After years of observing the going-ons in Ika land, one is almost forced to wonder if enlightened Ika folks have the ability to sit down, in the spirit of true altruism, to configure the direction of development in Ika land. Of course, I mean without directly dabbling into the much dreaded partisan politics.
For me, this argument is timely as Ika folks in the USA are getting ready for the annual convention in Chicago at Sheraton Hotel on the 23 of May 2008. At the risk of getting my facts wrong, I am assuming that the USA has the largest number of Ika men and women living outside Nigeria. On the other hand, USA may be second to England. In any case the population is huge and population counts when it comes mobilizing to get things done.
A friend of mine pointed out to me that he purchased attires for this convention months ago and was gleefully looking forward to the event. In fact it sounds and feels like Christmas in the USA for our Ika folks who make this annual pilgrimage.
I can?t help but praise the savvy organizational skill of the Ika leadership in the USA that has resulted in a well organized structure through which all states in the USA having numerous Ika organizations or chapters have been well sewn together under an umbrella national organization. Ika National Association, USA, has over the years successfully shown its muscle in crowed pulling through conventions. Now, this is not to say that this all they do.
I can imagine a lot of ?di enyi, you dey USA too?? and ?Nwa ebon, na your eyes be this?? as people run into people they have not met in a long while. Another friend of mine, Mr. Abagi in Minnesota, has not stopped reminiscing about his wonderful experience at the last convention he attended, the people he met and the long lost friends he reconnected with. This is one of the highlights of any convention. I can also imagine that some Ika politicians have also been invited and have readily booked this event into their official calendar. This is good too. It is fantastic for the soul.
While it is all fine and well to look forward to this convention as an opportunity to meet and reconnect with old friend, shake hands with some of our politicians making you feel almost like you have achieved something, even if it is just for the day, I would like to remind our folks in the USA that Ika land is heading into a twilight zone. That is if they haven?t noticed already.
What can we do during such a convention? Many would see this as a needless question but it is not.
If Ika land has to improve in any way that is sustainable and realistic, it will in a lot of ways be due to the active involvement of Ika National Association, USA.
In recent times the roles of ethnic organizations have changed. In the past, they heavily relied on lobbying politician to bring about developments. This is no longer so. Ethnic organizations like Ika National Association in the USA have to start rolling up sleeves and getting their hands dirty. They do not have to stop at educational scholarships. They have to start tapping into the intellects of their members as well as financial resources in a creative way to find lasting solutions for Ika development. They have to reach across continents and pull forces with other Ika organizations. But the issue has always been "who will bell the cat?". This is were Ika National Association comes in.
One of the first things to be recommended here is that this 2008 convention should be used to introduce the subject of ?Community development 101? to the Ika folks attending the convention. We need to educate or re-educate ourselves. We sometimes take it for granted that we know what it takes to be involved in community development but we fail to recognize that months of concentration on our individual affairs as well as individual failed attempts at community involvement can narrow our perception if not kill our highest inspiration.
Ika National Association, USA, should hastily invite experts from recognized Non profit organizations that have a good track record of developmental programs to give a one hour lecture Ika folks at the convention. I believe, this has already been done. This will stimulate the consciousness of members as well as get everyone thinking.
Another recommendation is that there should be a more discussions about how to creatively and actively get more actively involved in developing Ika land in every Ika chapter in the USA. There is a need to constantly raise this question. We need to shed our individualistic attitudes. We need to realize that what touches our fathers’ neighbours touches us too. We need to realize that our private investments can never be safe or enjoyed by us as we should unless we help to ensure that our neighbours have a relative level of security and a hope of access to future enjoyments.
There is this tendency to think that digging water boreholes, providing this or that is what community development is about. It is more than that. It is a creative process. It is a continuous and sustainable process. It is also one that affects the consciousness of the recipients.
In general, it is recommended that there should be more soul searching during the convention in the USA.
Finally on behalf of Ikaworld.com and the Ika folks all over the world, I wish the members of National Association, USA, a fantastic 2008 Convention in Chicago.