KWENU: Our Culture, Our Future
Jersey loses its “soul”
KWENU SPECIAL REPORT
The tri-state (NY, NJ, CT) community of Nnewi people gave the Momahs of New Jersey a befitting sendoff on Saturday, February 18, 2006. As in all such parties, it turned out to be a pan-African affair, a gathering of who-is-who is the area. The event held at Day’s Inn in Bridgewater, just off Route 287 on 22. The well-attended event was a celebration of sorts, but the sadness was thick in the air because the Momahs represent the morals of the New Jersey Igbo community. Sadly, their imminent relocation to Texas coincides with the inexplicable collapse of whatever passed as a united Igbo community in New Jersey.
Chief Chike Momah, Nnabuenyi Nnewi, is a well-known elder statesman. At the celebration of his 75th birthday recently (see Nnabuenyi turns 75), words were not enough to express the gratitude of the different segment so the New Jersey communities to the contribution of the Momahs. Momahs? Oh yes, no one speaks of Nnabuenyi in New Jersey without the matriarch of the Momahs in America: Arunne, Mrs. Ethel Momah.
In case it escapes anyone, Ethel Momah would be the royal princess of Igboland – if Ndiigbo were a kingdom. The daughter of legendary Chief Z. C. Obi, Arunne has become an institution of her own, a mother to all and an indefatigable advocate of Igbo cause, just as her father did with the prewar, formidable Igbo State Union.
The Momahs have been the pillar of New Jersey Igbo community. As Ms. Regina Uzo Okafor, the distinguished proprietor of Ave Maria Academy, told KWENU at the event: “The Momahs not only show up at events they also chip in considerably; you cannot but feel the big void their relocation will leave in our New Jersey community.”
It’s no wonder Chairman of World Igbo Congress (1999-2001), Chief Austin Eqwonwu, said that the sendoff by tri-state Nnewi community should not be the only sendoff happening in the New Jersey community. In his books, “The New Jersey community owes the Momahs so much more that they no longer belonged to Nnewi or Anambra State; they are an Igbo treasure.”
The Nnewi community did very well in organizing the sendoff. Ably Mc-ed by Chief Obidike Ajuluchukwu of Blacktvonline.com, there was enough to eat and enough to drink.
The Anambra State Association of New Jersey practically adopted the Momahs as their life patrons. In a presentation made by the only Anambra State association in New Jersey, its President Joe Anemelu expressed profound respect and gratitude for the contributions of the Momahs and assured Nnabuenyi and Arunne of the continued support of the Anambra community in New Jersey. Joe Amemelu also present a plaque to the Momahs. He was a assisted by such prominent Anambraians as Austin Uzodike, Esq., former president of Igbo-USA and immediate-past Secretary-General of World Igbo Congress., Mr. Chris Nwigwe, Financial Secretary of Igbo-USA, Mr. Frank Ogbo, Director of Socials of Igbo-USA, and Mr. Moghalu, an executive of Igbo-USA.
The Enugu State Association of New Jersey would not be outdone. With its prominent son, Dr. M. O. Ené on the mike, the association announced the presentation of a government-assured key to the Coal City to the Momahs. According to the citation, if someone someday should gate Anambra State at Agu Awka, the Momahs should simple drive back to Enugu, open the door, and retire for the night; the next day, just as President Obasanjo was airlifted to Amichi, they too would be airlifted to Nnewi. The gesture was applauded, especially in the light of recent brouhaha in the Anambra community.
The applause had hardly died down when Dr. Ené called on the President of Enugu State Association, Chief Boniface Udenta (Okwanandu), to present a framed poem to the Momahs. The poem, penned by fellow author, M. O. Ené, was read by the President of Umuada Enugu State, NJ and Treasurer of Igbo-USA, Ms. Edith Nwaeze.
In the poem that is still under review by the eggheads at the event [Click to rwd Poem.] Dr. Ené celebrated the widely acknowledged qualities of Nnabuenyi and Arunne: symbols of truth and fairness. In crowning Arunne as the indisputable first daughter of Igboland, Dr. Ené obviously alluded to the paternal pedigree of the beloved mother of New Jersey who still looked girlish even in her 70s! To a fellow writer, Nnanbuenyi Nnewi, Ene – who goes by the hawkish title of Egbedaa Umuaga, celebrated the great Umuahian, author of three novels and friend/contemporary of legendary Chinua Achebe.
