Umunna (Igbo) Cultural Association of Manitoba Inc. started with some humble wishes by some Igbo people who gathered one evening to socialize. They remembered the gatherings in Nigeria such as the town's meetings, the regular gathering of kinsmen to discuss and deal with issues affecting one another, the community and the laudable concept of being your brother’s or sister’s keeper. They began to reminisce about these admirable practices of community gatherings. They remembered the benefits of such gatherings and how these gatherings provided the network and framework that fostered the security, growth and development of Igbo people wherever they were.
Ndigbo as they like to be called, are one of the larger ethnic groups from the South Eastern (including part of the Mid-Western) parts of Nigeria. They have a common language, culture and heritage. Their language is Igbo, their culture is Igbo and they are Igbo. Given that the Igbo people here in Winnipeg are far away from their kinsmen and women, it became necessary to establish an organization to look out for their collective interest in Manitoba as well as help the new immigrants to adapt to their new environment in addition to help soften the inter-generational adaptation that face both the parents and their children. Out of this humble conversation came the idea to form an Igbo organization here in Winnipeg that will cater to the needs and aspirations of Ndigbo (i.e., Igbo people, or people from Igbo land, as they are called in Igbo nomenclature), in the City of Winnipeg, and the Province of Manitoba in general.
Above all, this organization would serve as a means of maintaining regular contacts, actions and interactions among Igbo people in Winnipeg and the rest of Manitoba, Canada and North America in general. This idea took hold and the five people (Dr. FIdelis Ezeala, Mr. Sam Okoro, Rev. Dr. Ernest Oramasionwu, Late Mr. Dominic Ezirim, Mr. Godwin Ogoms, and Mr. Bennett Oramasionwu) who had this conversation, later referred to as "the Initial six" formulated this idea, and in summer of 1985, an Igbo organization called “Umunna (Igbo) Cultural Group” was born.The term “Umunna,” in the Igbo language means, ‘members of the same extended family’ who would normally trace their linage to the same great great or just great grandfather. Ndigbo generally perceive themselves as brothers and sisters; hence the fitting name of ‘Umunna’ was chosen as the name for this Igbo organization. Though all Ndigbo in Winnipeg are not of the same parents as western culture would define brotherhood and sisterhood, they see one another as brothers and sisters, because they are from the same ethnic group and share the same cultural heritage. Thus, we the Igbo people see ourselves as being of the same ‘parental’ origin.
In an effort to formalize the name, the association was originally called ‘Umunna Igbo Cultural Group.’ Later,in 1990 at the time of incorporation, the name was modified to “Umunna (Igbo) Cultural Association of Manitoba Incorporated.” Umunna (Igbo) Cultural Association of Manitoba Inc. has become a very cohesive and dynamic member of the Winnipeg, and Manitoba multi-cultural community. Umunna also plays active social roles in the Winnipeg Igbo community and Winnipeg community at large, providing support through involvements in volunteering with various charity organizations, making donations when the need arises. We owe our steady growth and development to the strong characteristics as well as the commitment, dedication and support of the Umunna members. God Bless Ndigbo!, God Bless Nigeria, and God Bless Canada.
By Umunna Former President, Reg Beluolisa Ejeckam
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