Over the years, there have been calls to make Nigeria’s rich cultural heritages a tourist attraction as what is obtainable globally. This is what the Ohueje Ohinoyi Festival among Ebira language speaking people in Kogi state is pushing to achieve. BENJAMIN UMUTEME writes.
Ohueje Ohunoyi is an annual cultural festival that showcases the rich cultural heritage of Ebira (Tao) people located in Kogi central.
The choice of this festival is used to connect with the early history of Anebira (Ebira people) that was founded on mythical and industriousness with a mix of various cultural exhibitions.
A peep into history reveals that most of the age-long cultural events of the founding fathers are based on entertainment, security and industrious motivations.
Besides the cultural festivals, there is a common physical feature which by its nature is a tourist sites. There is conspicuous presence of block of dissected hills and the metaphoric rocks enveloping the greater part of the city.
The hills rise to a peak of 2000 ft with rich mineral deposits. Ebira is prominent in the country’s prehistory civilisation of the stone and iron age.These have potentials to bring wealth via tourism and industrial investments. As a very industrious and innovative conscious people, Anebira had been involved in various trade and crafts, ranging from weaving, pot making, bamboo fabrications, blacksmith, farming, hunting and so on. These had remained non-harnessed for decades and most the these trades and products are going into extinction.
Over the years, these noble architects of Ebira cultural festival have suffered negative trend and references. The long migration history had not earned any usefulness to the modern generation while the accidental, but well-endowed place of settlement had not been put into proper use to earn Ebira people the desired wealth and fame.
After a painstaking work on most of the festivals, the need to integrate Ebira traditional festival in their bits and pieces came up with a composite festival that fits into the modern trend.
Ebira is no doubt the home of traditional weaving in the country which has produced various designs and colour for royalties like kings and queens across the world, as history had it.
Therefore, having secured the blessings and endorsement of the traditional rulers of Ebira people, ranging from His Royal Majesty, Alh Dr Ado Ibrahim, the Ohinoyi of Ebiraland, the Ohis, down to Otarus. The government of Kogi state lead by His Excellency, Alhaji Yahaya Adoza Bello, the executive governor of Kogi state has supported the festival to be celebrated annually in Kogi central and had in addition empowered 77 women and youths in various trades through the office of the First Lady of Kogi state lead by his wife, Hajia Rashidat Bello.
In this 6th edition which comes up on March 3 to 5th 2022. In this edition, there would be weaving competition, tagged 100 loom match, also known ‘Oguntoro Echehi’ alongside tourist sites visit.
This concept would bring together 100 weavers, mounting their looms in a critical competition where prizes would be won by the first three best weavers. The idea here is to enhance the weaving culture of the people as the industry is capable of creating thousands of jobs for the people, especially the women folks who dominte the trade. On yearly basis, it is agreed that the festival would be introducing one trade alongside the cultural festival to enhance the richness and boost the economy of the people, state and country at large.