• Thursday, December 07, 2023
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Edo heritage preservation gains stakeholders’ support

Edo heritage preservation gains stakeholders’ support

Diverse stakeholders from various sectors united at the Ogba Zoological Garden during the recent celebration of World Tourism Day (WTD) 2023, to participate in the Stakeholder Validation Workshop for the Edo State Heritage Protection and Promotion Policy Draft.

The historic event was attended by an array of stakeholders, representing a broad spectrum of interests including traditional rulers and chiefs, scholars, artisans, entertainers, and government officials, underscoring the policy’s wide-reaching implications.

The participants engaged in meaningful discussions on the draft heritage policy, emphasising its importance and potential socio-economic benefits in protecting heritage sites, monuments, and traditions and helping them to become drivers of growth and employment.

Read also: 2023 World Tourism Day: Edo to unveil heritage promotion, protection policy

Highlighting the need for holistic involvement, Uyi Oduwa-Malaka, Edo State Commissioner for Tourism, Arts, and Culture, noted that the Edo State Government has assembled a strong and diverse team, spanning various sectors of the economy, to develop a comprehensive policy. She stated that her ministry is working in close collaboration with relevant stakeholders across the state to guarantee the long-term effectiveness of the policy.

While, Iryn Omorogiuwa, permanent secretary of the ministry, highlighted the historical significance of the policy, saying, “It is very important that we keep our history, our stories and not let people tell us otherwise. For the first time in history, we are going to have a document that focuses on us, our cultural and traditional heritage, our tangible and intangible assets.”

The workshop highlighted the significance of preserving culture in Edo State. Using the Benin Moats as a prime example of a heritage asset in dire need of intervention, Patrick Oronsaye, an esteemed art historian, emphasised the critical necessity of the policy, stating; ‘‘The greatest damage we suffered here is the moat, 16,000km put together in a period of almost 500 years, 37 million metric tons of earth, was moved in the creation, 150,000 man hours resulted in the Benin city moat, it took us 30 years to destroy it. We are talking about protecting what is left, from palaces, to shrines, to grooves.”

Read also: World Tourism Day 2023: Edo rallies stakeholders on heritage promotion, protection policy to drive sector growth

Stakeholders at the workshop also expressed their conviction that the heritage policy will play a pivotal role in safeguarding Edo cultural, both tangible and intangible, assets from further deterioration.

Eno Louis, renowned Nigerian musician and the convener of the Benin Bronze Festival, advocated for a collaborative approach to sponsorship, stressing that the ministry should aim to create an enabling environment for businesses within the cultural and creative industries to thrive in the state. Another participant, Aiko Obobaifo of the Institute of Benin Studies, echoed the global significance of the policy, stating “every Black man in the world is waiting for Edo, for Benin to lead the way. Our heritage is something they cannot replicate.” Other stakeholders, including; Elizabeth Hannisdal from Visit Edo and John O. Igbineweka from Igbesanmwan Guild Carvers, expressed their optimism for the comprehensive heritage policy and its potential to enrich the lives of Edo people.

The Edo State Heritage Protection and Promotion Policy represents an ambitious endeavour to preserve, protect, and celebrate Edo State’s cultural heritage. The collaborative spirit of the workshop portends well for the policy’s successful implementation.