CHIEF (DR.) JACOB U. EGHAREVBA (MBE) MEMORIAL LECTURE
HELD AT OBA AKENZUA II CULTURAL CENTRE ON 14TH DECEMBER, 2001.
L. E. A. Aimiuwu, FNIM, FNMA
Osayuwanoba of Benin Kingdom
All protocols observed.
Please let me start with my trade-mark declaration. I was born a Nigerian. I love my country Nigeria. I will die a Nigerian. If I come back to the world times, I will come back a Nigerian.
God has been so kind to Nigeria, but Nigerians have not been kind to Nigeria. Our country has been exceptionally favoured with natural, mineral, and human resources. Our lands are so fertile that if you plant a finger, a human being can grow. Our long-suffering people are warm, friendly, peace loving, and accommodating. The only natural disaster, in a country that is otherwise devoid of natural disasters, has been her inept leadership, especially some uniformed adventures, their civilian cohorts, plus uniformed, but acquiescing followership, all combining to subject our dear country to unmitigated pillage, looting, abuse, misuse,. Mismanagement, dehumanization, provocation, over the decades since independence.
God has remained kind to Nigeria. We are still awakened everyday, like clockwork, to the predictable, luxuriant glow of the glorious African sun, by the dawn chorus of a mosaic of African birds, including the crowing of the regal, and distinctive African cock. More importantly, the Almighty has given to Nigeria, Benin, the spring of life, the bastion of culture, crucible of values, heartbeat of Black African civilization, the most documented black success story of history. Let us continue to celebrate the success that was Great Benin, and draw inspiration from the achievements of our ancestors who were world beaters in their time, unlike our generation who are thoroughly world-beaten. Let the heritage called Great Benin contribute to the nation Nigeria some of those strengths and values so desperately needed by our new gestating country- integrity, patriotism, loyalty, industry, family values, reverence to God, respect for leaders, discipline, social inclusiveness and integration, visionary leadership, world-class ambition, world-class achievement, merit-based, firm, fair, transparent, and predictable reward (and sanction) system, etc, competencies for which great Benin was accorded world acclaim over the centuries.
But first, Benin must re-awaken Benin. History is about real people, about life. It is people who make history, and not history that makes people. Civilization is about life. Culture is about life. When we celebrate history, civilization and culture, we are not only celebrating the life that was, or just celebrating or moaning the life that is, but also redefining the life that should be, and our role in actualizing the dreams, ideals, aspirations and goals.
It is in this light that we must commend the Institute for Benin Studies for its commitment to African Renaissance, as best projected by the African success story, great Benin. Let us also congratulate it for organizing the Egharevba Memorial Lecture, now in its fourth year. Let us celebrate Egharevba's contribution to History, and let all those better endowed academically, take up the challenge, and pick up the gauntlet from where he left it.
Whilst celebrating the contributions of those long dead and gone, let us enjoin those living to uplift, upgrade, and upscale their contributions, to catalyze the steady march of human civilization. We are here, today, to listen to the distinguished Professor Ekeh, who has come all the way from New Jersey, to shed more light on the era of the Ogisos and Eweka in Benin history. You are most welcome. Let us, together, celebrate life.