The 2003 Los Angeles Convention, a Pinnacle of
HRH, Igwe Michael Ojiako III, the Adama of Adazi-Nnukwu addressing the meeting.
It was Thursday, July 3, 2003; excitement filled the air at 2927 W. 134TH Street, Gardena, California, the residence of Mr. and Mrs. Emma Ebunilo. Adazi-Nnukwu people assembled to mark the beginning of the 2003 ATDU USA national convention. As individuals and families arrived, there appeared to be excitements and energy floating within the groups. The already seated groups welcome the newly arrived with joy. The joy and glory of being an Adazi-Nnukwu was not in question. There was love in the air, as most singers would say. Feelings for one another were felt all over the compound. The degree or the intensity of love within the groups indicated benevolence not before witnessed within our people and was evident that it would transfer into the following day’s events. People were happy visiting with one another and the intense feelings within the group created enthusiasm not before seen among and within our people. An outsider would have agreed that the enthusiasm was contagious because people, who had not spoken with one another for almost two decades shook hands, hugged, kissed and drank together in fulfillment of a long awaited obligation, which was meeting people not seen for a good number of years. Seeing the excitement and adrenaline rush in our people was indicative of what to follow next and prove that our people were once again, alive.
As the already arrived awaited the arrival of more Adazi-Nnukwu people, the western region endlessly or as you may put it, lavishly flooded drinks and food around. Notice that I loosely used western region to be politically correct. The truth was that Mr. and Mrs. Emma Ebunilo hosted the people of Adazi-Nnukwu that evening and the joy of hosting their people brought out their benevolent life style resulting in them, opening
|The ATDU USA Branch president, Dr. Joe Nwiloh reemphasizing clarification made by Mr. Fidelis Atuegbu, Vice President, following a question on the By-Law.||Ichie Dr. Okechukwu Obiadi (Nna-nyelugo) breaking the cola-nut|
their reserve bank for endless spending. They really exhibited their ‘you know what’ that evening. On arrival, the newly arrived were welcomed by the old folks (already arrived) in Mr. Ebunilo’s Obu (garage converted to Obu) with music, cheers, applause and personate hugs. It was a pinnacle of excellence. Two years ago, some skeptical minds within us wanted to move the Los Angeles convention to Atlanta believing that the western region was not up to the task. The end has justified the means and the truth was there. The fun in Los Angeles exceeded projected expectations.
The opportunity and the privilege to enjoy ourselves presented itself in Los Angeles, California. Talking about opportunity, without Fidelis Atuegbu (Ogbuebuni), John Iloanusi (Jagwuda) Tonny Onuorah, Okey Anyaorah, Dr. IK Oguejiofor (Ezeanatuanya), Uchenna Ezeani (Santos) and a few others in the group, the gathering would appear like what Sir, Victor (Asika) Obikili would say, “an mmadi anoro” (there is no one there).
Talking about Asika Obikili, he was there at the convention, but surprisingly aloof. Asika is no longer the Asika of the old days. Lobito Iloanusi (unsung hero) was also present, but as usual, quiet.
Without offending anyone, the guys mentioned above come noisy in all our gatherings, making the occasions worth coming. This tinny group has the good and the bad, both radicals and cool-headed individuals. One thing common within the group is their nine lives including, their down to earth characters. Their loud mouths were heard in Los Angeles especially challenging their patriarch, Francis Atuegbu (Awaya) who was on the phone in Minneapolis, and abreast with the convention activities. The group moved from one spot to another challenging each other over what appeared like a popularity context. Of course Jagwuda, whom most of us modeled ourselves around growing up, must always win that award no matter how judged. Bravo to Omo Jagwuda and Tonny Onuorah, they make occasions blossom and this was no exception.
The evening was well spent. We danced, drank and devoured all the food brought out by the Ebunilo’s family, but that was not my major interest. Something caught my attention later that night as we were having fun. There was a silent duel between Mr. Emma Ebunilo who was loading and playing his classic music from his living room while Jagwuda, standing in front of Mr. Ebunilo’s Obu, wanted to address the people of Adazi-Nnukwu. While Jagwuda was expressing joy and satisfaction on what he had seen and enjoyed in California, Mr. Enunilo who was loading his music from his living room did not know what was going on outside and in front of his Obu. Jagwuda was interested in talking, telling everyone how good the convention party was. I found myself running between Mr. Ebunilo’s living room window asking him to hold off his music so that Jagwuda could finish his address. Meanwhile, Jagwuda was getting frustrated with the music coming out from Mr. Ebunilo’s living room, Mr. Ebunilo himself was in his living room wanting to load his classic music that most of us have not heard for a long time. It was fun seeing the frustration in those two individuals who did not know what the other was going through. Even the people outside did not know what Mr. Ebunilo was going through inside his living room. Mr. Ebunilo was interested in loading his music so that he could re-join the group outside while Jagwuda was interested in entertaining the people outside. Seeing the two guys go through changes in the interest of entertaining their people, but in different ways was amazing and was nothing but Adazi-Nnukwu at it’s best. As stated earlier, we saw characters in Los Angeles.
