By Brown Chimezie
The days ahead appear bright and rosy for Igbos living in the Diaspora. More groups are now making even more strident efforts to unite Igbos and to build new bridges of friendship and understanding with their host communities.
One of such groups is the Association of Ndi Eze Ndi Igbo in the Diaspora. The association is the umbrella body of all Ezes in the Igbo Diaspora.
The association’s last general meeting was held in Lagos, recently. It was attended by the National President, Eze Boniface Ibekwe, National Deputy President, Eze Gregory Iloerika, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Eze Nwabueze Ohazulike, Eze Alex Anozie, Eze Ndi Igbo, Oyo State, Eze Maduagwu, National Secretary, Eze Menakaya, Eze Ndi Igbo, Adamawa State, Eze Obi Okechuku, Eze Ndi Igbo, Osun state, Eze Omenife Peter Olikenyi, National Vice President, South, Eze Ndi Igbo, Thailand, Eze Ezeneche Jerome Uzochukwu and Ezendigbo Guinea, Eze Fidelis Okafor, and other Igbo leaders.
The meeting brainstormed on the current challenges facing Ndi Igbo. It started with the Biafran question and the challenges facing the South East region.
The group linked the recent upsurge of the Biafran agitation to the continued marginalisation of Ndi Igbo. It commended the leadership of Ohanaeze under Chief Nnia Nwodofor, which it said had started very well. It extended its hands of fellowship to the new leadership while warning them to beware of sycophants.
The Ezes brought positives report from their various communities as well as the efforts they had been making to unite Igbos and to encourage peaceful co-existence with their host communities. The Ezes also prayed for the quick recovery of President Mohammadu Buhari and enjoined other Nigerians to also do same.
The association also drew the attention of the federal government to the lack of federal presence in Igboland and the dilapidated state of the few existing ones.
In his contributions, the Eze Ndigbo Mekong River, Asia, Ezeneche commended the leadership of the association for organising such meetings to discuss crucial issues facing Ndigbo in the Diaspora, adding that he was now emboldened to continue to project Igbo culture when he returned to Thailand. He said under his watch in Thailand, interests of Ndigbo and other Nigerians in that country were being taken care of through regular consultation and meetings with the host country and the Nigerian Embassy in the country.
On how to promote Igbo culture, especially the language, Ezeneche urged parents to speak Igbo language to their children. “In Thailand, we made it a priority to speak the language during meetings. From time to time we also organize Igbo cultural fiestas to keep the culture alive in Thailand,” he said.
Eze Ohazulike said in the past two decades, he has being at the forefront of efforts to formalize the Igbo culture in Nigeria through the celebration of the annual New Yam festival. He said through the festival, thousands of Igbo children born outside Igboland were able to get first hand knowledge of New Yam festival and its importance to the Igbo race. He said through such festival, widows and other less privileged persons were being assisted through his poverty alleviation programmes.