DIRECTOR, Directorate of Igbo Village and Centre for African civilization (IVACAC), Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka, Rev Fr Prof. Bonachristus Umeogu has advocated for a unifying celebration in Igbo land around New Yam (Iwa Ji) festival as a way to internationalize the celebration as a cultural exchange.
Rev Fr Prof Umeogu called on South-East Governors to collaborate with the Ohanaeze Ndigbo and other Igbo renaissance groups to decide on a day for that celebration and institute events or competitions around the Iwa Ji festival for the five states in South-East.
Umeogu spoke during the two day new yam festival by Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Anambra state, called Iri Ji UNIZIK and Ezi-na-Ifite Igbo Heritage Conference, 2018 at the faculty of Arts of the University.
The conference ended in style with a call on all Igbo to do all within their powers to promote Igbo language and culture to save it from going extinct as earlier predicted by the United Nations.
He noted that if governments of the South Eastern states and other Igbo intelligentsia take the challenge, New Yam Festival will be elevated to come at par with other highly esteemed festivals in the other parts of the world.
Speaking at the event, the Vice Chancellor of the University, Prof Joseph Ahaneku said the new yam festival was aimed at deepening the Igbo consciousness against food insecurity since the university community is domiciled in Igbo land, describing new yam festival as part of Igbo culture that is sacred.
Prof Ahaneku noted that the festival is a way of showing gratitude to God for a successful planting season before the yam can be consumed by humans, saying that propagation of Igbo values and culture to be in line with African civilization is the mandate of the directorate of IVACAC, even as he eulogized the Director of the centre, Rev Fr. Prof. Bonachristus Umeogu and his deputy, Prof. Okodo Ikechukwu for living up to the expectation.
Unizik’s VC words: “What to my mind is of great significance is to identify the philosophy and core values inherent in a people’s culture and to adapt the outward expression of these to contemporary times, to make the culture organic and enable the people to cope with the demands of the ever-changing world.”
The leader of the Chinese representatives, who identified himself as Zjang Ifeanyichukwu said Igbo culture is second to none in the contemporary world, revealing that they attended the festival to get acquainted with Igbo heritage, culture and tradition.
“We are living in the age of globalization and we all have same challenges to maintain and uphold our economy, politics and culture. So, people like us believe and identifies with Igbo people because they maintain their language and culture very well.
“I am from China and the world is striving to become one in certain areas, especially Asian and African countries and aside that, we all belong to the big family of human race. Every nation has its own unique and special culture but we share certain things in common in the spirit of global unity. I personally like Igbo people’s cultural practices because ones culture is his identity and prosperity” says Zjang.