Raymond Ozoji, Awka
The potent nature of an undiluted and unadulterated palmwine sourced directly from the palm tree manifested itself recently when the Anambra State Ministry of Culture, Tourism, Diaspora Affairs and Indigenous Artworks organised a food and art exhibition in Awka the state capital. It was an occasion to go down memory lane of the hayday when natural palmwine was served with local delicacies like roasted meat garnished with local sauce like ugba, pepper, palm oil and the like and devoured with the ferocity of a lion. It reminds you of the days when civilization had not interfered with nature. That was the atmosphere at the exhibition as fresh palmwine was on display for people to feast on as well as enjoy the splendor that comes with such activity.
Guests on the occasion were also treated to all manner of locally made food ranging from ukwa, akpu, ofe-egwusi, ofe-nsala , ofe-onugwu, ofe-ora, abacha to mention a few. The health and medicinal value of some of the types of food on display was also explained to enable people to return to the natural ways of preparing food rather than artificial means associated with junk foods. The food exhibition drew dignitaries from within and outside Anambra state who attested to the efficacy and richness of the types of food in the state. The State Commissioner for Culture, Tourism, Diaspora Affairs and Indigenous Artworks Barr. Salley Mbanefo said in the course of the exhibition that to alleviate poverty in the country, opportunities should be created for businesses to thrive pointing out that in Anambra state, the state government is in touch with the United Nations to help expand the business of palmwine tappers within and outside Nigeria.
Mbanefo said palmwine tappers needed to be encouraged and supported because the role of palm wine in the Igbo culture and tradition cannot be overstressed. Apart from creating opportunities for palmwine tappers, she also disclosed that the Ministry of Culture, Tourism, Diaspora Affairs and Indigenous Artworks has launched a portal she identified as Igbo-Made-Easy for Ndi-Anambra and Ndigbo in diaspora to learn and master Igbo language and culture. She said it is in the agenda of the state government to revamp and upgrade all existing tourist destinations across the state and also refine its masquerade festivals for transcultural exchange even as she mentioned that the ministry welcomes creative art works from Indigenous Sculptors and beyond.
Traditional ruler of Onitsha ancient kingdom Igwe Alfred Nnaemeka Achebe (Agbogidi) in his remarks said that culture is very important because it helps one remember who he is. He said the food and art exhibition was one of the ways to get people acquainted with the peculiarities of their own cultural heritage. Meanwhile Sir Chuka Nnabuife a renowned artist and resource person on the occasion noted that creativity in a concrete form like visual art is the best way to take a people out of poverty and equally create dreams and innovations that will transform organisations.
Nnabuife observed also that without innovations, there would be no industrial growth, technical advancement and economic bouyance. The Areonokakanfo of Yoruba land Ganiyu Adams in his remarks, noted that Governor Willie Obiano has through the arts and food exhibition showcased the tourism part of Anambra state urging him to ensure that the programme is sustained. He however appealed to the state governor to give total support to the ministry of culture, tourism, diaspora affairs and Indigenous art works to showcase more events geared towards uplifting youths from poverty and employment.