By HON EGBOGOTA EMEKA VINCENT, 08038018004
May I start by congratulating the members of Igbo Union Kansai Japan, my predecessors, the chiefs and elders, my fellow executive members and ndi Igbo in general for their consistency and determination to make the new yam festival a reality.
Being far away from the shores of our dear motherland, you have endured that our most potent heritage, our culture, has not been abandoned. Also my appreciation to the sponsors and organizers of today’s celebration for the efforts devoted to make this annual new yam festival a reality.
We face a world in tumult; a world in which old ideologies have collapsed. This process has created a moral vacuum that is being filled, in some cases, by new forms of extremism and xenophobia. This is why the humanizing influence of culture is more important than ever before.
This New yam festival of today is to portray the importance of culture and the ancient wisdom of indigenous communities in preserving the natural habitat and the integrity of the eco-system for present and future generations.
Many of you probably may know more about culture than I do- of how vital it is to nation building and the development process itself. Among the Yoruba of West Africa, there is a saying that, “However far a stream flows, it never forgets its origin”. Our culture is the essence of who we are – our very identity. Our country Nigeria has diversified cultural heritages which are unic on its own, therefore if not properly managed may be gradually forgotten or mismanaged.
Due to fast development in technology and many Igbos travelling out of their basic dwelling places, many cultural activities are neglected and unremembered. Therefore today we decided to come together with our friends, families and more importantly our fast growing children to witness such exhibition of our Igbo cultures or cultural activities.
Yam, as a superior and major food crop occupies a large space in Igbo life and has received not surprisingly, much commentary from various disciplinary fields and deserves even more. On this note, it is pertinent to add that it is important for a people to come together to acknowledge their stereotypes and individuality. The culture and traditions of a people are dynamic.
Their heritage also sharpens their perceptions and worldview, and in most cases, constitutes the prism through which others, who make contacts with them, perceive them.
The New Yam celebration therefore, is a confirmation of the collective experience of Igbo cultural values marking the labors of our “heroes past and present”. It is also aimed to stimulate the consciousness of especially our young Japanese born Igbo and the host country into the appreciation of the patterns of Igbo-folk-life in agriculture worldview. It signifies that Ndi-Igbo understand their cultural diversity and cultural locus even in Diasporas, as their basic human right and relativity, and also as a mutual commission, commitment and communion to overcome prejudice and intolerance between different cultures.
Your Excellency Sir, and my distinguished guests, at this juncture, I crave your indulgences to permit me derail a while. Igbo Union Kansai has been long confronted with the problem of meeting together with chaos which has stampeded our regular meetings, aborted our events and efforts aimed at integrating our teeming number of Japan born children and wives. However, since the emergence of this new Executive, there is a tremendous change which also affected our finances positively.
Igbo Union Kansai has done a lot to help to a very considerable extent to abate the rate of crime, indiscriminate arrests and imprisonments of our dispersed brothers, reduce the high rate of humiliations confronting our wives, sisters, sons and daughters on a daily bases.
The Igbo Union Kansai has done a lot to create a sense of belonging to our new born babies here in Japan and also to render financial assistance to the families of our brothers who died suddenly either here in Japan or Nigeria. All these important tasks could not be met if not for your financial assistance or advice. Peradventure, from next year the Igbo Union Kansai would lunch into a huge alms giving to Nigeria handicapped or motherless babies home in different locations, therefore we are using this wonderful opportunity to seek for sponsors of any kind to make this project a success.
Your Excellencies, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, on-behalf of Igbo Union Kansai Japan, I will wish to end my address to you by once again expressing my profound appreciation to you for the untiring efforts displayed to grace this our New yam Festival. Thanks for coming, thanks for your patience and may God bless you all.