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World Igbo Conference 2024: Bridging the Igbo Homeland-Diaspora Disconnect for Transforming our Present and Future Together

Summary of Discussions

By Chigozie Nweke-Eze
Secretary General, ICVC, Center for Igbo Studies, UNN
Head of Secretariat, World Igbo Conference 2024

The World Igbo Conference (WIC) held on April 12 and 13, 2024, was a landmark event that aimed to bridge the disconnect between the Igbo homeland and its diaspora. Themed “Bridging the Igbo Homeland-Diaspora Disconnect for Transforming our Present and Future Together,” the conference brought together Igbo dignitaries from around the globe. Participants gathered both physically at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, and virtually, engaging in enriching discussions and presentations.

The event commenced with a traditional ceremony led by HRH Igwe (Prof) U. S. Onoja, who offered prayers and broke kolanut, a gesture symbolizing unity and prosperity. Dr. Nwachukwu A. Anakwenze, the Onowu of Abagana, delivered the opening remarks. He expressed gratitude for the presence of the attendees and outlined the conference’s purpose. Dr. Anakwenze emphasized the need to institutionalize Igbo culture through the Igbo Cultural Village Complex (ICVC) at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He highlighted the Complex’s facilities, including a museum, an Igbo hall for events, and a hotel for hospitality, and stressed the importance of preserving Igbo heritage through traditional activities.

In his welcome address, Prof. Chris Uchenna Agbedo underscored the significance of unity among the Igbo people, both in the homeland and the diaspora. He emphasized that bridging the gap between Igbo communities worldwide is crucial for advancing the collective interests of the Igbo people. Although Prof. Charles Arinzechukwu Igwe, the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, was absent, his representative conveyed his message. The Vice-Chancellor’s delegate highlighted the ICVC project as a pivotal initiative for uniting Igbo communities and preserving their culture.

The conference featured a series of remarkable presentations and remarks. Inyom Josephine Anenih, the Mother of the Day, and Dr. Uzoamaka Aguoji expressed their gratitude to the organizers and attendees, urging support for the ICVC project. The Queen Mother, Freda Paulino Sideroff, shared the history of the Garifuna people and their connection to Igbo land.

Prof. Emeka T. Nwaeze delivered a virtual lecture on good governance, setting the tone for subsequent paper presentations. Prof. Mrs. Gabriella presented a detailed paper on Igbo culture, highlighting its rich heritage, traditions, and customs. Engr. James Umekwe discussed the architectural design and construction plans for the ICVC, emphasizing the importance of efficient planning for the project’s successful implementation.

Additional remarks were made by various dignitaries. Mr. Chidoo Nwangwu discussed the interconnectedness of the world and the importance of clear visions despite diversity. Dr. Daisy Nwozuzu emphasized backward integration and maintaining Igbo culture. Youth representatives such as Ijeoma Anadi Okoli, Onyinye Igbokwe, and Nze Amadiebube Mbama shared their perspectives and efforts in cultural preservation.

The second day of the conference saw a continuation of the vibrant discussions and cultural enlightenment. Prof. Christopher Agbedo extended a warm welcome to all attendees and noted the special significance of the day coinciding with his daughter’s 17th birthday. Dr. Aguoji led a short prayer and introduced the keynote speaker, Dr. Kevin J. Hales. Dr. Hales emphasized the importance of African identity and the necessity for those of Igbo descent to connect with their roots in Nigeria.

The conference also featured insightful presentations from various speakers. Prince Chief Eluemuno shared remarks on the Igbo Landing project, and Dr. Sidney Louis Davies, Jnr presented a paper on “Igbonomics.” Ambassador Jean Pillard discussed his rediscovery of his African and Igbo heritage, proposing the establishment of Igbo pilgrimage sites in Haiti. Dr. Sylvester Onyia, Dr. Anthony Richards, and Dr. Douglas B. Chambers recognized the efforts of the organizers and discussed the challenges and opportunities faced by the Igbo people.

Presentations continued with Chigozie Nweke-Eze discussing the unique business acumen of the Igbo people, and Ezi Ada Ifeoma emphasizing the importance of ensuring that children speak the Igbo language. Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, President General of Ohaneze Ndi Igbo, acknowledged the ICVC project and emphasized the importance of preserving Igbo culture.

The conference concluded with a question and answer segment, where Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu addressed queries from the audience. Presentations were made by Miss Esther Chidimma on speech impediments, Dr. Ebele Chidi Agbedo on indigenous language endangerment, and other scholars on various topics related to Igbo culture and heritage.

Dr. Daisy Nwaozuzu and Dr. Aguoji engaged in a discussion on Igbo cultural practices, specifically the proper etiquette for chanting “Igbo kwenu” and the role of women in cultural ceremonies. The event wrapped up with final comments and closing remarks from the organizers, highlighting the importance of continued efforts in promoting and preserving Igbo culture. Prof. Chris Uchenna Agbedo delivered the vote of thanks, expressing gratitude to all who contributed to the success of the event.

The World Igbo Conference served as a powerful reminder of the importance of unity, cultural preservation, and collaboration among the Igbo people worldwide. Through collective efforts and shared goals, the conference aimed to bridge the gap between the Igbo homeland and its diaspora, fostering a stronger, more connected future for all.

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