Posted by Odogwu Emeka Odogwu | 18 August 2018 | 2,666 times
Matching words with action, the maiden Ohazurume Igbo festival was organised together with fund-raising and awards ceremony at the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka. At the event, the foundation for the Directorate of Igbo Village and Centre for African Civilisation (IVACAC) was laid. The construction of the centre will cost N696,376,088.50.
Speaking recently during the maiden Ohazurume Igbo festival, fund-raising and awards, the Director, Directorate of Igbo Village and Centre for African Civilisation, Rev. Fr. (Prof.) Bona-Christus Umeogu said the sum would be required to build a befitting centre for IVACAC in UNIZIK and appealed for support to make it a reality.
The UNIZIK renowned Professor of Philosophy appealed to governors in the South-east, led by Ebonyi State Governor, Engr Dave Nweze Umahi, lovers of Igbo nation, philanthropists and well-meaning sons and daughters of Alaigbo to rally round and make the centre a reality, for the future of Ndigbo.
The Vice-Chancellor of Nnamdi Azikiwe University (UNIZIK), Awka, Prof. Joseph Ahaneku, FAS, said the institution was responding to the threat of the eclipse of Igbo language and culture, hence the university decided to set up the Igbo Village and Centre for African Civilisation to research on, revive and revitalise Igbo Language and culture in the context of contemporary times, and to promote/propagate same in tandem with African civilisation. Ahaneku appealed to Igbo sons and daughters to assist the university in making the centre a place of attraction in Igbo land.
In his lecture, the guest speaker and President-General, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief John Nnia Nwodo, commended Ahaneku for instituting General Studies in Igbo in the university, to ensure that every student graduating from the institution will have a smattering of Igbo language and culture. He described it as a milestone in advancing the culture and language.
He frowned at the attitude of some parents who not only discourage their children from grasping the language and culture but ensures they do not speak it with them at home. He, therefore, appealed to parents to be vanguards of the promotion of the language and culture at all times, even as he berated those who refer to Igbo language as vernacular. He commended the development strides by the UNIZIK VC, encouraging him to continue leaving his footprints on the sands of time, as history would judge him creditably.
The great colloquium and emergence of a clergypreneur
On Sunday, June 10, 2018, a one-day Igbo Renaissance Colloquium held as part of activities to mark the golden jubilee birthday of Prof. Umeogu at the Communio Sanctorum Ministry International ground, behind Old Tourist Garden, Awka Capital Territory near Old English Hotel. The confab ended with resolutions for dedicated re-awakening of the Igbo spirit, culture and tradition in the contemporary era.
The colloquium, organised by the Igbo Spirit, Destiny and Life (ISDAL) Christian Life and Destiny (CHRISLAD), in collaboration with Communio Sanctorum Ministry International, Awka, was to celebrate the Very Rev Father Bona-Christus Uchenna Umeogu’s 50th birthday anniversary.
Umeogu, an incandescent scholar, a luminous star, who has chosen to be pedagogic in his life, has his personality adored by the literati and intelligentsia, because he is a notable patriot, a philanthropist, a bridge-builder with a passion for humanitarian gestures, particularly in the development of philosophy education.
Umeogu has achieved an organon of intellectual artistry, amalgamated with God’s grace and innermost self-disposition. His image is already made by his services to God and humanity. He is like a “light that shines in darkness but darkness does not comprehend it.” Umeogu is a colossus, a titan in the estimation of his friends who rate him “among the ancients in the days of Socrates, Plato and Aristotle; during the Medieval in the likes of Tertullian, Augustine and Aqunas; among modern intellectuals in the likes of, Immanuel Kant, Baruch Spinoza, Newton, Einstein, etc.”
The colloquium tagged, 2018 Great Colloquium for Igbo renaissance: Solving the Problem of Unity and Division in the Cultural Hermeneutics of Igbo Identity, was attended by thousands of eminent personalities and the clergy.
The colloquium charged that it is now time for Ndigbo to close ranks to revitalise and re-align their cultures and traditions with their Christian faith, to enable them to be at par with other major tribes in Nigeria. The attendees called on Ndigbo to ensure they preserve and sustain their culture, language and traditions at all times.
