EVENT PERIOD: Monday, 19th January to Thursday, 22nd January. 2009.
The epic events marking the celebration of festival of Igbo Civilization and the Celebration of the Golden Jubilee of the famous book, Things Fall Apart, is presently going on at Concorde Hotel Owerri. The ceremony will peak on Friday, 23rd January 2009, when renowned Prof. Chinua Achebe will deliver the Ahiajoku Lecture.
The strategic meeting is aimed at celebrating Prof. Achebe and also re-evaluate and re-examine the history, position and prospects of Igbo in the world. This is the second time Prof. Achebe is visiting Nigeria after he went for medical treatment abroad following a ghastly motor accident that left him on the wheel chair. The first was when he came home to deliver the inaugural Odenigbo Lecture, organized by the Whelan Research Institute.
The event is being organized by a coalition of Igbo groups and they are;
· Whelan Research Institute, Owerri
· Conference of Democratic Scholars,
· Ndigbo Lagos,
· Aka Ikenga,
· Izu Umunna, Jos,
· Ohaneze Ndigbo.
Attendance is a top-heavy cream of Igbo intellectuals in the Academia, Religion, Politics, Public Service, Students, etc.
Registration, Opening Ceremonies, Host Governor, Ikedi Ohakim Arrives, Opening
Opening Prayer by His Grace, Archbishop Obinna, Chairman, Prof. Chukwuka Okonjo, the Igwe of Ogwashiukwu. Presentation of Kolanuts by Prof. Okonjo.
Prof. Adiele Afigbo introduces Prof. Okonjo, the Chairman of the Session, a Mathematician, Demographer and Academic. Prof. Okonjo makes the Chairman¼s Opening Remarks where he speaks on the need to consolidate Igbo civilization through a thorough imbibing of the cultural gridlocks of the Igbo race, the need for Igbo Unity and that Chinua Achebe remains a totem among Igbo that should be celebrated by every Igbo man. He called for renewed efforts among Igbo all over the world to ensure that Igbo reaches the peak in everything they do.
Prof. Uzodimma Nwala, the Chairman of the Organizing Committee of the Ceremony speaks. The event was organized to celebrate the fiftieth year of the publication of Things Fall Apart in 1958. Translated into 50 languages and over 10million copies sold, making Achebe the most African writer till date. Things Fall Apart and the author are great institutions the Igbo have to celebrate.
The occasion is to be used to examine the roots of Igbo culture. The International Conference on Igbo Civilization is the highpoint of the celebration, which inculcates many other conferences. Things Fall Apart is an illuminator, which stands to guide Ndigbo in their quest for fulfillment in the world.
Keynote Address: Prof. Adiele Afigbo: The need for Igbo to establish a knowledge and research center to ventilate Igbo civilization to all parts of the world necessitates conferences like this. The opportunity for this gathering was facilitated by Chinua Achebe, one of the world¼s best writers, whose intellectual work is being celebrated as a hallmark of Igbo civilization.
· Imperialism: This made things fall apart in Igbo society. This is the decline of the \Igbo philosophy, religion and the Igbo esotericism. This obtained in the decline of Igbo language and culture, which formed the foundation of Igbo civilization.
Igbo civilization still had enough strength to show flickers of survival over many ages. Some instances of the strength of Igbo civilization include: Prof. Onwuka Dike, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe who led the fighter for independence, Prof. Chinua Achebe whose literary work has survived so many years with a work that is rated as one of the most literature written by an African.
One aspect of Igbo civilization that has been neglected include Folktales, which celebrates the Igbo icons and heroes and ensure they are preserved for generation yet unborn to emulate. They relate the process and procedure Igbo civilization has gone through. Igbo civilization and culture is man-made and obtains from the events and issues Igbo observe in their everyday life. Gaining information, knowledge and value is science and has been the building chip of Igbo civilization so education and knowledge is essential and very relevant for Igbo civilization to endure. All aspects of knowledge must be therefore be preserved through the documenting of the relevant actions and events that under gird Igbo civilization.
