When Isoko Students Celebrated A Festival Of Arts And Culture
THE National Union of Isoko Students (NUIS) nation-wide recently held its festival of Arts and Culture on December 29, 2015, to celebrate the rich cultural heritage of Isoko people. The venue was Isoko Central School (ICS), Oleh, Delta State. The festival featured Isoko songs, dress styles, cuisine, proverbs, anecdotes, riddles, dance, myths and legends. The overall aim of the festival was to help immerse Isoko youths into the ways of life of their culture for its promotion and preservation.
At about 1pm, the students, clad in different colourful traditional attires, filled up Isoko Central School playground. The mild weather engendered a good outing, with Emonena Highlife Band ushering students and guests into the venue. In terms of sartorial elegance, the festival rivaled that of Calabar Annual Carnival.
The compere, Mr. Michael Owhomoro, who is adept in the use of proverbs, anecdotes and wits, titillated the gathering to engender laughter. After the opening prayer by Evangelist Michael Ekokorue, kola nuts were presented, blessed and shared. Then the National President, Comrade Josiah Omenuwoma and chapter presidents danced to the song-poetry in a procession midst blessings.
Thereafter, Omenuwowa presented his welcome address and spoke on the need to promotion Isoko arts and culture. He solicited for financial assistance from individuals and corporate bodies to help sponsor programmes and projects that would help promote and preserve Isoko arts and culture.
The keynote speaker, Isoko-born scholar, sculptor and Acting Head, Department of Fine and Applied Arts, Delta State University, Abraka, Dr. Nelson Edevwor, canvased the setting up of Isoko Culture Committee to organise Isoko Renaissance Day. The aim of the day, he noted, was to sell and promote Isoko’s beautiful artistic and cultural products to the world. He also said prizes should be instituted for poetry, drama, debates and film production to promote and preserve the Isoko language, history and culture.
When he finished, a standing ovation greeted his lecture as it spoke to the minds of many in the youthful audience, highlighting an oil-rich Isoko nation that has been marginalised in many respects in Nigeria’s socio-political arrangement.
Also present was the new President-General of Isoko Development Union (IDU), Hon. (High Chief) Iduh G. Amadhe who came with his entourage. Amadhe applauded the initiative and foresight of an arts and culture festival by Isoko students in tertiary institutions across the country. He did not only support the students with a token sum to defray the cost of organising the festival, he also expressed his commitment to implementing the recommendations enunciated by Edevwor to organise a cultural event for Isoko people as a way of engendering communal rebirth of Isoko nation!
The renowned Opiri dancers of Ozoro were spectacular and thrilled the gathering with enchanting dances amidst drumming and singing. Everyone was awed and appreciated the dancers with monetary gifts.
Another goodwill message by the elegant Chief (Mrs.) Betty Efekhodo followed. Efekhodo, a former Commissioner of Women Affairs in Delta State, also applauded and encouraged the students’ union body to continue with the enduring and noble tasks of making Isoko great again. She also supported the call for Isoko Renaissance Day, andgave a financial token to the student body.
Also, Usio cultural dancers of Ulli-Iyede stepped forward with their charming and spellbinding performances that thrilled the audience. More dances and songs by other cultural groups also followed in quick succession. The famous banga soup (made from palm fruits) with starch among the Isoko, with eba, were served and eaten with relish by all. It brought the event to a glorious and joyous end!
* Comrade Ajiroghene Oreh Oreh is a student of English and Literary Studies, Delta State University, Abraka