Bongo festival, Njiko carnival… double celebration of Igbo heritage

carnivalWHAT do Bongo Festival and Njiko Carnival have in common? They are festivities of music, arts and culture with the aim of promoting the cultural heritage of the eastern region of Nigeria. Timely planned to hold during the end of the year’s holiday when people are due to return home for the season’s festivities, these events are expected to attract culture lovers from all over Nigeria and in the Diaspora as well as from South Eastern states of Nigeria such as Abia, Imo, Anambra, Ebonyi and Enugu.

The symbolism of the Bongo musical instrument as adapted into the festival was explained by Tony Anyadike, one of its organizers,  “The essence of the Bongo musical instrument in our heritage cannot be ignored. It signifies a lot in our history. It is a symbol of strength, a strong voice, announcement of great passages, events and entertainment. Because of its strong presence in our history, we chose it as a symbol of this festival of Ndi Igbo.”

This year’s maiden edition of Bongo festival, which is being organised by the Bongo Festival Limited and endorsed by Imo State Government, promises to showcase the cultural heritage of the Igbo people.

The three-day event began last Monday and curtains would be drawn on it today in Owerri, Imo State.

“This festival will gather all Igbos from around the world and people from all works of life to the South East. It will be a national and an international congregation as various embassies and international agencies have been put on notice about this great event. The first of its kind,” Tony added.

In contemporary times when cultures are going extinct, it has become imperative that bold and conscious steps are taken to revive, protect, promote and maintain the cultural heritage. Bongo Festival, according to organizers, is designed to embark on cultural renaissance in Igbo land to foster unity of purpose in the quest for a united Igbo identity.

According to Tony, Bongo Festival is out for the future and portrayal of the Igbo culture. Why so much value is placed on women and why the bride price is so high are part of the areas to be explored and reflected upon during the festival.

In reference to the ongoing agitation for a Biafran state, Tony asserted that no manner of violence nor aggression will be linked to the festivities which in defence of the festival, he said, is primarily aimed to foster social interaction.

He said, “The Biafran agitators have in no way harmed or kidnapped anyone. Security will not be an issue. The issues around the Biafran agitation will in no way affect the proceedings of the festival.”

Njiko Carnival is an annual festival that ultimately bring together every Igbos in Nigeria and diaspora, to celebrate unity. The Njiko Carnival, was borne out of a strong desire to showcase the rich cultural heritage of the South Eastern Region which overtime, is being eroded and lost. The name Njiko means Togetherness/ Unity. The name Njiko was coined as a clarion call to encourage the Igbos to unite through the medium of Arts and Culture.

The Carnival with an expected crowd of over 80,000 spectators and participants from all over the South Eastern States, is aimed at engaging the youth in productive and result oriented activities. Njiko Festival is expected to attract a mass movement of people of Igbo origin within the country and those in diaspora to unite and celebrate the rich cultural heritage of the Igbo people.

The venue for the Carnival is in the beautiful environment around the Blue Lake of Oguta. The Oguta Lake is the second largest of its kind in Nigeria and it is chosen for it’s potential as a perfect tourist location. According to its organizers, it is the only carnival site in Nigeria with this feature which could mark the beginning of a major tourist destination able to rival that of the Calabar carnival which has become one of the biggest carnivals in West Africa.

The Njiko Carnival 2015 with the theme: The Rising Carnival, is scheduled to hold between December 28 and 29, 2015.
Charles Oputa, Chairman and National Coordinator of the Njiko Carnival said, “It is with great pleasure that we introduce the first ever Igbo Carnival with an expected crowd of over 100,000 spectators and participants from all the five South Eastern States converging in one place.

“Njiko Carnival is an annual festival that ultimately bring together every Igbos in Nigeria and diaspora, to celebrate in unity as it name connote through art and culture. Njiko carnival seeks to foster a sense of community, pride, belonging and connectedness by celebrating our Igboness through Arts and Culture.”

Charles Oputa a.k.a. Charly Boy, is a seasoned broadcaster with over 30 years of media, socio-cultural and street experience accrued via ‘the Street University’. He has an outstanding academic background with a diploma from Harvard University, a degree in Suffolk University and a Masters from Emerson University.

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