A 2-day International Conference commemorating the 220 years of “Igbo Landing” in the United States of America (USA) has ended in Nsukka, Enugu State, Southeast zone of Nigeria with an affirmation that strong will overcame barbaric and mindless capitalism.
Making the remark yesterday during the event held at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN) was Professor Damian Opata. The former University teacher said that Igbo landing of May, 1803 at Dunbar Creek in the United States of America was a heroic affirmation of will over barbaric capitalism.
Themed: “The Legacy of Research and Resilience in the Fight For Black Liberation: The concept of Healing and Restitution”, Professor Opata said that it was a state of hopelessness that led the 75 enslaved Igbo to drown themselves as they walked into the sea in a mass suicide at Dunbar Creek in Georgia, rather than submitting to slavery.
“The Igbo Landing is once and for-all event, not repeatable, not for emulation, it is irreversible and tragic, but a heroic affirmation of will over submission to slavery.
He said: “Yes, suicide is conventionally an abomination in Igbo cosmology, but that cosmology never anticipated anything like the banality of the transatlantic slave trade.”
The Professor of English and Literary Studies further said that “the 75 slaves faced a critical condition that made them resort to suicide.” They saw suicide as a better option than living a life of slavery. This is what led the 75 enslaved Igbo to take their lives rather than live in servitude.”
Also, Professor, Chima Korieh of the Institute of African Studies UNN, in a keynote speech said that Igbo were able to respond to slavery because of their culture, and republican nature.
“The Igbo were able to resist servitude because of the republican nature of Igbo society as well as its autonomy. That was quite a contrast to slavery where you have no freedom, no independence, and no self-determination,” he said.
In a remark, Dr. Ikechukwu Erojikwe, the Convener of the conference and a Lecturer in the Department of Theatre and Film Studies, UNN, said that the Conference was organised by Pentagram Pictures Media and Research Group UNN in collaboration with Centre for Memories, Enugu and African Studies Centre, Michigan State University.
He thanked UNN Management, the conference’s international collaborators, resource persons, and participants for their support and dedication to the success of the conference. The Convener noted that the Igbo landing was a project many igbo were passionate about given that it was the first black civil rights movement in human history.
“There is every need for the conference and documentation of the story of the heroic deeds of our forebears 220 years ago”, he added. He recalled, “in 1803, 75 Igbo were captured by slave raiders in the Otuoch/Aguilera area of Anambra State through the Omambala River to Calabar, and then to the United States of America. At Dunbar Creek in Georgia, The Igbo captives said no to slavery and walked into the sea in mass suicide.
Professor Nkuzi Nnam, Director, Centre for Igbo Studies, Dominican University, USA were among Resource persons who joined the conference virtually. The occasion was chaired by the President of Alaigbo Development Foundation, Professor Uzodinma Nwala. Professor Uche Azikiwe, wife of late Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe was among dignitaries who attended the conference.