The President, Ohanaeze Ndígbo South Africa, Hon Comrade Douglas Ibojekere Sunny -Wenike has urged Ndigbo resident in South Africa to strive to live in peace with their hosts and to always think home.
Sunny-Wenike, a social crusader and community activist from Ogbakiri, Emohua LGA, Rivers State made the statement while speaking during the 2023 Iriji Ndigbo (New Yam) Celebration organized by Ohanaeze Ndigbo, South Africa.
Recall that Nigerians have been victims of past xenophobic attacks in South Africa. However, Ohanaeze Ndigbo,South Africa has been steadily working to promote mutual understanding and fraternity between the Igbo community in South Africa and their hosts through activities such as the Iriji Festival.
The annual event which held in Mpumalanga from 22nd to 23rd September 2023 was well attended by dignitaries from across the nine Provinces of South Africa and beyond.
Highlights of the event include the symbolic iwaji ritual proper performed by the President, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, South Africa, cultural displays from the prestigious Eze in council, South Africa, cultural dances by a Women dance troupe, presentation of certificates of recognition presented to well meaning members of the Igbo community, South Africa such as Hon Ikechukwu Emenike (Bull Dog) and the Provincial Chairman, Ohanaeze Mpumalanga Province, Hon Uchenna Nwaebiem for their sterling achievements in making the Iriji a resounding success and building harmony among Ndigbo in the Province.
The ceremony was attended by a cross section of the National Executive Council (NEC), The ONSA National Council of States and members of the Organizing Committee led by Chief Alloysius Ohia, Ohia ahuru agu na Izuogu. The NEC was led by ONSA President Hon Sunny-Wenike Douglas who also doubled as the Co-Host of the ceremony and ONSA General Secretary High Chief Barr Jeff Azubuike, Ojiegbe Em’udo 1 and Ochiagha 1 na Mbano among others.
Some distinguished guests in attendance were Ambassador Kenneth Ihemekwele, President, Nigerian Community, Eswathini,High Chief Julius Osakwe, Aghaeriosa of Abia kingdom, Delta State, immediate past President of ONSA, Hon Ike Anyene, former President of Nigerian Union SA. The Nigerian Union South Africa (NUSA) was ably represented by their National President Hon Doris Ikeri and some of their National Executives including Hon Trust Awoyele.The legal fraternity was not left out as Attorney Smart Nwobi of Nwobi Chambers Pretoria was present to grace the occasion among others.
Other dignitaries include the famous Okpotogbo Ada Igbo women’s group represented by Dr Ify-Obi Emedo and the Nigerian Women Association represented by some of their National officers led by Mrs Alabi. Elder Frank Anagu (Ikenga Igbo) led the delegation from Nze na Ozo Ndigbo South Africa which included Ozo Akunwata Na Oba, while the flamboyant Eze in Council was led by Hon Sam Iweka, Ochudo.
Not left out in the procession were the National Council of States led by their Secretary, Dr Fidelis Nwankwo and the President General of Anioma Delta state SA, Hon Dumebi and his colorful entourage from Anioma Delta State.
Other notable dignitaries includes a former Deputy President of ONSA Ozo Martin Ndu, Okwulunugwu and the Chairman ONSA Mpumalanga Province Hon Uchenna Nwaebiem who was the Chief Host.
The entire Mpumalanga Provincial Executives, their families, friends and lovers of Ndigbo from across the Province were on hand to spice up the occasion.
In his closing remarks, the traditional ruler, Igwe Godwin Okosisi Nwobi, Ugwundu II of Ugwuleshi Kingdom, Awgu LGA Enugu State enjoined Ndigbo living in South Africa to love one another and eschew acts and conducts that could portray them in bad light before the host country South Africa.
Evidently, this year’s Iriji, although held in faraway Province of Mpumalanga, was one of the best both in attendance and organization.