Last week, indigenes of Kalabari based in Lagos had a get-together where they celebrated their culture, music, food, dance and traditional attires in grand style.
The Kalabari are a sub-group of the Ijaw people living in the eastern Niger Delta region of Nigeria, originating from Delta, Rivers or Bayelsa States.
The convener of the programme, Reverend Asoliye Douglas-West, disclosed that the purpose of the all-Kalabari gathering in Lagos during the festive mood was because there were a large number of Kalabari residents in Lagos that was sizeable to form a recognizable ethnic community.
Of a truth, there is a large number of Kalabari-speaking people living in Lagos and according to the convener, the essence of the gathering was to reinforce the bond of concord and camaraderie.
The event occurred at the end of the year reflecting the mood of the season to demonstrate charity and friendship.
Asoliye went on to say that guests wore their native and colourful attires because “as unwritten as it might be unmistakable, the generally accepted dress code for attending this kind of event is native attire.
“Appearing in native dresses is not just as a form of expressing identity but also to remind ourselves of the source of our cultural roots and origin and to display the richness and splendour of the attires we wear.
“By so doing we advertise our culture to the outside world for recognition and appreciate who we are.
During the event, the Disc Jockey played only Kalabari songs and the convener added it was intentional.
“Considering the fact Lagos is a cosmopolitan city with a potpourri of ethnic and cultural diversities, we might not have frequent opportunities to access and listen to songs indigenous to our folklore and culture on public radio or in the streets.
“We have to fully exploit the moment occasions like this to relive wonderful experiences, memories and philosophy the rhythms of the songs convey,” he said.
Speaking about how Kalabari people living in Lagos can preserve their cultural heritage, he disclosed there are multiple channels that can be explored and employed to preserve the Kalabari cultural heritage.
From the routine informal scheduled community meetings, other organised platforms and instrumentality such as exhibitions, dance drama and colloquium could prove to be very useful and result-oriented.
“Migration induced by globalization and urbanization appears to be fueling the threat of extinction of dialects spoken by some minority ethnic groups.
“The threat of extinction is real as there is a steadily declining population that can fluently speak the Kalabari dialect.
“Realizing that the Kalabari language does not form part of the linguistic curriculum of the educational system, it becomes very imperative for kalabari parents to teach their children and wards and also adopt and emphasize the use of the dialect as a secondary means of communication in the home in order to prolong life cycle of the dialect.
The cleric went on to say that the internet is an information technology revolution that has opened up frontiers of opportunities for imaginable and outlandish thinking and thought processes.
He said, “One way of preserving stock of knowledge is documentation and codification and we can also take advantage of the opportunities available in the media and information technology spectrum to do many things that can preserve, store, display facts and artefacts, enlighten and influence hearts and minds, attract patronage and followership and exhibit the colorful grandeur of the kalabari culture.”
Asoliye went on to say that Lagos is a melting pot of cultural and ethnic diversities. A place that has attracted and brought together different peoples from different societies who are inspired to think smartly, walk briskly, work tirelessly, create ingenuously, intolerant with complacency, upscale in mobility, ambitious for great success and driven by passion.
“Yes, there is a lot of success defining and promoting virtues and templates that the younger generation of Kalabari people can copy from and adapt and adopt. They must be willing and ready to accept challenges, take ownership of responsibilities and compete for opportunities.
“I would enjoin Kalabari people residing in Lagos to strengthen their togetherness by those who are strong and capable should be willing and magnanimous to lift and support the weak.
“Those who have created and earned success and are in the commanding heights of their enterprises, vocations and professions should teach others who are willing how to fish.”
The convener is optimistic that next year’s edition is being considered where the female children who are of sub-teenage age should be attired in the appropriate folklore costumes to be able to take part in the “IRIA” dance.