By Ikenna Nwokedi
History was once again made on Friday, 27th January 2023 as the Directorate of Igbo Village and Centre for African Civilization (IVACAC), Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka unveiled her Igbo Calendar and UNIZIK Almanac Academic Calendar on the occasion of the ‘2023 Igu Aro Igbo Festival’ held at the Faculty of Arts Arena.
The colourful event which took place saw the cream de la cream and custodian of the rich Igbo cultural heritage and traditions converge for the annual programme that showcases Ndigbo and who they are as one of the major tribes in Nigeria.
In his address, UNIZIK Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Charles Esimone, described the Igu Aro Festival as an epochal event marking the Igbo Calendar calculation from pristine times which ushered in the Igbo new year.
Prof. Esimone who was represented by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Administration), Prof. Joseph Ikechebelu emphasized that the basic units of the Igbo Calendar are a 4-day week, Afor, Nkwo, Eke and Oye.
He commended the successive leadership of IVACAC for keeping alive the spirit that actuated the setting up of the Directorate which has through various programmes of activities not only save Igbo language and culture from the threat of becoming moribund but importantly to actively promote the language and the core values of Igbo culture.
The scholar highlighted that this year’s Igu-Aro comes with the innovation of rendering an Igbo version of Nnamdi Azikiwe University Calendar while urging the leadership of IVACAC to continue the drive in ensuring that Igbo Language and Culture are not rendered redundant.
In his speech, the Ogu Aro and Traditional ruler of Enugwu-Ukwu and Umunri, HRM Igwe Sir Ralph Ekpe described Igu Aro as a means of counting, proclamation and forecasting the year by the Chief Priest who is a King.
The monarch gave a brief history of Igu Aro which started with the creator and has metamorphosed into ‘Igu Aro Igbo’ which is now a common practice within Eri Dynasty, Umunri Clan and the Igbo nation. The Eze Enugwu-Ukwu na Umunri posited that Igu Aro toes the Divine line that ‘to everything there is a season, and a time for everything under the earth.
Also speaking the Director of IVACAC and a member of the 9th UNIZIK Governing Council, Very Rev. Fr. Prof. Bonachristus Umeogu stated that the Igbo Calendar system specifies the time taken by the moon in its orbital rounds around the earth in reference to the sun.
He explained that the Igbo Calendar is a lunar calendar which measures space-time using the phases of the moon, measuring the time from new moon to new moon as one month, he stated that unlike the Roman, Julian and Gregorian calendars, Ogu Aro Igbo or the Igbo Calendar is a space-time equal to 364 days.
The Director further emphasized that the Directorate was created to promote and defend the cultural practices and identity of Ndigbo as well as to preserve and foster ‘Igboness’ in relation to the people who regard Igboland as their ancestral homeland.
On her part, the Special Guest of the occasion and Senator representing Anambra Central Senatorial zone and PDP Candidate for the 2023 General elections, Senator Dr. Uche Ekwunife (Iyom) describes the Igu-Aro as a significant event meant to bring the Igbo culture down to the grassroots and to the young ones.
Senator Ekwunife who was represented by Chief Edward Chinedu Ezeagbasili said that there is need for Igbo culture to be promoted hugely and UNIZIK has kept the flag flying on that front through the events and programmes organized by IVACAC.
Senator Ekwunife opined that UNIZIK is bridging the gap between the town and gown while calling on other institutions of higher learning to emulate the activities of IVACAC as Igbo Culture has come to stay. The lawmaker thanked the organizers as well as all and sundry who trooped out in their numbers to honour the colourful occasion.
High points of the occasion was the presentation of the Igbo version of the UNIZIK 2022/23 academic calendar by the DVC (Admin), Prof. Ikechebelu; official launching and unveiling of the Igbo Calendar; display by the Centre for Arts, Culture and Humanities; and traditional music dances from various cultural groups within the University and beyond.