By Sunday Okobi and Chinazor Megbolu
Ethan & Harriet, a Nigerian educational toy manufacturing company championing the promotion and preservation of African culture through fun and games, has unveiled its products ‘Lift n Learn Magnetic Puzzle’ and ‘Family Floor Nigeria Puzzle’ to sustain Africa’s cultural heritage.
At the event which took place in Lagos recently, the company stated that its educational toys are designed to teach about Nigerian and African history. It said the product is an interactive educational toy with a Nigerian theme for children and adults “and in the process of utilising these products, the users get to learn more about the country’s history, heritage, geography and many more.
In his remarks, former President Olusegun Obasanjo, who was the special guest of honour, commended the company for developing learning tools which would expose Nigerians across social status and background to the country’s cultural values and heritage.
He applauded the founder/CEO, Mrs. Bunmi Williams for rejigging cultural transmission to the younger generation in a creative manner, adding that even adults will benefit from the new products. He also regretted the poor level of awareness of the Nigerian history and cultural heritage, likening it to suffering a memory loss.
“Not knowing your history is like losing your memory. How can you be inspired when you don’t know your history; when you don’t know your sense of identity?”
Obasanjo expressed delight that the company came up with a solution through the puzzles, which can help children and adults learn about all the states in the country, their capitals and their locations on the map. “I came from the Mambila Plateau few days ago and when people called me and I told them I was there, they asked what country it is in. Mambila Plateau is in Taraba State.”
While calling on Nigerians to imbibe cultural values and norms so as to promote the country’s heritage, he regretted that the current upbringing pattern among parents is disappointing, as many children do not know enough about their states of origin let alone the country.
“I understand that history is no longer taught in schools, which is unfortunate. Not knowing the history of your country, family or locality is to lose memory and if you lose your memory, you won’t remember even what you ate last night. You can see that it is a disaster.”
The former president also stressed that the products would be useful for non-Nigerians who might be interested in knowing about Nigeria. “It is a knowledge product. It is disappointing that our children do not know about states, the capitals and what they are noted for.”
Addressing the guests, Williams said she was inspired to create the puzzles to preserve Nigeria’s heritage. “Our national and cultural heritage is our responsibility to preserve and promote. Only those that truly care can change Nigeria, but you can’t change what you don’t know about. We created this to bridge the gap- as a fun way to teach our values.”
The product reviewer, Donald Duke, a former Governor of Cross River State, who also regretted the relegation of history in schools, said the product is a good one, adding that the company’s vision would reignite the cultural acumens of most Nigerian and Africans.
He said the “corruption” of Nigeria’s traditional heritage by penchant for foreign culture does not augur well for the development of the country. “How come people who stayed and studied abroad all their lives without any knowledge about Nigeria are usually interested in coming back to lead the people? You do not know anything about the people, culture and values. Now, we have an intervention in the products the company is launching today; let us make use of them, even adults are not left behind, because only few can identify the states in the map and their capitals,” Duke stated.