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Ohanaeze, stakeholders seek Igbo unity, cultural preservation at Iguaro

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Ohanaeze Ndigbo and other South-East stakeholders have called for Igbo unity and preservation of its culture.

They made the call during the 1022nd Iguaro Ndigbo (Igbo Lunar New Year Calendar) festival held in the ancient Kingdom of Nri, Anambra State.

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The 1022nd edition of Iguaro Ndigbo was proclaimed at the weekend by the traditional ruler of Nri, Eze Obidiegwu Onyesoh (Nri Enwelana II), to herald the new farming season across Igboland.

President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Professor George Obiozor, commended the Nri regent and his community for sustaining the culture and tradition of Ndigbo.

Represented by the National Publicity, Alex Ogbonna, the Ohanaeze PG said he could not make it to the occasion because he had to travel to Orlu, Imo State, for first-hand information on the activities of the military in the area. He noted that the Ohanaeze leadership was passionately committed to efforts towards the preservation of culture, unity and the actualisation of Igbo presidency in 2023.

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Another chieftain of Ohanaeze, Emeka Onyesoh, pointed out that the Iguaro by Eze Nri “helps to re-assert the oneness of the Igbo and preservation of their cultural heritage.”

According to Onyesoh, there is a need to re-focus the centrality of Nri in the art and science of governance of Igboland, despite its attempted destruction in 1911 by a conspiracy of the early missionaries and the colonial government.

Noting that the concept of the year derived from 13 lunar months, he revealed: “Before the British liquidation in August 1911, Nri had developed its concept of aro (year). First, as earlier stated, ‘Aro’ is a supernatural force revealed to Eze Nri in the past; Nri then transformed it into a cycle of one year.

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The traditional Igbo year is divided into 13 segments. Iguaro Eze Nri commences the year around mid-February of the Gregorian calendar.

Onyesoh pointed out that the lunar system of calculating the year with a system of adjustment was known to Nri priests of Alusi Aro from the ancient times and used to help them in calculating the intervals between each lunar period and finding the directions during their travels and sojourn from one Igbo village to another for their priestly functions.

Proclaiming the Iguaro from the Ikpo Eze Nri (throne) to mark the 1022nd Iguaro on February 20, 2021, Onyesoh, through the regent of the kingdom, Ikenna Onyesoh (Idebuteaku) disclosed: “During the Iguaro, Eze Nri ushers in the Igbo new year and the beginning of planting season.”

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The prince described Nri as the ancestral home of Igbo nation, dismissing the insinuation that Iguaro was an event to worship idol. He said it was an event to revere Igbo culture under Eze Nri.

Quoting British anthropologist, Northcote Thomas, who studied Nri history in the 20th century, the regent said Nri elders had a clear knowledge of the stars and moon, which helped them in calculating the intervals between one lunar period and another.

“Igbo lunar year is the same as the Chinese and other cultures in Asia, Far East, Israel, etc,” he said, noting that “the antiquity of Iguaro dated back to the biblical days of Eze Nri, whose prerogative, as directed by God, is to proclaim the Igbo lunar calendar.”

According to him, Ndigbo, home and abroad, normally look forward to the occasion of welcoming Iguaro with pomp and ceremony, lamenting that Ndigbo, at the moment, is passing through the mill, and as such, their culture and tradition must not be sacrificed.

Present at the event included Ekwenche Organisation, Nzuko-Ozo Ndigbo, Ndigbo Royal Heritage, Ezemezu Igboagu Cultural Organisation Worldwide as well as eminent personalities across Igboland.

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