Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State, on Friday, received a Haitian delegation at the Government House, Enugu, amid excitement and fulfillment.
The 10-man Haitian delegation, led by Senator Moise Jean-Charles, were on a home-coming mission to Enugu, the historic capital of Igboland, to perform conventional Igbo rituals such as traditional naming and name adoption, after they traced their roots to Igboland.
Addressing the delegation, Gov. Ugwuanyi represented by the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Prof. Simon Uchenna Ortuanya, delightfully welcomed them to Enugu State in particular and the entire Igboland in general, and commended them for the bold step.
Gov. Ugwuanyi also appreciated them for “keeping a date with history, for following your heart, and for following your roots and getting back to your roots”.
The governor, who stressed the significance of the visit, stated that “today is a new beginning for all of us”.
He added: “We open our doors to you and we are ready as we have demonstrated. We also want you to know that changing your names is in agreement with the Igbo tradition that you have a new name for a new born.
“Today, you are born new in Enugu State and in the land of your fathers. Congratulations!”
In his address, the leader of the delegation, Sen. Jean-Charles, who described the visit to Enugu State as home-coming, rooting back to their origin in Igboland, thanked Gov. Ugwuanyi for the hospitality accorded to them in the state.
He recounted the affinity of the people and culture of Enugu State and Haiti, revealing that Enugu has five letters as Haiti and that Enugu and Haiti mean cities on top of a hill.
According to the leader of the Haitian delegation, “I have visited many countries, many places around the world but this is the first time I have visited a country that everybody looks like me”.
Sen. Jean-Charles went further to say: “I have not come here as a foreign person. I have come back home. Before I keep on talking, I want to on behalf of all Haitians, all the blocks in Haiti, to thank you (Ugwuanyi) for receiving us after 218 years.
“We have decided that people in the whole continent of Africa and all of us who are there in Haiti is a wind following the bird from the African continent and it has brought bear in America which means all of us are one”.
In their separate goodwill messages, the Commissioner for Culture and Tourism, Hon. Ugonna Ibe, the Chairman, Enugu State Council of Traditional Rulers, HRH Igwe Lawrence Agubuzu, the immediate past President General of Ohaneze Ndigbo, Chief Nnia Nwodo and Ozo (Dr.) Ferdinand Anikwe, gave a historic background of the Haitians and their link with Igbos, applauding the visitors for taking such a bold step in identifying with the people of their origin.
The climaxes of the event were the traditional naming and name adoption by the Haitian delegation, which were performed by Igwe Agubuzu in company of other traditional rulers present, dancing of Igede cultural dance by the visitors, and presentation of souvenirs to them by Enugu State government.
Members of the Enugu State House of Assembly, State Executive Council (EXCO), Special Advisers to the Governor, other top government functionaries and the President of Ohaneze Ndigbo, Enugu State Chapter, Prof. Fred Eze witnessed the historic event.