Reawakening our cultural identity

The 6th Cultural Day of Marie Balavenne Catholic College, Ilogbo, Ogun State, Nigeria, was held on 13th May 2023. The College, one of the leading colleges in the Diocese of Abeokuta and its environs, usually offers students and adults, every year, the opportunity to identify with and appreciate the culture of their people and thereby increase their pride and dignity.

As is the tradition of the college, the carnival started with a Eucharistic celebration presided over by Reverend Father Justin UDOMA, priest of the Catholic Diocese of Uyo. During the mass, the students read the texts in their different dialects, thus confirming the diverse cultural realities of the assembly. Father UDOMA began his homily with a wise saying that it would be difficult to be helped in a foreign country if all the members of one’s family wore strange clothes and spoke a foreign language. The falsification of our identity, lost through the abandonment of culture, was never God’s original plan. Father called this act evidence of an inferiority complex.  “We cannot be like others, nor others like us, from the point of view of culture,” he said. He encouraged parents to instil their culture in their children so that they do not end up denying it, but rather embrace and defend it.

After Holy Mass, the principal, Sister Rosemary Etim, Daughter of the Holy Spirit, gave her opening address. She welcomed everyone with a joyful and warm greeting that made everyone feel at home. She then introduced the theme of the cultural celebration as a “hidden treasure”. She stressed that culture is one of the forces that bring people together. She mentioned that Nigeria is rich in over 370 cultures, which implies a greater sense of cordiality. She also pointed out that Marie Balavenne College is fortunate to host people from over 30 cultural backgrounds. The cultural day of the year therefore invites everyone to discover the ‘hidden treasures’ of other cultures in the college and in Nigeria. Therefore, on this day, students were assigned different cultures from their parents, to help them discover the ‘hidden treasures’ of other cultures.  This was evident in their willingness to enjoy other peoples’ food, dress in their clothes, greet each other and speak to each other in dialects other than their own!

The second part of the began with a dance parade where different cultures exhibited their different attires and dance-steps. Shortly after the parade followed a folktale presentation, and then different presentations from all the tribes present.  As the drums beats were rendered in a very captivating rhythm, the beautiful traditional orchestra songs blared through the giant speakers and the energetic dances got feet flying in the air.
The kolanut was broken, a symbol of peace, and everyone present dined and danced. Different traditional foods were unveiled and were highly appreciated. This called in the masquerades performances as a very vibrant part of the culture. Prominent among them are the Edo fish masquerades and the adorned fishermen rowing boats as well as the Igbos multi-coloured hooded masquerades with top-notch dust raising and energetic dance-steps.

 Undoubtedly, all the diverse displays of culture created a high sense of unity beyond imagination. It spoke in all honesty, clear words of unity and togetherness. Meanwhile, all parents and guests departed with absolute satisfaction after a closing remark by the chairman of the cultural committee, Mr. Nedved AKINSOLU.

In attendance were Re. Fr. Alphonsus OBIELE MSP and Rev. Fr.Augustine AKPO MSP, the Chaplain of the College and some DHS sisters. Others in attendance also were: The royal Father of the day, Oba Dr. Samuel OJUGBELE together with Olori OJUGBELE and other dignitaries.

Par Sr. Rosemary Etim DHS. Published on 17 May 2023