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NICO, CTA partnership rises hope for revival of threatened Arts, culture of FCT Original inhabitants

By Michael Oche

Over the years, the Arts and culture of the Original Inhabitants of Abuja has come under threat of extinction following the situation of Nigeria’s capital city in the land as well as subsequent activities of miners in Abuja communities.  

However, a new partnership by the Centre for Transparency Advocacy (CTA) and the National institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO) has renewed hope for the revival of  dying culture of the Abuja Original Inhabitants.

Speaking when he received the CTA team in his office, Mr Ado M. Yahuza, NICO executive Secretary, admitted that the culture of the Original Inhabitants of the FCT is at risk of extinction if something urgent isn’t done.

“The danger in this country is that there is this tendency of the three major tribes to swallow the smaller ones. Those indigenous languages at risk are the smaller ones,” he said.

Adding that, “Their own case is even more pathetic. The Original Inhabitants are already being sandwiched. The best cultures they know are probably the Hausas and maybe the Gbagyi. But there are other languages.”

Mr Yahuza suggested several ways his organisation could collaborate with CTA to revive the Arts and Culture of the OIs including setting up cultural clubs in secondary schools to promote the cuisine, dress, dance and other forms of Arts of the FCT Original inhabitants.

“We also have cultural clubs for about 30 schools in FCT, you can come with your ideas of the culture and we incorporate them into these school clubs,” he said.

He expressed NICO’s readiness to partner with the CTA to ensure that the cultural values of the Original Inhabitants of the FCT doesn’t go into extinction as a result of invasion of their culture.

He said, “Theoretically, Abuja is for everybody, but culturally you know very well, historically the indigenous people have their culture and ancestry. It was not a virgin land.”

He said further, “The problem the FCT people are having, I think it has to do with the establishment of the Federal Capital here in Abuja.  Remember people in Wuse here, there used to be villages here, it wasn’t a vacant land. There were people around and they had to be relocated to Sabon Wuse, which is on your way to Kaduna. And some of them couldn’t move with their buried ancestors 

“In the process, we lost a lot of cultural artifacts, in fact ancestral lands. Also miners have encroached on their cultural heritage. Your (CTA) activities will bring awareness and I believe if we can collaborate in that line, it will be better.

Speaking earlier, the CTA executive director, Faith Nwadishi who led her team on the visit, said a baseline survey carried out by her team shows that some of the important cultural and religious sites of the Original Inhabitants have been destroyed by mining and infrastructural development activities. 

She said, “The most grievous of these deprivations is the near loss of identity of the Original Inhabitants whose ways of life have largely eroded by the influence of other cultures due to the status of Abuja as the Federal Capital Territory. 

“The nine tribes of the FCT no doubt cherish their culture and would love to showcase it as a mark of identity in the FCT. We cannot begin to overemphasize the impact of Culture to the lives of the people and to say that Abuja is a “no man’s land” as some people would say, is practically throwing away the culture and heritage of the Original Inhabitants of Abuja. Abuja belongs to the people. The people have a culture which is a hallmark of their philosophy and civilization.”

She said though the sites that have been destroyed cannot be recovered, however, the CTA is advocating for reconstruction and a stop to further destruction of the remaining sacred sites of the Original Inhabitants by a systematic orientation of the people, residents and government on the significance of preserving the cultural heritage of the Original Inhabitants of the FCT.

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