From Felix Ikem, Nsukka
Stephen Ibelli, the Public Affairs Officer of the US Consulate General in Lagos, has said that Morehouse College Glee Club in Atlanta tour in Nigeria was to strengthen cultural relationships between the people of the country and the United States.
Ibelli said this in Nsukka on Thursday when Ohaneze ndi Igbo, the apex body of the Igbo cultural group hosted 40 students and faculty members from Morehouse College Glee Club from Atlanta who were celebrating their 50th anniversary of its first tour in Nigeria.
He said that the US is committed to strengthening the burgeoning U.S.-Nigeria cultural and people-to-people ties through music, arts and film which brings diverse people together and creates space for discussion and exchange.
According to him, “Morehouse College, Glee Club from Atlanta, Georgia are touring three states of Abuja, Enugu and Lagos for cultural expeditions and choral performances in the three major ethnic languages in Nigeria.
“The tour is part of the club’s 50th anniversary of its first tour in Nigeria. They had visited Nigeria in 1972 when they infused African music into the Glee Club’s tradition and American Choral music in general.
“Fifty years later, choirs across the United States sing in Nigerian languages, highlighting the long-term impact of that exchange.
“The Morehouse College Glee Club has since learned a variety of songs in Edo, Yorùbá, Hausa, and Igbo, including a piece specifically composed for them by Igwe Laz Ekwueme, famed Nollywood actor and University of Lagos professor,” he said.
The U.S. diplomat noted that the tour will further strengthen the longstanding ties between American and Nigerian institutions of higher learning, and further expand the scope of academic and cultural relations between the United States and Nigeria.
“Every year, we send over six hundred Nigerians to the US on exchange programs, we support all forms of cultural programs in Nigeria, provide skilled entrepreneurship training for women, we are doing all this in recognition of the two national cultures,” he said.
Uzzi Brown is in charge of Music and Performance in Morehouse and among the first team that visited Nigeria fifty years ago.
Brown said he would not forget the hospitality and cultural entertainment given to them during their first visit.
“I’m proud to be part of this visit in 2022, it gives me the opportunity to reconnect with the experience of that fifty years ago.
Nigeria is wonderfully blessed with diverse cultures which have endeared many people to it globally,” he said.
Speaking, Prof Frederick Eze, the President, Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, Enugu State Chapter, commended the Morehouse College Glee club for their tour to Enugu, adding that their visit was an opportunity to identify and welcome their brother and sisters in the U.S.
“This our brothers from the US said that they checked their gene and discovered that they have a genetic link with Igbo.
“Our hope is that one day some of them will come back and live with us so that they will contribute in the development of Igbo land,” he said.
HRH Igwe Hyacinth Eze, the traditional ruler of Ibagwa-Aka community in Igbo-Eze South Local Government Area, Enugu State described their visit as a welcome development as it has enabled them to reconnect with their brothers and sisters in Igbo land
The monarch in a bid to show them that they are welcomed in Igbo land gave the forty members of the team different Igbo names and traditional blessings.
“I’m excited to see welcome our brothers and sisters from Morehouse College Glee Club, I will be happy that one day some of them will come and live with us.
“I have set aside some portions of land for any of them who wish to come and live with us,” he said.
In a chat with newsmen, Jerion Flvellen, Student President, Morehouse College Glee Club and Breon Evam, Alumni Student Director said that they are happy coming to Nigeria to have a feel and experience their tradition and culture.
They said it is because of the rich cultural heritage of Nigeria that the Morehouse College Glee Club use Igbo, Hausa and Yoruba languages in their musical performance.