When art and culture became antidote to poverty

In a report released by The` Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) of 1997 on statistics of poverty in Nigeria, 70  per cent of poor Nigerians are women. The report stated that more than a half of rural women live below the nationally defined poverty line, lacking access to basic education, decent nutrition, adequate health and social services. A1999 World Bank report also stated that Nigerian women are the most affected,due to being marginalized in decision-making process, employment, economic opportunities and access to credit, adding that most of them suffer from illiteracy, high maternal mortality, low income and poverty.

Like their counterparts in developing countries, Nigerian women perform complex multiple roles as mothers, workers and managers of households, taking care of their husbands, children and members of their extended families. They perform the majority of the work in food processing and dominate the rural and urban informal sector activities. However, the United Nations Development Programme of 1998 reported that fewer than 20 per cent of women own their own farm lands, fewer than 10 per cent have access to agricultural inputs and about five per cent have access to agricultural credits to enhance their productivity and incomes.

Poverty, it is also noted is concentrated among unemployed youths, small farm households, households headed by informal sector workers, women and elderly persons without social safety nets. In view of these dire economic issues, the Centre for Black and African Arts and Civilization (CBAAC) recently decided to deploy Arts and Culture as tools for poverty eradication through the promotion of visual arts painting, sculpture, pottery, coral bead making, costume and Make-up, Drama presentation and Choreography amongst women and unemployed youths in Oredo Federal Constituency in Edo State in a five day Workshop/ Training.

 

The rationale

The Director-General, CBAAC, Hon. Olubunmi Amao,at the event explained that the skill acquisition workshop would enhance self-employment and productivity amongst women and unemployed youths in the society. The CBAAC boss enjoined the participants to take advantage of the opportunity and get acquainted with the nitty-gritty as well as pay attention to details as the team of facilitators were carefully chosen and are ably qualified.

“The workshop is designed to empower and enhance the creativity of women and youths in Oredo Federal Constituency, here in Benin City, Edo State. This workshop entitled: Skills Acquisition and Empowerment for Unemployed Youths and Women in Bead Making, is one that will facilitate and enable participants, especially those who will be trained in the art of bead making, to be self-employed and productive to themselves and the society.

“It is very important for our women and youth who will be trained today to take advantage of this opportunity and get acquainted with the nitty-gritty as well as pay attention to details in the art of bead making, as our team of facilitators were carefully chosen and are ably qualified. Above all, they are ready to teach you the modern techniques in bead making,”Amao said.

Omoregie Ogbeide-Ihama, member representing Oredo Federal Constituency who collaborated with CBAACas a 2021 Zonal intervention Programme said the federal government organized the workshop on bead making and it was geared towards building and enhancing the skills and creativities of women and youths in Oredo, Benin City.

She expressed the belief that until the youths are empowered through a capacity building programme of this nature, all effort to attain economic growth and development would amount to a wild goose chase.

Olubunmi, therefore, stated that the Centre would continue to organize such events that target the women and youths of Nigeria with a view to changing the narrative for the better.

 

Effect on Nigeria’s economic development

The Director-General stated that the  programme would foster national growth and development in the country. He explained that women and youths are drivers of global economy and any country whose youthful population is gainfully employed will in turn witness steady progressive changes.

“You will all agree with me that the prospect of a skill acquisition training programme among youths and women in contemporary Nigeria is an initiative that would foster national growth and development.

“The reason being that women and youths are drivers of global economy and any country whose youthful population is gainfully employed will in turn witness steady progressive changes,” he said.

The CBAAC DG noted that the country must urgently invest in her women and youths in a bid to catch up with the advance world. He explained that the group constitutes a critical section of any given society even as they represent important agents of social reengineering and economic development in any nation.

“If Nigeria, and indeed Africa is to catch up with the advance world, it must as a matter of urgency invest in her women and youthful population. This is for the simple fact that they constitute a critical section of any given Society, and they represent important agents of social reengineering and economic development in any nation,” he explained.

 

Putting food on the table

Speaking on coral bead making, basket/hair weaving, visual arts painting, sculpture, pottery and tie and dye, Amao said the skills are highly priced commodities of trade, adding that they are some of the country’s material cultural resources transferred from her forebears to the present generation.

At the end of the workshop, about 300 participants were given certificates and starter kits to enhance their creativities and sharpen their skills to make them self employed. The participantsalso appreciated the orgnisers by presenting an artistic work of Oba Ewuare as gift to Amao in appreciation of his efforts in using culture to empower them.

Mr OduwaIgbinosun, on behalf of the beneficiaries, appreciated Amao and the entire CBAAC staff for usingOredo Federal Constituency as the location of the workshop. He assured that the knowledge and skills acquired will be put to good use.

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