HRH Igwe Ihedikwa with Ichie Dr. and Mrs Udorji
Introduction–History was made in Maryland –Part 1 of 5 Part Series
The first Igbo Diaspora Cultural Heritage Festival 2017 has made history. For the first time Ndigbo and their friends (more than 600 guests) from many countries including Nigeria, South Africa, England, Canada and over 15 states in the United States assembled at the Best Western Hotel at 5910 Princess Garden Parkway in Lanham Maryland for a sole purpose-To celebrate Igbo Language and Igbo Cultural HeritageHRM Igwe Ihediwa with Okey Oranika, the Planning Committee Chairman
I am happy to tell the Igbo World that the level of success attained through this maiden edition of this festival far exceeded the expectations of those of us that harmoniously organized this event. Because of the significance and importance of this event, the full story would be covered in Five Parts, including Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4 and finally wrapping up with Part 5-Release of a Communique. Endeavor to read all parts of this story and see extraordinary professional pictures justifying the old saying that a picture is worth a thousand words. Here is the first instalment of this extraordinary Igbo Cultural extravaganza.
Part One-Origins of Igbo Diaspora Cultural Heritage Festival
HRM Igwe Ihedikwa with Nkiru Onyema
This Festival idea originated from two Igbo men and two Igbo women concerned about the news coming from UNESCO, an Agency of the United Nations which predicted that several world languages including our own beloved Igbo language may disappear in coming decades because the native speakers no longer communicate in those languages. Many Igbos tend to communicate in English language rather than Igbo language. One might think that this problem is peculiar to Igbos in the Diaspora alone. The truth is that this is a bigger problem in Alaigbo more than it is in the Igbo Diaspora. The initial conversation about beginning this festival took place between Prof. Okechukwu Oranika, Hon Nkiru Onyema and Model Anayo Ntukogu. HRH Igwe Ihediwa with Anayo Ntukogu
Soon afterwards, Ichie Dr. Larry Udorji Chairman of Nwannedinamba USA joined the trio and the group of four individuals also invited other Igbo Organizations to join the effort. Nze Na Ozo USA led by their great President Nze Okey Okigweh (Akajiugo) with Nze Na Ozo leaders (pictured above) and Igbo Association of New England led by Dr. Ejike Eze (Omenka) became part of the group. Then 6 great Igbo Associations in South Africa came on board thanks to the effort of Chief Chima Onyeagbau Umelo. A national Planning Committee was formed and Mazi Okechukwu P. Oranika took up the mantle as the National Planning Committee Chairman for the event. The National Planning Committee met periodically and discussed ways and means to implement a first class annual “Igbo Diaspora Cultural Heritage Festival” (a name suggested by Professor Oranika and adopted by the founders).
Why we formed the Igbo Diaspora Cultural Heritage Festival
This effort is aimed at drawing maximum attention of Ndigbo across Nigeria and the Igbo Diaspora to the issue of the demise of Igbo Language and Culture. The goal and objective of this festival is to seek for ways and means to get Ndigbo back into the habit of speaking and communicating in our beloved Igbo Language aimed at preserving and keeping Igbo language and culture alive The theme of this festival is ” Preservation and Propagation of Igbo Language and Culture to the next Igbo Generation” Great credit goes to the leadership and members of Nwannedinamba USA for hosting the spectacular 1st edition of this festival, the full story would be covered under Part 4
The Planning Structure for the Festival
This project involves two levels of affiliation between the National Planning Committee comprising of the individuals and groups mentioned earlier and a local Host Organization. This plan involves sharing or duties and responsibilities between the National Planning Committee and the local Host Organization. With this plan in mind, the planning of this history making event began with National Planning Committee Teleconference Meetings,Nwannedinamba Vice President Chief Engr Udenkwo (2nd from left)
The Host Planning Committee meetings in this case (Nwnnedinamba USA) also began their work . To increase communication and transparency among both Planning Committee Units, the National Planning Committee meetings also include the Host Planning Committee members. During the National Planning Committee meetings, updates were provided by both National and Host Planning Committees which became the modus operandi and model for implementing this great festival. It worked, thereby proving that given the right leadership environment Ndigbo are capable of uniting and working together as one when the need arises.
We know that our Igbo ancestors would be happy with our chosen work here. Through the hard work of the National Planning Committee, Nwannedinamba USA and the massive support shown by Nze Na Ozo USA members, in addition to the effort and interest shown by HRM Igwe Ihediwa through his actions and desire to be a part of this project. shows that he has fully endorsed our work. Through the Blessing of the Almighty God, this project would succeed because we know we have made the right decision to seek for ways and means to save our Igbo language and cultural heritage. Please read all the remaining 4 Parts of the First Igbo Diaspora Cultural Heritage Festival story. The final Part 5 would be the Communique
Written by Mazi Okechukwu P. Oranika