By Emmanuel Afonne
Congress of Igbo Leaders (CIL), UK, has called on the Igbo worldwide to be ready at all times to confront the challenges militating against civilization and their survival in the 21st century.
Mr Obi Okoli, Coordinator of the group, made the call at the 2019 Igbo Festival of Arts and Culture (IFAC), which ended on Saturday night in Edmonton, London.
Okoli who addressed the congress which had over 110 cultural groups and organisations from Nigeria and parts of the world in attendance, said the event was an opportunity to unite and appraise the capabilities of the Igbo globally.
A statement issued by Ms Asa Blessing-Chijekwu, member of the festival publicity/media team, and made available to News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), quoted Okoli as saying that the Igbo were the “pride” of Nigeria.
He urged the Igbo to be ready at all times to confront challenges, foes of their culture and obstacles to ensure the protection of their children and unborn generations.
“As we celebrate our unique culture and tradition today, let us not forget that this places on our respective shoulders the burden of protecting our ancestral land, water, women, children, the elderly and our youths.
“In the earliest days of Igbo civilisation, our ancestors were concerned with promoting high ethical standards, values, norms that keep our societies together.
“They believed in the purity of mind, body and soul, the divinity of the gods, the sanctity of our villages, and the purity of our families; we must not abandon these unique ways.
“Today, as we battle the balance of civilisation, our culture and religion, we must be careful not to allow our people to lay in waste, dissolution and ambivalence to falsehood.
“We must do all within our powers to pass all gifts that make us special to our children and generations unborn.
“Ndigbo must begin a careful journey of regression. This journey must review all we have embraced, imbibed to see if they are necessary, beneficial and relevant to our existence and survival,” Okoli said.
According to him, the country suffers because the Igbo lack knowledge of who they are.
He noted that culture and tradition were fundamental dynamics that defined thought, belief, attitude, behaviour, norms and values.
Okoli who highlighted the difference in every individual, emphasised the uniqueness in “Chukwuokike Abiama’s” (God’s) creation to protect and empower His people in times of adversity.
“There are lots of things that happen around us that we cannot control. We cannot stop earthquakes, we cannot prevent droughts, we cannot prevent conflicts, we cannot prevent hate; we cannot prevent sadness.
“However, we can prevent enslavement, divisions among us; so we can in unity forge ahead and confront our challenges, foes and obstacles.
“Ndigbo, we are a great nation, a unique people, a blessed and courageous people. These are our strengths and acknowledging these qualities will propel us towards greatness,” he added.
The festival was also an opportunity for various Igbo associations and groups to showcase their dance, drama, traditional wrestling and artefacts.
Trophies and certificates were presented to various groups and associations for outstanding performances during the festival which marked its 7th edition. (NAN)