By Odogwu Emeka Odogwu
The Director of Igbo Village and Centre for African Civilization, Very Rev. Fr. Prof. Bonachristus Umeogu, says Igbo Village of Nnamdi Azikiwe University would serve as a tourist center for Igbo Culture and tradition.
Fr Umeogu, a renowned philosopher and Christian Mystic said this at the 2021 Igu Aro Igbo Festival and Unveiling of Igbo Calendar organized by the Directorate of Igbo Village and Centre for African Civilization (IVACAC) in partnership with the Anambra State Ministry of Diaspora, Culture and Tourism.
He said that Igbo village on completion, will be a center for tourism in the institution and Anambra State and a mini university that would house Igbo Science and Arts, cutting across different disciplines. He said time has come for the Igbo people to emulate the Chinese and return to develop their culture.
Speaking at the event, Rev. Fr Prof Umeogu said the festival is a foundational programme for the year and that such had not been organized in any citadel of learning except the novel exercise at the institution.
“Unizik is the first institution to organize Igu Aro in the whole of Africa and it is a way of the gown speaking to the town.”
Also, the Vice-Chancellor of Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Prof Charles Esimone FAS, while lauding the Igbo Village for the historic event, said the University is not just supposed to be the custodian of culture and tradition but proper propagation of tradition of the people.
“Nnamdi Azikiwe University has taken culture and tradition very serious because we recognize that the Igbo culture is vanishing and our youths are not familiar with what our culture protects.
“We want to institute in this university, Igbo village and centre for African Civilization and one of the things I want to showcase is the richness and importance of Igbo culture.
“We are using the opportunity to unveil the infrastructural plan we have for the centre and we hope to have the structures put in place to serve as a place where people, all over the world would learn everything about the Igbo culture and tradition,” he concluded.
Anambra State Governor, Willie Obiano, speaking through the Commissioner for Diaspora Affairs, Indigenous Artworks, Culture and Tourism, Hon. Kenneth Anierobi, said Igu Aro is in line with the ideas and programmes of his administration and urged institutions of learning to galvanize youths towards sustaining, developing and propagation of Igbo culture and tradition.
He said, “youths are the future of Igbo culture and if the youths are not carried along, portends danger for the Igbo culture. We try to get the youths imbibe the Igbo language, fashion, food and artifacts as well as lead the charge for the preservation and propagation of our culture.
“The culture and tradition of the people is their identity, if you lose your culture, you lose your identity and if you lose your identity, you are gone,” he said.
Meanwhile, the tradition ruler of Enugwukwu kingdom, Igwe Ralph Ekpeh, has decried that most people have confused Ofala Festival with Igu Aro ceremonies, stating that the later has all the ingredients as found in the former. He further explained that Igu Aro is Oracular, spiritual and ritualistic especially as Eri monarchs are entitled to make statements of future events and about truths through it.
High points of the occasion was the visitation to the proposed site of the Igbo Village, donation of the sum of N10 million naira towards the Igbo Village project by Dr. Godwin Maduka, 2021 November 6th Anambra Gubernatorial aspirant, display of the products from the Directorate; official launching and unveiling of the Igbo Calendar; Melodic Chants fondly called ‘Ima Mbem’ to welcome the guest and august visitors to the institution by a member of the 9th UNIZIK Govering Council, Prof. Nkechi Nwokoye and traditional music dances and displays.