Our excitement continued the next morning with the ATDU USA general meeting that reached a historic landmark. The agenda for the meeting was set during the March 2003 executive retreat in Atlanta, hosted by the ATDU USA President, Dr. Joe Nwiloh. The meeting went as planned although, Mrs. Rose Nnolim strongly expressed concerns rejecting the committee’s report on the Chicago convention debacle. She was not satisfied with the committee’s report and gave her reasons. Unfortunately, that issue would not be addressed in this article because Ogene Newsletter does not address personal concerns especially dealing with individuals. However, to educate our readers, I will briefly summarize the situation. In summer 1999, the ATDU USA held its second national convention in Chicago. Unfortunately, we were not able to fully execute our program items because of time, which resulted in a premature ending of the convention party. The sudden end to the convention party resulted in loss of control of events and consequently, individuals took matters into their hands. Subsequently, that led to mistrust and finger pointing within the Midwestern (Chicago) regional group that hosted the convention. A committee was appointed to investigate the Chicago convention crises after the 2001 ATDU USA national convention in New York when Mrs. Rose Nnolim expressed concerns. The ATDU USA Vice President, Fidelis Atuegbu (Ogbuebuni) whom everyone believed did a great job chaired the committee.
|Mr. Emmanuel Oguejiofor (Akunia) addresses the convention||Members listening|
Although Ogene Newsletter does not embrace personal issues, I will be doing myself a disservice if I do not touch on Mrs. Rose Nnolim’s concerns because it was part of the issues discussed at the national meeting. Other than the dissatisfaction expressed by Mrs. Nnolim on the committee’s report, our people were tuned and contributed to the meeting. The only difficult or rather, the toughest part of the meeting came with the presentation and adoption of the ATDU USA by-law by the ATDU USA Vice President, Mr. Fidelis Atuegbu (Ogbuebuni). The by-law was presented, amended and unanimously adopted.
Following the adoption of the by-law, the ATDU USA Present, Dr. Joe Nwiloh introduced the team of this year’s convention (the supply of clean water to the people of Adazi-Nnukwu). Everyone at the meeting supported and welcomed the idea.
The convention was well attended. Some of our visiting guests including, HRH, Igwe Michael Ojiako III, the Adama of Adazi-Nnukwu, Chief G. U. Afuecheta (Ezeana Obiakonze), Mr. Emma Oguejiofor (Akunnia), Mr. Anwukah (our in-law, Rita Belonwu’s husband) addressed the meeting. In his remark, HRH, Igwe Michael Ojiako III, the Adama of Adazi-Nnukwu talked about the place of our children in the society, the cases with our neighboring towns, peace within us and love for one another. He also clarified who has the right to break the cola-nut during gatherings, which I will not get into at this point. Following the Adama’s address, came a home run advice from Akunnia (Mr. Emma Oguejiofor), who did not bite his tongue expressing concerns on making sure that we remember where we came from, making sure that we take our children home to know where we came from and strongly expressed satisfaction seeing the group together.
As one Adazi-Nnukwu man once said, “number me when numbering.” Chief G. U. Afuecheta (Ezeana Obiakonze) whom I called “Ezeana Umubobo” for his boyish and playful attitude during the convention weighed-in. Chief Afuecheta was fun, and brought out the boyish characters in some of us who had the honor and privilege to be around him. Without wasting time, he weighed-in during an argument that caught his attention. One or two women in the group brought up challenging issues that made him suggest maybe, we may consider separating the meeting so that the women group would have their own meetings. Without wasting time, the Vice President, Mr. Fidelix Atuegbu intervened and explained that because of the society we live in, we can not separate the group. Ezeana Obiakonze was not far from the truth. There has been subliminal talks on the women group having their own meetings as is practiced in Nigeria. He strongly expressed respect for one another recognizing gender issues in our dealings. Ezeana Obiakonze maintained a smiley face throughout the convention and whether or not that indicated appreciation for what was going on, I had no idea, but I enjoyed the few minutes I spent around him. Ezeana Obiakonze, the pleasure was mine getting to know a bit of you.
