Below is the exclusive interview Africa Business World had with the Secretary of Nze na Ozo USA Gburugburu, Nze Prince Andrew Obiefule Oputa Obie Ndi Igbo). It is a great testimony that Ndi Igbo living in the Diaspora will never allow Igbo Language and Culture to perish. We give credit to the growing number of Igbo Organizations helping to propagate Igbo language and culture. Enjoy this great interview
ABW: Let me begin by welcoming you Nze Prince Andrew Obiefule Oputa Obie Ndi Igbo, to Africa Business World Celebrity Interview Series, it is traditional for us to do the salutation in lgbo Language. Anyi na ekele unu rinne Nze na Ozo USA Gburugburu. Daalu nu maka etu unu siri kweta ka anyi na unu kparia obele nkata.
Nze Obiefule: Anam ekele unu nke ukwu na mbo-nile Unu na agba na’ ikwalite omenala Nd’Igbo.
ABW: Because of the composition of our diverse audience the rest of the interview will be conducted in English Language. First can you tell us the purpose of your organization?
Nze Obiefule: The purpose of this great institution is to promote, preserve, uphold and propagate lgbo Culture, custom and tradition.
Nze Prince Andrew Obiefule Oputa Obie Ndi Igbo, Secretary (Ode Akwukwo) Ndi Nze na Ozo USA Gburugburu
ABW: The fact that your organization is operating from the United States how important is it to adhere and follow the lgbo traditions and customs as Nze na Ozo members do in lgboland?
Nze Obiefule: The lgbo population in the diaspora is increasing at an alarming rate; therefore, it is necessary to embed the traditions of lgbo nation to our offspring and younger generations to continue with our cultural traditions and legacy.
ABW: In lgbo land, Nze na Ozo members are regarded as High Chiefs when there are difficult issues Nze na Ozo opinion is often sought. Is this a correct assumption?
Nze Obiefule: Nze na Ozo is not regarded as high Chiefs because the word “Chief” has no place in lgboland prior to colonial rule; however, Nze na Ozo is the highest title institution in lgboland. Nze Na Ozo title is meant for honest, wise, knowledgeable and respected people. In addition, it is the only title that the recipients receive in his native Town after which that recipient is generally recognized in all lgboland as “Onye Nze na Ozo”. The Nze na Ozo Title holders serve as the supreme law makers of the Land. In dispute resolutions, their decisions are Paramount.
ABW: How does any Igbo person attain the Nze na Ozo Title?
Nze Obiefule: First, Nze na Ozo must be in your family lineage.(Ogu Ozo) If not, there are extra or additional rituals you have to fulfill, before you will be allowed to take Nze na Ozo title. Once you fulfill all the traditional rituals, you will be screened to make sure you are not a person of questionable character etc., by your family, Kindred, village and town before you will be conferred with the title.
ABW: Can lgbo women attain Nze na Ozo title as well?
Nze Obiefule: Generally, “No”. Once you received Nze na Ozo title with your wife by your side, she automatically becomes your Lolo. Traditionally “Lolo” is the title name reserved for the wife of Nze na Ozo title holder only. Today due to bastardization of our traditional institutions, almost all women go by “Lolo”.
Members of Nze na Ozo USA Gburugburu
ABW: As one of the custodians of lgbo traditions, is this role somewhat comparable to the roles being played by Customary Courts in any way?
Nze Obiefule: Yes, to the extent of formulating and implementing colonial laws instead of implementing Igbo cultures and traditions. The reason is far-fetched, the Customary Court Judges were not well groomed in lgbo cultures and traditions. Furthermore, people swear with the bible while testifying or as witnesses instead of the traditional “Ofor”.
ABW: You have an event coming up in Baltimore MD on August 24. Can you tell us more about this event which we understand is one of the universal ceremonies celebrated across lgboland?
Nze Obiefule: Iri ji festival is one of the oldest festivals in Igboland. It Marks the beginning of harvest season. During the ceremony, Nd’Igbo express appreciation to “Ahiajoku” (God of Harvest) for good yields of their farm products and pray for better returns in the coming season. I use the upper case “G” in God because the God of Ndi Igbo is not a small God.
ABW: We understand that Nze na Ozo also play another role for preservation of Igbo Language and Culture. Today this role is all important and indeed urgent one when one considers what is happening with Igbo Language in particular. The United Nations Agency UNESCO has predicted that Igbo Language may vanish in several decades because Ndigbo no longer use it as their primary conversation Language. What can we do to save Igbo Language?
Nze Obiefule: we can effectively address that issue by speaking Igbo language to our children at home; organizing Igbo seminars and festivals; encouraging Igbo organizations to speak Igbo language throughout their meetings and gatherings; negotiating with universities and community colleges to incorporate lgbo language in the school curriculum. Nze na Ozo USA Gburugburu is seriously working on most of these issues currently.
ABW: When one attends Igbo events, meetings and conventions one notices that such events are often done in English language instead of Igbo despite the fact that the audience is generally Igbo. What is wrong with Ndigbo?
Nze Chief Okey Okigweh Akajiugo/Ozuruigbo Ndi Igbo, Founding President (Onyeishi) Ndi Nze na Ozo USA Gburugburu
Nze Obiefule: Unpatriotic and low cultural esteem. However, NNO-USA Gburugburu have made it a point of duty to continue to encourage our people to continue to speak Igbo language in all Igbo events.
ABW: Any thoughts on the NUGA settlement being planned in lgbo land by Buhari’s government? Do Fulani cattlemen have any rights to turn all land in Nigeria into basically a breeding ground for cattle?
Nze Obiefule: This is a political question sir, NNO-USA Gburugburu is a non-political organization. Nze na Ozo is a traditional body (Ndi Odi n’ala). We have to have land to continue to exist as Ndi Nze na Ozo, if foreigners (Fulani) are allowed to occupy Igboland under the RUGA camouflage, there will be no land for Ndi Nze na Ozo to assert their traditional rolls.
ABW: In closing we like to thank Nze na Ozo USA Gburugburu for granting us this exclusive interview. Ka Chukwu Abiama gozie Ndi Nze na Ozo maka oru oma unu na aru Ndigbo
Nze Obiefule: ka Chukwuokikeabiama gozie ma Chekwa gi na ndi oru gi maka mbo nile unu na agba ikwalite ome n’ala ndi lgbo na uwa nile
ABW: Daalu nu udo dikwara Ndi Nze na Ozo USA Gburugburu
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