The President of Igbo-USA Ken Igwe spoke the minds of many when he reiterated the uniqueness of the Momahs. As if to seal the truth he told, the First lLady of Igbo community sprayed him with money to the delight of all. Also supporting was the President of Ebonyi State Association, Mr. Humphrey Igwe (the Emperor) and his lovely wife from heaven, Mrs. Joy Igwe.
In his presentation, Chief Austin Egwuonwu extolled the contributions of the Momahs to the New Jersey community and to the Igbo copmmunity nationwide. He asked everyone to emulate Chief Momah in speaking the truth because truth cannot be hidden. “It might take days or months or even years,” he posited, “but truth must always reveal itself. Truth is naked; you cannot hide it. That’s what Chief Momah represented: Eziokwu bu ndu.”
Expressing the same sentiments, the first Chairman of Songhai Charities, Dr. Sebastian Adibe, Enyikaenyi n’Ukpo, expressed gratitude for the contribution of Chief Momah to Songhai Charities. According to Chief (Dr.) Justin Ogbonna, who spoke before Dr. Adibe, Chief Momah was the Executive Director of Songhai Charities for 10 years, earning a salary of just $1:00 a year!
Also sighted was the First Lady of Enugu State, NJ, Mrs. Lizzy Udenta (Egbebelu) accompanying her husband, Chief Udenta (Okwanandu), Mr. Victor Akpu, Publicity Secretary of Songhai Charities for a decade and presently Publicity Secretary of Enugu State Association, and Chief Whip of Igbo-USA; Dr. & Mrs. Emeka Nkwuo (Oputatobia & Omaumaasahu); Adaigwe of Alor Nsukka, Mrs. Joy Anunwa and her husband, Dr. Tony Anunwan of Enugwu Ukwu; Mrs. Chinwe Onyianta, a delegate-at-large of Igbo-USA.
It was not just an Anambra and Enugu States show: From the neighboring Imo State, besides Chiefs Egwuonwu and Ogbonna, came such personalities as Mr. & Mrs. Ignatius Anonyuo, Professor Chudi Uwazuruike of New York, Chief & Loolo Theo Duru, Mrs. Olivia Oguekwe of O & B African Store, New Brunswick, NJ, and Mrs. Offor of Orange, NJ. From Abia State, we saw two-term vice-president of Abia-Imo States Association, Mrs. Vickey Ezebuiro and her husband, Mr. Amaechi Ezebuiroh, Lady (Dr.) Gladys Nwosu, and Opiegbe Igbere, Chief Alex Iheke of Igbo Basics fame.
Looking for absentees was not kosher on the day because the hall was packed solid. It just would not be possible to name everyone because some came early and left early while some came late and, well, stayed till the end. Other prominent personalities sighted included: Mr. Oseloka Obaze and the other half, Dr. Ofunne Obaze; Dr. & Mrs. Ferdinand Ofodile. Reportedly, Mr. Kingsley Moghalu, author of the book on Rwanda genocide was attendance.
From across the Niger, KWENU also noticed Chief Ken Iwelumo, the Alibo of Onicha Ugbo, and Dr. Harris Enabulele of Edo State, amongst others.
Other notables Mr. & Dr. (Mrs.) Nkechi Nwafili, Mr. & Dr. (Mrs.) Gloria Nwankwo, Ms. Kanayo Ikeme, Mr. & Mrs. Emma/Ifeoma Ndupu, Mrs. Joy Onugha, Dr. (Mrs.) Joana Okafor Sea and son, Mrs. Ngozi Iferika and daughter Bianca, Mrs. Ngozi Uzoka and daughter Ifeoma, Mr. & Mrs. Emeka/Ogugua Eziudiegwu, Mr. & Mrs. Victor/Chi Emenuga, Mr. Theo Emenuga, Mrs. Gladys Oraedu, Nzeamalu Oyibo and Lizzy Achebe,
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