By Ebuka Afam-Echi
July 2 (Newshour.com.ng) – The simple definition of culture says that it is the way of life of a people. Culture gives people an identity. Consequently, those that abandon their culture lose their identity. This is not far from the reality when this is related to our dear Imo State where our culture is relegated to the background at the moment.
If anyone who cares to check he would realize that there is no activity of the government that is currently promoting our culture, practically. Whatever government pronouncement that is heard or written is merely paying lip service or at best propaganda to deceive the people as usual. It is sad to comment that we have lost much of what we are identified with.
It is a painful experience that at a time the world is rooting for people to return to base and where education is conducted in indigenous languages because of the huge benefits it provides, our own people are here in deep sleep. Instead, people see it as a mark of sophistication to conduct their affairs in foreign languages.
It was not for nothing that the founding fathers of the state instituted the Ahiajoku festival to celebrate and keep our culture in focus all of the time. But for the seven month period Gov Emeka Ihedioha held office that marked the festival, Okorocha’s regime and the present one driven by Gov. Hope Uzodimma jettisoned the annual event.
Ahiajoku aside, celebrating our yam festival is an intellectual feast that brings all Igbo sons and daughters together once every year. There are numerous other benefits that are drawn from it as it provides opportunity for Ndigbo to examine their challenges and put minds together especially in relation to their culture.
Sadly, as the saying goes, “nemo dat quad non habet” (you cannot give what you don’t have), the governors that have held sway after the Ohakim administration have demonstrated little or no concern for our culture. We can recall with nostalgia the era of cultural festival where communities and local governments take time off to show case what their way of life represents.
Without bringing these things into focus all of the time, the younger generation keeps getting distracted by irrelevancies that eventually consume their lives. Our culture if properly packaged holds the potential for foreign exchange earnings. Those with skills in carving, dancing, music, craft making, etc are discovered and their lives will be given a meaning.
It is to close this yawning gap that the Accord Imo governorship candidate, Ikenga Johnjude has been found worthy, a fit and proper person. He has promised Imolites that he would take advantage of his experience as the Traditional Prime Minister (TPM) of his Ihitte Okwe community in Ngor Okpala Local Government Area, to lift our culture and tradition to greater heights.
It is surprising yet commendable that as a young man in his forties he was found worthy to hold such an enviable position where he has creditably acquitted himself as a culture champion. He has been building bridges between the old and the young. This is quite significant especially in an era where religion has brainwashed many young men to turn away from their culture.
Contrary to the views that culture is fetish, old fashioned and repulsive, the Ngor Okpala son widely acknowledged as the next governor of Imo State has been playing a balanced role, respecting others’ views or beliefs in terms of worship and at the same time projecting what we are known for.
Stabilizing our cultural practices has the potential of wielding the society together through bonding with one another. There are inherent benefits in our traditions that can assist resolve so many social challenges and consequently, a stable society and government.
Johnjude Okere holds the key to achieving the above. He remains the choice of Imo people.