The event, which started with a holy mass, attracted many reverend fathers and sisters, the academia, top government officials and thousands of friends and well-wishers who gathered to felicitate with Umeogu, founder of the Communio Sanctorum.
Speaking, a renowned Catholic priest and father of African Hermeneutics of Culture from the Archdiocese of Owerri, Msgr Theophilus Okere, noted that Igbo identity was never a matter of debate before the Nigeria-Biafra debacle. He wondered why some communities in Nigeria, particularly South-South, who speak Igbo and answer Igbo names still see themselves as non-Igbo communities; some, he wondered, even corrupt their names to sound strange in Igbo language and culture.
Msgr Okere opined: “Some unity, some division; there always was, and there always will be. But, the modern levels and versions of disunity, and, division seem to stem from defeat, and, loss of Biafra and the collapse of all its hopes.
“Hermeneutics, like archaeology, is a study of backgrounds, a barring of foundations, a digging for the pre-judgment behind the explicit judgments. Applying this to Nigeria for the purposes of peaceful co-existence, we must talk of our fears of each other, our mutual suspicions, prejudices and distrust; our hatreds, secrets, plans and plots, past and present. We must honestly examine our consciences and admit and confess wrongs done to individuals and groups. There have been too many wrongs, too many victims, too much oppression and, especially, there has been too much insensitivity.”
He stressed that hermeneutics is the art of interpretation. “Interpretation means finding and getting meaning out of something; bringing light to its hidden meaning, obscurities.”
In his submission, another Catholic priest, Rev Fr (Dr) Raymond Arazu, who went down memory lane to discuss the travails and ordeals of Ndigbo in the entity called Nigeria, with its attendant challenges for over six decades. He revealed that the Igbo race was at a great disadvantage, for it could not compete with its better placed and wealthier compatriots, as the meagre savings of the Igbo since 1970 went more into family, village and town rehabilitation projects, than into buying of shares in industries and other business concerns, and noted that Christianity has helped to mellow the spirit of Ndigbo.
Prof. Obi Oguejiofor (also a reverend father), Director of General Studies, UNIZIK, said that being an Igbo man begins from home: the parents should start early to teach their wards their mother-tongue. But he regretted that some parents are now weak, whereas the Igbo are known to be industrious, hard-working and eager to do new things.
In his presentation entitled “Igbo Aphorism as Guide and Metaphors that Presage Igbo Renaissance”, Mr Oseloka Obaze, former Peoples Democratic Party governorship aspirant in Anambra governorship election and former Secretary to the State Government, said Ndigbo need to make the best of the circumstance they found themselves in Nigeria. He regretted that majority of Igbo leaders, especially those in the corridors of power have not done enough to alleviate the plight of Ndigbo.
Obaze, a former UN staff, posited: “My point is that I had no choice in being made a Black and an Igbo man. But someone else made a choice for me, to belong to a country called Nigeria; and to be for some exhilarating but anguishing 30 months, a citizen of a country called Biafra. Likewise, someone unbeknown to me – but with the tacit complicity of my parents – made me a Christian, and specifically, Roman Catholic. Yes, that I am, and as much I accept it and adhere to the tenets and dogmas of Catholicism. I am certainly not Roman. I am a Nigerian. And, proudly, Igbo!”
For former Vice-Chancellor of UNIZIK and President Otusubakwa Igbo, Nigeria, Prof. Pita Ejiofor – while regretting the attitude and nonchalant posture of Ndigbo to their language, tradition and culture – encouraged Ndigbo to engage in active speaking of their mother tongue without apologies, to rekindle interest in the language and culture, to avoid fulfillment of the prediction by UNESCO. He traced the efforts of the Otusubakwa Igbo to ensure the language and culture of Ndigbo is respected and recognised world over.
Earlier in a homily, Rev Father (Dr) Chika Okpalaike, said the convener, was born to help the spiritual and healthy evolution of man and to ensure that our life as Ndigbo is not lost; he advised the discovery of all that made us Igbo.
