Every attack on a culture could produce a distorting effect on the identity of the people that upholds such culture. Such has been the fate of the African people. For long, African cultures have been under siege. In the past centuries, a huge chunk of African cultural heritages were lost to slavery, and later, to colonialism. Unfortunately, the situation has not changed markedly in the recent times as part of the cultures that endured African dark moments now face more a fierce attack in the hostile hands of modernism. The effect of the above is that most Africans have become alienated from their roots. This has become one of the greatest burdens of the African people.
Annually, Bigard Memorial Seminary, Enugu organizes a 3-day cultural fiesta on a number of grounds, namely,
- As part of the ongoing effort to rewrite the distorted Africa’s cultural profile
- To give practical expressions to the numerous literatures already devoted to the struggle for the revival of African cultures
- To build a formidable cultural platform that could reconnect the modern generations of African children to their cultural roots
- To demonstrate that good elements of African cultures are not at conflict with Christian religion
- And finally, to underscore the importance of indigenous culture on any civilization
The 2018 Cultural Fiesta lasted for three days (Friday, November 30, 2018 – Sunday, December 3, 2018). Laden with beehives of cultural activities, the fiesta was culturally very enriching.
The first day opened with an Official Declaration by the Rector, Very Rev. Fr. Dr. Albert O. Ikpenwa. In the name of the Catholic Bishops of Nigeria of Onitsha Ecclesiastical Province, the Patron Saints of the Seminary, the Team of Formators, and in the name of the Blessed and Undivided Trinity, he declared the fiesta open.
Upon this official flag-off, the Nigeria’s National, the Seminary, and the Papal Anthems were rendered respectively in a traditional Ogene beat.
The opening ceremonies featured a Concert by Bigard Theatre and Arts Club, and other cultural displays, namely, Mmonwu Chukwu (The masquerade of God) of Orlu diocese, the Egwu Atilogwu (Atilogwu Dance) of Awka diocese, the Udu Bonch of Enugu & Awgu dioceses, and finally, performance by Band of Bigard.
The second day was somewhat academic in that it featured academic lectures from a seasoned scholar on African Cultures, Dr. Ozor Ferdinand Anikwe. Dr. Ozor is a former President of Pan-African Cultural Congress (PACC), and currently, the Director General, Centre for Black and African Arts and Civilization (CBAAC), Lagos, Nigeria.
In his lecture, he disclosed that the Igbo traditional society was already very much organized with sound leadership institutions before the European invasions. According to him, “Dim” was the highest leadership institution in Igbo Society. This institution has subordinate ministries that aid the central leader, Dim, in running different affairs. Each of the ministries, he explained, takes a name after the general leader, Dim. For instance: health minister was called (Di-bia), minister of handiworks (Di-nka), minister of wine production (Di-ochi), minister of wrestling (Di-mgba), and that of warrior (Di-ogu), and more. It is against this background, he said, that one would understand why Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu as the Governor of the Old Eastern Region was referred to as Dim (Eze-Igbo Gburugburu).
Another influential institution according to him was the Ozo institution. He explains that Ozo was the intellectual and moral hub of Igbo society. “To be admitted into Ozo institution, candidates must pass through purification processes like Isa Ire (washing of tongue), and other rituals. This is to make one worthy of occupying the most noble position, for upon admission into Ozo Institution, one can no longer comprise integrity and honesty, and if he does, he will surely die” he explained.
The leadership error evident in the current Igbo society, he explained, is a rape of the Ozo leadership institutions. In his opinion, unless our leaders become Ozo (in the truest sense of the word) or the Ozos become leaders, we will continue to get things wrong in leadership.
The lecture provoked spontaneous ovation from the audience, and consequent contributions which came from the students, staff, and the guests.
After the lectures, there was a number of cultural displays, namely, the Ojianyalele of Abakaliki diocese, Igbaumuogaraya of Onitsha & Nnewi dioceses, Abigbo Mbaise of Ahiara diocese, Igbammonwu of Awka diocese, Ikoro of Enyimba of Aba diocese, and finally, presentation by Band of Bigard.
Day III – (Grand Finale)
The third day, the grand finale of the fiesta, attracted highly profile individuals, government officials and Royal Fathers from far and wide, some of whom include: Chief Dr. (Sir) Walter Oji, Enugu Diocesan MOD Chief Patron; Chief Mrs. Ada Okafor; HRH Igwe Tony Ojukwu (JP), Traditional Ruler of Ogui-Nike; HRH Igwe Amb. Godwin Ogochukwu Ezeilo, popularly known as Obu Nanka na Nanka (the heart of the people of Nanka); Barr. Clifford Okoye, President of Old Aguatta NBA; Prof. Damian Opata, and many others.
After the Holy Mass which ended by 10: 53am, the Rector and the Team of Formators led the guests to the Museum Site. From the Museum Site, all proceeded to the Celebration Arena for the rest of the programs.
After the opening prayer, and remarks by Very Rev. Fr. Francis Igboanugo, the Moderator of African Thoughts and Culture, Bigard Chapter, there was cultural parade by all the dioceses.
As it is to be expected, there were lots of cultural rituals and displays. Prominent among them are: Initiation of new members into African Thoughts and Culture Society, Conferment of Titles to Candidates by the Royal Fathers, Dance by Titled men, Ikorodo and Echaricha mma by Nsukka diocese, Ogoja War Dance by Calabar Province, Asom-mpi Ilu (proverb competition), Okonko by Okigwe diocese, Ojinaka Togbo/Wonder Masquerade by Enugu and Awgu dioceses, Izuogu by Onitsha and Nnewi dioceses, and lots more.
At the end of the presentations, the president of African Thought and Culture Society, Mr. Joseph Ibeziem, on behalf of the students and staff of Bigard Seminary, Enugu, thanked all that contributed in whatever measure to making the cultural festival a success.