Southwest Unveils New Cultural Fabric Eyasu To Spur Peace, Unity

Nov 18, 2023

By Hope Nda

The Southwest Region has unveiled a new cultural fabric, Eyasu, a term resonating from local languages, signifying “ours.”

Eyasu was unveiled at the Buea Reunification Square Saturday, November 18, during a ceremony graced by the presence of the Prime Minister’s representative, Chief Dr Blessed Okole, Special Adviser at the PM’s Office.

Coming against the backdrop a six-year-old armed conflict facing the Region, Eyasu, to the Southwesterner, stands as a symbol of peace, unity, hospitality and prosperity.

The fabric is an embroidery designed with predominantly green, brown, blue, red and white colours.

It is adorned with multiple cultural symbols that signify the cultures of the Region’s six Divisions and the natural features that identify these areas.

Among these symbols are a gong, elephant tusks, cowries, a mountain, a sea, plantains, a tortoise shell, a basket, a tiger skin, among others.

A brainchild of Grace Ewang, former Southwest Regional Delegate for Culture, the Eyasu project started in 2016.

The concept, she explained, was birthed out of the need for a cultural brand for the Southwest.

“People are very jealous of their identity,” said Grace Ewang during an interview.

“We’re a people of legendary hospitality. We wear everything that is good but we needed our own. The simple example is that when there is a serious occasion, Southwest people offer loin, and there was a need to offer loin with Southwest symbols,” she furthered.

After conceiving the idea, she sold it to the Southwest Chiefs Conference (SWECC), which immediately bought the initiative and proceeded to coordinate it to fruition.

SWECC President, Chief Obenofunde Moses, said they persisted in developing the fabric, despite mobility challenges posed by armed conflict, because the Southwest needs something to call its own.

“I must point out that, in most of our local languages in the Southwest Region, Eyasu means “our own”. The fabric we have, therefore, come up with is our own and is meant for all of us,” Chief Obenofunde said.

Mrs Ewang explained that her team, working in collaboration with the Chiefs, took several years to arrive at the fabric because they wanted to aptly represent symbols for all Divisions of the Southwest.

In a forceful sermon that opened the launching ceremony, the Secretary General of SWECC, Rev Chief Ekoka Molindo, said Eyasu is beyond being a textile.

His sermon emphasized the values that the cultural tapestry is interwoven with the values of the Southwest—unity, peace, hospitality and prosperity.

The fabric’s significance becomes even more pronounced given the turbulent times the region is undergoing.

Chief Molindo said, through Eyasu, the Southwest is sueing for peace and for children to go to school.

The event’s chief guest, Chief Okole Blessed, saluted Grace Ewang, the initiator of Eyasu, and SWECC, for transforming the idea into a reality.

“Few things bring people together – whether it’s music, sculpture, paint or fabric, the arts are a way for us to express ourselves, our cultures, and our shared humanity.

“This very ambitious project presented today, unlike any other, explores the identity of the people of Southwest Region culture and tradition through embroidery.

Beyond cultural identity, he said Eyasu should remind Southwesterners about cultural awareness and the necessity of embracing cultural diversity.

Eyasu not only enriches the culture of the Southwest Region, but diversifies Cameroonian culture as a whole, as it adds to other cultural fabric, including Toghu and Ndop, which are already in use in the country.

The launching ceremony in Buea was attended by scores of people, including Southwest indigenes, traditional rulers and culture lovers around the country.

Among the attendees was Cyprain Egomang Tayong, aka Old Pancho, the fervent promoter of an 80/20 consumption of local content in relation to foreign content.