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History Made At the 2017 Igbo World Festival of Arts & Culture

History Made At the 2017 Igbo World Festival of Arts & Culture

The just concluded 2017 Igbo World Festival of Arts and Culture will go down in history as a spectacular one.  The festival which ended in grand style was a tremendous success as the government and people of Staunton Virginia, African Americas from various states of United States including Detroit and the Igbo USA/Canada diaspora thronged into the Igbo Village of Frontier Museum for the 4th edition of the cultural fiesta.  It was all splendors as enthusiasts and well-wishers came in grandeur from all corners of North America (USA and Canada), South Africa, Nigeria and Liberia to share with the Igbo the enduring legacy of their progenitors in blending the civilization that is now United States and Canada.  It is therefore not surprising that the festival spectacularly witnessed an unprecedented crowd.

The festival which was organized by the Council of Igbo State in America (CISA) kicked off on Thursday July 27 with registration, meets and greet.  The Friday program was characterized with symposium, presentations and music galore while cultural extravaganza dominated the events of Saturday July 30th, 2017.  Igbos from different continents and other cultural fans witnessed the three day event that featured variety of remarkable displays of special effects, world class musical talents, cultural movie displays, exhibitions, performances, and symposium.  In addition, CISA and some town union leaders rubbed minds with Ohaneze leadership and other custodians of Igbo traditional institutions.   The hundreds of costumed cultural performers, interactive art, traditional cuisines, cultural dresses, exhibitions, Ada Igbo pageants, masquerade, and carnival rides were magnifying. 

Delivering his preeminent, concise and yet profound speech, Prof. Uzodinma Nwala, a foremost scholar, African first professor of African philosophy and President, Alaigbo Development Foundation (ADF) urges Ndiigbo to ‘Invest-At-Home.’  According to him, Investment of Ndigbo outside Igbo land is more than 400% of their investment in Igbo land and punitive measures meted out to the Igbo affect negatively the economic vibrancy of the region.  Our challenge therefore is to rejuvenation the development of Alaigbo by invoking our spirit of the Self-reliance via Investing-At-Home.   For the erudite professor, the place of our home as the primary focus for our indigenous investors cannot be over-emphasized. Thus investing in our home hold the key to the Rebuilding and Development of Alaigbo and making her a global player economically and socially.

The Reconnection Ceremony which was one of the highlights of the Igbo Festival was performed by Ticha Akuma Kalu while Eze Uzu of Awka His Royal Majesty Igwe Gibson Nwosu, Obi of Awka presided over the renaming ritual along with Eze Cletus Ilomuanya and Igwe Dr Emeka Ilouno .  During this ceremony, African Americans who traced their ancestry to Igbo communities in Nigeria (through DNA testing and other means) were re-connected with their Igbo brothers and sisters and were officially welcomed back to their homeland.  The Reconnection tells the story of Igbos separated from their homeland through slavery and resettlement in America; and how African American descendants of these Igbos are tracing their roots back to their ancestral homes; and reconnecting with their living relatives in Nigeria and Diaspora.  From all indications, the reconnection remains one of the most emotional high point for many who attended this Festival of Arts and Culture.  It reflects to a large extend final step in a quest to discover and reconnect with relatives separated by time, space, and distance dating back to the era of slave trade.

Addressing the mammoth crowd at the festival, the Vice (Deputy) Mayor of Staunton, Ophie Kier (himself a veteran of Igbo reconnection) lauded the crystallization of Igbo Village by the Frontier Museum.  He denounced the obnoxious nature of slave trade with all its alienating and separatist tendencies on the African Americans and expressed optimism on the progress CISA is making towards reunification and reclaiming the identity of African Americans and their Igbo/African families. 

