Arts and Crafts constitute a very important part of the tangible cultural heritage, and are common in every African society. African culture, as in other continents and clime, is expressed in its arts and crafts, folklore, music, dance, language, religion, clothing, cuisine etc.
That Nigeria, like other African countries, are blessed with a rich cultural heritage. This heritage forms a long line which links African forefathers with their descendants who take delight in it. African heritage embodies the tangible and intangible culture.
The intangible cultural heritage shows itself in folklores, proverbs, riddles myths, legend, etc., and is found in great numbers among all African peoples.
No doubt, arts and craft show the creative ingenuity of the African peoples. Crafts include the making of beads, pots, baskets, tools and utensils, bows and spears, carvings, etc.
Regrettably, this productive activity that has been passed down from our forebears, which ensured that they were not only gainfully employed but also served as a means of cultural preservation, propagation and reawakening, is gradually being eroded.
It is in a bid to stem this ugly tide that the Centre for Black and African Arts and Civilization (CBAAC) in collaboration with the Chairman, House Committee on Culture and Tourism, Hon Ogbeide- Ihama, organised a workshop on ‘African Heritage For Women And Youths’, a Zonal Intervention Project, in Oredo Federal Constituency In Edo State.
The 2019/2020 edition of the Zonal Intervention Project, a Federal Government Constituency Project, was held in Benin City, the Edo State capital.
The week-long workshop witnessed a large turnout of participants throughout the duration of the programme. In her welcome address, the Director- General of CBAAC, Hon. Oluwabunmi Ayobami Amao (FITP), who was ably represented by the Assistant Director Research and Publications Department, CBAAC, Mr Adesegun Dosumu, reiterated the Centre’s commitment to championing the revival and restoration of the rich cultural heritage of Africans and African Diaspora with particular reference to the Benin culture and tradition and its global influence.
Also, Hon Ogbeide-Ihama, who was present at the event, thanked the Director- General of CBAAC, Hon Oluwabunmi Ayobami Amao (FITP), for her efforts in ensuring that the workshop became a huge success, as he also pledged to support the Centre towards achieving her statutory global mandate.
Ogbeide-Ihama, who was particularly elated by the large turnout of participants, informed the audience that the workshop was organised to bring to the fore the much talked about but neglected aspect of our cultural heritage “which has continued to dwindle due largely to our wrong preferences to western cultures and ideals.”
He added that for Africans and the entire black race to make any meaningful progress, there is the need to sensitize women who are culture bearers and the youths who are the purveyors of our rich cultural heritage to understand the centrality of African Heritage in building a society where peace, justice, equity and development would thrive.
As part of the activities for the event, a scholar, Dr. Moses Obakpolor, delivered a lecture on African Heritage. In the lecture, he traced the underdevelopment of Africa to her inability to mainstream culture in all developmental policies and programmes of the governments of most African States.
Obakpolor argued that it was ironical for Africans to abandon their rich cultural heritage while embracing western culture, stressing that such ignoble act by Africans is the result of the continent’s slow progress.
While drawing from the Benin cultural experience, the scholar also opined that it has become a matter of urgent necessity for the people to guard against all forms of social degradation that could impinge on Benin cultural heritage.
Meanwhile, the training on beads and soap making commenced with an introductory lecture on the unique importance of beads in African tradition. The facilitator, who said that beads are a unique element of culture used in adorning and embellishing one’s dress, also stated that beads are a mark of royalty that distinguish royal families from their subjects.
Thereafter, the facilitators taught the participants the rudiments of bead making and methods of designing different types of beads; from the royal beads to the common beads. In all, there were four facilitators in Bead Making and three facilitators of Soap making.
The Chairman House Committee on Culture & Tourism, Hon. Ogbeide-Ihama, who was represented at the Training for Beads and Soap making workshop, thanked the Director- General of CBAAC, Hon Oluwabunmi Ayobami Amao, for her efforts in ensuring that the empowerment training programme for women and youth turned out a huge success. He also pledged to support the Centre towards achieving her statutory global mandate. Ogbeide-Ihama was particularly elated by the large turnout of participants.
He informed the audience that the training programme was organised as a skill acquisition programme that would enable participants to be gainfully employed. He further stated that, bearing in mind the challenges of modern living, the training programme will not only afford participants the opportunity to take pride in their rich cultural heritage but also provide them with alternative sources of income that would guarantee self-reliance.
In her remark, the Director-General of CBAAC Hon Amao, who was ably represented by Mr. Adesegun Dosumu, informed the audience that the zonal intervention project is a programme of the Federal Government designed to make the locals enjoy the benefits of good governance. She urged participants to cease the opportunity provided through this platform to acquire new skills that would empower them economically.
Guests were entertained to a dance drama on the cradle of Benin rich history, culture and civilisation by the Benin Troupe. At the end of the workshop, which recorded a resounding success, certificates were issued to participants.
The Centre for Black and African Arts and Civilization (CBAAC), established by Decree 69 of 1979 following the successful and epochmaking hosting of the 2nd World Black and African Festival of Arts and Culture (FESTAC ’77), houses all the materials which constitute the core collections, artifacts, and rare cultural items that were used during FESTAC ’77.
The decision to handover these materials to Nigeria Was to reinforce and build upon the gains of the historic festival. It was in fact in fulfillment of Nigeria’s pledge to keep the materials in trust for the 59 Black and African countries and communities which participated in the Festival that gave impetus for the establishment of the Centre. To achieve its set goals, the Centre holds seminars, workshops, public lectures, exhibitions and symposia.
The Centre engages in other activities which project the overall image of Black and African Peoples and enable their cultures to be appreciated globally.
Through its numerous programmes, the Centre has continued to contribute to the pool of universal knowledge on Black and African Peoples. Statutorily, the Centre is charged with the responsibility of promoting and propagating Black and African Cultural Heritage in its totality.
The strategic mandate of the Centre, and the key role it has been playing in making Nigeria the arrowhead in the presentation, promotion and propagation of African cultural heritage informed the decision (vide government white paper on the report of the Presidential Panel on the Review, Harmonization and Rationalisation of Federal Parastatals, Institutions, and Agencies in 2000) to upgrade CBAAC to an African Heritage Centre.