Enugwu — The Ohaneze Ndi Igbo, an Igbo socio-cultural group, on Friday announced the approval of three international festivals, which it said would boost unity of Ndi Igbo both at home and in the Diaspora.
Chief Rommey Ezeonwuka, an Ohaneze chieftain, told newsmen at Enugwu-Aguleri in Anambra East Local Government Area, on Anambra during the 2012 Olili Obibia Eri Festival.
He said that the festivals were: the Igbo New Yam festival (Iwa ji Ndi-Igbo nile), counting the Igbo Calendar (Igu Aro Igbo) and Olili Obibia Eri festival (visit of Igbo in Diaspora)..
The Olili Obibia Eri festival featured cleansing of 10 African-Americans, who are from Igbo extraction at the Omabala River, from the stigma of slavery that had haunted them and their fore-fathers after the slavery trade in Africa.
Ezeonuwka said that Ohaneze had decided to support the festivals and make them an international event, which would attract all Igbos in and outside the country as well as African-Americans of Igbo extraction.
He said that the festivals would help to further unite Ndi-Igbo culturally, since it would be staged in the three most significant communities in Igbo history and genealogy; namely Igbo-Ukwu, Agukwu-Nri and Enugwu-Aguleri.
"We have approved the Iwa ji Igbo (New Yam festival); Igu Aro Igbo (Beginning of Igbo Calendar Year) and Olili Obibi Eri festival.
'The three festivals will be held to unite the three principal lineages to the progenitor of all Igbos, who is Eri himself.
"Igbo-Ukwu would host the New Yam; Agukwu-Nri would host the Beginning of Igbo Calendar Year; while Enugwu-Aguleri would continue to host the Olili Obibia Eri festival," he said.
Ezeonwuka, who is also the Ogirishi Igbo, noted that Ohaneze came out with the idea to stop strive between the three principal kingdoms laying claim to the great progenitor of Igbos - Eri.
In a welcome address, Eze Chukwuemeka Eri, the Eze Aka Ji-Ofor-Igbo, said that the Olili Obibi Eri festival was to unity all Igbos notwithstanding their place of abode.
Eri, however, called on African-Americans of Igbo extraction to come home and be cleansed from all stigma of slavery and get the blessing from their ancestral home for their spiritual and economic progress.
"I urge you to convince our brothers and sisters over in America on the need for them to come home to Igbo-land and have their cleansing and its enormous benefits," Eri, the traditional ruler of Enugwu Aguleri, said.
Mr Craig Wilkins, one of the cleansed "African-Americans", said that he felt rejuvenated after the cleansing exercise and was excited about the culture and hospitality of Nigerians, especially the Enugwu-Aguleri people.
Highlight of the occasion was conferment of chieftaincy titles to three eminent Nigerians, which included Nze Akachukwu Nwankpo, Special Adviser to the President on Technical Matters.