Ooni, Eze, Nwodo preach unity at World Eri Festival
• Nwodo excited as African-Americans ‘return’ home
• Obi of Onitsha, others grace occasion
It was the real handshake across the Niger—royal fathers from Igbo land and their counterparts from Yoruba land charging Nigerians on national unity as a path to peaceful coexistence among ethnic nationalities regardless of religious backgrounds. At the historical Eri Festival in Aguleri, Anambra State, and in separate speeches, HRM Eze Chukwuemeka Eri, Eze Eri Kingdom in Enugwu Aguleri and HRM, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, Ooni of Ife, royal fathers from ancient stools of authority, showed the way forward and identified national unity as the key that will accelerate the pace of peace, development and progress of the country in all areas.
It is certainly auspicious that such occasion was witnessed at the World Eri Festival, held at Enugwu Aguleri in Anambra State, where Eze Eri hosted the Ooni of Ife, Obi of Onitsha, HRM Igwe Nnaemeka Achebe, President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Nnia Nwodo, and other dignitaries. Other dignitaries at the occasion were Igwe of Mbaukwu HRM Igwe Peter Anugwu, HRM, an industrialist Igwe Patrick Okolo of Nsukka Urban, Dr Chile Obidigbo, Chairman of Anambra East Local Government Area Hon Obi Nweke, The chairman of Ogbaru LGA Hon Arinze Awogu, Member Representing Anambra East in the Anambra State House of Assembly Hon Obinna Emenaka among others.
The chief celebrator, Eze Chukwuemeka Eri, the Ezeora 34th and Aka Ji Ovo Igbo, described the Festival as a time when the Igbo world-wide gathered to remember their progenitor Eri, who is believed to have migrated from Israel and settled at Aguleri.“Today, we commemorate and celebrate an African and global historical figure Nna Anyi (our father) Eri. Today I welcome my brother and friend from our brotherly land of Yoruba, the Ooni of Ife, HRM Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, Ojaja 11, the 51st Ooni of Ife. I use this opportunity to call for peace and unity among the Yoruba and the Igbo and the rest of Nigerians,” he said.
Describing the Yoruba and the Igbo as one people, he stated: “Our history and different aspects of our language and culture remind us of our oneness. We must increase efforts to unite our people. Let us realise that we are one people sailing in one ship. Nigeria is our ship. We have no other ship. Let us strengthen our bonds and work together on what makes the lives of all our children all over Nigeria and the rest of the world better.”He welcomed the guests from all over the world wide “especially, those who identify with Igboland as their place of origin following DNA tests,” and said: “I welcome our African-American brothers and sisters, children of our children taken from us to strange lands many years ago. They are looking for their way back home and we welcome them.”
“Aguleri and indeed the entire Igboland is your home. Let’s begin today to build bridges that link us and all our children in Nigeria and Africa and over there in the United States of America, Europe and the world over.”He disclosed that Igbo-Americans were earlier taken to Aganabo Ezu n’ Omambala Confluence at Aguleri, where Eri anchored himself on arrival to Africa.
The Ooni, represented by HRM Oba Murainu Adebanjo, the Asoya of Ile Isoya, Ife Kingdom, described the festival as an event of a great people as Ndigbo are great people.He said that the Ooni was interested in national unity because it will guarantee peace and also bring the people into a more prosperous country where people are safe and happy.
Nwodo, who was conferred with the title Okwulora (the voice of the public) of Igboland by the Eze Eri, said the Eri Kingdom has made Ndigbo proud by organizing a festival that showcases Igbo culture to the rest of the world and connects Ndigbo with others in a manner that enhances friendship between Ndigbo and their counterparts elsewhere.
He described the visit of the Ooni as another version of handshake across the Niger from the cultural point of view.Nwodo, represented by the chairman of Ohanaeze in Anambra State, Chief Damian Afam Ogene,said he was highly impressed with the title bestowed on him, adding that the honour would spur him to serve Ndigbo more.