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April 3, 2009

A Report from ISA Igbo Studies Endowment Committee:
Prof. Ernest Uwazie (Chair)
Dr. Kanayo Odeluga (Co-Chair)
Prof. Douglas Chambers (Member)
Dr. Chinyere Odeluga (Member)
Dr. Sabine Jell Bahlsen (Member)
Dr. Ejikeme Obasi (Member)

Re: Igbo Studies Endowment: Feasibility Exploration

The Igbo Studies Association (ISA) Endowment Committee was authorized at the November 14, 2008 ISA meeting in Chicago, upon acceptance of Prof. Ernest Uwazie’s proposal, to explore the feasibility of establishing a long-term endowment. The committee recommends that the purpose of the endowment would be to support an Igbo Studies Center (or Institute) at a U.S. college or university with the capacity (by personnel and infrastructure) to sponsor it. Further, the committee recommends that the envisioned Igbo Studies Center will be an affiliate of ISA.

ISA was formed in 1999, as an independent, not-for-profit organization, and is an Associate Organization of the African Studies Association (ASA). ISA’s mission is to promote and encourage scholarship on Igbo history, culture and society—at home and the diaspora. ISA’s main objectives are:

To forge intellectual links and network with scholars, policy makers, and activists inside and outside Nigeria;

To participate actively and collaboratively in continental and global debates with interested organizations in Nigeria, the U.S. and other countries on issues specifically relevant to Igbo studies;

To work actively for the promotion of Igbo language with interested organizations and/ or institutions in diverse regions of the world.

The mission of the proposed endowment and Igbo Studies Center/Institute is to establish a sustainable institutional, organized framework and focus for advancing and archiving ISA’s mission and objectives.

Background:

This proposal is motivated by serious deliberation of key issues facing Ndigbo, her culture/community and people, during the April 4-5, 2008, 6th Annual conference of the Igbo Studies Association at Howard University, Washington, D.C. At the said conference, it was resolved, in part, as follows:

· That in spite of some setbacks, the Igbo story remains compelling and it is incumbent upon Ndigbo to project that story with sound knowledge and great pride;

· That we enjoin Ndigbo to take renewed pride in the Igbo language; to love it, use it, uphold it, and promote it as the authentic vehicle by which the Igbo culture and her story are best transmitted and preserved;

Finally, it is resolved that the quest for solutions to the challenges of the Igbo Nation and her people, both at home and abroad, is the responsibility of one and all: individuals, families, organizations, institutions, and governments. To ensure success, all must build reliable alliances, collaborate strategically, and work in synergy at all levels.

Key Objectives:

1. Create a formal Institutional home or administrative headquarters for ISA;

2. Serve as a think tank for analysis and recommendations on critical issues affecting Ndigbo (Igbo people and culture);

3. Develop and/or facilitate the development of proper/effective materials and curriculum for teaching/learning the Igbo language, especially among the youth in the era of information technology;

4. Research and publish critical studies on Ndigbo;

5. Build and maintain critical linkages and alliances at home and abroad for achieving its mission and achievements;

 

6. Establish and/or support a depository or archives on Igbo studies, materials and documents.

 

Recommendations:

STRUCTURE:

Creation of advisory board with a more robust ISA leadership and development of Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), subject to the operating rules/guidelines of the prospective host institution and interests of ISA. ISA should expand the membership and mandate of the Endowment Committee to work with the host university in further development of the structure and fundraising plan for the proposed endowment, to ensure realization of mutual interests. Already, Marquette University via Prof. Chima Korieh, has indicated strong interest as a host institution. Howard University via Prof. Mike Mbanaso has indicated a tentative interest as host institution, subject to details.

FUNDRAISING:

The proposed goal of U.S. $1-2 million endowment is reasonable and achievable. Targeted recruitment of and appeal to 100-200 individuals and organizations, for a minimum donation of $10,000 each, especially in America and beyond, as founders of the proposed Center is a realistic idea worth pursuing. Already the “100 Igbo” organization via Dr. Kanayo Odeluga has endorsed the proposal and promised to lead in the fundraising effort. A formal launching of the initiative in future or at next (2010) ISA meeting seems a promising fundraising program. It is recommended that the Endowment Committee work with the appropriate development officials at the host institution on development of a fundraising plan and execution.