The highlight of the evening came after the general meeting when only a hand full of the individuals knew the road to Dr. and Mrs. Frank Ezeh’s house where the Adazi-Nnukwu people and their friends were being dinned and wined that night. Dr. and Mrs. Frank Ezeh live in the boonies with rich white boys. A community uncommon to an ordinary person and one must be escorted to find their home. After the meeting, there was tension everywhere as families and friends scrambled to join the convoy in other not to be left behind. What happened at Mr. Ebunilo’s house the previous night was a true testimony of what would happen at Dr. and Mrs. Ezeh’s house and no one wanted to be left behind. Outside the convention hall’s parking lot, cars zigzagged as drivers sorted out who to follow en-route to Dr. Ezeh’s house. In my group, I made sure that I did not lose sight of Mr. Keran Ebunilo who knew his way around. Even with Keran Ebunilo leading the way, finding the house was not easy. Within Dr. Ezeh’s community came the real confusion. We made ‘U’ turns because we were not sure of the direction. By the time Keran finally figured out our way, we ran into Andy Atuegbu who led a different group. We were actually within two blocks to Dr. Ezeh’s home but connecting to the right street was the problem. Thanks to Keran for his geographic skills otherwise we would have missed the show.
Entering Dr. Ezeh’s house, the garage was hijacked by kids scavenging over boxes of pizza and cartons of soft drinks as if they were in charge of the western region’s bank account. It was a wonderful evening for the children and one would have thought it was a convention for the kids seeing how they handled their affairs. Within five feet from the garage was Dr. Ezeh’s living room filled with color and illumination, mostly occupied by teenagers.
Outside the living room was Dr. Ezeh’s backyard where folks settled for the night. The crowd made a very large compound seem tiny. Not long after settling down, the moment everyone craved for finally arrived. It was dinnertime, and serve yourself the American way. At the beginning, it appeared as if the food would not be enough for the crowd. Surprisingly, Mrs. Georgy Ezeh (Stainless) and her sister, Mrs. Teresa Onwukeme (nee, Ebunilo, Madam Wool) had a different program for us. After the first rush over our every day rice and typical farina, they opened up their food archives and flooded the table with food. It was a coloration or rather, rainbow of food. While Madam Wool was charged with preparing and providing farina, Stainless relentlessly replenished the dinning table with soups and dishes of different kinds. Although after the initial rush, most people never went back to see what was on the dinning table. Call it the authentic Adazi-Nnukwu cuisine, you are not far from the truth. While Stainless and Madam Wool handled the stream of food supply, Dr. Frank Ezeh championed the supply of booze for the guys. Just like in Mr. Ebunilo’s house, the booze was there and we boozed. The only problem with Dr. Ezeh’s party was that the kids hijacked and devoured the soft drinks, denying adults the pleasure of mixing their hot drinks with coke. For some of us, Brandy tastes better when mixed with coke. Although without soft drinks to mix our hot drinks, we had fun. Not too many of us cared about Stout and Heineken. Hot drinks were “ebeanyino” (where we stayed).
In the food department, both the Ebunilo and Dr. Ezeh’s families were equal to the task. They provided our people with what we needed including food not eaten by most of us in almost twenty years. We sampled the authentic Adazi-Nnukwu famous deep-dishes including, but not limited to Abacha Ezulu, Abacha agwoloagwo, Ukwa-aho and ukwa eghereghe. The dinning and winning both evenings were endless and we felt as if we were atop mountain Kilimanajero waiting to shake hands with God. The families of Dr. Frank Ezeh and Mr. Emma Ebunilo gave us a perspective on how to wine and dine our people with open heart. We were treated like the Lords; an experience I wished everyone had the opportunity to enjoy. After the big boys and girls like HRH, Igwe Michael Ojiako III, the Adama of Adazi-Nnukwu, Chief G. U. Afuecheta (Ezeana Obiakonze), Mr. Emma Oguejiofor (Akunnia), their wives retired for the night, we held Dr. Ezeh and his people hostage, denying them a good night sleep. Because of the noise, and not to create noise nuisance in Dr. Ezeh’s white boy community, we shifted our base from the backyard to his living room. Even at the peak of that early morning noise, it was clear that Dr. Ezeh was absolutely tired from a month long running around, but we cared less about his feelings, only interested in our booze and normal noise. While Dr. Ezeh tried to calm us down, we asked him to go home and leave us alone. There is nothing wrong with being selfish sometimes. The truth was that Dr. Ezeh was in his house and we asked him to go home. The question was, which home? Out of sympathy, for Dr. Ezeh, we shifted our base to Santos hotel room and continued where we stopped. It was surprising to me that on arriving at the hotel room, Ogbuebuni brought out a virgin bottle of courvoisier hot drink and the party started all over.
