1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Nigeria as a nation is blessed with various ethnic group with different culture. Culture could be defined as a learned, shared, compelling, and interrelated set of symbols whose meaning provide a set of orientations for members of society Giddens (2003).
Culture is the combination of learned, socially transmitted customs, knowledge, material objects and behaviour. It also includes the ideas, value, customs and artefacts of a group of people (Schaefer, 2002).
Culture is a pattern of human activities and the symbols that give these activities significance. It is what people eat, how they dress, beliefs they hold and activities they engage in. It is the totality of the way of life evolved by a people in their attempts to meet the challenges of living in their environment, which gives order and meaning to their social, political, economic, aesthetic and religious norms and modes of organization thus distinguishing people from their neighbours Henslin (2007)
According to Akinyele, (2013) stated that Nigerian culture is as multi-ethnic as the people in Nigeria. The people of Nigeria still cherish their traditional languages, music, dance and literature. Nigeria comprises of three large ethnic groups, which are Yoruba, Hausa-Fulani and Igbo. However there are other ethnic groups as well. Thus culture in Nigeria is most positively multi-ethnic which gives a lot of value to different types of arts, which primarily include ivory carving, grass weaving, wood carving, leather and calabash, Pottery, painting, cloth weaving and glass and metal works.
The growth of culture and cultural practices in most of the rural areas in Nigeria has led to various openings in the area of tourist attraction, employment and socio economic well being of the people in these rural areas; these alone shows the need for the growth and development of cultural practices in Nigeria (Okoye, 2002).
Take Shao Awonga for example; the vast culture and tradition make this area a site for tourist destination. Shao people came from the old Oyo Empire. The head of the town, called Ohoro, is a direct descendant of Alafin of Oyo. The government seeing our plight, graded the stool twice (by military and civilian governors), and the two times, the operator of the emirate system engineered the withdrawal of our staff of authority as Oba of Shao (Ohoro of Shao).
This is particularly pathetic when one realises that earlier, the Ohoro of Shao and Olofa of Offa were graded the same year  by colonial masters of the day. Today, the Olofa of Offa is not only a first class graded chief, but the position has been so for several years now. One can easily see a case of inhumanity against humanity.
In 1997, the High Court of Kwara State passed a judgment that the people of Moro and Asa in the so-called emirate should not be under the Dawodus and that future leaders of the communities in these local government areas should come from the indigenes of the areas and not Alimi descendants, styled Dawodus. Till today, since the court passed the order, the implementation has not been effected by the emirate powers that-be, 17 years after the judgment was passed.
One of our core points is to correct the impression that geographically we belong to the Emirate; we are therefore unequivocally avowing before the entire people of this wide world that politically, we share no interest with the people of the emirate as our political course is to champion and toe the path of our people in the South-West. Geographically, if not by irony of circumstance and wrong/anomalous demography precipitated by the feudal lords in the so-called emirate, we are the Northerners of the South Western part of Nigeria.
Our being so referred to as the people of the emirate gave us nothing so far but political and cultural marginalisation. The result of this is that no matter how much we try, no son or daughter of Moro Local Government Area can ever become a member of the National Assembly by election, let alone being a governor. We have tried times without number without success. So, the area is politically marginalised, ethnically neutralised and economically paralysed.
In Moro and Asa, we have our own traditional rulers but under the Ilorin Emirate, their status, honour and traditional rights have been suppressed just as it was the case with Igbomina/Ekiti and Oyun up to 1968.
It should be made clear here that the people of Moro and Asa were never conquered in any military encounter, hence there is no justification to have relegated our traditional rulers to nothing.
Since we were never a conquered people, therefore, it does not stand to reason that we should continue to be treated as serfs who should be ruled by a district overlord.
Because of the above reasons, the people of Moro and Asa are poor peasants with no government amenity to show for it. For instance, Shao which is one of the largest towns in Moro, and one of the ten most populous towns in Kwara State, has just a tarred road passing through it and that is because it is a Federal road linking Ilorin to Jebba and the North.
