The 13th edition of the World Culture Day took a different dimension as it was celebrated by the South-East Zonal Office of National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO), in collaboration with relevant stakeholders, such as, the Office of Igbo Affairs, the Office of Northern Affairs, and the Office of South-West Affairs, all of Government House, Owerri.
Also involved were the Hausa community and the Yoruba community in Imo State, and the Igbozurume Worldwide, who all participated actively to make the event, which took place at the Ikemba Ojukwu Centre, Owerri, with the theme, “Creativity: A Tool for Peace and National Development,” worthwhile.
Speaking at the occasion, Governor Rochas Okorocha, represented by the Honourable Commissioner for Special Duties, Hon. Charles Onuorah, expressed his profound gratitude to the organizers and commended the Federal Government for establishing NICO with such crucial and indispensible mandate.
He also lauded NICO for its relentless efforts geared towards the preservation and promotion of our cultural heritage and national integration, and urged the Institute to be on the giving end by continually developing programmes that will engender the imbibing of our cultural heritage.
Governor Okorochas declared that he joined the crusade for cultural preservation by mandating the traditional rulers in the State to speak Igbo language in their domains and in all public functions, just as the State Schools have also been charged to speak Igbo language and include it in their academic curriculum.
According to him, the entrenchment of the culture of our fatherland will foster unity because by this, every group will respect and recognize the culture of one another as it will encourage tolerance, and further advocated inter-ethnic marriages to promote cultural integration among Nigerians.
He observed that regrettably, there is a very high degree of tribalism and urged the people of the North-Eastern part of the country to shun indiscriminate killings and ethnic violence and pleaded with the public to embrace Government’s peace initiatives, and further enjoined Nigerians to diversify the economy by exploring potential possibilities and return to agriculture.
Earlier in her welcome address, NICO Zonal Co-ordinator, Mrs. Chioma Duru, gave an overview of UNESCO’s World Day for Cultural Diversity, Dialogue and Development, otherwise known as World Culture Day (WCD), which declaration, she said, re-affirmed the need for inter-cultural dialogue to prevent segregation and fundamentalism, and highlighted NICO’s strategic position as a focus for orientation in cultural matters and emphasized its role as an indispensable actor in the Nigerian cultural landscape.
While expressing her elation on the dimension that WCD 2013 had taken in the zone, with the involvement of relevant bodies and ethnic groups, Duru decried the lack of consideration given to culture in developmental plans in spite of the fact that culture is the sum total of a people’s creative ingenuity, arguing that it has been the bane of sustainable development, and that WCD 2013 was for sober reflections on our multi-cultural state and its impact on national integration.
Former Director, Mass Mobilization for Economic Recovery and Self-Reliance (MAMSER), Imo State, Dr. Chuks Osuji, in delivering the guest lecture, looked at the facets of culture and explored the relationship between culture and creativity, informing that inventiveness as a function of environmental elements will nurture peace, and that without peace, a nation cannot develop, and that creativity is the catalyst which propels innovations as a component of national development.
In his vote of thanks, the Chairman of the Planning Committee, Hon. Chris Nwankwo, expressed his profound gratitude for being one of the organizers of the programme and commended the NICO Zonal Coordinator, Mrs. Chioma Duru, for her doggedness in ensuring a successful celebration.
He urged people in positions of authority, stakeholders in the culture sector, and the general public, to support programmes like this and streamline efforts in ensuring the preservation, promotion and propagation of our age-long and cherished cultural heritage.
The occasion featured food exhibition and dances from the Hausa, Yoruba, and Igbo communities and investiture of notable dignitaries as cultural ambassadors.
Dignitaries presented included the Director Centre for Nigerian Languages and Culture, Imo State University, Owerri, Professor Jerome Okonkwo, who was the Chairman of the occasion; and former Minister of Education, Professor Fabian Osuji, among others.
NICO Zonal Office,Owerri