By NkutJesus Ekpoudom
On the twelfth day of the twelfth month in the year, two thousand and sixteen, the long anticipated maiden edition of Annañg Festival of Arts and Culture (AFAC), a brainchild of a socio-cultural organization in Annang land, known, called and addressed as ANNAÑG HERITAGE PRESERVATION INTERNATIONAL (AHPI), shall begin in earnest. Every arrangement as regards the AFAC project, in strictu sensu, has been put in place for the success and realization of this cultural festival. The jingle, which is good for both body and soul, is rich, amazing, cultural embellished, and absolutely captures the Annañg spirit. It summarizes glaringly the essence for which the event was conceived.
According to the programme of activities signed by the National Coordinator, Abom Ephraim Okon, and Chairman of the Central Planning Committee, Barr. Prince Basil Akpadiaha, and made available to the public, the one week event shall include, among others, Carnival floats within Ikot Ekpene, opening ceremony with different masquerade displays and magic moments; udughe (wrestling contests), exhibition of Annañg cultural artifacts, cultural displays from the eight local government areas that make up Annañg land, Annañg ballad, masquerade displays (ekpo, uta, ekóng, abiakpo, ajô, and ikara displays, as well as Public lecture/Symposium at the Old Ikot Ekpene Council Hall. The last day shall witness also all cultural displays as well as announcement of Raffle Results with lots of prizes ranging from Keke Napep, Motorcycle, Generators and various consolation prizes, to be won. Annañg Beauty Pageantry (Queen) and Annañg Awards have been suspended till early next year, to enable the committees and organizers plan very well.
At a meeting held in Ikot Ekpene ahead of the kick-off of the festival, the National Coordinator of AHPI, Abom Ephraim Okon, stated that the direction of the festival is reflected in the theme of this year’s Festival, which is geared towards fostering unity among the eight local governments areas that comprise Annañg nation. “The thrust of Annañg Heritage Preservation International (AHPI) is to unify all Annañg sons and daughters around the world, irrespective of status, political affiliation, and gender, for positive development; to bring together diverse cultural associations around the world in the spirit of oneness of purpose; to foster unity among the eight local governments areas that make up Annañg land”, Abom Ephraim Okon, saliently states. While we commend those who have laboriously laboured to ensure that the AFAC project comes to manifestation, we also most genuinely wish to acknowledge those persons (past and present) who have contributed tremendously to the promotion, preservation and development of the rich cultural heritage of Annañg society. Those to whom thanks are due are to numerous to mention. May our ancestors reward them bountifully.
Furthermore, that Annañg land practically parades herself with amazing, intelligent, gifted, pragmatic, philanthropic, great, versatile, exceptional and wonderful people, cannot be overemphasized. Cognizant that every society has its distinctive and unique cultural festivals which manifest in every facet of its life, as well as recognizing the richness of Annañg land and Annañg’s heritage of great and aesthetic works, just like the Nok culture of Plateau State, Igbo Ukwu culture, the Benin art works, Ekpe culture of the Efiks and Ife art which originated in Ile Ife, the spiritual home and historical city of the Yorubas, among others, ANNAÑG of Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria, West Africa, which is both an ethnic group and a language, shall also between 12th-18th, December, 2016, at the Raffia City, Ikot Ekpene Stadium, Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria, parade an array of traditional (cultural) displays/events earlier mentioned. AFAC is an attempt to glaringly demonstrate the indispensable role of Festival of Arts and Culture as a philosophy (panacea) for the unity of Annang nation. AFAC project which has been endorsed by all the village heads, Clan heads, Paramount Rulers and Traditional Rulers Council of Annañg land, as well as the Government of Akwa Ibom State, shall feature different cultural heads in seven days with about an expected five hundred thousand visitors in seven days.
It needs be noted that when Taylor defined culture as “that complex whole, which include knowledge, belief, art, law, moral, custom, and any other capabilities”, or when UNICEF defined culture as “a way of life, traditions and belief, perception of life and death, sex norms, and practice, power and gender relations, family structures, languages, and means of communication as well as arts and creativity”, they absolutely had Annañg of Akwa Ibom State in mind. It is the case, therefore, that our values, beliefs, attitudes, way of life, modes of perception, and habits of thought and activity, are different and spectacular. As such, if you show me a people without a culture, I shall show you a lost generation. Annañg Culture, therefore, is the totality of what makes an Annañg person truly Annañg. “Agwo Annañg” , ancient Annañg wisdom tells us, “ade Agwo Uko”.
Fascinated by Adede Barr. Prince Basil Akpadiaha ably led Central Planning Committee, Abom Ephraim Okon, AHPI pragmatic led exco, and Prof. Ezekiel Ette, Sir Ukpong Ekam and Hon. Justice Gabriel Ette, AHPI’s Board of Directors, among others, for the job so far done to ensure the realization of AFAC project, everyone (irrespective of ethnic group, tribe and race), is therefore cordially invited to Ikot Ekpene stadium to witness this cultural celebration and special observances. ADMISSION IS FREE. Yes, AFAC is a realizable project. Yes, AFAC is a possible project. Come and witness different features ranging from songs, music and dances, masquerade displays and traditional regalia etc from the 750 villages and 8 LGAs of Abak, Essien Udim, Etim Ekpo, Ika, Ikot Ekpene, Obot Akara, Oruk Anam and Ukanafun, that make up Annañg land. Inform your friends and relations about Annang Festival of Arts and Culture with the hash tag #AFAC.
