Twelve “foreign disciples” of Igbo race, last week, traced their root back to southeast Nigeria, where apparently, their forefathers were taken as slaves to United States and other parts of the world some 400 years ago.
Among them were people from the academia, US security services, humanitarian services and several others that have distinguished themselves in their different profession.
They were received and celebrated by some traditional rulers, businessmen, political leaders and community leaders at an elaborate event organised by the former Minister of education, Chinwe Obaji and her husband, Sam Obaji, at ministers’ quarters, in Abuja.
The event was the climax of the week-long event to mark the 400 years of end of slave trade in the world. They were dressed up in different Nigerian attire, entertained with different Igbo music, dance steps, culture, cuisine to remind them of their root which they, hitherto, had no opportunity to know until recently.
The chief celebrant, Eze Emeruom, of Amaike Mbieri, mbaitolu Local Government Area of Imo state, performed the ceremony of renaming the 12 foreigners. While some were given Igbo name, others chose Yoruba name.
The traditional ruler explained that the Nigerian name that was added to their name was to give them the sense of identity and belonging, and to also serve as a reminder of their root which has been medically confirmed to be from Nigeria.
Minister of science and technology, Ogbonnaya Onu, who chaired the occasion, said the significance of the event was to strengthen the bilateral relationship between Nigeria, United States and other countries where the people came from.
He said: “It also has a long term economic, education and several other benefits, because they would help correct the ‘bad perception’ of Nigerians across the world particularly in the United State.
“They would pick interest in what is happening to Nigerians in America. They would also stand firm and defend our people knowing that they belong there.”
The organisers of the event, Sam and Chinwe Obaji, in their different remarks, described the event as a unique opportunity that Nigerian government should take advantage of, to strengthen the bilateral relationship with US and other countries where Nigerians could be traced.
Sam Obaji, specifically, confirmed that there are hundreds of Americans and other nationals who have their roots linked to Nigeria and are doing amazing things in different fields of life.
“They were willingly to participate in this ceremony but some reasons, they could not come,” he said.
He encouraged Nigerian government to search for such people and take advantage of their wealth of knowledge and experience to develop Nigeria’s education, health, ICT, security and political systems.
He said: “most of these ones that came to Nigeria for this event are based in Virginia, USA. It was in the course of intense search for their root that DNA test was conducted and the result confirmed that they are connected to Nigeria.
“Most of them are from the academia. There’s an Igbo village in Virginia, USA, where Igbo people are doing great things. These are ways we could market our culture to the world and attract foreign exchange.”
He confirmed that they would participate in the 2019 Ofala festival being organised by Obosi traditional institution in Anambra state, which will be used to celebrate the people and culture of Obosi and recognise some sons and daughters of Obosi who have contributed in one way or the other, to the growth and development of Obosi.