In his epoch making speech at the festival, the President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, Chief John Nnia Nwodo echoes with satisfaction the opportunity to attend this year’s festival and see things for himself.  He extols the enthusiasm of the attending crowd in particular and our Igbo diaspora (CISA) in upholding and promoting our culture.  The President General maintained that his visit has opened up a lot of new ways and new meaning to him and his entourage.  He commended CISA for the laudable initiative and expressed satisfaction that children and youth are fully integrated in the festivities.  He asked the leadership CISA to see his visit as the link between CISA and Ohaneze, stressing the need for Ohaneze and CISA to relate and brainstorm cordially on how to move Igbo States forward for the good of ndi Igbo wherever they may be.

Earlier CISA President Dr. Edward Nwachi and Chairman of its Board of President Onowu/Chief Dr. Nwachukwu Analwenze had in their capacities welcomed their guests and visitors to this year event, outlining the several initiatives and programs articulated to make the festival as splendid as possible.

A New Miss. Igbo USA was crowned.   Ms. Ada Chinwendu Alozie won the 2017 Miss Igbo USA pageant. Congratulations Ms. Alozie!

Altogether, the Festival was uniquely marked considering the caliber of personalities who came from far and near to grace the annual event, which is undoubtedly serving as a unifying force for the Igbo of Nigeria living in the Diaspora and their kinsmen at home.  This fantastic cultural festival was marked with various intellectual presentations and activities, as well as display of ancient cultural artifacts and camaraderie.  Excited by the extraordinary display at the fiesta, one commentator put it this way, “we thank you (CISA) very much for the opportunity to participate at the festival. It was really worth my time and I'm grateful for all the work that was put in.”  Another re-echoed thus; “First, I want to say how excited I was to be able to see all of the festivities from Thursday through Saturday night.”  The thunderous discharge of ovations could be heard from all over the city of Staunton.  Hotels and hospitality facilities boomed.  Without doubt, the 2017 festival exceeded all expectations with nothing but praise from locals, visitors, and observers who described the event

CISA President Dr. Edward Nwachi and Chairman of Board President Onowu Dr. Nwachukwu Anakwenze were ecstatic with the turnout.  CISA may be the one that planned the event, but those who came are the ones who made each day of the event a great one in Igbo Village.  Though the festival has ended for the year: but not without leaving some indelible marks in the minds of the attendees.  We’re already looking at ways to enhance next years’ experience,” and ‘can’t wait to see everyone again next July’ concluded Chudi Asidianya, Festival Planning Chairman.  CISA is thankful to all groups, organizations and attendees for their show of solidarity and support in promoting ours culture.  Indeed, festivals of this magnitude require tremendous amount of advanced planning and CISA’s success was made possible in part by the efforts of its leadership and the hard work of the festival planning committee team, the Frontier museum management and staff,

Special thanks to: the Ohaneze President General Worldwide Chief John Nnia Nwodo and Ohaneze Enugu State President, Hon Chiedozie Alex Ogbonia and their team, the Management and Staff of Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, USA.  Prof Nwala, (Ikenga Mbaise),   The Royal Fathers of the festival includes His Majesties - Eze Uzu of Awka, HM Obi Gibson Nwosu, Igwe and Obi of Awka, HRH Eze Cletus Ilomuanya, Igwe Dr. Emeka Ilouno (Eze Dunu Ifitedunu), and several other Traditional leaders, Deputy Mayor of Staunton, Honorable Ophie Kier, Kenneth L. Venable, Trustee, Board of Trustee Frontier Culture Museum, 40 man delegation from Igbo Association Harrisburg, Philadelphia. Other large contingent delegation came from Nigeria, South Africa, Canada and NIDO Liberia represented by Prof Aremu Rabiu Olanrewaju, the Ogene Organization in Virginia led by Hon. Emeka Nwosu, Igbo Union of South Virginia, Igbo Language School Atlanta, Chief Ononaku and his team, Maryland and New York Groups, PILLA and its management, the goodwill of our traditional rulers and by and large the support of all who find time to attend. 
 
Chief Mathias Mgbeafulu 
CISA Secretary General
ADSG IWA Heritage & Cultural Institute

  
  
  

  
  
  

  
2017 Ada Igbo USA Ms. Jessica Chinwendu Alozie
  

  

  

 

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