The cultural day celebration of the NADESSTU which was slated for 1st October, 2019 have come and gone. The cultural day billed to commence 10:00am actually started around 2:30pm. This was 4 hours, 30mins late into mid-noon. The ceremony started with a brief introduction and division of invited guests into various houses, namely – Isoko, Ijaw, Urhobo, Itsekiri and the Anioma. This was followed by introduction of members of the high table. The members of the high table consists of the Patron, stakeholders and union presidents.
The first cultural activity was the singing of tribal anthems. The president appealed to all present to stand on their feet as various houses sang their anthems at different times.
Next was the calling of recharge cards in various languages. The NADESSTU president, Comr. Iwetan Julius handed recharge cards to stakeholders whom are believed to have deep knowledge of their various languages to call out the recharge cards to their groups. The significance of the activity was to know those students who visit their homes or are at least, aware of how numerals are called in their local languages.
The recharge card calling started with the Urhobo house, but it was rather unfortunate that the recharge card of Urhobo was claimed by an Isoko student. Isoko came next, then Ijaw, Anioma and Itsekiri with their students claiming their own cards unlike the Urhobos who lost theirs to the Isokos. It was really a hilarious activity as those who do not understand numerals in their languages carried copy and paste from classroom to cultural day as some students were heard translating numbers while others were copying.
The next activity was that of entertainment of the NADESSTU house by the various houses. The significance of this activity was to show students how entertainment is being done in their own tribe. Entertainment is done in various events in different tribes. It can be done during marriage ceremonies, burial rites, visits and other functions. Various houses supported NADESSTU with wine, kolanuts and monies.
The Next notable activity was that of cultural dances. The various houses were expected to dance to their songs and entertain the cheering crowd. The patron who was also present pledged N5,000 to the most dressed and best danced cultural group. The show began with the Isoko house with a resounding entertainment. Then the Ijaws entered with their usual exciting dance steps. It was after this time that the Urhobo house came with their dances. Anioma house followed, then the Itsekiri house. At the end, the Itsekiri house came 1st as the number of persons well dressed were about 11, the highest of them all. Their dances too were also well articulated unlike some houses who danced differently; the Aniomas came 2nd, the Urhobos came 3rd and so on.
Award presentation was also done where awards were presented in various categories like Philanthropist to the patron, recognition to the presidents of the various houses and some other stakeholders.
Significance of the Event
Many students are not comfortable mingling with their cultural groups in school. The problem for this may be as a result of their perspectives concerning their cultures. Some extreme Christians tie idolatry practices to cultural practices in schools and this makes them to stay away. Others were not properly drawn close nor inculcated into their ways of life from childhood, and this may also influence why many students stay away from their cultural activities in schools.
Nevertheless, cultural days in school have a significant positive influence on students’ future life. I have seen many parents, when their first daughter wants to marry, the father does not know how to accept kolanuts, nor entertain visitors in their cultural ways. Involving in cultural activities in schools helps students to be initiated and properly imbibe their cultures values. Cultures in schools are contrastingly opposite to idolatry practices. In fact, students don’t use any form of juju, magic and anything related to perform their activities. For instance, the recharge card calling activities did not need any form of juju to be done. The purpose was to teach students how numbers are called in their local dialects. Even if there is any activity that smell of idol worship, such would have been merely and for performance purpose only.
We stakeholders of this struggle are using this medium to appeal to all students, parents and well meaning individuals to give tradition a place in the life of the learner as some of these learning experiences will be needed later in life.