By Egufe Yafugborhi
WARRI—TWO lecturers at Delta State University, DELSU, Abraka, Professor Christopher Orubu and Dr. Emmanuel Biri, have condemned the demonization of Urhobo culture under the facade of Christianity.
Both lecturers, speaking at the first Ughievwen Cultural Carnival, staged at Otughievwen, headquarters of Ughelli South Local Government Area, said the trend was robbing Urhobo nation and Ughievwen Urhobo in particular, economic oppor-tunities to sell its culture and heritage to the outside world.
Professor Orubu stated that as a people, Ughievwen of Urhobo evolved with peculiar cultural practices and heritage giving its sons and daughters a self- identity that cannot be sustained by any borrowed culture.
He said: ”Our four pivots of chieftaincy, Adeh, Eboh, Igbun-Otor and Igbun-Eshovwin, which have been handed down from generations have exclusive entertainment carriages in various festivals, which were the envy of non-natives, who throng the community from far and near to share in the fun.
Demonization of culture
“Today, in the name of Christianity, these attractions are fast fading away. We demonize our culture on the notion that they are fetish, but even the Pope has entered shrines, not of Christians, and acknowledged the sense of faith in God by adherents of the deities worshipped in such shrines.”
In a separate lecture on The Past, Present and Future of the Ughievwen People, Dr. Biri of the Department of Mass Communication, DELSU, said that some of the core cultural values of Ughievwen Urhobo, being so demeaned in the land, were being celebrated with growing global recognition in other climes.
Biri asserted: “The Epha (celebration of bare breast maidens), which is Urhobo’s appreciation of the purity in women, is gradually going into extinction on the notion that it is fetish and obscene.
“But in Swaziland, the same heritage has become an annual tourist attraction visited by several people from around the world.
“In Ughievwen, ancestral worship has also been condemned as demonic and fetish whereas in Japan, the second largest economy in the world, ancestral veneration remains a valued culture.
“Japanese, including the most highly placed, go to venerate the graves of their dead parents, decorating them with flowers.”
Why we organized carnival
Chief Enyote Gbogbo, who headed the team of organizers of the event, told Niger Delta Voice: “The pains expressed by the DELSU scholars underpin the motivation for originating the Ughievwen Cultural Carnival.
Gbogbo said: “We noticed Ughievwen will have no sense of identity as a people if our cultural values are being rubbished and discarded, no matter the excuses.
“To revive the dying culture, we have decided to bring the various cultural celebrations into one big annual carnival.”