic Moremi Ajasoro, a Yoruba Heroine came alive at the opening of this year “Moremi Ajasoro Beauty Pageant” which was organised by an Ife Princess, Funke Ademiluyi to impact virtues of selflessness and patriotism in the young girls.
According to Oba Adeyeye at the programme who traced the history said, Moremi Ajasoro, who is an Ife Princess but married in Offa, Kwara State, sacrificed her only son Oluorogbo to Esinminrin river in her quest to deliver Ife people from frequent raid by group of invaders called “Ugbo” who often raided Ife during harvest time and plundered all they had laboured for through the years. He said the sacrifice Moremi made had been the basis for the celebration of “Edi” festival in October or November every year, immediately after the “Olojo” festival to commemorate thanksgiving for a new dawn and the bounty harvest of the people which is often dedicated to the Supreme Being and other deities that had played significant role in their lives.
History has it that Moremi surrender herself to the “Ugbo” raiders and being a beautiful woman, the King of Ugbo decided to take her as his queen, which gave her the priviledge to know the secret of the people, after which she escaped and planned attack that liberated Ife people, but the victory cost her to sacrifice “Oluorogbo” his son to “Esinmirin stream”.
The contestants for the beauty pageant to choose Miss Moremi Ajasoro, have since been on a three week camp for the competition. The winner would be the cultural Royal Ambassador of Ile-Ife and will be privileged to be part of the monarch’s entourage anytime he travels out of the country, just as a whooping sums of N5 million would be awarded to the winner to set up her small business, and enhance her standards of living.
“Edi” festival also celebrates “virgin girls” who always bear “Omolarere staffs” as all the bearers of the staffs are always virgins from whom young men who attend the festival look for potential wives among them.
The festival rewards the good and the bad in the society, as criminals and saboteurs’ houses are always visited by the mammoth crowd of Ife people who will bombard their residents with dirt and debris, which often serves as deterrents and shame for such families, and this often discourage anyone from criminal activities in the community.
Also, the loyalty and patriotism stance of the spiritual chiefs are tested spiritually, as whoever among them that his “brunet staff” quenched during the procession to “Moremi groove” automatically will not live to see another celebration. This made them to live uprightly and be dedicated, and as well loyal to the course of their people.
As part of the renaissance of Yoruba culture, the “Ewa Asa” fifth edition was celebrated. It was organised by a renowned Yoruba actress, Rose Adesewa Odika, born in the ancient city of Ibadan over four decades ago, though an Igbo extract of Ugbodumi in Delta State of Nigeria.
One unique thing about culture is its ability to unite people of diverse background and while speaking with OSUN DEFENDER at the Ewa Asa celebration in Ile-Ife on why she loves promoting Yoruba culture rather than Igbo culture, Odika said organising Yoruba programme is the way of giving back to the culture that had moulded her life, saying, “My parents live in Ibadan and I was born and bred in Ibadan so, I understands Yoruba culture and I was raised within the frames of the culture”.
At the progamme which was chaired by the culture enthusiast monarch, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, school pupils were taught the rudiment of bead processing and wearing; its significance and usage in Yoruba culture.
As the discussants at the programme said, bead transcends adorning items, but it signifies religion identity as those who are worshippers of Olokun – sea goddess adorn themselves in white; Sango worshippers wear red and white sand beads, while Ifa worshippers means of identity in lemon green and brown sand beads.
At the workshop attended by ten schools from Ife and Modakeke respectively, pupils were shown different types of traditional beads and carving works. Also, the prospects in beadworks were unfolded, as a means of employment for the teeming unemployed youths.
It also reveals the lucrative gains in tourism that if its maximally exploited could drive the economy of the nation, in line with the government effort which is in top gear to diversify from monolithic oil economy, which is the bane of development of other sectors of the Nigeria economy.
Dr Ogunfolakan Adisa of the Department of Natural History, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife at the interactive session decried the negligence of arts and culture aspect as a nation, noting that for tourism to drive the Nigeria economy, there is need to improve on art works and life, as well as culture.
“Our culture is our sole of existence but the proliferation of western culture and other religions, mainly Christianity and Islam had relegated our traditional religion and culture to the background and the outcome is the moral decadence, gayism, lesbianism, drug peddling, robbery, kidnapping and sorts.
“Our culture can be used to restructure our nation and our people. We can use our culture to stop corruption in our nation. None of our political office holders can take oath of office before any of our deities and enrich himself with public funds without paying dearly for it. Impunity that had bedevilled our governance can be curbed through our cultural practices.
“Moral decadence among the youths can be curbed. Virginity dance in Ondo, Itefa dance and Omidan dance in Ife, the maiden celebration in Ogori magogo – the Yoruba speaking community of Okun in Kogi State are celebration that keep youths away from immoral sexual acts, it prevents unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases that rampage tomorrow’s leaders.
“The negligence of our culture leads to increase in broken homes today, as every woman clamours for monogamy homes. African men are polygamist in nature; they stylishly divorce and marry another woman to satisfy the quest of our women who want monogamous marriage at all cost; but who bear the brunt? The society.
“The beauty of polygamous home then is that wives of same man see themselves as sisters and not rivals and they helped in training of others’ siblings; this is one of the notable joy in our culture, selflessness and being one’s brother or sisters keeper were the essentials of our culture. Western culture only stresses the essence of individualism and not collectivism.
“Our education curriculum should be design to teach principle of collective development rather than capitalist tendencies which promote looting of public treasury so as to enslave others.
“Our culture has critical role to play to reconstruct our living as a nation, hence the need for cultural revival and cultural reintegration to reflect today’s living and confront today’s challenges”, he stressed.