By Uba Acho
This little piece is more of an appeal to my African Christian, Muslim, Judaic and atheist communities.
Today 31st October is Halloween festival across Europe and America. Halloween basically originated from the celebration of the dead members of a Celtic community. Christians appropriated this ancient traditional festival of the Celts and called it the Feast of All Saints or feast of all Hallows’ to remember dead Christian saints. European and American Christians didn’t demonise Halloween, their atheist community didn’t cajole and make mockery of it as bullshit and irrational. They didn’t demonise, moralise or rationalise it, rather they monetised. The National Retail Federation estimates consumers in the USA alone spent a record $9.1 billion in 2017 Halloween festival celebration.
Last week from 25th -29th October was Diwali festival. Hindus, Sikhs and Jains both in India and across the world take part by decorating houses and public spaces with thousands of lights, candles and colourful designs. As well as the bright colours and glittering lights, there’s music, dancing, delicious food and a cresting wave of community feeling. The Indians wherever they’re found are doing everything possible to promote and market their Diwali festival to the world. They are monetising it, recking in millions of dollars in just five days, while promoting their cultural identity.
Don’t be fooled, Christmas is nothing but an ancient European traditional festival, appropriated by the church. Again the Europeans who understand how things work, didn’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. They’ve monetised their ancient tradition of sun worship, now in Jesus name, and exported it to the world. Christmas is typically the largest economic stimulus for many nations around the world as sales increase dramatically in almost all retail areas. The United States’ retail industry generated over three trillion U.S. dollars during the holidays in 2013.
Again Easter celebrations, an ancient European traditional festival of fertility, adopted by the church, exported to the world and has been heavily monetised. The National Retail Federation estimates that in America alone, consumers collectively spent $17.3 billion on clothing, food, decorations, and other holiday items on Easter 2017, up from $16.4 billion the year before. $2.4 billion strictly on candy for the holiday, up from an estimated $2.2 billion last Easter.
What about Olympic Games? The ancient games were also a religious festival, held in honour of Zeus, the Greek king of the gods.
It was a French man Baron Pierre de Coubertin who founded the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in 1894, leading to the first modern Games in Athens in 1896. Today both Christians, Muslims, atheists and non religious are all participants in the ancient traditional and religious festival of the Greeks. Generating billions of dollars wherever it is hosted.
My dear African Christians, Muslims and atheists, when you hear me preach and promote our African traditions, festivals and cultural practices, don’t only think about spirituality, don’t only think about religiosity, think about money, think about revenue generation, think about tourism.
To my Igbo people, think about what we can do with our Mmanwu festival celebration (Masquerade festivals). Think about what we can do with our Iri ji festivals (New yam festival celebration). We have amazing traditional festivals all across Igbo land. Just imagine if the five eastern Igbo states come together to establish a four days of Mmanwu and iri ji festivals across the five states simultaneously. Just think about the revenue that will be generated from transportation, high demand and consumption of yam, kola nut, Palm wine and other drinks. Think about the tourist attraction. Think about the money hospitality industry in the states will make, hotels, brothels, joints etc.
You don’t have to accept them for their spiritual and religious value, but think about their economic, commercial and tourism values.
Make me a commissioner of culture and tourism Imo State. And watch me give my people lemonade from our despised lemon.
Make me the commissioner of culture and tourism Imo State and watch me turn my passion into business and greatly monetise some of our great traditions and cultural heritage.
My people, think tradition and culture, think money and tourism. Not only spirituality.