Art and Culture

African-Americans Reunite with their Igbo Roots

todayAugust 8, 2022

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Dike Onwuamaeze

Many African-Americans in the United States of America were reunited with their ancestral Igbo linage during the 2022 Igbo World Festival (IWF) hosted in Igbo Village, Frontier Culture Museum of Virginia by the Council of Igbo States in Americas (CISA).

 The 2022 IWF, which was held on July 29 and 30, was a live event that featured live cultural performances, food and drinks, material art exhibits, gala night entertainment, and much more.

A statement issued by the Director Publicity and Media, CISA, Mr. Mathias Mgbeafulu explained that, “the reconnection tells the story of NdiIgbo separated from their homeland through slavery and resettled in America; and who now as African American descendants have traced their roots back to Igbo lineage and are reconnecting with their living relatives in Nigeria and Diaspora. The reconnection remains one of the most avowed emotional high point for many in attendance.
“Emotional tears were seen in the faces of many that the 400 years old shackles have been broken. It reflects to a large extend the final step in a quest to discover and reconnect with relatives separated by time, space, and distance dating back to the era of slave trade.”

Mgbeafulu said that two-day festival featured variety of spectacular displays of special effects, world class musical talents, exhibitions, costumed cultural performances, symposium, interactive art, traditional cuisines, fashion show, marriage traditions, masquerades, and carnival rides as well as the celebrated Ohafia war dance, and the youthful Atiliogwu acrobatic displays entertained the audience.

He added: “It was all splendors as enthusiasts and well-wishers came in grandeur from all corners of North America, the Caribbean, and Nigeria to share with the Igbo the enduring legacy of their progenitors in blending the civilization that is now United States.

“It is, therefore, not surprising that the festival, which has now assumed a global dimension as a unifying force for the Igbo of Nigeria living in Diaspora and their kinsmen at home, garnered an unprecedented crowd. Many African Americans were in attendance for the emotional re-union of the cross Atlantic brotherhood.
“Their families, whose DNA testing confirmed their Igbo ancestry, received Igbo names based on the four-day Igbo market week, re-connected with their Igbo brothers and sisters and were officially welcomed back to their Igbo ancestral homeland by elders and traditional title holders.”

Earlier in his welcome address, the President of CISA, Mr. James Ogbuka Umekwe, thanked all the quests for honoring CISA’s invitation and urged them to take time to experience the uniqueness of Igbo Village, the Queen City of Staunton environ and enjoy their exceptional attractions.
In a similar development, the Chairman of the Festival Planning Committee Hon. Felix Nnaji, thanked members of his committee for moving forward with the program irrespective of the pandemic that kept the festival indoors since 2019.

In his comments, Chair CISA Board of Trustees, Dr. Nwachukwu Anakwenze, pointed out that the festival since its inception has combined cultural entertainment and fun while promoting cross-continental Atlantic reconnections. CISA is thankful to all and can’t wait to see everyone again next July 2023.
The high dignitaries who attended the events included Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to United States, Her Excellency, Dr. Mrs. Uzoma Emenike, who was represented by Mrs. Tarela Njokanma and Mr. Anthony Alonwu.

Others were Rev. Dr. Albert Sampson from Chicago, who was ordained by Rev. Dr Martin Luther King Jr.; former Haitian Ambassador to United Kingdom, Ambassador Jean Pillard; an Official of the Government of Virginia, Mr. John Avoli; the Chairman of World Igbo Congress, Professor Tony Ejiofor; a member of Igbo Council of Traditional Title Holders (ICOTTHUSA), HRH Eze Chibuzor Ngwakwe, and delegates from Jamaican, Trinidad and Tobago, Haiti and Barbados communities. 

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