By Emmanuel Okotie-Eboh

Culture is a strong instrument for peace, development and national unity. One can see a number of ways in which culture plays an important role in development. First, the culture industry is a dynamic and prosperous sector of the economy that provides fabulous avenues for development through growth and employment.

Secondly, we all know the popular saying that “culture is what remains when everything has been forgotten.” Culture is what remains when everything has been lost. It was not therefore surprising that United Nations identified culture as strategic resource for development.

Itsekiri Cultural Renaissance, powered by Itsekiri Cultural Renaissance Initiative, adopted culture as an instrument for peace and development. And when the  First Itsekiri World Cultural Festival was organised by Itsekiri Cultural Renaissance on  28 December, 2009, Delta State came to standstill.Traditional rulers from all the ethnic nationalities in Delta State graced the occasion.

During the maiden edition of the Cultural Festival, some prominent Itsekiri, who had directly or indirectly impacted on the development and promotion of the Itsekiri rich culture were honoured, amongst whom were Dr. Emmanuel Ewetan Uduaghan, Madam Julie Coker and Mr. Tony Omabuwa.

The second edition, which took place on  4 February, 2012, was an improvement on the maiden edition, in addition to the rich cultural fashion (UKUEKE) and different cultural dances that were showcased during the maiden edition. There were cultural art exhibition and colourful and entertaining masquerade (UMALE-OLEGUA).

The Itsekiri culture has been well known in Nigeria and beyond. In the pre-independence era, Itsekiri culture and dances were among the Nigerian cultures and dances that were showcased abroad.

It was not therefore surprising during the Second Itsekiri World Cultural Festival that  Chief Duke Eden, Minister of Culture and Tourism, in admiration of the colourful, rich, orderly and glamorous culture, endorsed the festival. The Delta State Ministry of Culture and Tourism also endorsed the festival.

In Warri Kingdom, the Itsekiri Cultural Renaissance Initiative has been able to bring together the different cultural groups under the umbrella of a brand ‘Itsekiri World Cultural Festival’ in order to promote the culture, arts, and tourism and above all to use the culture to promote peace amongst our neighbouring ethnic nationalities in particular and Nigeria in general.

Plans are in top gear to organise the third Itsekiri World Cultural Festival. Unlike the previous two editions, which were one day affair, the coming edition will be a three-day festival.

Itsekiri Cultural Renaissance Initiative implores corporate bodies and private individuals to seize this wonderful opportunities to promote their goods and services either by sponsoring or advertising in the program brochure or both.

* Emmanuel Okotie-Eboh is President, Itsekiri Cultural Renaissance.

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