The ancient town of Abonnema, headquarters of Akuku Toru Local Government Area was agog with arrays of cultural displays, as the first edition of the High Chief O.B. Lulu-Briggs Annual Cultural Day celebration rocked the town on Monday, December 27, 2021.
The event threw Abonnema (known to tourists as York City), into a fiesta amidst orgy of procession, music, dancing, wrestling, masquerade displays, canoe racing and many other side attractions that left observers in rapturous excitement.
Initiator of the festival and Head of Oruwari Briggs House of Abonnema, Chief Dumo Lulu-Briggs, said the event served to immortalize his late father, High Chief Olu Benson Lulu-Briggs, a business mogul who died December 27, 2018.
Chief Dumo Lulu-Briggs who stated these while addressing a mammoth crowd that came to witness the historic celebration, said there was no better way to relive the memory of a sage who lived and died in service to his people and humanity.
The Polo Dabo, who described his late father as a cultural icon, said it is only befitting to set aside the day of his glorious departure, to celebrate the rich cultures of his people.
“My father was passionate about the rich cultures of Kalabari people and he lived his life uniting the people through culture and ensuring that they lived harmoniously with their neighbours – Ikwerres, Ogonis, Andoni and all that.
“Before he exited this earth, God helped him to become a very wealthy man and he ensured that he didn’t just live for himself, but that whatever he got, he shared to humanity.
“And we just felt that such a man who lived a selfless life, a life where those of others are important to him should be celebrated”, he said.
Chief Dumo Lulu-Briggs added that his dad had regretably lamented the dearth of Kalabari cultures, particularly as it had to do with speaking the language, story telling, wrestling, masquerade and other forms of entertainment, and tried to do something to reverse the trend.
He stressed that staging the epochal event would, in his words, be filling a void as well as satisfying the yearnings of the legendary philanthropist.
He further stressed that the essence of the contests were not about winning as according to him, every participant is a winner and would go home with a prize.
Leading a ceremonial procession that began at the opulent Oruwari Briggs House, the Polo Dabo danced to the Abonnema Girls Secondary School (AGSS) Sports Complex to watch a wrestling contest between Team Akianame and Team IneEkenta.
At the end of the thrilling encounter, eight wrestlers who emerged winners in their respective groups, were rewarded with an undisclosed amount by the delighted Polo Dabo who also took a group photograph with the wrestlers.
Chairman of the wrestling event, Alabo (Engr) Austin Bob-Manuel described the ceremony as the down of a new era as according to him, traditional wrestling has finally returned after decades of Oblivion in Abonnema.
The first, second and third winners in the boat regatta smiled home with N300,000; N200,000 and N100,000 cash prizes respectively.
Ironically, the boat racing competition was won by Briggs Team 19, comprising indigenes of Ogoni extraction resident in Abonnema.
Other events that featured in the Cultural Day festival was Cooking and Dancing competitions as well as Cultural Exhibition of Arts and Crafts, Story Telling and Language Translation.