Monday, 14 December 2009

A splash of Egyptian spice of life

The diverse peoples of the African continent rrespective of the shades of their skin colour have a lot in common, especially when it comes to their beliefs, culture, food and ways of life.
This fact was demonstrated recently in Abuja during the Egyptian cultural week. Those who witnessed the events would testify to the similarity between the cultures of the peoples of Nigeria and Egypt as depicted in the dances, the folklores and even artworks that were on display.
Not only are the two countries bonded by the landmass called Africa, they also share similarities in occupation, means of entertainment and ways of dressing. There are also some similarities in the icons of Egypt and Nigeria; perhaps this is responsible for the strong ties they share in trade and social relations.

At the cultural night held at Transcorp Hilton hotel, guests were treated to the best of dances from Egypt as presented by Sohag Cultural Troupe. The dances told stories of the way of life of the Egyptians and their culture. The costumes looked more like the dressing pattern of a typical Hausa/Fulani people of Nigeria.The sohag folklore is a dance that reminds one of the Fulani entertainment style as the Egyptian dancers displayed their skills of using sticks as well as farming as one of the Sohag region heritage.
Just like Nigerians, the Egyptian ladies wound their waists to the rhythm of the soothing music from the background. Sometimes the music was loud because of the use of the base drum.
The skirt dance is a one-man show that sees the performer going round on the same spot. This is from Egyptian mystical origin and it is based on circular movements. The dance from the Sufi Muslim, and has a philosophical dimension: it represents the notion that the universe begins and ends at the same spot in a circular movement.
Rababa is a display of Egyptian local musical instruments that tells the story of how rituals such as circumcision and birth of a new baby are performed. Al Marakbia is a dance that portrays life at the Nile side otherwise known as Haby. It is believed that past generations sang for the river; a reason the present generation practises the same ritual. This dance portrays love, beauty and well-being.
The stick dance, Al Tahteeb, shows what is considered the most important local tradition. Sohag is said to be the only city that practices stick dance in the whole of Egypt. It reflects the confidence of the Sohag man and his pride of the stick. It also shows the multiple skills on the tune of local flute.
Like it is the wedding of Sohag (Al Farah Al Sohagy). It is one of the famous customs at weddings among the people of Sohag. It features dressing of the bride, marriage ritual and wedding procession.

The events of the Egyptian Cultural week also had an artwork contest, products of which showed the common features of the Nigerian and Egyptian cultures. The works compared the icons of both countries with the aim of bringing out the features that bind both countries together.
For example, some of the works showed the similarity in Pharaoh and Oduduwa heads. Some compared the typical dressing culture of both Fulani and Egyptian girls. One of the artworks brought out similar features in the heads of Pharaoh and that of Oba of Benin. The winning artwork done by a Nigerian named Sen Sor, described the Fulani huts in similarity to the Egyptian pyramids.

While addressing guests at the cultural night, Egyptian ambassador, Mr. Sherif Naguib, said the second Egyptian cultural week was organised to reflect the close cultural ties between both countries.
“The collaboration with the Nigerian Ministry of Culture and the National Gallery of Arts was instrumental in making this event a reality. We hope that this event will further strengthen the existing close relations between Egypt and Nigeria”, he said.
Prizes were presented to the three winners in the artwork competition and guests were treated to a food festival.

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