• Festival holds tomorrow
After months of preparations and eliminations, the grand finale of 13th Anioma Cultural Festival holds tomorrow, Easter Monday, March 28, in Asaba, Delta State. As expected, the excitement will climax at the Arcade Ground, as sons and daughters of Anioma — a group of people known for their peaceful disposition, cleanliness and industry — will step out in style with all the accoutrement of splendour and royalty to express their innate creativity. The family oriented fiesta is organised by the Organisation For the Advancement of Anioma Culture (OFAAC).
According to OFAAC President, Arc. Kester Ifeadi, the festival promises to be worth the while. He said, “as early as 8am, people should expect dance groups, exhibitors of arts and crafts and guests to arrive for a showcase of the best of Anioma culture —a symphony of dance, music, fashion and creative arts of historical values that have grown into a melting pot of diverse cultural arts that come in a contemporary space.”
Themed, Let’s reinvent our cultural values, this edition recognizes increasing need to build family values that will engender collective actions to tackle the various societal ills.
Ifeadi said that it is important to regenerate the moral values, which reflect their essential characteristics, as a people within the context of modern civilisation.
“The problems of the world multiply in number and in complexity, largely due to the near collapse of good parenting and family system. As an organisation and individuals, we will continue to encourage intercultural cooperation and dialogue among ethnic nationalities in Nigeria for mutual understanding and for an active sense of Nigerian citizenship,” he revealed.
Recognising that culture and creative industries have become a major economic sector, Ifeadi said the festival offers new opportunities for sustainable development and has continued to give a boost to the local economy and tourism development of the state.
Beside the regular visitors to the festival, there has been a high demand for the traditional fabrics and fashion accessories, and this owes largely to the excellent promotions that herald the yearly event.
He noted that since commencement of the festival, akwa-ocha, which is an all white calico muslin or wrapper — woven the Anioma way, and usually tied loosely around the waist by both men and women or sewn in different contemporary styles — is on high demand resulting in job and wealth creation in the region.
While acknowledging the contribution of OFAAC in opening up the cultural landscape of Anioma people, the Delta State governor, Senator Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, said such effort crystallise into tourism development for the region.
The governor, who commended members of the group when they paid him a courtesy visit in Asaba, said that the state is blessed with interesting festivals with great tourism potentials. He, however, advocated for a “Festival of Unity” to foster bond of friendship and unity among Deltans. Ifeadi led the OFAAC team.
Meanwhile, Governor Okowa, who is also a Culture Ambassador, has agreed to grace the event. He has equally urged members of his cabinets to attend as a way of easing the pressure of work.
The festival began in 2004, as an intervention strategy to preserve, promote and celebrate the rich cultural heritage of Anioma. It has as attractions, traditional wrestling and flute challenge, nutritious local cuisine/exhibition of historical artifacts/crafts, fashion, folklores, raffle draw, royal banquet and the legendary dance arts from the ethnic group such as, Agwuba, Egwu –Oshushu, Egwu Amala and Uloko in well choreographed steps.
In 2005, the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and National Orientation adjudged the festival ‘the finest cultural event in Delta State’. Today, it has become a defining event, which attracts attention of culture enthusiasts. It has also become an integral part of the monumental exhibits of the diverse cultural richness of Nigeria.
Boosting the cultural economy, the festival has help propel communities within and outside the region on business start ups in cloth weaving, bead making, folk music and dance group, fashion design, theatre, publishing and other business ventures.
OFAAC also supports the less privileged through its micro-credit scheme, and so far, it has empowered over 2000 entrepreneurs with various amount and work tools, with many on the waiting lists.
Its activities are within the framework of the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) and major strategies and activities are built around: Advocacy, Workshop/Lecture, Research and Publication, Cultural Festival, Exhibitions, Sensitization/Community Mobilization, Agricultural Enterprise and Micro-credit scheme to SME entrepreneurs.
At the centre of policy stabilisations of the organisation is a six-man board of trustees made up of Chief Newton Jibunoh, Chief Philip Asiodu, Sir Fortune Ebie, Prof. Pat Utomi, Ifeadi and Mr. Emeka Nmadu. Jibunoh chairs the board.