IGBO CULTURAL DAY 2013: THANK YOU NOTE On Saturday August 17, 2013, at the Luna Ballroom Banquet Hall in Toronto Canada, Ndi Igbo and their Nigerian friends trooped out in their hundreds to celebrate their cultural heritage and traditions. It is estimated that more than 500 people were in attendance celebrating the Igbo Cultural Night. The highlights of the ceremony included the extraordinary performance of an upcoming Nigerian Gospel Singer, Mrs Joy Mordi-Olotu whose perfect rendition of both the Canadian and Nigerian National Anthems backed by Mrs Ogechi Omezie and the Famous Five set a high standard of expectation for the other performers at the event. Ndi Imo Canada men’s Bongo “Welcome” song led by Dr. Dan Ahana was appropriately chosen to usher in the Cultural Night and to welcome our guests to this August occasion.
From a distance, you could see on the faces of every Igbo person in attendance an element of pride and happiness at this opportunity to display their various traditional attires and regalia. Many of us felt at home to the rich culture of our Igbo heritage. The grand entrance of the Anambra State large contingent led by Chief Uche Ezemenari himself with the Flute mouthing by Emma Agbalugo and elegantly followed by Mrs Oby Nriagu in one single scope demonstrated the best of Anambra women’s cultural dance and a mixture of the Odinala music and dance steps. It was a site to behold as one dollar bills filled the dance floor in appreciation of this excellent performance.
Mention must be made of the vibrant appearance of the traditional Wrestlers from Ebonyi State whose combined performance with their women and beautiful children dancers showcased an interesting and well choreographed performance of Igbo cultural drum beats and dance steps which provided entertainment and added colour and fun to the celebration. Characteristic of their devotion to details and perfection, the “Coal City” Entourage from Enugu State took the stage by storm and provided the single most coordinated and inspiring dance steps that brought many people who could not control themselves to the dance floor to the tune of familiar music from the homeland.
Abigbo Mbaise is a peculiar cultural dance that was demonstrated by the men and women of the Mbaise cultural organization led by Mr and Mrs Anayo Okorie. The rhythm of the dance attracted the participation of prominent personalities in the community including the NCA President Sir Fabian Nwoha who was generously sprayed with crispy dollar bills by the Executive and Board members of the Nigerian Canadian Association (NCA) who were present.
The exhibition of Igbo Culture and tradition would not be complete without a homage from the ancestors invited by the traditional Abia War dancers led by Chief Emma Mba. These Abia war dancers “showed body” to the delight of many people especially our women folk. They showed real passion and emotion in the representation of their cultural heritage as they danced to the traditional war music which was an eloquent testimony of an inherited practice of the Abia people. The highlight of the performances was the presentation by the Owerri Women’s cultural dance group. This was a combination of shoulder and waist movement with a rigorous foot work that generated a resounding applause from the crowd and a free flow of dollar bills in appreciation of this performance.
The performances have been compared to the standard of “FESTAC77” – a showcase of traditional and cultural dances of the Igbo people in the Diaspora. We have been told that by every standard of assessment and evaluation, the ceremony was a resounding success. That success was achieved by the special grace of God and through the hard work of a few devoted people. Firstly our special thanks go to the Chairman of the occasion Chief Dr. Fidelis Ezemenari, the Ochi Agha of Uga for his distinguished presence and words of encouragement to the Igbo community in their pursuit of unity and social development. Chief Ojimadu N. Ojimadu and Lolo Nellie Ojimadu not only graced the occasion with their elegant presence, but they also made the highest single most generous financial donation to the Igbo Union of Canada with two mandates:
(a) To make the Igbo Cultural Day an annual celebration.
(b) To ensure the realization of an Igbo House in Toronto Canada. Chief thank you so much. Your mandate is a task that must be done.
Other distinguished members of the High Table who donated generously towards the success of this celebration include Engr. Ike Ukwuoma and Mrs Franca Ukwuoma, Chief Francis Agu and Lolo Nneka Agu, Chief Emma Mba, Chief Victor Amechi and Chief Uche Ezemenari- Akaniru 1 of Uga and Lolo Joy Ezemenari – Madam Stainless. This event would not have been undertaken without the initiative of the main Stakeholders of the Igbo Union of Canada – the Five Presidents of the Five Igbo states who were visibly elated and ecstatic in their appreciation of their state of origin performances. They include in no particular order the President of Ndi Imo Canada, Chief Ikye Ejesi, ASPA President Mr. Chudi Asidianya, Ebonyi State President Mr. Roxton Chukwu, Enugu State President Mr. Basil Egwuonwu and Abia State Acting President Mrs Nkeiru Abara, represented by Dr. Emmanuel Abara.
We are grateful to you Igbo Community leaders and to your state associations for your services to our people. Your satellite organizations can take pride in the fact that their faithful response to a vital call for action in the Igbo community has contributed in maintaining the Igbo people’s respect and appreciation of their respective organizations. Our Igbo Elders Forum was in full attendance at this festival and we appreciate the role they play in ensuring the unity of purpose we currently experience in our community.
Special thank you to Rev Benedict Ehirim and Chief Paul Okoro for their constant support. We also seize this opportunity to acknowledge the absence of some elders who due to circumstances beyond their control could not attend the festival: Elder Ogbonna Nnawuchi and Chief Nwabu Iroaga. We wish them well.
We appreciate the presence of many important personalities in the Nigerian community, especially the representatives of the Nigerian Canadian Association (NCA), our Akwa-Cross relatives and our Yoruba, Edo and Hausa compatriots who showed great financial support and appreciation to the various group performances. Behind every successful event in our community are the collective hard work and graceful efforts of our Igbo Women. The zeal and cheerfulness with which these beautiful ladies always discharge their duties to our community are eloquent testimonies of their resourcefulness, hard work and a high sense of community consciousness and sacrifice. Ladies thank you so much for donating so much food that we still had extras after the ceremony. Ndewo nu. And to a few highly committed people, who are always willing and able to answer the call to Igbo community service we salute you. You know yourselves and you have requested to remain anonymous. We respect that and may you remain blessed.
The enthusiastic hard work and support of the following members of the Planning and Organizing committee of the Igbo Day Cultural Festival however deserve to be mentioned: Joseph Eze, Chief Steve Akwarandu, Okay Enenwali, Christian Izundu Adannaya Nwaogu, Sir Joe Onyeachonam, Dike Enyinnaya, Chima Osakwe, Dr. Johnnie Emenike, Emma Anyaele, Uzoma Chinnaya, Chief Iyke Ejesi, Charlie Alaribe, Ernest Madumere, Basil Egwuonwu, Architect Chidi Nwanyanwu and Theo Nwaogu. We wish to state publicly our high regard for these brothers and a loving sister. We have learned to admire them for their personal qualities and utmost commitment to the vision of the Igbo Union of Canada. To Mrs Adannaya Nwaogu who was financially responsible for the catered food items and coordinated the entire food efforts, we say a big thank you big sister.
To all those Igbo sons and daughters who made financial and material contributions to the success of this festival, we remain eternally grateful. The list of all financial, food and drink donors and a detailed financial statement will be published soon in fulfilment of our promise of accountability and transparency. Ndi Igbo well done! Whatever we set our minds to achieve, we shall accomplish. Thank you all
Theo Nwaogu (for the Interim Administration: Igbo Union of Canada)