Igboukwu Celebrates Ugo Festival, Puts Igbo Culture and History in Perspective

By KayCee August 14, 2014 20:17

The popular Ugo Festival in Igboukwu community, Aguata Local Government of Anambra State was essentially established to uphold Igbo culture and tradition.

Thus when recently the 2014 edition of the festival was held, researchers, Igbo historians, artists, government functionaries and culture enthusiasts came together to share ideas revolving around the Ugo bird (the Eagle), which symbolizes the strength and glory of the Igbo.

The festival was powered by Ugo Igboukwu Foundation, a non-governmental organization, founded by Chief Barth Nwibe.
The foundation has been at the forefront in the promotion of culture and tourism, community development projects, education, healthcare provision and bridging the gap between donor agencies and the people.
The Anambra State Governor, Chief Willie Obiano, who was represented at the forum by his Commissioner for Special Duties, Sir Norbert Obi, reiterated its commitment to upholding the tourism potentials of the state.

The Coordinating  Secretary, Ugo Igboukwu Foundation and Chairman, Mbido Igbo Association, Mazi Okafouzu Ugochukwu, in an address said that contrary to the belief of the Europeans that Africans and Ndigbo never had any formal education prior to their coming, the Igbo had an already established way of writing, keeping records and knowing the times and seasons.
“Today, we have gathered to say in a loud voice that the Igbo race and people have come of age. It’s not over-exaggeration to say that our civilization is one of the best in the world.  As we all know that
Igbo has a well developed system of education and have character for each word. One needs not to be told about our ancient writings which any Igbo adult educated at the Obi of his umunna can read and understand perfectly well.

“In the world of economics, we are expert for we have a well developed balance sheet at the walls of each house and whoever cares can read and know the exact amount being owed your father or mother and the exact date the money in question was borrowed.
“Igbo man keeps his diary at his family compound and needs not to be reminded of his appointment and the time. We have excellent time counting and usage. One need not to be told how many hours are in a day, for our ancestors taught us time counting like : oge igirige ji enwude ilolo mgba – 1:00 a.m, okpa mbu (first cock crow), 2:00a.m, Okpa abuo, 4:00a.m,  anya ga afu obe aka , 5:00a.m, onu otutu,6:00a.m, ututu, 7:00a.m, mgbachi, 9:00a.m, owu, 11:00a.m, ehihie , 1:00p.m,

mgbede, 3:00p.m, uhuruchi, 5:00p.m, chi olu,6:00p.m, Anyasi, 8:00p.m, Ndeli, 11:00p.m and ime ndeli,12:00a.m.
“Since Igboukwu bronze is the oldest written Igbo language in Igbo Nland, one thought our people would have developed our language

alphabets from it, instead we patterned them according to the English alphabets. Notwithstanding that, Igboukwu and Igbo people have started dealing with the Portuguese and Indians as far back as 1100AD and were trading in ivory, bronzes, earthen wares and never on slaves for we have respect for human beings.”

Okafouzu called on the Anambra State government and Ohaneze Ndigbo to set up a committee to look into the issues he raised with a view to modernizing the Igbo language they have in Igboukwu bronze to suit the modern time.
He also called on the state government to tar the road leading to the National Yam House in Etiti village, Igboukwu and provide it with a
transformer, as well as a befitting pavilion in view of the annual National Yam Festival which the whole world witnesses yearly in the house.

The Curator at the National Museum, Igboukwu, eulogizing the symbol of Ugo- eagle and its correlation to the Igbo race, said the Igbo nation is set to overtake other races of mankind and occupy its premier position in leadership roles – ruling the world.
He said that because the Eagle is a very beautiful bird, the Igbo regard most of their beautiful and bright things as the eagle.
“Ugo is a larger-than-life bird. It possesses brilliant leadership characteristics. Ugo is venerated as a living symbol of power, freedom and transcendence. Ugo is a neat, calculative and precious bird that moves in pairs. Ugo is very swift, has a wonderful sight and picks its prey target without missing. Detectives (security operatives) as well as archaeologists are said to have Ugo eyes (eagle eyed). As such we have people bearing such names as Ugochukwu, Ugonna, Ugokwe, Ezeugo, Ugomma, Ugochi, Ugodiya, Ojiugo, Chiugo. Titles and cognomen such as Ugonabo, Ugochinyere, Ezeugochukwu, Ezeugonna, Ugosinachi, Achalaugo etc are also taken in cognizance of the qualities of the Ugo bird. Ugo adorn the national flags, coat of arms, coins, badges and other insignia of many countries due to the inherent qualities of the bird,” he said..

In a paper entitled: “The Antiquity of Reading and Writing – Case study of the Igboukwu Bronze 1650AD,”  Mr Ikenna Odife of the Department of History and International Studies, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, posited that motifs and inscriptions on the Igboukwu bronze objects reflect various aspects and ramifications of Igbo worldview and cosmology.

He said that much as one would not be inclined to describe the Igboukwu bronzes as possessing a writing culture, the motifs and inscriptions on them are invaluable assets to a deeper comprehension and appreciation of the Igbo thought patterns and worldview.
Ikenna in a chat with Oriental News urged parents to encourage their children to speak the Igbo language and be abreast with Igbo culture and norms as part of the efforts to ensure a reverse of the threat of extinction facing the Igbo language.
In another lecture by Prof. Clifford Nwanna of the Department of Fine and Applied Arts, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka entitled: “The Antiquity of Reading and Writing in Igbo land: An example of Igboukwu Art,” he said the Igboukwu art has not only provided an artistic identity for the Igbo of South East, but has buttressed the idea of continuity of the Nigerian art from the ancient to the contemporary times.

“The Igboukwu find (9th Century AD) has disproved the misleading idea that Igbo people have no history or civilization before the advent of colonialism. This study has also buttressed the Igbo origin of Igboukwu bronzes which some scholars suggested has outside origin such as North Africa and Sudan. One obvious evidence of the Igbo origin lies on the decorations on the metal objects. The motifs relate to the Igbo uli design. This aspect also shows evidence of continuity, since Uli art is still practiced in many Igbo societies.

“Uli had always served as archetypal Igbo design for all aspects of art in Igbo society; it is also a means of communication and a tool of identity. All these evidences that abound in Igboukwu art leave no one in doubt that Igboukwu is an authentic Igbo art. The art served as the people’s method of reading and writing, similar to the ancient Nsididi writing of the Igbo and Cross River people of South-East.  The study encourages other works that will aim at culture relativism which is urgently needed in an ethnic plural society such as Nigeria,” he said. An artist and textile designer, Nick Anozie, who did a public exhibition of his works during the festival in a chat with Oriental

News, decried the dearth of craft and handwork in Igbo land and declared that apart from his lecturing job at the Federal Polytechnic Oko, he derives much satisfaction in designing which has fetched him both fame and wealth.
Anozie disclosed that he is the direct son of Igbo-Richard in whose compound the famous Igboukwu bronze was discovered many years ago, adding that because of the recognition given to the excavated objects in relation to the decorative motifs, he decided to begin to apply those qualities in his art so that those qualities would be transferred to the present generation.
He said that he was not discouraged by the non-charlatan attitude of the Igbo to art exhibition since he has it as a vision to go away from

the ordinary and use designs that could not be found easily thereby setting himself apart.
The traditional ruler of Igboukwu, Dr Martin Eze described the festival as a time for sober reflection and the need for people to go back to their roots and embrace love and goodness.
A cultural troupe, Nkwa Egede Umueze thrilled the audience while certificates of pilgrimage were issued to participants who attended the festival.

Source : The Sun



By KayCee August 14, 2014 20:17