Governor Ikedi Ohakim, the Host Governor in his address;
Acknowledged the presence of the cream of Igbo intelligentsia in the gathering to repair what went wrong and forge ahead for Ndigbo. The Igboman is a special specie and that Igbo have walked through civilization that have seen them invent the ½ogbunigwe¼ when many nations that are advanced today do not know what such military hardware are. The conference offers an opportunity for renewal and re-discovery. The state prepares to host one of Africa¼s foremost intellectuals when he comes to deliver the Ahiajoku Lecture in Owerri on Friday, 23rd January 2009. Igbo must free themselves from the civil war syndrome and re-position Igbo for the great tasks ahead. Igbo must strive to avoid self-immolation as a tactics for progress. Igbo should avoid taking short cuts to fulfillment and return to the strong and unconquerable spirit that made them survive very hard and turbulent periods in Igbo civilization. Worried that Igbo are fast-loosing the great attributes that make them Igbo. As Igbo increasingly gain education, they tend to repudiate what makes them Igbo. India, China, Korea, South Africa and indeed many countries of the world
Igbo are long abandoning their language and embracing western language, even as language is the greatest identity any race has. Igbo don gears and clothes, which are not Igbo during Igbo ceremonies and avoid Igbo clothes and identities. These must be resolved for Igbo to make any progress in advancing its civilization. Igbo must also address the quality of politics they practice to ensure that renegades and surrogates to other people who are not Igbo.
Igbo must re-appraise the practice of business among her people. Igbo must inculcate Igbo patriotism in their business plans. Charity must begin at home for Igbo businessmen despite the profit motive that drive business. Igbo must recreate the self-help efforts that drove the progress of Igbo civilization. Igbo progress is essentially a Nigerian progress and Igbo problem amounts to a Nigerian problem because ½Onye Ji m Na Ala Ji Onwe Ya¼. Nigeria must be made to work right for all to progress. Under that regime, Igbo civilization will thrive. Fixing the Nigerian problem will start by fixing the Igbo problem. Igbo must do what they are known very well for; overcome problems. Hope, not self doubt will get us whatever Ndigbo wants in the Nigerian system. Igbo need equality with other people and zones in Nigeria. Igbo projects must be removed from mere lip service to real projects. Igbo must not abnegate themselves.
Igbo must hold fast to the core values that make them Ndigbo. This remains the best way to advance and sustain the Igbo civilization.
Rev. Msgr. Prof. Theophilus Okere gives the Director General of the Whelan Research Institute, Owerri Vote of Thanks.
Closing prayer was said by Venerable Prof. Uzoho. The intellectual session continues after the break and we will report on the progress of the event, as we round up the programme on Thursday.
Footnote: The First International conference on Igbo Civilization is being organized in Commemoration of the Golden Jubilee of Chinua Achebe¼s Things Fall Apart, which was published in 1958. While the international community is celebrating Chinua Achebe¼s Things Fall Apart, as an accomplished piece of literature, the Igbo nation, whose ancient civilization forms the background of the plot of Things Fall Apart, and whose world has taken a most tragic state in contemporary times is being challenged to search for the meaning of Things Fall Apart in their history and their situation in the world today. For citizens of the Igbo nation, therefore, Things Fall Apart is not a mere literary subject. It is an eloquent testimony of the intricacies of pre-colonial classical Igbo Culture and Civilization, as well as the effects of colonization on traditional Igbo society, presented to the World as a paradigm of ancient African Culture and Civilization. This is why, though the impact of Things Fall Apart on African and World literature is inestimable, its fruits are found in other spheres of intellectual activity, namely, philosophy, art, sociology, politics, religion and even science.
Topics include, but are not limited to:
-Ndigbo in World History. -Igbo World before Equiano -The Atlantic Slave Trade and Igbo Civilization -Igbo Civilization and the making of the early history and culture of the Americas -Colonial Penetration, Conquest and Occupation of Igboland -Ndigbo and the Anti-Colonial Struggle. -Igbo Women in the Resistance to Colonialism -Zik and the Zikist Movement. -The Whiteman¼s incursion into Igboland and Igbo Resistance: - The disruption of the Aboriginal order and the import of the new and alien order. -Ndigbo and the Colonial Regime (Conspiracy and Intrigue) -Colonization, Cui Bono? A Civilizing Mission? -The forced amalgamation of ethnicities, the formation of Nigeria, and the pre-existing order -Ndigbo and the Pre-Independence Multi-ethnic Nigerian Society. -The Contradictions of the Colonial Nigerian Federal System. -Ndigbo and the 1966 Military Coup in Nigeria. -Ndigbo and the Biafra War.