State of the Association 2017, Presidential Address by Dr. Mrs. Ada Uzoamaka Azodo at the 2017 Annual Conference and Meeting of the Igbo Studies Association (USA), Greatwood Hotel, Owerri, Imo State, Nigeria

    Delivered: June 9, 2017

    Ndi Igbo, Umunne m na Umunna m, Ndewo nu o!

    Every two years, we welcome in a new Executive Management Team to steer the affairs of our beloved Association. This tradition is good, for it allows fresh new blood to flow into the spine of the Association, assuring progress in our mission, objectives and goals to promote studies of Igbo language and economic, social, cultural, political, and technological development of Igboland.

    One year ago, I came into the office of President of the Association. What we have today is not one single individual’s victory, but rather the foresight, broad mindedness and vision of a whole enlightened group.

    During my inaugural address, I swore allegiance to the Igbo Studies Association and pledged to carry out its mission, objectives and goals. You placed a great responsibility on my shoulders, including living up to your expectations and, in word and deed being a mirror of your hopes, aspirations and dreams.

    For the Igbo Studies Association (USA) and for myself, I am grateful to my predecessors, past presidents of the Association, for all their accomplishments. My addition to their exegeses is a call for a return to our Igbo roots, taking stock and establishing where the rain started beating us, so that when we get dried, we shall also know when and where. In the task of steering the ship of the Igbo Studies Association (USA), I have not been alone, for as the Igbo say, “Otu osisi anaghị aghọ ọhia”. Hence, I commend my fellow officers of the Executive Management Team for getting work done efficiently and in a timely manner.

    I stand before you here today to state that I have benefitted from the camaraderie of the best Executive Management Team: Vice-President Professor Uchenna Nzewi, who constantly fills us in on the pulse and heartbeat of the home base; Secretary Professor Ogechi Anyanwu, two-term Conference Chairperson for all his hard work; Treasurer Professor Christine Ohale who now oversees the treasury responsibilities; two-term Public Relations Officer Professor Chidi Igwe, our mouth piece on the web, on the Internet and publisher of the ISA Newsletter, and last, but not the least, Immediate Past President Professor Chima Korieh, a veritable walking encyclopedia, publisher of the Igbo Studies Review and Chairperson of ISA-Dominican University negotiation for a future ISA Igbo Studies Center and Secretariat at the campus of Dominican University, River Forest, Illinois, USA, where our able and Multiple-time host, Professor Nkuzi Nnam, teaches and is held in very high regard. Take note that Dr. Nnam and Domincan University have expressed interest in hosting ISA again in 2018. I am also grateful to the outgoing ISA Advisory Board, the backbone of the Association, for every association is as good as the Advisory Board behind it: Professor Gloria Cuku, Professor Chikwendu Ukaegbu, Professor Carl Mbonu, Professor Lucy Apakama, and Professor Douglas Chambers. These eminent Board members have been strong, unshakeable, distinguished and forward-looking in their services to ISA.

    Today, the world is changing at a bewildering speed, what with immigration, emigration, climate change, wars and manifold violent disturbances everywhere. The Igbo strategy of hard work, care for family and paying school fees for the youth is threatened. The youth search for ways to affirm their identity and human dignity. Some think nationalism is the answer and many have hit their heads against hard rock before constabulized military and militarized police. Igbo leaders must recall what our people say, namely that “anoghi ofu ebe ekili mmọnwu.” The proverbial saying, I believe, caution rashness in decision making and action and unwillingness to consider all options objectively and intelligently before taking a stand. We must let experience be our guide in these complex times. We must attune ourselves to the complex world in which we live. The Igbo is not a stranger to complexity, if we go by his or her four-part being that calls for a constant balancing act to achieve equilibrium: Chi (the extension of the individual in Chukwu), Eke (the part that belongs to the clan of Umunna and Umuada), the Individual (one’s own self), and the Spirit (the legacy of the Living Dead and the Ancestors within the self). The Igbo in a complex world must make caution the watch word.

    That said, it gives me joy to report that we are successful in a number of areas:

    • Membership: is some 300 members strong and growing.
    • Treasury is safe and sound.
    • Outreach is on firm grounds with the establishment of the Igbo Studies Association (Nig.) at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, coupled with individual and institutional attempts to reach out and bring in reputable members into the Association as members, speakers and special guests.
    • Web, we are visible to the world on our web site and are sought out through the ISA Newsletter and the Igbo Studies Review. To wit, I am happy to announce that Indiana University, my institution of affiliation, has this year taken up a subscription to the Igbo Studies Review. We need more of such good stories from all the institutions where our members are.
    • Publications: The first monograph of selected papers of our annual conferences, Against All Odds, came out in 2013. There should be no reason why we cannot reap a bountiful harvest from this conference from discussions on the subject of Igbo Language in all its facets. We could even get two volumes from that fertile subject area.

    Our hope for the future is that we should be able to award the Don Ohadike Book Prize next year, having not received a nomination last year. We shall activate the ISA Endowment Fund to sponsor Igbo youth to visit the diaspora to improve themselves academically, and attend our annual meetings and conferences. Then again, throughout the months ahead, we shall be close and working together, so that next time we meet we shall rejoice and celebrate the knowledge that we have accomplished the goals we set for ourselves, the goal of a Center for Igbo Studies in the diaspora and a Secretariat for the Igbo Studies Association. These are the three tasks that remain to be accomplished in the coming year.

    Our people say that “Ọkụ a gụnyere nwata n’aka adịghị eregbu ya.” For that reason, I believe we shall succeed. We shall keep on doing better and flying higher everyday in our mission and short- and long-term goals.

    Thank you. Thank you very much, All!

    God bless you, All!

    God bless Igbo Studies Association (USA)!

    Dr. Mrs. Ada Uzoamaka Azodo
    President, Igbo Studies Association (USA)

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