Stanley Uzoaru, Owerri
Imo State government has called on US-based academic, Professor Michael Echeruo, to deliver this year’s Ahiajoku lecture as part of its resolve to sustain Igbo culture and tradition.
This was disclosed by Dr. Amanze Obi, the pioneer Director-General of Ahiajoku Institute in a press statement made available to newsmen in Owerri at the weekend.
It would be recalled that Prof Echeruo gave the maiden Ahiajoku lecture on 30th November 1979 titled “A Matter of Identity,” during the civilian administration of late Chief Samuel Onunaka Mbakwe, who initiated the lecture series.
This year lecture would mark the return of the erudite professor to the state where he gave his maiden lecture 40 years ago.
According to the press statement, Obi who is a seasoned journalist, pointed out that the lecture series which is an initiative of Imo State government, would be an all-inclusive of intellectual festival, celebration of Igbo civilisation, culture and world view in the context of global affairs.
He regretted that the programme was abandoned for eight years during the administration of Governor Rochas Okorocha.
But Obi expressed happiness that the new governor, Emeka Ihedioha, in line with his “Rebuild Imo” agenda had invested heavily to revive the famous lecture series.
According to Obi, “for Echeruo, the revived Ahiajoku lecture which he has the privilege of presiding over its rebirth is something of a home coming.
“It is an exciting and nostalgic reminder of the pace set by the first civilian governor of Imo State, Chief Sam Mbakwe in1979. Significantly, Governor Ihedioha who has undertaken the onerous task of rebuilding Imo after the locust, is also seeing to the rebirth of Ahiajoku after its regrettable abandonment eight years ago.
The revival of the festival is in line with the determination of the present administration in Imo State to reposition the state’s cultural and tourism subsector.”
He further informed that the lecture slated for Saturday, November 30, at the prestigious Ahiajoku Convention Centre, New Owerri, would be preceded by other activities that would make the intellectual festival unique.
Highlight of the programme according to him include the Ahiajoku Colloquium where he said a college of intellectuals and researchers would gather to ex-ray the leadership challenges facing Nigeria with particular reference to the Igbo nation as well as cultural night where some of the rich Igbo cultural heritage would be displayed.