By Justina Okpanku
After 14 years, culture-active Igbo-Ukwu in Anambra State has given back to Otunba Segun Runsewe who has been championing the promotion of their culture. Runsewe as the Director General, the Nigerian Tourism Development (NTDC) had built a ‘Yam House’ to help celebrate their annual New Yam festival.
Now a life-size sculpture of the image of the Director General, National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC) Otunba Segun Runsewe, was unveiled Saturday, August 28, 2021 in Etiti Village, Igbo-ukwu, the ancestral home of the Igbo nation as part of their agenda to herald the New Yam festival across the South-east, Nigeria.
For the first time, the historical project in remembrance of any Nigerian in public sector tourism administration in Nigeria, was inaugurated by MBIDO Igbo Association, an inter agency committee on Culture, Arts and Tourism in South-East- Nigeria. The Igbo cultural body, gave reason for reciprocating Runsewe’s gesture. “Otunba Segun Runsewe will forever be remembered for constructing the biggest Yam House in Igboland nay Nigeria, and for listing the New Yam festival on national and global cultural festival calendars, during his time at the Nigeria Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC) in 2007.”
Words on marble at the site of six feet effigy of Runsewe in Igbo-Ukwu reads:” This statue of Otunba Segun Runsewe (OON), the indefatigable icon of culture in Nigeria and tourism Dynamo of our time, stands as testimony of a detribalized Nigerian who gave the Igbo race the deserved voice in cultural tourism world.”
National chairman, MBIDO Igbo Association, Chief Okafouzu Ugochuchukwu echoed what everyone was saying. He disclosed that Runsewe is so honoured for his enduring practical statement in the erection of the first national Yam House in Nigeria in 2007, and for enlisting the celebration of the igbo Yam festival in national and international cultural calendar.
“Otunba Segun Runsewe stood with the Igbo cultural tourism history and tradition as an Iroko tree and Zuma rock in a dogged effort, not only putting a national structure in recognition of the Igbo traditional hold as producers of Yam but also in ensuring that the Yam festival is listed in the national cultural calendar which has helped the Yam Festival celebrated in eastern Nigeria, gain international influence and sustainable prominence,” Chief Ugochuchukwu explained at the unveiling of statue in Igbo-ukwu witnessed by top government officials, traditional rulers and Igbo cultural stakeholders.
Ugochuchukwu said there is an urgent need for Igbo-ukwu as the ancestral home of the Igbo nation to be enlisted as a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) site in order to preserve and promote the socio-economic and cultural tourism value chain in Igbo history, tradition and
” We appeal to all relevant federal government culture, arts and tourism agencies to help us enlist Igbo-ukwu as a World heritage site as strategic global attention to encourage more research and to attract tourism visits to other numerous Igbo ecological tourism sites in South-east Nigeria,” he said. He however regretted that none of the befitting heritage sites in Igboland has been lucky to be enlisted on the UNESCO heritage map in Nigeria and beyond. The MBIDO Igbo cultural leader wants a shift in the narrative to something positive. Contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org