Of the three ethnic groups in Akwa Ibom, namely Annang, Ibibio, and Oron, Annang which is at present situated in the North-Western territory of Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria, is the second in terms of size and population. Writers on Annañg such as Prof. Edidiong Ekpoudom, Fr. Dr. JohnBosco Ekanem, Prof. Ezekiel Ette, Dr. Joseph Udondata, Fr. Dr. Dominic Umoh and Dr. Ephraim Essien, among others, have stated in their works that Annang has thirty-nine(39) clans, eighty-six wards(86) and seven hundred and fifty villages(750). In an article titled “Agwo Annang Ade Agwo Uko: a case for identity and Esteem”, in AWOROM ANNANG: African Journal of Culture, Philosophy and Society, Vol. 1, Num. 1, Sept. 2011, a publication of the Department of Classics and Philosophy, University of Cape Coast, Ghana, I took time to outline, articulate and establish the true identity of an Annang person and the philosophy behind his “Ukoness”. Indeed, agwo Annañg ade Agwo Uko.
That Abak, Essien Udim, Etim Ekpo, Ika, Ikot Ekpene, Obot Akara, Oruk Anam and Ukanafun are at present the eight(8) local government areas that make up Annang land is a fact. That these local govenment areas share a special bond which have strengthened them to live in unity is equally evidently true. Hence, in a way, one could say that Ebebit Afaha Obong in Abak which is the headquarter (Afe Annang) of Annang where the Annang Supreme deity is traditionally positioned, is a place where the Annang are usually brought together for a common purspose. Afe Annang at different intervals has been headed by the following Annang sons(Itai Afe Annang):
-Atuekong Christopher Udomeshiet (Itai Afe Annang I);
-Sir Ephraim Essien(Itai Afe Annang II);
-Obong Professor Edidiong Ekpoudom(Itai Afe Annang III) all of blessed memory and at present
-Akuku Pius Effiong Eside(Itai Afe Annang IV).
Whether we term it “unitas”(Latin); “unite`(French); “einheit(German); “unita”(Italian); “mboho” (Annang/Ibibio); “enhed (Danish) or “unidade (Portuguese), what we mean is UNITY. “Unity” designates “oneness”, “togetherness”, “agreement”, “harmony” and “concord”. Annangland, it must hurriedly be stated, is a united nation, a home for all.
Scripturally, Paul’s theological treatises on UNITY, are found in his Letters to the Church at Ephesus and to the Philippians. He writes: “I urge you…show love by being tolerant with one another. Do your best to preserve UNITY which the Spirit gives by means of the peace that binds you togeher”(Eph. 4:1-3); “make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit”(Phil. 2:2). Jesus had earlier prayed, urging his disciples to unite. “…I pray that they may all be ONE”(John 17:21). From the forgoing, it is glaringly brought to light that edidiana kiet(togetherness) through the celebration of festivals and Culture thus serves as a panacea for the restoration of unity in any given society.
It is the case too that the power of music and the spirit good music has cannot be over emphasized. Music inspires, unites and liberates a people. It is in this sense that it is seen as a panacea, a remedy also for the restoration of unity in Annangland which for years has experienced internal divides. Not only did the musicologist, Dr. Adam Kniete note that: “music is really a powerful drug. Music can poison you, lift your spirits, or make you sick without knowing why”, the Venerable Greek philosopher, Plato, had earlier stated that: “music gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, and flight to the imagination”. As such, through Annang Unity Choir(AUC), during the AFAC events, the Annang people would come together to make their homes a wondrous place to live. That is partly why this piece is essentially necessary.
As the eight local governments areas of Annañg convoke, we are clairvoyant that this would foster unity, love, orderly, peaceful and harmonious co-existence in Annañg land. This is possible. AFAC is a realizable project. Yes, we can. Welcome to Ikot Ekpene. Welcome to Annañg land; home of wonderful people; home of hospitable people; home of courageous people; home of amiable people; home of admirable people; home of cultural people. Indeed, as Annañg Anthem, composed by AkanBen, saliently captures:
Ajid ide ilung itiaita
Ajôhô ne nti nkpô toto k’eched
Essien emana ked
Ilung ajid ade Annañg (2x)
Abak, Ika, Essien Udim, Ukanafun, Oruk Anam, Obot Akara, Etim Ekpo, Ikot Ekpene
Annañg ajid, jak ibono k’ima
Ke agwo Annañg ade Agwo Uko
O mme ete ete ajid, eda ujo Ikwô ajid
Jak Awasi Anyong ne isôñg aliôñg Annañg (2x)
The question that quickly salutes our mind now is “Can anything good come out from Annañg land? December, 12th-18th, 2016, shall tell. This is indeed a call to celebrate with the Annañg people their rich cultural heritage.
For more information, enquires and sponsorship, please call: 07030448318, 08065839513, 08085058705, 08032560600.
Annañg mma! Iya!
Annañg mma!! Iya!!
Annañg mma mmade ooo.!!! Iya! Iyaiiii!!!
NkutJesus Pius Ekpoudom Secretary, Media/Publicity Sub-Committee.