CENTRE FOR IGBO STUDIES (CIS)
The rationale for the establishment of Centre for Igbo Studies is gradually gaining acceptance in academic circles. Some years back, the University of Nigeria, Nsukka announced that it is establishing one, even though it has an Institute of African Studies. The truth is that the Institutes of African Studies are gradually losing relevance, except perhaps in Europe, America and other non African countries. The point is that since 1960’s when the Institute of African Studies came into existence intensive and elaborate research and teaching schemes were embarked upon in the fields of History, Sociology, Archaeology etc. A lot has indeed been accomplished and the distorted Eurocentric interpretation of African history and worldview has been successfully challenged and corrected. These studies have now been incorporated and pursued through regular University courses and departments; and the need for institutes is no longer felt.
The focus would seem to have shifted to ethnic studies and centres are being established for that purpose. These centres are expected to reposition their ethnic groups in the context of their immediate and larger political environment. They are expected to function as authoritative sources of information on the groups both of their past (history) and contemporary political and social behaviour. The Centre for Igbo Studies, inter alia must also work for the survival of Igbo culture and Igbo language, which has been delisted by the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) as a living language. That body actually predicted that Igbo language will die within 100 years from now.
- The Board of CIS has a 7 man Board made up of Professors, Senior Academic staff and the Librarian of the University. The Board decides on policy matters of the Centre and also oversees its activities.
- Management: The management comprises the Director and the Secretary. They run the Centre which is expected to have some Research Fellows. A few of these will be full time staff of the Centre while others are on secondment from various Departments and return to the Departments at the end of their tenure.
MISSION AND VISION
The Centre for Igbo Studies thus has a definite programme it must pursue. This is summarized as follows:
- Draw up a comprehensive research agenda for Igbo Studies which will have to be up-dated from time to time as the situation on the ground changes, as it is bound to do.
- Ensure continuous contact and communication amongst all those interested in Igbo Studies for reasons of economy of effort and resources and to avoid unnecessary duplication.
- Create the richest single resource centre in this area of Igbo Studies worldwide. It must be its duty to ferret out, procure and preserve every single work or line or book written on the Igbo. It will be the centre for collecting and storing oral artifactual resources on the Igbo etc.
- Create and sustain instruments and agencies devoted to the promotion of Igbo Studies. Here we have in mind national and international associations of Igbo scholars, learned journals, bulletins, conferences, seminars, workshops, symposia, colloquia, radio and television discussion, book publishing and so on.
- Train and retain personnel (both academic and technical) for the projected massive onslaught on the study of Igbo culture and civilization. It will also ensure that at any point in time it is possible to locate and reach any expert in the field no matter his discipline or where he is located on the globe.
PERFORMANCE : CIS PROGRAMME
Over the past few years the Centre outlined the following programmes:
- Collection of rare publications, partly in collaboration with the University Library
- Establishment of mini museum
- Research through Research Fellows from within and outside the University
- Linkage through Research Fellows from within and outside Nigeria
- Building an appropriate office block. (Building plan/drawing has been submitted to the Centre)
The implementation of these programmes has very much been hampered by lack of funds.The Centre had organized workshops and conferences in the past but in recent times, it organized a conference on ‘Traditional Rulership in a contemporary Igbo society’, at Umuahia, in 2011. This conference was well attended by Abia State government and traditional rulers across Igbo land.
Also on 3rd to 4th May, 2012, the Centre participated in a Seminar organized by Centre for Igbo Arts and Culture (CIAC) Abuja in collaboration with Raw Materials Research and Developed Council and National Roots Crops Research Institute, Umudike and Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike. The Seminar took place at Enugu.
A lecture was also held recently at the University Senate Chamber (2015). This lecture yielded a book on Kolanut in Igbo Cosmology .
The sustenance of this centre will depend on funds from agencies and Igbo socio-cultural groups, especially those in diaspora, as is obtainable in such Centres in other Universities. ABSU authorities and the Abia State Government should appreciate the significant role of the Centre for Igbo Stuties in the life of Ndi Igbo at home and in diaspora and give it all necessary support.