Saturday, 16 January 2010
BY CHARLES AKPEJI
THE people of Ekpan, Nyifon and Jukun may have been separated by space and time over the years, their common ancestral and cultural heritage, which is their unifying force, remain firm.
This affinity was displayed at the 2009 Ukenho Festival, held recently in Nyita, Donga Local Council of Taraba State.
The festival, which was instituted as a means of uniting the people, who due to states creation are scattered across Taraba, Benue and Nasarawa states, with majority occupying the southern part of Taraba, has since been elevated into an art form; and yearly event.
The sleepy town, on this day, wore colourful ambience, with presence by royal fathers of different status.
Spectators were held spellbound by the theatrical and cultural display that brought out the elements that unify the people.
The common features of the various art forms such as dances, fashion, archery, wrestling, art and craft exhibitions added to the thrill.
Taraba State Governor, Danbaba Suntai, who applauded the performers, called for the preservation of the peoples’ collective heritage; urging the integration of the youths into the cultural fold.
Chairman of the festival committee, Rebo Usman, said the yearly convivial gathering has made it possible for the people to be united, network and celebrate their common heritage.
He said: “This event has not only brought us together as one people; for it has continued to promote peace, rapid growth and development among us and with those in the Diaspora.”
He urged the people to learn from the teachings of most of the dance steps and eschew vices capable of bringing disgrace to Ekpan Nyifon Jukun kingdom.
Chairman Nigeria Speakers’ Forum, Istifanus Gbana, in his admonition said: “This is the time for all of us to go back home to revive our culture. If the norms and values of our culture are upheld most of the vices in our society, today, will naturally give way.”
Gbana stressed the need for the various state’s House of Assemblies to enact laws that would not only protect the cultural heritage of the various nationalities within their state, but ensure a forum is created yearly, for the people to celebrate their cultural.
The event attracted massive following and high profile personalities from Taraba State and across the country, which showed the premium the people placed on it.
Among the dignitaries that witness the fest are the Senate President, David Mark; Joel D. Ikenya, Director of Finance National Assembly; David Kente; Manasseh Zorto; Joseph Mairebo; Philip D. Duwe; and Jerome Uggah Moze.