Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Anambra Secondary School Students depict rich African cultural heritage

Okechukwu Onuegbu

Recently, Awka, the capital of Anambra State was decorated in rainbow colour as the UNESCO Institute for African Culture and International Understanding and Centre for Human Security, Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library (OOPL), Abeokute organised an outstanding cultural competition among all secondary schools in the state.
Geared towards re-awakening the declining African culture, the completion featured Egwu Odinala (cultural dance); Nkwa Odinala (native drumming); Ekike Odinala (cultural attire); Mbem (poetry); and Ejije Odinala (traditional drama), representing the rich cultural heritage of Southeastern part of the country.
Among the notable African displays at the event were Izaga (the African longest juju), Mmou (masquerades), Dibias (Native doctors), Akan-nri (the dwarf), ndi otenkwu and ogbuakwu (palm-wine tappers and palm fronds climbers), Ota-Mpems  (flutes masters and poets) and so on.
Speaking at the epoch-marking event, Chairman of the institute, Ambassador Christopher Kolade reminded the students that cultural resources are essential aspects of society’s political economy, noting that scholars have in the last decades focused on ways of reshaping its practices, methods and assumptions for national development.
While Prof. Peter Okebukola, a director in the institute, hinted that cultural competition among secondary schools resolve to instill a cultural renaissance among youths by directing their attention to cultural ventures such as music, arts, dance and other forms of expressions; enhances competitive spirit in students; education of the grassroots about government policies, opportunity for interaction and massive job creation to our teeming populace.
On his part, Mr. Ayo Tella, from the Centre for Human Security (CHS); an arm of OOPLT, in a capacity building and awareness programme on Leadership, Environments and Health charged youths to desist from sexual intercourse pending when they are married for prevention of sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancy.
Ayo also tasked youths to partake in natural conservation of greenish African vegetation and lands so as to avoid the dangers of deforestation and sending animals to extinction at this era of globalization, even as he taught and demonstrated what he termed Olusegun Obasanjo 20 Golden Rules for Young Leaders.
Also speaking, Anambra State Commissioner for Education, Prof. Kate Omenugha, represented by Lady Lizzy Ewuzie, said the competition would go a long way in complimenting the effort of Governor Willie Obiano in resuscitating Igbo culture, adding that realising that the language was at the verge of going into extinction as predicted by UNESCO some years back, embarked on many projects, including enactment of Igbo language enforcement law, 2010; passed into law by the state house of assembly in order to enforce usage of Igbo language among Ndi-Igbo in the state and at diaspora; ongoing construction of F.C Ogbalu Igbo language Centre, Awka ; inter and intra school cultural fiesta in which preparation of Igbo delicacies, traditional archives and cultural dances stood tall.
The Education Commissioner, laments that a person who loses his culture has lost his/her identity and would look as an imbecile denied of intelligence, hence, a need for a collaborative effort in nurturing, promoting and safeguarding it.
At the end, certificates were issued to best performing students in the event which include Ikenna Umerike, Justine Favour, Eze Godwin, Anthony Chinweze, Mary Nwandu, Onuoha Chikodili and others.
On Egwu Odinala (cultural dance) 8 school participated but Community Secondary School, Isuofia emerged first position with 282 points; while St. Mary Secondary School, Ifitedunu pulled 2nd with 270 points and Okongwu Memorial Grammar School, Nnewi emerged 3rd position with 259 points.
Likewise, on Ejije Odinala (traditional drama); St. Mary Secondary School, Ifitedunu  took first with 319 point; Community Secondary School, Ebenebe 2nd (314 points); and Okongwu  Memorial Grammar Secondary School, Nnewi took 3rd with 300 point.
But on the Ekike Odinala (cultural attire); two schools partook and at the end, Community Secondary School, Ebenebe swept first while Community Secondary School Amoka came 2nd.
Also, on Mbem (poetry); St. Charles Secondary School, Onitsha came at top; while Regal Secondary School, Nri got 2nd position and Community Secondary School, Ebenebe won third price.
The winners are to participate at the first quarter of 2015; where the representatives from Nigeria will be selected for the African cultural Olympiad scheduled for December 2015.



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