1.1.1 The Awonga Festival of Shoa people in Kwara State
Like the Indonesians, the people of Kwara State also have a day on which they give out their spinsters in marriage. It is an enduring traditional mass wedding among the Shao in Moro Local Government Area of the state. That day, everything changes. The town wears a new look and its people are happy once again to celebrate their beloved Awonga festival, as they did recently.
Interestingly, a band of hunters entertained all with their fanciful dance steps amid occasional fire from their dane guns. The mammoth crowd thronged the LGEA Primary School playground in the town to soak in the rich cultural heritage of the people.
TheAwonga mass wedding dating back to the early history of the community has become a rallying point for the people. Historically, the festival is said to have emanated from a woman called Awon who mysteriously appeared to a hunter named Omo Olarele and claimed the ownership of a small stream from which he had been drinking water each time he went hunting. The one-breasted woman, who welcomed the hunter, only requested to be taken to the first Ohoro of Shao, Oba Olanibo, to which the hunter consented.
After a series of meetings with the Ohoro and his chiefs, she disappeared but before her departure, she handed over a charm to them asking that the settlement be renamed after her as Shao Awon. She further instructed the people to always set aside one day in a year to observe her visit and conduct a mass wedding for all marriageable ladies that same day.
The history adds thatAwon promised to multiply the children of the indigenes and bless all their descendants alongside strangers if her instructions were strictly obeyed. She also added that the community should not hesitate to put forward their requests especially on the day of the event.
Ever since then, the Awonga mass wedding has become a ritual and part of the culture of the Shao community, Newsextra enquiries have revealed. In a remark, the Secretary of the pan-Yoruba socio-cultural organisation Afenifere, Kwara State Chapter, Chief Wole Oke, observed that the people of Shao had a very rich history that distinguished them from their immediate neighbours. Oke, who is the Jagunmolu of Shao land, stated among others, that the Awonga, which is “the most prominent and well established of their cultures is a cultural heritage, that dates back to the beginning of history of the community; it is as old as the town itself and it has become the pride of the people.”
According to him, “in the not-too-distant past, the Awon mass wedding festival was…an annual event that brought the people together when every household was involved in the ceremonies that climaxed on the wedding day. The festival used to be an event which every son and daughter of the town looked forward to with excitement.
“That was an era when not less than one hundred nubile maidens were given in marriage in one single day; it was a time when everybody was everybody’s kith and kindred; that was the situation until the advent of the white wedding which made its incursion into Shao about 40 years ago,” he lamented. He continued that “this cultural invasion marked the beginning of the decline of the significance of the cultural heritage of Shao. The influence of western education and eastern religions has continued to have waning impact on the Awon mass wedding festival.
“There arises the dilemma of a religio-cultural conflict which the community needs to resolve early before more irreparable harm is done to the people’s unique identity. The question worth posing at this point however is this: Is the Awon mass wedding festival a religious event or a cultural ceremony, like the Indonesian festival of mass wedding where thousands of girls are married on the same day at the same occasion? Is Awon festival idolatry?
“Of course, in the real sense of idol worshipping where worshippers bow their heads in reverence to some carved statues in the manner of making supplications to a wooden or stone image, to that extent, Awon mass wedding festival is not idolatry, because neither the brides nor the bridegrooms are today required to pay homage or make obeisance to the Awon river before after their wedding.
If the Awon mass wedding festival of Shao is considered idolatry what then does one say of the Osun festival in Oshogbo where people are seen making open offerings and supplications to the Osun River? This has not diminished the Osun festival of its international tourist attraction status. Osun festival has today assumed the status of an international event where the Osun shrine becomes a centre of international tourists visit.”
Therefore, the Afenifere secretary solicited that the same recognition accorded the Osun festival be extended to the Awon mass wedding festival, arguing that with that the cultural heritage of the Shao community would not be obliterated on the altar of idolatry.
“The community,” he said, “will not allow its age-long cultural festival go into oblivion. The people will not throw away a great opportunity of turning their town into a centre of annual pilgrimage for fun seekers and international tourists. The people will not, out of religious zealotry, throw away Awon mass wedding festival, which in fact has the potential of becoming the precious jewel of the tourism industry of Kwara State.
