It is becoming increasingly clear that unless the Cross River State Government and stakeholders in Yakurr Local Government Area, agree on salient issues bothering on the conduct of the largest yam festival in the state, government’s attempt at celebrating the farming culture of the people on a larger scale, may soon hit the rocks.
Particularly, calitown.com investigations show that, communities outside Ugep, the local government headquarters, have continued to question the seeming inability of other communities to cart home the top prizes in certain events at the festival. One source told calitown.com that, “everybody who has won Mr. & Miss Leboku, since government began taking part in the festival, has come from Ugep, it gives the impression that the Ugep community is seating on the top prizes and leaving nothing for other communities”.
However, other sources in Ugep picked holes in the argument that all winners of the male and female pageant. One source said, “if they don’t come and contest, do they expect the prizes to be taken to their homes?”. He continued, “instead of sit back and punch holes where holes should not be, can’t those who are whipping up the anti-Ugep sentiments think up ways of improving the festival?”
Again, the role of the Tourism Bureau, the agency of government with the responsibility for putting together certain aspects of the festival was taken down too for being more interested in pocketing funds than in working with the local communities and achieving a synergy that will eliminate the kind of bad blood that the organization and delivery of the festival has recently thrown up.
Unarguably, while the laudable intention of government on this festival is clear, government has however committed minimal efforts into understanding the cultural implications of certain aspects of the festival and how local communities are/will react in the face of certain circumstances that may be thrown up. One community leader for instance told calitown.com that the issue of a “Yakurr Leboku Festival”, is alien and cannot stand the test of time because according to him, “Leboku has never been centrally celebrated and because of the other native aspects that bother on sacrifices to our gods, we cannot be compelled to celebrate a festival which predates government, the way government wants it”.
On the social media, calitown.com, can again reveal, certain Yakurr sons and daughters have gone for each other’s throat, accusing especially, the Ugep community of undercutting all other communities. One contributor wrote online that, “…everything in this festival goes to Ugep but all other communities in the LGA are always told to transport traditional dances to the occasion. Are they no traditional dances in Ugep? We should be left alone to celebrate our festival in our communities”.
It remains to be seen if the festival will stand the test of time or if opposing communities will succeed in taking the festival down, opting instead for celebrations at community levels.
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