My sojourn abroad, notably Greece (where I lived for seven years before
migrating to Australia), did not only help me to understand who we are &
how holistic our culture (Omenala) is; it opened up my eyes to how different we are from other "tribes" in Africa, even in the world!. Thus, it's not an overstatement to proclaim that we Igbos have something (s) no other people in the world have, with the exception of the Jews.
There were many Nigerians in Greece. A cursory look would show that
we (all Nigerians) have the same culture. However, whenever something
like death occurred, you find that Igbos were/are practically a unique people.
Everyone would rally round, boasting that it is aru (abomination) for any nwa
afo Igbo (Igbo son/daughter) to be buried in ala mba (foreign land). Then
people (Igbos) would be levied for the body to be conveyed home. I would
say as an eyewitness that the Igbo are the only African people that didn't bury their own in foreign lands.
In the case of the Western peoples that we always try to mimic, if for instance a
German national dies in a foreign land, the German people there wouldn't as
A DUTY (I said as A DUTY), unlike the Igbos, levy themselves to convey the
body back to Germany. Rather, the responsibility would fall on the family of the
deceased or the embassy...
Today, I see many Igbos, especially those who have immeasurably benefited
from Omenala, fighting against it. On my last visit to Nigeria (Igboland) I had a
discussion with Uwa, not his real name. Uwa is the last child of seven children.
Unfortunately, he was a toddler when his father died. His uncles financed his
two elder brothers' education, from the secondary school up to university. They
both finished with flying colours, secured very good jobs, and were able to support their siblings/the rest of the family. Owing to that Uwa is now a medical doctor.
In the course of our discussion, Uwa told me he loves the Western culture so
much & wished we could emulate the Western way of life. At this juncture, I had to remind him of his humble beginning...
In the Western culture, Uwa's uncle wouldn't have had anything to do with his
elder brothers and chances are that his mother would have found a new boyfriend, who might not like Uwa. In such scenario he (Uwa) might be put up for adoption or tossed around from one foster home to the other. The best possible scenario: Uwa's mother might remarry to someone that would tolerate him just as a stepson and not bother about paying for his education... And his elder brothers/siblings would be "EVERY ONE ON THEIR OWN."
However, I made him realize that it is our Omenala which teaches "Onye aghala nwanne ya" (be your brother's keeper or let no one forsake their brother/sister) that made him what he is today...
As a musician, student of archaeology/anthropology (Flinders University, South
Australia), and someone who has been to different parts of the world and is conversant with other cultures, I can say with PRIDE & CLARITY that other nations, especially the West, have a lot to learn from our Omenala, and not the other way round! It has always been my MISSION to revive Omenala, but because of our neglect of it I was on the verge of giving
up hope (due to the rate it's desecrated by some Igbo renegades) before I discovered Remy Ilona's work. When he (Remy) sent me the "Introduction To The Chronicles Of Igbo-Israel" I said to myself as I was about to open it "another history book." Alas! It wasn't so. Reading the book, 15,000km away from Igboland, was like reliving the Igbo way of life. Maazi Ilona was not just writing history, he was giving an account as an eyewitness; telling our story the way it should be told. That's why I called him the Igbo Josephus, and his book "Living History." I would say, Maazi Ilona is the only Igbo historian that has succeeded in keeping our record. Every Igbo man/woman can relate to the context in the book. Besides, some of the "outdated" practices therein are not of remote past...
Knowing Maazi Ilona infused me with a lot of hope. It's no longer GLOOM & DOOM! Here is someone with a clear vision and mission to restore the Igbo nation’s greatness by reviving their culture which is the only instrument that can give us unity, and greatness, and lead us back to idebe iwu Chineke (keeping the laws of G-D). It was Maazi Ilona's dedication to our people that inspired me to join the Igbo-Israel Union, which Maazi Ilona formed, since the group’s objectives if pursued vigorously can lead the Igbos to success, and happiness.
As the vice president (international) of the Igbo-Israel Union, I would like to thank the publisher of the National Times newspaper for his contribution to the community. Everybody knows the power of the press. Your newspaper has come at the right time. I pray it would be handed down to your children's children. Long live Times International! And while I am still at it I thank you for identifying with, and giving support to the international music festival which we at the Igbo Israel Union are organizing.
To the group Igbo Origin and Culture Research Platform; academics and professionals who have come together to support Maazi Ilona’s work I say jisie nu ike. We will all work together to ensure that we the Igbos are rescued from the present sad state that we are in.
To the founder of Igbozurume, Owele Rochas Okorocha, your contributions to the Igbo race have
echoed far & wide. The Most High will repay you ten-fold. I can't thank you enough. I wish
you all long life & good health.
Moore Black Mmadike