The moderator of the colloquium who is the Dean, School of Post-graduate Studies, UNIZIK, Prof. Ike Odimegwu, said though we learn education with the English Language, but vernacular gives deeper meaning, more especially by using idiomatic expressions.
Another speaker, Prof. Tracie Utoh-Ezeajugh, who is the Dean, Faculty of Arts, UNIZIK, insisted that the challenge against Igbo language, culture and tradition should not be only be focused on men. She said also that it is disgusting and against Igbo tradition and culture for women to strap their child on their back and be begging along the roads or on top of bridges.
Contributing, an expert on Entrepreneurial Studies, Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University, Igbariam, Prof. Felicia Uchehara, in her paper entitled How Does Culture Influence the Entrepreneurial Behaviour of Ndigbo?, said though culturally, Ndigbo are endowed with proven acclaimed character-traits of successful entrepreneurs, there are challenges facing the achievement of these potentials.
She noted: “To arrest this ugly situation for a better society, social entrepreneurship needs to be encouraged. Social entrepreneurship is different from commercial entrepreneurs that seek financial gains. The successful Igbo entrepreneurs need to be encouraged to use part of their profit to establish/encourage the economic development of the unemployed and vulnerable groups in Igboland.
“What the Communio Sanctorum International Ministries is doing today and always – such as attending to the sick, empowering the youth through imparting knowledge and attending to other social problems during first Thursday in the monthly prayer sessions – is called social entrepreneurship. A priest who finds time to attend to the social needs of the people is referred to as Clergypreneur. It follows, therefore, that Very Rev Prof. Bona-Christus Umeogu is a Clergypreneur.”
UNIZIK Faculty of Arts leads the renaissance
In appreciation, the convener of the colloquium, Prof. Umeogu, an Igbo renaissance promoter and clergypreneur, made it clear that the re-creation of Igbo civilisation cannot but be the work of the faculty in our universities. And he made it clear that the Faculty of Arts, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, has done a lot in this regard.
His words: “Yes, arts humanise culture and cultural identity. And in the Faculty of Arts, UNIZIK, there is the Department of Igbo, and they have made the Igbo people proud of their language and culture by their ‘Ogbalu Lectures’. The Department of Linguistics in their Igbo Language studies has gone very far in advancing extensional suffixes and clichés in Igbo cultural identity. The Department of History, as the memory of the Faculty of Arts, UNIZIK, has articulated Igbo difficult history in a body of writings in its different seminars and conferences. The Department of Theatre Arts, as the performance hands and legs of the faculty, have in their original and creativity outputs re-enacted Igbo life and culture in a world of lived experience.
“The Department of Music, as the performance hands and legs of the faculty, has recovered Igbo musical identity at the complex of Igbo ethnomusicology. The Departments of English Language and Literature, Modern European languages, African and Igbo languages have all – as the tongues and voices of the Faculty of Arts, UNIZIK – created a comparative Igbo language environment that gave Igbo cultural identity a verbal expression and meaning.
“The Department of Religion has worked on Igbo religious identity in their lectures and conferences in such a way that the proper inculturation of God in Igbo religion is now a reality. And the Department of Philosophy in their symposia, workshops, and Ogirisi Igbo festivals have advanced and been in the forefront of Igbo philosophy of culture.
“From this great Faculty of Arts, I was appointed the Pioneer Director of the Directorate of Igbo Village and Center for African Civilization (IVACAC), Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka. So, in the great Faculty of Arts, the Gown and the Town (the University and the Igbo World) have met in undivided unity (indivisaunitas).”
Umeogu pointed out that the homogenous Igbo culture has been made heterogeneous by the onslaught of other extra cultures, such as the colonial, Christian, European, American and Asian business cultures, as well as the cultures of science and technology.
Igbo spirit, destiny and Christian life
Umeogu said he established Christian Life and Destiny (CHRISLAD) not only to solve the problem of unity and division in Christian cultural identity, but also to solve the problem of unity and division in the sheep and other sheep, referring to what Jesus Christ said in John 10: 16: “I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also and they will hear my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.”
