The National President, Mada Development Association (MDA), Mr. D. I. C. K. Sambari, has appealed to the Mada people of Akwanga Local Government Area of Nasarawa State to do everything within their limit to ensure that the culture of the people is preserved, saying a people without culture are lost to themselves and humanity.
This was contained in his welcome address at the Grand Finale of the Nzeh Mada 2014 cultural festival, with theme, “Festival of Peace and Re-union,” on Saturday, April 19, 2014, at the Central Primary School, Akwanga, Nasarawa State.
Sambari, who said the preservation of Mada culture should remain paramount, stressed that it is the culture that has given them the identity as Mada people, and as much as it may be difficult to resist interference of other cultures in the new borderless world that has collapsed into a global village with an avalanche of cultures, conscious steps should be taken to avert the situation.
According to him, the Mada people got it wrong from the moment extreme modernization began to influence the cultural attitudes and orientations of the people, saying: “Mada culture has been invaded and perverted by a wave of strange cultures. These new cultures, as Obierika in (Chinua Achebe’s) Things Fall Apart would put it, ‘(They have) put a knife on the things that held us together and we have fallen apart.’ We Mada people must religiously unite as a single body again.”
He further expressed worries that the Mada culture and its values have suffered severe corruption from food to arts, language to interactions, and technology to architecture; but maintained that together, the Mada people can still organize forums to access and discuss their social life, the nature of marriages, the bride-price and its effects on marriage institutions.
“In the past, our people lived in close-knit units and marriage was more often than not restricted within our tribe. Our people couldn’t think of going beyond the boundaries of our communities that are our neighbours, people would come back home to get married and in the process, our tradition and values were maintained and sustained but now it is different; our tribe has opened up, indeed Nigeria is opened up and we attribute this partly to education and modernization.”
The MDA President, who regretted that children within the community no longer speak their mother tongue because the Mada father does not speak the language nor speak the language of the mother fluently, maintained that this is where the loss of identity starts from and need to be re-addressed.
He was therefore of the view that since marriage across boundaries cannot be stopped in Mada land, there is every need to embark on socialization programmes that will encourage Mada people to speak their language which he stressed is at the brink, ensure that at all times that the costumes and dressing habits in all Mada cultural practices and real performances are uniform and sustained, and encourage constant practice of the cultural dances of the people.