“It will be apposite at this point to acknowledge the commendable role being played by a group of young men in the town who have committed themselves to the goal of keeping the cultural heritage alive. The Shao Awonga Forum for the past three or four years has been involved in the effort to keep the cultural festival going annually. This revivalist role is what has sustained the festival and it is what has succeeded in bringing us all here today. Past efforts to nationalise the festival as a veritable tourism attraction have not achieved much.”
He revealed that plans were in top gear to commission archaeologists to dig deeper into the history of the town in order to unearth buried objects of historical significance in the town.
“It is our hope that the Kwara State Council for Arts and Culture and the relevant ministry will be prepared to take interest in the initiative,” he said. He pointed out that the town remained one of the largest communities in the state as well as the most densely populated homogenous and indigenous community in Moro Local Government Area.
The chairman of Moro Local Government Area, Alhaji AbdulRaheem Adisa, who was represented by his deputy, Alhaji Adebayo Mohammed, disclosed the readiness of the council to support and promote the festival as it was capable of enhancing communal peace and harmony in the area. Alhaji Adisa, therefore, appealed to the federal and state governments to accord the festival the desired attention so as to bring it international recognition.
He opined that the promotion of such cultural festival’s rich norms and values would help reduce the negative consequences of foreign culture on Nigerian youths, enjoining all stakeholders to put all hands on deck to eradicate moral decadence in the society.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
What really instigated the study on the need for effective cultural development in Kwara State arises from the misunderstanding among various ethnic groups in Nigeria thereby becoming a clog on the wheels of inter-cultural practices and other forms of socialization. Despite various measures taken by successive administrations to stem the tide of economic problems, the Kwara economy continues to manifest signs of stress and strains as a result of underdevelopment resulting from neglect of the cultural aspect of development. Development in Kwara State fails to reconcile the challenges of the needs of the present with those of future. Kwara State especially the people of Shao L.G.A is yet to fully acknowledge the cultural dimension of development. Because of this there has not been adequate sensitization of her policy makers and the public as a whole to the cultural component of development; that which gave order and meaning to past generations have since been lost in Nigeria. What is left in presently is super-imposed by the colonial masters. There can be no true socio-economic development in the absence of culture.
1.3 AIM AND OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The main aim of the research work is to examine the use of Shao Awonga as a tool to build kwara state economy. Other specific objectives of the study are:
- to determine the effect of Shao Awonga festival on tourist destination in Kwara State
- to determine the effect of Shao Awonga festival on revenue generation in Kwara State
- to investigate on the factors affecting Shao Awonga festival in Kwara State
- to examine whether Awonga festival contribute to employment generation in Kwara State
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
The study came up with research questions so as to ascertain the above stated objectives of the study. The research questions for the study are:
- What is the effect of Shao Awonga festival on tourist destination in Kwara State?
- What is the effect of Shao Awonga festival on revenue generation in Kwara State?
- What are the factors affecting Shao Awonga festival in Kwara State?
- Does Awonga festival contribute to employment generation in Kwara State?
1.5 STATEMENT OF RESEARCH HYPOTHESIS
H0: the Awonga festival of Shao people has no significant effect on revenue generation in Kwara State
H1: the Awonga festival of Shao people has no significant effect on revenue generation in Kwara State
1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The study the use of Shao Awonga as a tool to build kwara state economy will be of immense benefit to the Shao people in the sense that the study will talk about the culture of the Shao people, Awonga festival and the dress code of the Shao people during the Awonga festival. The study will serve as a repository of information to other researchers that desire to carry out similar research on the above topic. Finally the study will contribute to the body of the existing literature on Shao Awonga as a tool to build kwara state economy
1.7 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
The study will focus on the use of Shao Awonga as a tool to build kwara state economy. The study chose kwara state because of her diverse culture and tradition. The study will cover on the culture of the Shao people, Awonga festival and the dress code of the Shao people during the Awonga festival
- LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
Financial constraint- Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview).
Time constraint- The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work
1.9 DEFINITION OF TERMS
Culture: the arts and other manifestations of human intellectual achievement regarded collectively
Cultural Development: is an act of engaging people of a community in taking action to build on and improve their shared culture
Festival: is an event ordinarily celebrated by a community and centering on some characteristic aspect of that community and its religion or traditions