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GLOBAL BLACK & AFRICAN FESTIVAL OF ARTS AND CULTURE IN CANADA

FESTIVAL’S CITY-IN-FOCUS: GREAT BENIN KINGDOM

THEME

GREAT BENIN KINGDOM: A QUINTESSENCE OF ANCIENT CIVILIZATION

Dear All
It is with great pleasure that the Edo Global Royal Art and Culture Canada and their global partners invite to you to the 2020 edition of the GLOBAL BLACK AND AFRICAN FESTIVAL OF ARTS AND CULTURE IN CANADA. The festival’s city-in-focus is the Great Benin Kingdom and the theme of the festival is Great Benin Kingdom: A Quintessence of Ancient Civilization

The history and evolution of the ancient Kingdom of Benin in what is today called Nigeria is long and captivating. There are few such ancient kingdoms in Africa, South of the Sahara whose history is as interesting and antique, with a high level of culture and social organization. It is a long history that is cloaked in legends and myths that intrigue. Aghama Omoruyi claims that Great Benin Kingdom (GBK) is “one of the oldest and most stable of the larger political entities in the forest of West Africa” (1981, p.9). Osarenren Omoregie asserts that Benin cultural history and traditional system of government dates as far back as the 4th century BC (2000, p.11), but Jacob Egharevba argues that the Benin Empire of the first period or dynasty was founded about 900 AD. At any rate, the term Benin is vested with several meanings and connotations, the earliest of which date back to between 900-1200 AD, when it started enjoying the status of a kingdom ruled by the Ogisos (Egharevba 2005, p.1). Benin is also interchangeably used with the term, Edo (Agheyisi, 1986; Omoregie, 2000, pp. 10-11; Lawal-Osula, 2005, p.2). Apart from being a geographical entity, Benin is also used today to describe the people and the language spoken in this area. With the current geopolitical arrangement of Nigeria, the Benin speaking people are mainly found in the southern part of Edo State (Edo south), which comprises seven (7) local government areas (LGAs), namely, Oredo, Egor, Ikpoba-Okha, Orhiomwon, Uhunmwonde, Ovia South-West and Ovia North-East. Figures 1 and 2 show Edo State in Nigeria and the Benin speaking areas of the present day Edo State respectively.

The Benins have a long history of highly developed culture and education. As far back as 1495 the GBK maintained a diplomatic presence in Portugal. This strategic relationship did not just stop at a mere mission but extended to areas such as education. Scores of young Benin men were sent out to Portugal to study and many of them came back with advanced degrees in Medicine, Law, Arts, and Portuguese Language, to name a few (Okafor, 2013). As a metropole of advanced culture, the Great Benin Kingdom (GBK) was a centre of indigenous knowledge, technology and development that different peoples across the African rainforest such as the Esans, Itsekiris, Etsakos, Oras, Urhobos, Isokos, among others, came under for leadership and direction in political organization and protection. Indeed, the Benins, who were the dominant military force from the 15th to the 19th in West Africa, had strategic outposts in places such as Dahomey (which is today known as Benin Republic), Eko (which is called Lagos in today’s south western Nigeria), among others (Olukoju, 2017). This suggests that the people of GBK were culturally sophisticated, vibrant, and enterprising. Aimiuwu affirms that it was so called, even before “Great” was appended to Britain. Whilst Benin was acknowledged and named “Great” by foreigners enthralled by the magnificence of the entire empire, Britain christened itself “Great,” and then worked hard to make itself great! GBK was acknowledged as world-best or world class in social order, law and jurisprudence, industry, ethics/integrity, sanitation/hygiene, engineering (road network, moat), town planning, military skills, administrative competence, logistics efficiency, carving/casting, fine arts, music/dance, drama, astrology, philosophy, agriculture, etc ( 2007, p.5). These achievements were propelled by the strategic vision of Benin (Edo) ancestors as expressed in three keywords in the song, Edonimose (translated as Edo, the land of beauty) by Lugard Aimiuwu: namely, Edoisiagbon (Edo is the centre of the world), Edo-okaro (Edo is first), Edo-odion (Edo is the oldest or eldest).

The foregoing is certainly not the strategic vision of mere men or women, but of world beaters. It is, therefore, unsurprising that “Great” was attached to Benin. The GBK ancestors worked hard at it, and achieved one of the greatest civilizations that Africa, and indeed the world, has witnessed. In a concrete way, culture defines a people’s mileposts in the journey to the promise land. It is both the mark and marker of civilization. It expresses the collective persona of a people; defines their values; the highs and the lows; lubricates their habits and attitudes; demonstrates their collective will; structures their enforcement processes; and their systems of reward and sanction. Culture according to Aimiuwu (2007) is the permanent bridge in life’s continuum. It links the past with the present, and illuminates the future. Culture could also be seen as the branding and brand of a people. Technically, a people without culture do not exist. They are just human beings, mere commodities. Benin, as a name, is one of the strongest brands there is. This explains why our brothers in Dahomey are making full capital out of the name, to such an extent that in dictionaries, encyclopedias, mass media, information and communication technologies (ICTs), the word ‘Benin’ today almost invariably first refers to the Republic of Benin before the kingdom or  Benin City. All well and good because the Republic will employ state machinery to keep the name ‘Benin’ alive. But, we must claim and retain the patent rights, and fully exploit it to build business patents and franchises to cover Benin Bronze, Benin Ivory, Benin Carving, Benin Film, Benin Music, Benin Moat, Benin Dance, Benin Dress, among others.

