IBOBO – Beauty of a United Heritage

The sixth hour on Saturday, the 28th of December, 2013 saw the unveiling of another edition of the ‘Walk for life’, an intricate part of Ibobo Ujaligwa which is a human development project undertaken by indigenes of the Umuavulu Abor community of Udi L.G.A in Enugu state. The project evolved from a group of inspired members of the community but has quickly spread out to include the neighboring communities in its goal of celebrating the beauty in the people’s united heritage.
The three-mile run around the town culminated in the same place it had originated – the Orie market square approximately two hours later. After refreshments of okpa and cold drinks had gone round, the people were split into two factions. The first faction constituted the children of ages 13 to 18 years while just about everyone else – infants, youths and the elderly – made up the other faction.
students taking part in the education competition organized by IEF
The children collected into the former group took part in the education competition organized by the Ibobo Education committee. The competition was organized as written tests in four subjects – English language, Mathematics, Physics and History. The venue was the examination hall of St Theresa’s Girls Secondary School, Abor and students thronged in to get registered for this competition.
Meanwhile the second group of people gathered across the road from them in the market square for the Medical Mission, another arm of Ibobo Ujaligwa. The outreach started with a health talk by Dr. Eva Offiah, a Chief Medical Officer (CMO) with Parklane hospital, Enugu. His talk was majorly centered on the issues of dietary regulation, exercise and their relevance to the general well being of the human body. Questions bordering on the relevant issues were asked by attending members of the community and the CMO did justice to all of them.
The Medical Mission then kicked off. It was organized into seven stations – the Clerking station where patients were registered and their bio-data filed; Blood pressure post, Blood sugar post, Urinalysis post, Body Mass Index (BMI) post and Consultation where practicing doctors analyzed the results from the conducted tests and diagnosed accordingly. The last station was the Drug dispensary unit where drugs were dispensed according to the doctors’ prescriptions. The chairman of the Medical Mission for Ibobo Ujaligwa 2013, Dr. Neze Njeze in a chat with this reporter, noted that the Medical Mission was a definite improvement over the past year’s affair; in addition to the increased number of stations available, there had been a greater turnout of people. She laid the praise for this at the feet of all the members of the family and community who had participated and volunteered in all capacities.
Drug dispensary unit of the medical mission
As has become the tradition, the events were summed up in the Ibobo Cultural Night, which commenced at 7pm on Sunday, the 29th of December, 2013. Opening formalities led to a talk that introduced the idea of Ibobo to the teeming audience gathered at the threshold of Dr. Gabriel Njeze, host for the evening. The talk which was delivered by Mr. Chidubem Njeze, an IT consultant and Electronic Engineer by profession, was titled “Ibobo: How it all began”. He described Ibobo as a pot cooking over a tripod stand whose three stilts were representative of Educational foundation, Health foundation and Entrepreneurial foundation.
Ibobo as a name, Mr. Njeze revealed, refers to the substantive quality of charm or beauty a person or people possess. The Ibobo Ujaligwa, consequently, identifies the substantive charm of the Ujaligwa people.  The motto of Ibobo Ujaligwa - Eka di igwe na-aru ohue which literarily means ‘A Collaboration of Equal Partners’, he concluded, summarizes Ibobo’s laser-like focus on human capacity development and character formation.
A patient gets checked at the blood pressure station
The second presentation of the evening was by Mr. Matthew Obodoechi and it was centered on the topic ‘History of Abor’. Ochiagha, as Mr. Obodoechi is fondly addressed, started his talk by stating that the history of Abor was entirely hinged on oral tradition, which by virtue of its nature, varied from family to family. He proceeded to recount his own version of the Abor roots; the founding fathers of Abor, according to Ochiagha, were majorly warriors who fought numerous wars conquering lands and domains over time. He emphasized the inherent greatness in the Abor heritage while noting that over time, the warrior-spirit of Abor sons and daughters had been channeled into more veritable ventures such as education, business and healthcare. Ochiagha concluded by charitably calling for other versions of the Abor origin from members of the audience, one of who was the traditional custodian of the Abor heritage and ruler, HRH Igwe Dr. C.C. Njeze, Ujaligwa II of Umuavulu Abor. The monarch needed no further prompting as he took to the stage with a presentation that added vibrancy and color to the picture of Abor roots already created by Mr. Obodoechi.
The third and final talk of the evening was a topic, which questioned the modern Abor indigene’s commitment and loyalty to the presiding power vested in one’s Umunna (or kindred) by tradition; it was delivered by Sculptor Innocent Anidi. Aptly titled ‘I mawo ku ezhi di? I maru I mee gunu?’, the presentation encouraged indigenes to actively identify with their Umunna especially as distance was no longer a barrier in our technologically-advanced world.
Other activities that spiced up the evening included Igbo speaking competition, traditional music competition, songs, dance and the Mr & Miss Ibobo pageant which yielded Mazi Nwachukwu Etta and Nwaada Munachi Orji as the newly-crowned Mr Ibobo and Miss Ibobo respectively.
Dr. Offiah delivering health talkk
The highlight of the event however was the awards ceremony; first up was the awards for the academic competition. The chairman of the Education committee, Miss Somto Ukozor was on hand to introduce the Ibobo Education Foundation (IEF), a new initiative of the Education arm of Ibobo which had been formed to “battle the vices which are stealing the attention of our youths away from substance”. She, supported by her committee, outlined the many projects taken on by the IEF one of which was the ‘Donate a book’ campaign which recycled used books, originally belonging to older indigenes of the community, for the use of the younger students. The committee also announced the winners of their pioneer project – the education competition; while the winners in the four subjects were rewarded with books, the overall best three positions were rewarded with a high-tech mobile phone for third place, a laptop for second place and a laptop plus a scholarship of N150,000 per session comprehensively spanning the entire duration of a university education for the winner. Njeze Arinze took the third position, Ogbu Ifebuche was second and Ugwu Lucy was the deserved winner of the star prize.
Other prizes given out for the evening were the Award for Personal development won by Miss Kanayo Anidi, Award for Ibobo person of the year won by Dr. Obinna Onodugo and Award for Sports person of the year which went to Chief Chilo Offiah.   

About Guest Blogger
This post was written by Chisom Ojukwu, a guest contributor. Chisom Ojukwu is a serving corps member of the Federation whose broken and thoroughly Nigerian heart continues to hope ferociously in a brighter future. If you'd like to guest post for Inspire Naija check out our Write for Inspire Naija for details about how YOU can share your tips with our community