Skill Acquisition Rooted in Culture

For some women and youth in Oredo Federal Constituency, the recently organised skill acquisition training was not just rooted in their rich cultural heritage, but also provided them with an alternative source of income that would guarantee self-reliance, Chiemelie Ezeobi reports

When the Centre for Black and African Arts and Civilisation (CBAAC) was established, it was on the premise that it would promote African heritage and culture. Strategically, as a foremost cultural agency, CBAAC has a key mandate and plays a crucial role in making Nigeria the arrowhead in the presentation, preservation, promotion and propagation of African cultural heritage.

Recently, in consolidation of that, the centre collaborated with Hon Omoregie Ogbeide – Ihama, Chairman House Committee on Culture and Tourism, on the federal government’s Zonal Intervention Project, which was a three-day skill acquisition training on bead and soap making at Oredo Federal Constituency of Edo State.

Cultural Skill Acquisition
At the workshop, an introductory lecture on the unique importance of beads in African tradition kicked off the sequence. According to the facilitator, beads are unique element of culture used in adorning and embellishing ones dress, adding that beads are a mark of royalty that distinguishes royal families from their subjects.

She also stated that beads have a long history among Africans and are used for various reasons including cultural symbols used in celebration of womanhood, sexuality, femininity, fertility, healing, spirituality, protection, etc, adding that the meaning, colours and different shapes of beads varies from one culture to the other.

“Besides their physical adornment, beads are among the oldest known symbols used by humans across time and space. Beads have social, cultural, political and religious significance in Africa, as the continent more than any other region of the world, has used bead more prominently,” she added.

The facilitator also emphasised on the unique importance of beads as one of the earliest occupation that provided steady source of income to those involved in the bead making occupation. Thereafter, the facilitators taught the participants the rudiments of bead making and methods of designing different type of beads; from the royal beads to the common beads.

On the training for soap making, the facilitator, simply identified as Mrs Susan said that soap making as a profession in Africa dates back to ancient time, adding that African Black soap is known for its unique skincare features that eradicates skin irritations, rashes, pimples, dermatitis, psoriasis and, also soothe the skin.

Stating that traditional black soap is a mixture of water and ashes of plantain skins, cocoa pod powder and palm oil, she noted that every culture have their pattern of producing their soap as there are different varieties and style of making different kind of soap.

Alternative Economic Source
The Chairman, House Committee on Culture and Tourism, Hon Omoregie Ogbeide-Ihama who was represented at the Training for Beads and Soap making event noted that the end goal of the training was to ensure participants are provided with an alternative source of income.

While thanking the Director General of CBAAC, Hon Oluwabunmi Ayobami Amao (FITP) for her efforts in ensuring that the empowerment training programme for women and youth turned out a huge success, he
also pledged to support the centre towards achieving her statutory global mandate.

Hon Ogbeide-Ihama who was particularly elated by the large turnout of participants informed the audience that the training programme was organised as a skill acquisition programme that would enable participants to be gainfully employed.

“Bearing in mind the challenges of modern living, the training programme will not only afford participants the opportunity to take pride in their rich cultural heritage but also provide them with an alternative source of income that would guarantee self-reliance,” he posited.

Enhancing Capacity

In her remark, the Director-General of CBAAC, Hon Amao, ably represented by Mr Adesegun Dosumu,?expressed delight and informed the audience that the zonal intervention project is a programme of the federal government designed to make the locals enjoy the benefits of good governance.

She urged participants to utilise the opportunity provided through this platform to acquire new skill that would empower them economically, just as she pledged that CBAAC will continue to organise and support events that would enhance the capacity of women and youths to meet the challenges of modern living in the 21st century.

She said: “ I am glad that under the current administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, women and youths are not left out of the programmes and activities of the government. In fact, it is an indisputable fact that women and youths constitute the fulcrum of all government economic empowerment programmes.

“And, this weeklong training programme on bead and soap making in Oredo was a glaring testimony to the federal government‘s efforts in encouraging our women and youths. It is on this note that I appreciate and thank Hon. Ogbeide – Ihama for collaborating with CBAAC in the hosting of this very important event.

“This is a very welcome development and a good step in the right direction if culture is to be fully harnessed for national development. Craft is one of Nigeria’s socio-economic and cultural heritages passed down from our forebears to the present generation. It is a skill that ensures economic independence by providing job opportunities for our teeming population.

“Crafts such as bead making is a form of cultural and artistic expression and, craft products are highly diversified across the country. This means that there are large markets for items of craft and Nigerian youths and women should seize the opportunity of this huge market to engage themselves in crafts instead of seeking greener pastures outside the country with its unpleasant drawbacks.

“ There are many craft-based cottage industries in Nigeria producing varieties of works like leather-works, glass-works, iron, cane-weaving, pottery, bead-making, etc. Therefore, encouraging bead making among our women and youths is a way of translating culture into functioning economic activity that would lead to self-sufficiency and enhance the diversification of the economy.

“With what is happening in the world today – the level of unemployment skyrocketing due to the global pandemic, having a skill ensures that one has a constant source of income and livelihood as those with skills and creative ideas are usually gainfully employed. It therefore gladdens my heart to see that you have all gathered here to learn how to make beads and soap, which I am very sure will be useful to you.

“Finally, I wish to commend and encourage youths to put in their best in whatever vocation they find themselves; particularly as it relates to arts and craft. And of course, you must as a matter of importance, cultivate a good reading habit, that is the road to a successful and fulfilled life.”

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