The successful convention came as no surprise to the folks in the western region. During the planning stage, the western region took advantage of the fact that things don’t happen as planned, and to avert surprises and a shameful convention, efforts were made to fit the right foot to the right shoe. The western region looked into how things were done in the greater Los Angeles area and modeled the convention around the life style of the Los Angeles people. Thanks should be given to Mr. Emma Ebunilo who insisted on doing things the Los Angeles way (free food and drinks) and it worked. The goal of the convention dinner party was to raise money to provide the people of Adazi-Nnnukwu with clean drinking water. It was an effort supported by all the attendees evidenced by the revenue generated for the venture. There was no rationing of food and drinks and that gave our invitees the comfort, which Mr. Ebunilo emphasized during our meetings.
|Our in-law, Mr. Anwukah (Rite Belonwu’s husband) addresses the meeting||Younger generation cleaning the hall while the meeting went on|
The agenda items were carefully put together, synchronized not to bore our guests. The high light of the evening came with the “Odenjinji” dance carefully choreographed by Mrs. Georgy Ezeh (Stainless). The mothers and daughters of the western region members of the ATDU USA professionally performed the dance although, with the exception of Lolo, Chima Nwogu, who performed with the group. The surprising part of the performance came when Mrs. Theresa Onwukeme took the floor before the glamorous entry of the dance group. Mrs. Onwukeme marveled the crowd when she sang the “Odenjiji” song. Her voice was golden and attracted attention to the dance group even before their arrival to the dance floor. She had a peculiar singing style that got almost all the free-minded people on their feet wanting to see who was singing. It was something not before seen within our community. As people watched in admiration, Mrs. Ezeh, her younger sister energetically danced her way into the stage making way for what would follow. While Stainless and Madam wool got the crowd going, Lolo Chima Nwogu and Mrs. Oge Ebunilo had the crowd shouting with their style of “Itu-Nnya.” While flanking Stainless as they approach the dance floor, the ladies appeared like twins who have perfected their trade. They were PDG (pretty damn good). Between Mrs. Ezeh, the ladies specialized “Nya” dance and Mrs. Onwukeme’s voice heard all over the hall, necks were turning wondering what was going on. Shortly after circling the stage and around where Mrs. Onwukeme was singing, Mrs. Ezeh danced towards the back of the hall and within seconds, reappeared with her dance group. Entering the dance floor, those women and their daughters performed wonderfully attracting all the well wishers to the stage area and within seconds, the area was covered with money. People were without control, spraying the girls and their mothers with money. The performance was not done in perspiration, epitomized our cultural dance and left an example for other regions to learn from.
Although I will share this blame, but I will comfortably say shame to the men folk for not performing the masquerade dance. We had no judicious reason not to have the ATDU USA masquerade in Los Angeles. It was an example of what not to do again.
CALIFORNIA CONVENTION by Chidera Atuegbu
What did you think of the ATDU Convention of 2003? This is an easy question to answer because I really did not see any part of the convention that I liked. Many children who attended this convention, especially the ones from New York can back me up on this.
Everyone wants the Adazi Nnukwu children to be able to learn the culture and language.
As far as I am concerned, we are a lost generation and this convention did not help better the situation. The children were put outside of the convention hall watching movies that had nothing to do with our culture nor was it in Igbo. I was also very surprised at the size of the hall. Some LA kids told me that the reason why they chose a smaller hall over a bigger hall was because the bigger hall had a bad bathroom. To me, this reason is pathetic. The only advantage was the sight seeing, but there is a street in Queens, New York that is better than all of Hollywood.
I hope that in two years Atlanta would be able to learn from California's mistake and make the event enjoyable not only for the adults but for the children as well. Get the children more involved!
Los Angeles Convention by Onyekachi Atuegbu
Hi! My name is Onyekachi Atuegbu. I recently visited California for A.T.D.U convention. Personally, I did not enjoy the visit for many reasons. Although there were many ways I enjoyed myself.
On my vacation, my family and I visited many sites on Hollywood Blvd. We saw many museums such as Guinness World Book of Records, Ripley's Believe It or Not, and the Wax Museum. We also visited Hollywood Mt., and Kodak Theater.
The worst day of being in California was July 4.2003. The meeting started around 2:00 and ended around 9:00pm. Nothing was provided for the kids to do only to stay quiet and outside. If it was independent day in New York, usually we go to the park, have barbecue and make noise. There must be something wrong in California's party life.
The convention wasn't only short, but uninteresting to the kids. Parents are asking us to learn our culture. What are we learning by staying outside watching "Men in Black 11?" They could have a least made it in Igbo.
Most of us Nigerians kids are American citizens. Most of our culture is American. We probably visited Nigeria once or twice, but that is not going to tell us all about our culture. I believe that the people who put together that convention will learn from their mistakes after reading this.