By Adewale Sanyaolu
The city of Staunton Virginia in United States of America(USA) was recently agog with pomp and pageantry as sons and daughters of igbo extraction who have since lost their roots reunited with their kindred at a colour ceremony organized by the the Council of Igbo State in America (CISA) from July 29 to 30,2022.
A statement by CISA Director of Media and Publicity, Chief Mathias Mgbeafulu, said the reconnection tells the story of Ndiigbo separated from their homeland through slavery and resettled in America; and who now as African American descendants have traced their roots back to Igbo lineage and are reconnecting with their living relatives in Nigeria and Diaspora.
The reconnection remains one of the most avowed emotional high point for many in attendance as emotional tears were seen in the faces of many that the 400 years old shackles have been broken.
The event reflects to a large extend the final step in a quest to discover and reconnect with relatives separated by time, space, and distance dating back to the era of slave trade.
Earlier in his welcome address, CISA President, Engr. James Ogbuka Umekwe, commended the guests for honoring CISA’s invitation and urged them to take time to experience the uniqueness of Igbo Village, the Queen city of Staunton environs and enjoy their exceptional attractions.
Also speaking, the chairman of the festival planning committee Hon.Felix Nnaji, thanked members of his committee for moving forward with the program irrespective of the pandemic that kept the festival indoors since 2019.
In his comments,Dr. Nwachukwu Anakwenze, Chair CISA Board of Trustees pointed out that the festival since its inception combined cultural entertainment and fun while promoting cross-continental Atlantic reconnections.
According to the organizers, the festival which ended in grand style was greeted with thunderous ovation as people from all works of life thronged into Igbo Village of Frontier Museum for the 2022 edition of the cultural fiesta.
The 2-day featured variety of spectacular displays of special effects, world class musical talents, exhibitions, costumed cultural performances, symposium, interactive art, traditional cuisines, fashion show, marriage traditions, masquerades, and carnival rides. The stirring and fearsome masquerades, the celebrated Ohafia war dance, and the youthful Atiliogwu acrobatic displays entertained the audience.
From all corners of North America, the Caribbean, and Nigeria son, daughters and friends of the Igbos were on hand to share the enduring legacies of their progenitors in blending the civilization that is now United States.
It is therefore not surprising that the festival, which has now assumed a global dimension as a unifying force for the Igbo of Nigeria living in Diaspora and their kinsmen at home, garnered an unprecedented crowd.
Many African Americans were in attendance for the emotional re-union of the cross Atlantic brotherhood. Their families whose DNA testing confirmed their Igbo ancestry received Igbo names based on the 8-day Igbo market week, re-connected with their Igbo brothers and sisters and were officially welcomed back to their Igbo ancestral homeland by elders and traditional title holders.
Among the high dignitaries who attended the events included Her Excellency Dr. Mrs. Uzoma Emenike, Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to United States, represented by Mrs. Tarela Njokanma and Mr. Anthony Alonwu. Rev. Dr. Albert Sampson, from Chicago, who was ordained by Rev. Dr Martin Luther King Jr., former Haitian ambassador to United Kingdom Ambassador. Jean Pillard, John Avoli, of the Government of Virginia, Chairman of World Igbo Congress, Professor Tony Ejiofor, HRH Eze Chibuzor Ngwakwe, Igbo Council of Traditional Title Holders (ICOTTHUSA) and delegates from Jamaican, Trinidad and Tobago, Haiti and Barbados communities.