Friends and associates of Prince Huxley Adiniebo Unumadu, the poster boy of culture and tourism in Delta State, threw a surprise birthday party to celebrate his 52nd birthday.

The event took place at Kayden’s Lounge in the heart of Obiaruku town, headquarters of Ukwuani Local Government Area.

Unumadu is the Izomo of Umuebu Kingdom. His Izomo Cultural Foundation (ICF) is in the forefront of promoting the Ukwuani historical and cultural life. ICF organizes the annual Izomo Festival every year.

The maiden edition of his magazine focusing on tourism and culture will be published in December. In this interview, Unumadu speaks on his activities. Excerpts:

In your little way, how have you been able to give the culture and tourism industry in Delta State a boost?

In so many ways, I’ve made remarkable impact in my mission to promote culture and tourism in Nigeria, especially in Delta State. First and foremost, I’ve been largely pro-culture in my physical appearance, in public events and official circles. I’ve been promoting African attires and costumes. And in my capacity as a cultural brand, I have been creating and expanding the Mr. Tourism identity and cultural awareness and consciousness.

Equally, people and organizations invite me to add cultural content and value to their events, especially public events that require the inputs of our various cultural heritages and identities. When I attend traditional events like coronation of new kings or rulership anniversaries or even different festivals across the country, I bring along my Izomo cultural regalia comprising my official customs, dancers and trumpeters to add colour and cultural values to the events.

By so doing, I’m promoting social integration and unity of our various ethnic groups. I’m also the founder and head of the Izomo Cultural Title Holders of Edo and Delta States and our meetings and events bring about cultural integration of the various Izomo chieftaincies in our two states. To a very large extent, therefore, I’ve taken the spotlight in culture and tourism promotion and, apart from events like marriages and annual anniversaries, festivals have taken me to a number of countries in Africa and Europe and all the nooks and crannies of southern Nigeria.

But that notwithstanding, I’m pained and deeply disappointed by the failure of successive governments in Edo and Delta to give me support capable of opening the window of opportunities to impact fully in the culture and tourism industry of the two states. You can see that in Delta for example, we still have a lot to do in pushing the frontiers of culture and tourism to enable the sub-sector play its role in uniting our people and clans. We still experience a case of brothers fighting each other in the name of communal clashes as they make claims to land and so on. The modern state of tourism and cultural values has grown beyond that barbaric level.That is a simple assignment for those of us in culture and tourism practice to handle. My Izomo Foundation and of course our Izomo Culture Title Holders Association could handle this intervention effectively. It’s part of our traditional mandate to promote peace and harmony in the polity.

What inspired your love for culture and tourism?

My love for culture and tourism emanated mostly from my search for something that would constantly reflect my identity as a black man. The whiteman wears suit. That his cultural identity. We too must identify ourselves anywhere with our dress. I got captured by the mysteries surrounding our traditional heritage, the history of wars of our fore-fathers, the stories of our ancient discoveries.

These issues are like magnetic pull on me. When you look at our marriage, our languages, our proverbs and the values and ethics which guided the up bring of our fore-fathers, you will discover that our ancient life has certain attributes that are superior to those of the white man who brought modern civilization to us.

Did you notice that our fathers were healthier and physically stronger than we are today? Do you also notice that they lived longer and better structured, better organized than we’re today? Can you see that they were guided by individual values, ethics and philosophies which made their lives more valuable than what we have today? So, you see, these are the various issues of life that promoted ancient existence more than what obtains in modern life. So, life in those days were more interesting, more valuable and better than the frustrations, stress and challenges that attack modern existence. Therefore, following my continuous research and discoveries, I got challenged to immerse myself in promoting our cultural heritages and tourism potentials.

Is government living up to expectation in tourism and culture promotion?

No. This is where we’ve failed as a nation in terms of uniting our peoples from different (multi-ethnic) backgrounds. This is why we have lost out on love, togetherness and the unity needed to build our nation. If our different layers of government do the needful in terms of promoting tourism and culture, there will be greater social cultural, economic and political integration. There will be peace and development will be raised because the private sector will come in to invest, social integration will bring about increase in the tourism sector. You see that because of insecurity, the north has become completely locked up to non-northerners. Nobody wants to go to the northern part of Nigeria for any purpose because nobody really wants to submit his or her life to senseless killing.

Disclaimer

Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.