After several hectic days of showcasing and savouring the rich, diverse cultures of the Southwest Region, through the second edition of the Southwest Cultural Festival, Fako elite have been emphasizing the need to revive the Fako Cultural Festival which has for a while been forgotten. Churchill Ewumbue-Monono, General Coordinator of the Southwest Cultural Festival echoed this much in his closing remarks.
Going down the lane of cultural festivals in the Southwest in the 1960s and 70s, and in the backdrop of the new impetus given by the Ministry of Arts and Culture to improve cultural tourism and the Government policy of multiculturalism through festivals, the General Coordinator said it was time to especially, revive the Fako Cultural Festival of the 1970s.
In doing this, he said, nobody is being copied, because there is a Government policy on festivals and they have or could mobilize the necessary expertise in public relations and event planning to design, plan and manage special events such as festivals.
He assured that the envisaged Fako Cultural Festival would be people-driven and will not be taken hostage by special interests or people who feel that without them the Division ceases to exist. He added that the Fako Cultural Festival will become a platform for every person to have the opportunity of participating and contributing toward the making of the Fako identity and personality.
Ewumbue-Monono said that this year’s host of the event, Fako is still culturally very much alive. He said that the massive participation illustrates that no group of people can take the Division hostage and that culture is that which can unite and bridge the gap between the elites and the ordinary grassroots people of Fako.
He saw in the Southwest Cultural Festival, an opportunity to bring the people together and to highlight what unites them with the rest of the nation. He said it was Mr. Biya’s vision of using culture as a tool to promote peace and dialogue.
Ewumbue-Monono added that it is a medium for the expression of those common values that make up the Southwest personality and include peace, the Region’s legendary hospitality, solidarity, the central role of women and youths in culture, respect for the elderly, hard work and creativity.
He said that the festival would serve as a barometer for the rate of national integration, social inclusiveness, living together and legendary hospitality. It would above all be an opportunity to showcase what unites the Region with the international community and highlights the Region’s strategic importance as one of Cameroon’s gateways to globalization.
According to Ewumbue-Monono, the institutionalization of the Cultural Festival has once more demonstrated the tradition of collective Regional action as a Southwest people. To him, such collective Regional action earlier found expression in Pan-Southwest organizations such as SWELA, SWECC, the Southwest Support Committee for the Reunification Celebrations, to name but a few. He added that such action based on alternate leadership and hosting has itself become a Southwest Culture and trademark which has distinguished it from many other Regions.
The General Coordinator preferred not to enumerate how many other Regions that have attempted to copy the Southwest example of Regional associations and platforms but failed. He, however, said that, emphasizing on the Southwest way of doing things is as a result of his observation that many young political and traditional leaders who have elbowed their way to power through money and high influences, unfortunately are still devoid of political education on the essence of the Southwest common destiny as elaborated in the early 1990s.
He hoped that the Southwest spirit and solidarity in approaching issues should also prevail in managing their cultural heritage. Just as other organizations have never jeopardized or threatened the existence of tribal, clan, village and town organizations, so too according to him, will the Southwest Festival never threaten or jeopardize the existence of secondary and tertiary festivals in the Region, let alone Fako Division.
By Relindise Ebune