The Imo State Government is sponsoring the return of Ahajioku Lectures, an annual intellectual and cultural event celebrating Igbo heritage and values, as part of government’s effort to revive art and culture matters which appeared to be under assault by the preceding administration.
Ahajioku Lectures was birthed by the redoubtable late Governor of Imo State, Chief Samuel Onunaka Mbakwe, PhD, to celebrate culture and intellectualism among Ndigbo.
As originally conceived, each year’s event featured a lecture by a world class academic drawn from any state in Nigeria with significant Igbo population, including Rivers and Delta, as distinguished Speaker.
These academic giants looked at Igbo history, business literature, technology or values from his or her special area of scholarship.
This year’s Lecture will be delivered by world renowned academic, professor and literary critic, Michael Joseph Chukwudalu (MJC) Echeruo, himself from Imo State.
The day will also feature an arts exhibition at the venue, the Ahajioku Convention Centre, in New Owerri.
Ten years ago, the Ahajioku Lecture was a huge international cultural fiesta in the Imo State Capital, as it was structured into an international Conference on Igbo Civilisation.
The 2009 Lecture became a two-phase event that culminated the seminal lecture delivered by the ijele of African literature, Prof. Chinua Achebe.
Achebe returned from a self-imposed exile in the United States to do the lecture.
It was a month-long cultural funfare that featured a film exhibition, youth conference on Igbo civilisation, world Igbo day prayers, and a religious workshop, among other activities.
Under the administration of ex-Governor Rochas Okorocha, this fixture in the national cultural calendar of Nigeria all but went into oblivion.
Although he sponsored one or two annual lectures, Gov. Okorocha, now a Senator, apparently had different ideas about how to organise arts and culture matters during his reign.
For instance, many in the elite class who are in the position to appreciate arts and cultural matters did not understand the policy offensive that saw to the destruction of the famous Mbari Square and its conversion into what he called Eze Centre.
Also, the Ahajioku Centre in New Owerri, venue of this year’s lecture, was also converted into a trade fair centre, to the consternation of many.
Ihedioha has returned the Centre to it’s original status as the Ahajioku Convention Centre.
“Speaking as an outsider, I can tell you that Imolites are happy that the celebration of arts and culture is taking a central place once again in the State capital” said Sir Emeka David Ani, the Associate editor of the Owerri Catholic Diocese newspaper, The Leader.