Culture requires continuous updating and renewal to ensure that the march of civilization is constantly lubricated. You do not hold on tenaciously to the town crier’s gong in the nae of culture, in a changing world, dominated by mass media. Human civilization is on the forward march, and those who refuse to board the vehicle of progress simply get left behind. The emerging scenario in a post COVID-19 era is a world where no advantage is permanent, and where competitors are constantly creating new values to attract value. In other words, the first can quite easily become the last, and vice versa, while the best today can be the worst tomorrow. The future belongs to the strong. Is Benin strong? Can we be strong, or stronger? It is one of the greatest ironies of our time that people who sit atop such great wealth are afflicted with such great poverty and deprivation. To create new wealth, we must tap into the wealth bequeathed us by the legacies of our ancestors. We must vigorously pursue partnerships at home and abroad. We must explore the power of ideas, because of the potential results. We must open up and exploit our advantages to create a new advantage for the world to buy into. It is in this context that the organizers of the this conference segment of the GLOBAL BLACK AND AFRICAN FESTIVAL OF ARTS AND CULTURE IN CANADA 2020/21 seek to take a rearward glance at the Great Benin Kingdom that is a quintessential ancient civilization with the hope that the Benins, Nigerians, Africans and indeed all global citizens can be mobilized or galvanized to surmount whatever socio-cultural or socio-economic despair and handicaps they may be faced with and get on a more progressive, inclusive wagon of world-bests in cultural, social, economic and educational terms.  The organizers would welcome contributions from the academia, business, civil society organizations, government agencies, which are not limited to the following theme and subthemes:

Great Benin Kingdom: A Quintessence of Ancient Civilization

Global COVID-19 Devastations and Revamping the Local Benin Economy

Humanness, Inclusion, Diversity in a Troubled World

Repositioning Africa’s Cultural Resources for Societal Transformation

Sustaining Cultural Diversity through Cultural Resource Management

GBK: A Goldmine of Opportunities for Global Citizens

GBK: Youth Restiveness, Crime and Resettlement

Recentring Cultural Diplomacy for Peace, Justice, Equity and Prosperity

The Burden of Social Exclusion and Racism in Multipolar World

Realigning Humanity to Reinforce Human Ingenuity through the Instrumentality of Art and Culture

GBK, Nigeria and Global Conversations on Development

Royal Craftsmen and their Dexterous Works in the Great Benin Kingdom

The Oba of Benin in Benin Historiography

Socio-Political Dimensions of Benin Historiography

Syncretism in Benin Music and Dance

Benin Literary Engagements as Cultural and Historical Avatars

Transculturalism and the Benins in the Americas

Multiculturalsim, Transnationalism and Migration of the Benins in the 21st Century

Benin Films as Archival Sources of History

Intercultural Communication, Diversity and Racial Tolerance

Inclusiveness, the Spirit of Common Good and Humanism

Benin Culture and History in the Performing Arts

Benin Culture in Transition

The Great Benin Kingdom: Ancient or Modern?

Festivals as Statements on Benin Culture and History

Benin Ivory and Bronze: Whither the Benin Wealth?

Precarity and the Cultural Evolution of the Benin

Postcolonial Vulnerabilities and the Survival of Benin Race

African Indigenous Knowledge Systems from the Benin Perspective

The Question of Benin Language Endangerment

Cultural Communication and Development:  Africa Diaspora Perspective

Rejuvenating Benin Folklore and Traditional Carving for Empowerment

Peace Building, the Creative Arts, and Social Reconstruction in Postcolonial Africa

 

Guidelines for contributors

1.Contributors should submit e-copies of their manuscripts to the organizers at info@edoglobalrac.org

The manuscript should be typed using MC-word, with double line spacing and not more than 17 pages. Each contribution should be accompanied by an abstract of 200-250 words. Referencing style should conform to APA 6th edition Receipt of manuscripts will be acknowledged.

2.Manuscript should be typed using MC-word, with double line spacing and not more than 17 pages

3.Each contribution should be accompanied by an abstract of 200-250 words

4.Referencing style should conform to APA 6th edition

5.Receipt of manuscripts will be acknowledged.

References

Agheyisi, R. N. (1986). An Edo-English dictionary. Benin City: Ethiope Publishing Corporation.

Aimiuwu, L. E. 2007. Benin culture: Towards the next level. A compendium of speeches

/lectures at the symposium on Igue festival: the religious and socio-cultural  relevance in modern society (pp.4-7) Benin City: Benin Traditional Dance Foundation, 2007.

Egharevba, J. U. (2005).  A short history of Benin. Benin City: Fortune and Temperance

Publishing Company.

Lawal-Osula, O.S.B. (2005). Edo-Benin grassroots voice. Benin City: Arala Osula Press. Okafor, S. (2013), Igbo scholar disgraces Femi Fani-kayode. Nairaland, August 20, 2013.

Retrieved 23 August 2013, fromhttp://www.nairaland.com/1404136/igbo-scholar-disgraces-femi-fani-kayode.

Olukoju, A. (2017). Which Lagos, whose History?” A keynote lecture delivered  at the

2nd  annual Lagos Conference organised by the Lagos Studies Association (LSA), at the Faculty of Arts, University of Lagos, Nigeria from June 15 to 17.

Omoregie, Osarenren S.B. (2000). Forty Q&A on Ubiniology.”Great Benin: A Handbook on

Ubiniology. Ed. Osarenren S.B. Omoregie. Benin City: Noreso Publishers Limited.

Omoruyi, Aghama (1981). Benin anthology. Benin City: Cultural Publications, 1981.

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