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We are pleased to announce the successful conclusion of the International Conference on Reimagining Igbo Studies in the 21st Century Nigeria and Cultural Carnival from Tuesday 15 to Friday 18 August 2023.

The conference brought together scholars, researchers, and experts from across the globe to engage in a dynamic exchange of ideas, insights, and perspectives on the future of Igbo studies in the evolving landscape of Nigeria.

The conference provided an enriching platform for scholars, cultural enthusiasts, and community members to engage in insightful conversations and celebrate the rich heritage of the Igbo people.

The event kicked off with a Charity Walk for Igbo on Wednesday, August 16th, symbolizing unity and support for the Igbo community. The opening ceremonies on August 17th featured distinguished speakers, including the Vice Chancellor’s representative, Prof Ijeoma Okorji, and Chairman of the occasion, Dr. Nwachukwu Anakwenze.

The Vice chancellor, Prof Charles Arizechukwu Igwe, assured that the institution would continue to work for the promotion of Igbo language and promised that his administration will always give the Centre the necessary support to carry out its functions in preserving the Igbo language and cultural heritage.

The Chairman, CISA Board of President, Dr Nwachukwu Anakwenze, who chaired the occasion, praised the University and CIS for their efforts in ensuring that Igbo studies and cultural practices were sustained.

He noted that over 40 million black are of Igbo origin, adding that an appreciable number of them are willing to learn the Igbo language as well as reconnect with their living relatives in Nigeria and Diaspora.

The Director of the Center for Igbo Studies (CIS) and convener of the event, Prof Chris Agbedo, delivered a welcome address, setting the stage for the enlightening discussions ahead.

Specifically, Prof Uchenna Agbedo spoke pointedly to the frightful prospects of language endangerment tugging the Igbo language in the face. To this effect, the Director called on the authorities of the University of Nigeria, as well as the Southeast Governors and members of the regional leadership, socio-cultural organisations such as Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, Council of Igbo States in Americas (CISA), Igbo World Assembly (IWA), and NGOs to take unified policy measures and practical steps at addressing the challenges of language endangerment.

He listed the following recommendations aimed at reinventing the ethno-linguistic vitality of the Igbo language, fostering a deeper connection to Igbo identity and ensuring the continuity of its rich heritage:

(i) *Inclusion of Igbo in General Studies Programme* : This requires the UNN authorities to consider introducing the study of Igbo language and culture as a General Studies (GST) course.

This initiative aims to expose students from various disciplines to the beauty and significance of the Igbo language and traditions.

(ii) *Unified Policy by Southeast Governors* : This calls upon the governors of the Southeast region to collaborate in creating a unified policy that mandates a credit pass in Igbo language as a core prerequisite for entrance into any tertiary institution within the region.

This policy would not only elevate the status of Igbo language but also reinforce its importance in the region’s educational landscape.

(iii) *Scholarship Scheme and employment Incentives:* To incentivize students to take up Igbo as a course, Prof Agbedo proposes the establishment of a scholarship scheme for students who choose to study Igbo at any tertiary institution. Additionally, a promise of automatic employment upon graduation should be extended to students who excel in their Igbo studies.

This measure would not only motivate students to engage with the language but also create a skilled workforce dedicated to preserving and promoting Igbo heritage.

These recommendations are not only crucial steps toward preserving the Igbo language and cultural heritage but also serve as a testament to the commitment of the academic community, regional authorities, and society at large to safeguarding the essence of Igbo identity.

The keynote presentation, entitled “Onye aghana nwanne ya in Igbo national thought: Where are we now,” was delivered by Prof Gabriella I. Nwaozuzu.

She interrogated the relevance of the Igbo’s ‘be your brother’s keeper’ philosophy in contemporary times, unlike the typical pre-civil war Igbo society when the philosophy was the bedrock on which Igbo progress, cohesion, love, and peace rested. Others who spoke glowingly in support of the innovative step taken by the CIS to reposition Igbo studies included the President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, ably represented by the Publicity Secretary, Dr. Alex Ogbonnia, the DVC (Administration) Abia State University Uturu, Prof Ogbonna Onuoha, Barr. Sam Otoboeze, Mr. Onuoha Ukeh, MD and Editor-in-Chief, Sun Newspapers, Peter Akah, professor of pharmacology & Toxicology, to mention but a few.

Lead paper presenters and panel discussions further delved into various aspects of Igbo studies, fostering an atmosphere of intellectual exchange and collaboration. Conferees and participants engaged in thought-provoking discussions on a wide range of topics, including language preservation, cultural heritage, history, literature, and the role of technology in advancing Igbo studies.

The conference highlighted the importance of interdisciplinary collaboration in enriching our understanding of Igbo culture, identity, and contributions to Nigerian and global society.

It equally emphasized the significance of engaging with younger generations and leveraging modern tools to ensure the continued growth and relevance of Igbo studies. Participants explored innovative approaches to teaching, research, and dissemination of knowledge that will foster a deeper appreciation for Igbo heritage among both local and international audiences.

The conference was not only an academic endeavour but also a celebration of Igbo culture.

The event showcased cultural displays, captivating audiences with traditional performances, showcasing the essence of Igbo identity. Awards of honour were presented to individuals who have made remarkable contributions to the preservation and promotion of Igbo heritage.

A highlight of the conference was the unveiling of the master plan for the Igbo Cultural Village Complex project, a significant step toward creating a dedicated space for the preservation and exhibition of Igbo culture.

On August 18th, the festivities continued with the New Yam Festival, Mmanwu Festival, and various cultural showcases that included oratorical performances, wrestling, dancing, fluting competitions, and a vibrant fashion parade.

The day culminated in the presentation of awards to deserving individuals who have excelled in their commitment to Igbo culture.

We extend our heartfelt gratitude to all participants, sponsors, and collaborators who contributed to the resounding success of this event. All stakeholders in the Igbo studies project, including educational institutions, government bodies, and community leaders, are hereby called upon to rally behind the Centre for Igbo Studies, the brilliant recommendations of the conference convener, and CIS Director, Prof Chris Uchenna Agbedo and work collectively to ensure the enduring legacy of the Igbo language and culture. As we move forward, we are committed to building on the momentum generated during this conference.

We will work to establish collaborative networks, support ongoing research initiatives, and promote the integration of Igbo studies into educational curricula at all levels.

By harnessing the collective expertise and passion shared at this conference, we aim to reinvigorate the study of Igbo culture and history for generations to come. Together, we have taken significant strides toward reimagining Igbo studies in the 21st century Nigeria and beyond.

Together, we have reimagined the future of Igbo studies and celebrated the essence of Igbo culture in a spirit of unity and pride. (Flowerbudnews)





_(For and on behalf of the Conference Communique Committee)_

Biola Lawal

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