Former Federal Director of Culture, Mr. Frank Aig-Imoukhuede (left); Prof. JP Clark and representative of Minister of Information and Culture and General Manager, National Theatre, Mr. Nkanta George Ufot at the launch last week of Aig-Imoukhuede’s two books at J.P Clark Centre, University of Lagos
As Nigerian history and culture continue to face assaults in a society increasingly cutting off a link with its past, the need for documentation has also become paramount to preserve the past for the future. No one else is more aware and better qualified to redress this predicament confronting Africa’s culture than the former Federal Director of Culture, Mr. Frank Aig-Imoukhuede, who launched two books last week.
Having managed and culture at its highest level all his life, Aig-Imuokhuede’s painstakingly researched books educate and shed light on a vanishing area that was once held in esteem. The event was at the JP Clark Centre, Faculty of Arts, University of Lagos last week, when he presented Calendar of Nigerian Traditional Festivals and Between God and Man.
In his address, Aig-Imuokhuede used the opportunity to delve into the forgotten or overlooked historical evolution of some ethnic nationalities and the controversies that recently trailed them. The octogenarian partly revived the Benin-Ife historical nexus, the link between the two ancient kingdoms, the Igbo and their link to Yoruba and much more.
He noted, “According to Professor Fela Sowande, Ile Ife is not the Ife to which Yoruba oral traditions refer. Also in the words of Professor Wande Abimbola, the seven sites of Ife mentioned by Ifa are Ife Oodaye, the first and possibly the original one, Ife Nleere, Ife Ooyelagbomoro, Ife Wara, Out Ife, Ife Oore and Ife Oojo’.
“In Benin tradition, Oranmiyan’s route from Ife to Benin in 1170 A.D had taken him via the Osse River (known as the Ovia in Benin) to Ughoton (referred to in many maps as Gwato), where a traveller to Benin City disembarked and completed his journey on foot. In this tradition, Oranmiyan had been preceded by two brothers who had each been drowned at the Ughoton crossing where the ferrymen had been bribed and instructed by the opposition in Benin to prevent visitors from Ife from getting to Benin.”
On his part, Dean, Faculty of Arts and Director of JP Clark Centre, Prof. Muyiwa Falaiye, said the author, “Frank Aig-Imoukhuede is the great cultural icon, whose name I started hearing right from when I was a little boy.
“This occasion is a joint collaboration with the Faculty of Arts and the JP Clark Centre. We are indeed delighted to be part of this. I must say I am a little disappointed that we are not more than this, but you know for most Nigerians, matters of the stomach is more important than matters of culture, especially when we did not announce that food would be served afterwards. We are indeed glad to have you, and I am sure that when you leave this place you will be happy you did come here this morning.”
Also, Chairman of the occasion and Vice Chancellor, University of Lagos, Prof. Rahman A. Bello, who was represented by Prof. Duro Oni, said he’s known Uncle Frank Aig-Imoukhuede since 1976.
“All of us refer to him as Uncle Frank and, indeed, he is a very Frank gentleman. Talking about culture in Nigeria, you cannot, of course, divorce the name of Uncle Frank Aig-Imoukhuede. He was not only the Director of National Council for Arts and Culture, but also the Federal Director of Culture with offices at the National Theatre. So, the author, Uncle Frank, Aunty Emily Aig-Imoukhuede, mama Mabel Segun, the representative of the honorable minister, George Ufot, the Dean of the Faculty of Arts, we welcome you all. For many years Uncle Frank Aig-Imoukhuede was one of the board members of Centre for Cultural Studies. He helped to mid-wife that centre, and eventually it became the Department of Creative Arts.
“When professor JP Clark came into my office, just barely two or three weeks ago, and proposed that they would like to have the launching of Uncle Frank’s books at the University of Lagos, I immediately jumped at it. So, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, we are very happy that you have found time to be here with us at the University of Lagos. I would like to welcome you and hope that you do have a most wonderful time.
The two books were reviewed respectively by Dr. Peju Layiwola of Creative Arts Department and Dr. Chiedozie Okoro of Philosophy Department, UNILAG. Layiwola, who reviewed A Calendar of Traditional Nigerian Festivals, said, “Giving the background of the study, the entire book is structured in a fluent manner. The language in the book is written in a simple form, void of high-sounding words and phrases. The systematic layout of the book makes it easy to find information according to place, time, festivals, and their significance.”
Also, Dr. Chiedozie Okoro, while reviewing Between God and Man: Meaning and Essence in Traditional Nigeria Festivals, stated, “The writer draws lines of convergence between myths and science to amplify the point of heritage between the people and culture of Nigeria.”