As Marcus Garvey rightly observes: “a people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots”. It is to this effect that the Seminary in her wisdom initiated the idea of having a weekend mapped out specifically for the celebration of our cultural heritage, annually. This year’s cultural weekend took place from the 26th to the 28th of November, 2021. It was indeed a very beautiful display of the rich cultural heritage that we have as Africans. The event featured programs such as: paper presentation, launching of the Seminary’s ‘Legacy’ Magazine, different cultural dances by the various dioceses in the seminary, drama by the theatre and arts club and many others.
On the first day of the cultural weekend, Friday 26th November 2021, the event began at the Bigard @ 95 field where the second Dean of student affairs Rev. Fr Kevin Asogwa on behalf of the Rector who was unavoidably absent declared the event open. The event was coloured by the presence of many dignitaries such as Igwe Lawrence Agubuzo who was the Royal father of the day, Honourable Chief Nwafor Alphonsus, the Chairman, Professor Mrs. Ifeoma Ezeonu the mother of the day and also the paper presenter and Mr Aba Joe Idenyi the SA to the Governor of Enugu State on Youth Matters. Some of the events of the day included: drama by the Bigard theatre and arts club, various cultural dance displays such as Mmonwu Chukwu by Orlu Diocese, Udu Bonji by Enugu and Awgu Dioceses etc. There was also the launching of the 9th edition of the Legacy Magazine with the theme “Cultural Initiatives for the Twenty First Century: A Road Map to Sustainable Heritage”.
On Saturday, there were two sessions: morning and evening. The events of this day began at exactly 9.00 am with an opening prayer said by Rev. Fr. Dr. Patrick Malo and opening remarks by the moderator. It was followed immediately by the initiation of new members into the African Thought and Culture Society which was done by the moderator Rev. Fr. Dr. Basil Okeke. After the initiation of the new members, there were cultural displays by various Dioceses such as Atilogwu dance by Awka and Ekwulobia Dioceses, Oji anya lele of Abakaliki Diocese, Igba Umu Ogalanya by Onitsha and Nnewi Dioceses and then the performance by the Band of Bigard who even within the other activities of the day rendered wonderful tunes as interludes.
During the evening session, after the opening prayer and breaking of kola nut, cultural displays continued. There were cultural displays by the Titiyawo of the Bigard Lay Staff, Abigbo Mbaise by Ahiara Diocese, Igba Mmonwu by Awka and Ekwulobia Dioceses, and Ikoro of Enyimba by Aba Diocese.
The Grand Finale was on Sunday November 28th, 2021 which began with the Eucharistic celebration presided over by our Fr. Rector, Very Rev. Fr. Dr. Albert Okechukwu Ikpenwa. The procession into the chapel was led by the Ikorodo of Nsukka Diocese. The Fr. Rector during his introduction to the Mass welcomed all and reminded all of the reason why the Seminary had chosen to always put the grand finale of the cultural weekend on the First Sunday of Advent. According to him it was significant that as Advent signifies the coming of the Lord in human form and also embracing human culture, we also should celebrate our culture. He also reminded the congregation that Christianity is not the religion of the Whites but of everyone.
The homily was given by Rev. Fr. Dr Basil Okeke, who started by wishing the congregation a Happy New Year, for the first Sunday of Advent signifies the beginning of a new liturgical year. In his homily, he tried to break down the name ‘Advent’ and its implications to us as Christians. Advent which is from the Latin Adventus meaning coming, presencing and appearing was translated from Greek by St Jerome. The Greek translation which is Parousia signifies the second coming of Christ. He said that the first reading which was from the Prophet Jeremiah was referring to the first coming of Christ which had already taken place. The second reading from the First Letter of St Paul to the Thessalonians calls us to live the Advent here and now. He made use of the analogy of a pregnant woman especially in the African context who is filled with expectations and hope of a new child albeit the uncertainty of the sex of the child and the pains associated with it. The woman nevertheless, is happy and prepared to welcome the new child and goes about making preparations. In the same way, we as Christians should also live in this type of expectancy though not knowing when the Lord will come. We should be happy and love our neighbours while at the same time keeping watch in anticipation of the coming of Jesus in our individual lives. The third meaning of Advent according to him calls us to be aware of the Christ that lives in us. It is this awareness that Christ lives in us all that has made the Seminary to celebrate our cultural weekend knowing that there is Christ in us all notwithstanding the culture one comes from. He thus advised us to shine out this awareness of Christ’s presence in us in our day-to-day encounter with people.
The second part of the day’s event took place at the Bigard @ 95 field. However, it was after our visitors and formators visited the Bigard Memorial Seminary Museum. The formators were then led into the arena by the members of the Igba Umu Ogalanya. This was then followed by the recognition of dignitaries, opening prayers and breaking of kola nuts. There was then a cultural parade by all the dioceses in the seminary.
Other events of the day included; Ikorodo dance by Nsukka Diocese, installation and conferment of some seminarians with titkes, Ekombi dance by Calabar province, Okonko by Okigwe Diocese, Ojinaka Togbo/wonder Masquerade by Enugu and Awgu Dioceses and Izuogu by Onitsha and Nnewi Dioceses.
In all, it was a beautiful ceremony and encounter of all the cultures of the Seminarians of Bigard as the students made effort to represent the different cultures of their area.