ByPRISCA SAM DURU& vera anyagafu
As part of its commitment towards the preservation and promotion of rich cultural heritage of the Igbos through acknowledgment of laudable achievements of Igbo sons and daughters, Igboamaka, an Igbo socio-cultural organisation, held its 2014 Igbo Person of the Year Award.
The award ceremony which took place last week at the Golden Gate Hotel, Ikoyi, Lagos, attracted respected individuals which included the Consul General of South Africa, Amb. Mokgethi Monaisa; the President General, Aka Ikenga Barr. Goddy Uwazurike who was Chairman of the occasion, Chief Audu Ogbeh, etc.
Igbo Amaka which is committed to promoting excellence in the nation’s interest in collaboration with various Pan Igbo organisations, was conceptualised to stimulate the spirit of industry and to acknowledge sterling achievements by Igbo sons and daughters across the globe.
While Mr Festus Mbisiogu, a native of Ideato South in Imo State, and China-based businessman emerged the 2014 Igbo Person of the Year, for his contributions towards a better life for his community as well as ensuring that Nigerians in China have a Consulate, the event also witnessed the presentation of an All-Time Igbo Personality Award to the Former African Footballer of the Year and one of Africa’s most decorated footballers, Kanu Nwankwo.
The African Wrestling Heavyweight Champion, Osita Offor aka De Ultimate Commander also received an award for his display of sporting talent in wrestling.
DAAR Communications PLC also received an award for providing and sustaining broadcast time for Igbo cultural programmes on all its three platforms – Ray Power FM, AIT and DAARSAT since inception.
Ezeigbo Lagos State, HRH, Hyacinth Ohazulike seized the opportunity to charge all Igbo sons and daughters in the diaspora to cultivate the habit of celebrating Igbo culture wherever they reside emphasising that it will help revive, preserve and promote the rich cultural heritage of the Igbo.
Eze Ohazulike explained that any cultural event or occasion that honours any Igbo must be treated seriously since such events provide opportunity to showcase some of the Igbo traditional dances and masquerades.
According to Chief Ohazulike, “Our colonial masters said few years ago that Igbo cultures will vanish in about 50 years time. We are fighting very hard to see that that forecast never happens and that is why any well meaning Igbo should start investing into our culture. I started this and I am happy that it is gaining a lot of interest and I’m very happy that Igbo language and culture are recovering their positions in the country.
He encouraged Igbos to be law abiding citizen wherever they are as well as ensure that no matter the country they reside in, it is necessary that they maintain Igbo culture.
“Two years ago, I travelled all the way to Netherlands just to celebrate the New yam festival. I went to Italy, America and did the same, so I believe that if other well meaning Igbos join in this kind of celebration of our culture things will never be the same again. Just yesterday, someone called me from Spain to say that he watched my new yam celebration in the Netherlands, on television. New yam festival is a strong festival that promotes Igbo culture because we use Igbo language during the festival, there are lots of cultural dances and masquerades that are showcased and people learn so much about the Igbos through this festival.”
Obi Nwachukwu who is the Director of the Igbo Person Award, disclosed that the Award was initiated in “2010 to acknowledge the contributions of Igbo sons and daughters who have distinguished themselves in their areas of calling. They have taken out time to go the extra mile to better the society. They stand as role models to the younger generation because of change they bring to the society.”
He explained that Festus was chosen, among the 10 nominees based on his strong presence in the diaspora that gave birth to the Nigerian Consulate in Guangzhou China where over 15 million Nigerians reside. Beside that, he has taken it upon himself to provide portable water in his community in Ideato Local Government Area in Imo State.