Our Culture as a pillar of sustainable development.

The role culture plays in ensuring quality and inclusive education for future generations, building sustainable cities and communities and giving rise to economic growth through creative and cultural industries.

The close integration of culture to development is to champion the role of culture in shaping our collective future.

We recognize that culture is what distinguishes a city from being just another well-functioning urban global city. This is why I am doing this write up.

While sustainable development is often associated with the three pillars of development – economic, social and environment, there is an increasing recognition of the important relationship between culture and sustainability. Some have termed culture as the fourth pillar of sustainable development. Because of the role that culture has played in Esan/Edo development, this is a write up that is close to our hearts. Let me take this opportunity to share two aspects of how culture has contributed to our development, liveability and sustainability as a city-state.

Preserving Esan /Edo multi-cultural identity and way of life.

The first is how our multi-cultural identity is anchored in our efforts to safeguard and celebrate our tangible and intangible cultural heritage. our roots as a thriving trade settlement – with people coming from different lands, speaking different languages and practising different beliefs – go back to about 700 years. Our multi-cultural identity and unity in the midst of diversity that has been formed through this long history is something we treasure and celebrate.

Safeguarding our tangible heritage.

This is reflected in our built heritage, where a walk down some streets in Esan /Edo might bring you past in quick succession, statues, temple, Christian church – Catholic or Protestant – or the traditional worship.

It is quite unthinkable that in Esan land, we do not have a museum for for storage and for tourism.

Given Edo cum Esan land constraints, it is important for us to strike a balance between preservation and development. These decisions are never easy but where development is needed, we should endeavour to take great care and sensitivity in preserving our past. Many of our historic buildings have been lovingly restored and their present-day use continues to bring new life and relevance to these places.
Why some have been pull down i.e.The Irrua Community Center consisting of an imposing Town Hall, a library room and playing field built and completed by 1955. The old Uromi Palace built 1904 ,among others.

Celebrating our intangible cultural heritage.
The transformative power of culture also rests in how it touches people and communities, and comprises what we refer to as our “way of life” – traditions, festivals, food and social memories, passed down from generation to generation.

For example, our cultural institutions should anchor key festivals and programmes that celebrate our rich and diverse multi-cultural heritage. Platforms such as the Uda Festival of Ekpoma, Igbabonelimi Dance Competition of Ubiaja, and other Heritage Festival organised by other communities in Esan land cum Edo State. This will not only contribute to the vibrancy of the Communities, but also build cross-cultural appreciation and understanding. This is done in partnership with the community, which helps to create a strong sense of place and deep emotional connections to culture and the city.
Encouraging cultural participation and a sense of ownership for culture.

This brings me to the second aspect of culture and sustainability – The efforts to encourage cultural participation and instil in our people a sense of ownership for culture. People are at the heart of the nexus between culture and development, and an important part of sustainability is ensuring that culture remains inclusive and accessible to all.

To this end, arts and heritage education should be a priority for government and us all.
It is an important foundation for nurturing a lifelong love for culture. Government should make arts, culture and music classes compulsory as part of our school curriculum, and cultural co-curricular activities in our schools. Schools should also organise regular museum visits for students, and invite professional artists to schools to share on different art forms, to ensure that culture is not just the domain of the more privileged, but accessible to everyone, regardless of their background.

We have seen a growing interest among Edo cum Esan in promoting and preserving our shared culture. It is this participation in culture that anchors people to the city they live in, and creates a greater sense of ownership and sustainability for the future.

To conclude, we have affirmed that culture is what gives us a sense of identity, anchors us to the past, and provides us with inspiration for the future.

Esan.tv, Edo in Rebirth(esan in rebirth, bini in rebirth, afemai in rebirth), ONEGHESELE FOUNDATION will continue to celebrate and champion the role that culture plays as an organising principle for sustainable and liveable communities/Cities.

I am Kingsley Ohens


I just want a better tomorrow

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