Some aspects of traditional African cultures have become less practiced in recent years as a result of neglect and suppression by colonial and post-colonial regimes. For example, African customs were discouraged, and African languages were prohibited in mission schools, But due to freedom of expression there is now a resurgence in the attempts to rediscover and revalue African traditional cultures. Focusing on Nigeria, an African country on the Gulf of Guinea. Nigeria is known for its natural landmarks and wildlife reserves. Safari destinations such as Cross River National Park and Yankari National Park showcase waterfalls, dense rainforest, savanna and rare primate habitats. One of its most recognizable sites is Zuma Rock, a 725m-tall monolith outside the capital of Abuja that’s pictured on the national currency. In this great country are cultural heritage spread across all the ethnic groups. With awesome tourist attractions ranging from the soaring plateaus of the mountain tops of Obanliku to the Rain forests of Afi, from the Waterfalls of Agbokim and Kwa to the spiralling ox-bow Calabar River which provides sights and images of the Tinapa Business Resort, Calabar Marina, Calabar Residency Museum and the Calabar Slave Park along its course, there is always a thrilling adventure awaiting the eco-tourist visiting Cross River State. Cross River State epitomises the nation's linguistic and cultural plurality and it is important to note that, in spite of the diversity of dialects, all the indigenous languages in the state have common linguistic roots. 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. Somewhere in Nigeria is Cross River State which is now the leading tourism state of Nigeria. Visitors from different parts of the country visit the states in large numbers all year around. Among this vast blessed landmarks are festivals, some of which date to the period before the arrival of the major religions in this ethnically and culturally diverse society. In our focus, is the Betem liberation day celebration. This festival or celebration started off with a popular festival called "ivetda"cultural festival, and is a popular festival that brings the Betem community around the world together. Its origin dates back to centuries ago and it is acclaimed as a cultural community festival with strong heritage, witnessed by many people on a yearly basis. In contemporary times this ivetda festival which is now celebrated as Betem liberation day, celebrated on the 19th January of each year has witnessed an increase in grandeur, display, dance, sophistication and an all inclusive participation of all Betem people and friends. The festival is marked with colourful display of different masquerades, Onene dance, Egbe dance, Ota mbe mbe, Akata, Obam, and the peoples favourite the Uwang display, prestigiously parading across the village square to the admiration of the public. The essence of the festival, which ranks among the best surviving traditional ceremonies of the biase people, is to celebrate the return of the Betem people from the Nigerian civil war. It serves to unify and foster ties among Betem people who are spread across the entire country and in diaspora and also a way of giving thanks to God for a safe return. It appeals to the entire Betem peoples both at home and in the Diaspora. Betem liberation festival is a four-day festival of propitiation, thanksgiving and feasting which is held annually from the 16th -19th January, renowned for it carnival floats, sumptuous feasting, fascinating masquerades, pulsating rhythms, and colourful performances. BETEM COMMUNITY Betem is a community most loyal to friends, and loving to enemies. Always willing to help others in need. Peace loving even enough

Published by Chris Sam