Joseph Inokotong, Abuja
It was a spectacle to behold as the Igbo in Abuja, last week turned out in large numbers to mark Ohaneze Ndi Igbo FCT Igbo Day 2019. The convergence of Igbo communities in Abuja on the Old Parade ground, Abuja to celebrate this year’s Igbo Day was a colourful event targeted at showcasing the cultural ingenuity of Ndigbo to the world.
The 29th of every September is slated in the Igbo calendar to mark the annual Igbo Day celebration. It is also a day to showcase the rich cultural heritage of Ndi’Igbo to the world.
Dignitaries from wide and near graced the momentous event, which historically has been one of the most consistent and colourful of all cultural outings in Abuja.
This year’s event had the theme: “Promoting Culture of Peace for Socio-Economic Development”, with the objective to showcase and promote the opulence of Igbo customs and traditions as well as inculcate the spirit of peace, unity and development among all Igbo speaking people.
Chairman, Planning Committee, Chief Kachi Iheme, observed that the event has as part of its objectives to build bridges of national unity and create a culture of peace amongst Igbo diverse interests and groups in Abuja and beyond. It also aims at creating a platform for the creation of formidable networks, harmonious relationships and good neighbourliness among Ndi’Igbo and their host communities globally.
The event serves as a means of developing opportunities for the youths to learn and practice Igbo culture and values. This is in addition to encouraging philanthropy and reward those who distinguished themselves locally and internationally through awards and motivate them to do more.
Iheme said: “Some of the objectives include the need to build latent talents and brainstorm for the development of Ndi’Igbo in Abuja, and to sustain the germane Igbo day cultural history and memorials.”
The carnival-like event featured festivities of music, arts and culture with the sole aim of promoting the cultural heritage of Igbo.
The symbolism of the musical instrument as adapted into the festival was explained by Okey Nwachuku, one of the participants: “The essence of the real Bongo musical instrument in our heritage, which cannot be ignored. It signifies a lot in our history. It is a symbol of strength, a strong voice, announcement of great passages, events and entertainment. Because of its strong presence in our history, we chose it as a symbol of this festival of Ndi Igbo.”
Dancing hysterically to the pulsating sound emitted by the singers, Okonkwo Chime who participated in the event for the first time acknowledged that in contemporary times when cultures are going extinct, it has become imperative that bold and conscious steps are taken to revive, protect, promote and maintain the cultural heritage of the Igbo:
“The festival is designed to embark on cultural renaissance of the Igbo to foster unity of purpose in the quest for a united Igbo identity. The cultural fiesta is out for the future and portrayal of the Igbo culture.”
The carnival attracted large crowd of over 60,000 spectators and participants from the FCT and beyond. It might have achieved the aim of engaging the youths in productive and result-oriented activities. It attracted a mass movement of people of Igbo origin within the country and those in the Diaspora who turned up to unite and celebrate the rich cultural heritage of the Igbo people.