Cultural Leadership, Festivity and Unity Rendezvousing in Benin Kingdom, Nigeria

Osagioduwa Eweka

Abstract


Unity is an indicator of peaceful coexistence among a people. This is probably why people strive to establish unity in their society. The Benins are no exception. The annual Igue Festival is not the least of unifying cultural activities through which the cultural leadership (Oba) of the ancient kingdom enhances the peaceful coexistence of the people. In fact, it seems about the most efficient and definitely the oldest of such mechanisms. The fact that it has outlived several generations and is yet to be eroded by the culture of the West lends credence to its deep rootedness in the hearts of the people. The concern of this paper is to analytically discuss the relevance of the Igue Festival to the people of the ancient Benin kingdom of Nigeria in contemporary times. Particularly, it studies, descriptively, the overall significance of the major activities of the 14-day festival without leaving its history, key actors, stages and even economic benefits untouched. Looking at its subject-matter from the theoretical perspective of social participation, the paper concludes that the various activities of the Igue Festival, which plays the tripartite role of spiritual security, social unification and tourist attraction, are key to the continued existence of peace and unity among the Benin people.


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