He explained that to have one flock and one shepherd is the purpose of the theory and principles of cultural hermeneutics, which must explicate the implicit meanings and interests of God and His people in all churches.
He concluded that Igbo Spirit, Destiny and Life (ISLAD) will establish Igbo cultural identity, Nigerian cultural identity and African cultural identity by the power and authority of the theory and principles of cultural hermeneutics. Christian Spirit, Life and Destiny (CHRISLAD) has come to establish Christian cultural identity by the power and authority of the theory and principles of cultural hermeneutics.
A divided cultural identity
Earlier in a press briefing , Bro Damian Ofonagoro, President, Governing Council, Communio Sanctorum Ministries International Summit, dwelt on resolving Igbo ontology shown in relation to colonisation, education, religion, specialisation, etc., and reached common grounds of, “solving the problem of unity and division in the cultural hermeneutics of Igbo identity.”
Ofonagoro said that Umeogu, as a Catholic priest, university teacher, philosopher and spiritual director of the Communio Sactorum Ministry International, has propounded theories and principles of cultural hermeneutics that have in their intra- extra- contra- inter- supra- and intergo proportions unified the militating factors of qualifications that work against Igbo cultural identity.
He said the philosopher concluded in his thesis on cultural hermeneutics and the problem of unity and division in Igbo identity that the identity of a people is always a function of their culture; hence he argued that Igbo identity must come from the hermeneutics of Igbo culture.
He added: “The most painful is that the younger generation in Igbo land, the newly married, etc, don’t believe at all in promoting Igbo language and culture. To them, speaking Igbo language to their children is a taboo, even in their homes. There are some children who were born and bred in Igbo land here that don’t understand any bit of Igbo language, yet their parents are Igbo. So, it is very unfortunate that Igbolanguage is at the verge of going into extinction and it is not good…..’’
Umeogu posited: “Igbo culture is the Igbo way of life interpreted from the identity of Igbo knowledge, belief, law, custom, art, morals and other inclinations, capabilities and traditions acquired and developed by Igbo people as citizens of Igbo land. So, Igbo cultural identity becomes the domain in which theories and practices, impressions and expressions, times and traditions, etc., continue and unite all things in Igbo being and belonging, despite the factors that discontinue and divide Igbo cultural essence and existence.
“Igbo cultural identity is no longer a homogenous one, because of the onslaught of colonialism, religion, science, modernism, globalism, etc. The result is that Igbo cultural identity stands divided by these cultural agents of incidence and influence.
“But there is a paradox to all these: that in all these dividing dimensions, the same Igbo person, the same Igbo people, the same Igbo race, the same Igbo nation ‘is’ involved. We are not talking of a divided disunity, but of an undivided unity. So, if you ask the question: who is a native doctor and who is a medical doctor, or who is a pagan and who is a Christian, or who is a barbarian and who is the civilised, etc, the answer must remain: the same Igbo person, the same Igbo people, the same Igbo race, and the same Igbo nation. So these qualifications should stop dividing the Igbo person, the Igbo people, the Igbo race, the Igbo nation. These qualifications should stand to qualify Igbo identity and be qualified by Igbo cultural identity.
‘Living Communion Drugs’
Fr Umeogu is not only after the spiritual life but also the health of the children of God. He said God gave him a revelation on how to use pure and qualitative natural herbs, through inspiration, to produce powerful and all healing medicinal drugs and pharmaceutics. In his Living Communion Drugs, he has over 300 different drugs with names and ranges from cure to epilepsy to solution to infertility and glandular problems, to mention but a few. There are testimonies everywhere.
This he said is possible because “in nature, we have a living communion with the virtues and powers of God for the medicinal and mystical health of the body, the mind and the spirit. In nature, we have a living communion with the life of God. God came in (human) nature that we may have life and have it to the full (John 10:10).”
There is nothing else in the rock of living health better than “Living Communion Drugs”, a distillation and synthesis of the best roots and barks and leaves and flowers and fruits of nature.
In Living Communion Drugs, you have a pure and qualitative access to the ageless health and prevailing healing energy of God, for a wholesome life.
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