The High Table Men and Women of honor, below them are Igbo Cultural Artifacts
Proudly Displaying their Igbo Cultural Heritage Young PILA Igbo School students from Baltimore USA happily showing off their Igbo cultural clothing. This generation of Igbo children born in the diaspora love to learn how to speak Igbo language! Our goal is to help them achieve this objective!
Day One-Opening Day Reception and Meet and Greet (Friday)
The Friday Igbo Diaspora Cultural Heritage Festival 2017 program began with welcoming guests who arrived by Friday in a meet and greet ceremony which took place at the Best Western Hotel in Lanham Maryland. Guests were welcomed officially by members of the Planning Committee along with the host organization Nwannedinamba USA.
Why are we doing this festival? It’s a good question. We are helping the young Igbo kids born in the Diaspora to learn all about their great Igbo language and Cultural Heritage. Look at the smile on the face of this young Igbo Diaspora girl, need I say more?
Among those in attendance were guests from South Africa, England, Nigeria, Canada, and many states in the United States, including Georgia, Virginia, New York, North Carolina, and other parts of Maryland, Texas, and more. The Chairman of Nwannedinamba USA Ichie Dr. Larry Udorji officially welcomed all the guests to Maryland and thanked them for attending the opening day ceremony.
We are winning slowly but steadily. Igbo Schools are springing up in many parts of the Igbo Diaspora. Young Igbo children like the ones in the above photo born in the United States are being taught how to read and speak Igbo. Above are Igbo Students from PILA Igbo School founded by Anayo Ntukogu in Baltimore USA doing an incredible Igbo dance as good as anyone else-
The Planning Committee Chair, Mazi Okechukwu Oranika was also present to welcome the guests to this history making event. Other planning committee members who attended the Friday event includes Ada Nkiru Onyema, Nwannedinamba USA Vice Chair Udenkwo, Toby Chiaha of Nwannedinamba USA, South Africa delegates led by HRH Igwe Ihediwa, Chima Onyeagbau Umealo and other delegates in their entourage. Dr. Stanley Onye of Nwannedinamba/ICOTTH USA was also in the house, as well as the event Chief Patron the young Igbo millionaire Prince M. O. and Mrs Agurd who flew in from Atlanta to attend the event. The Chairman of the event Chief Pius Illogu who came from Toronto Canada, was also in attendance as well as guests from the United Kingdom and many others.
Chairman of the Event Chief Pius Illogu came in from Toronto along with his wife, demonstrating that all Igbos from all countries stand with us in this crusade to save our language and culture. We will prove UNESCO wrong about their prediction that Igbo Language will disappear in few decades to come. “Mbanu Chukwu Abiama kere Ndigbo agaghi ekwe ka ajo ihe nke a mee emee ma ncha’!
Great and tasty food was provided by the host Nwannedinamba USA incredible women. Assorted drinks were served courtesy of Nwannedinamba USA. Formal meet and greet session ensued as guests introduced themselves and some took the opportunity to share their views and passions on not only the need to work to preserve our great Igbo Language and Culture but some also shared their views on the state of affairs in Nigeria relating to Ndigbo.
Two important stories here from this photo that must be told. You see that small boy wearing isiagu in this photo I walked up to him and said to him kedu ka imere nwam? This small boy lightened up with a great and electrifying smile on his face showing that he understood what I said in Igbo He was not able to reply in Igbo but the laugh on his face showed his interest and the fact that he knows what I said to him in Igbo. He will one day grow up to become a champion of Igbo language and culture. At this early age children his age are busy with other things that interest children. Here this boy is busy learning about Igbo language and culture, great credit to his parents ! How about the lady on the extreme left side of this photo, I met her for the first time in Atlanta on her way to business meeting in Maryland. I told her about our event in Maryland and she decided she must be at this important event at all cost. Her conference was over and she decided to change her flight date back to Atlanta in order to attend this important event. She did and I like to say thanks to Nkem, what a great Igbo woman!
The reception program lasted into the early hours of Saturday morning after which a quick Planning Committee session wrapped the opening day ceremonies. The success of the first day ceremony was a pointer to what will follow. Stay tuned for exciting day two activities to be presented in two Parts, 3 and 4. All through this event, Igbo language was largely used although some people also spoke in English language reminding us once more of the work we have to do and the purpose of the festival. Many of us would have to practice speaking in Igbo as a daily routine, because sometimes even when we do not intend to do so, we gravitate to speaking English or a mixture of what is often referred to as Engli-Igbo. No doubt that there is growing awareness on this problem which justifies all hands to be on deck to change this unfortunate habit. In part 5 of these series we will present through the Communique ways that can enable us to achieve our desired goal to keep Igbo Language alive.
The point here is to make this presentation interesting so you will come back and read the remaining three installments of our extraordinary Igbo Diaspora Cultural Heritage Festival. Next installment Day 2 Morning/Afternoon activities. You can not miss the next two reports which are basically the highlight of this event!
Written by Okechukwu P. Oranika
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