Saturday, August 30, 2014

Ebira woven clothes, a living heritage

By Ismail M. Kabir

An Ebira Woman weaving cloth on the loom
In recent time, the loom, popularly known as Oguntoro in Ebira language, has disappeared from most homes in Ebira communities. But does it mean an end to the age-long clothe weaving heritage in Ebira land?

The Okene main market (ohu bariki) retains an paralleled record of patronage when it comes to local trade of the Ita-inochi otherwise known as woven cloth. Historically, people traveled from across the country buy the clothes from our local weavers. This gave rise to the yoruba acronym for the clothe "Aso-Oke", meaning cloth from the upper (Northern) Nigeria.

The Oguntoro (loom) was a common feature in most Ebira homes when the trade thrived locally and internationally. Today, modernization has taken over the local weaving method as simple mechanized approach now make it easier for women to weave faster and produce more for their clients.
Innovation has taken centre stage. New skills are being adopted to make the clothes into shoes, bags, hand fans and more accessories in compleiance with modern fashion.

While the innovation opens more money making opportunity in the weaving business, our local weavers are loosing out of the trend. At the Okene main market, one only finds more of the weaving materials than than the finished products.

The drop in local production not withstanding, some smarter women have cashed in on the evolving market to rake more profit than their predecessors. Leading among the modern weavers are the women from Upogoro who have not only improved in the designs but the texture of the cloth from heavy woolen feel to a softer and lighter materials.

 - From Upogoro weavers in Okene-

Friday, August 29, 2014

NTA Okene, a prolonged dream

NTA Okene at construction phase
By Ismail M. Kabir

My recent visit to the abandoned site of Okene station of Nigeria Television Authority (NTA) was very disappointing.

For over six years since the idea of establishing a local TV station in the central senatorial district of Kogi state, the people have waited in vain for a media station that continue to exist only in their imagination. Similar facility in the two other senatorial districts in the sate (Western and Eastern senatorial districts) have since commenced operation.

Several failed promises by successive governments in the state including an official visit by the former governor Ibrahim Idris led by the then honourable commissioner of of information, Dr. Tom Ohikere have left the NTA substation to a mere hope.

In October last year, chairmen from the 5 local government council of Kogi central viz Adavi, Ajaokuta, Ogori-Magongo, Okehi and Okene Local government areas, visited the abandoned station with renewed zeal to ensure that the project was completed and became operational.

The chairmen, during the visit, promised to do everything neccessary to put the station to work inroder to keep the people abreast of happenings around the nation while providing jobs to the youth in the area.
To our dismay, 10 months later, nothing has happened. Located within 50 meters radius from the family house of Senator Nurudeen Abatemi, a serving senator and the highest elected political officer from the community, the station remains a captivating structure with a tall mast that readily provides easy address to visitors in the area.

Members of the community have since adopted the only private radio station in the area, Tao 101.9 FM now delivering a 14-hour daily broadcast to the community and other audience in about four states of the federation.

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