DAVID SOLOMON, PRESIDENT, IKA NATIONAL ASSOCIATION USA SPEAKS ON THE FORTHCOMING IKA NATIONAL CONVENTION AND IKA WORLD CONGRESS
Following the much-publicized news about the forthcoming first Ika world Congress/National Convention 2022, that is being organized by the Ika National Association USA, Ika Weekly Newspaper, as part of its information dissemination/awareness creation responsibility reached out via a telephone interview to Dr David Solomon, the current Ika National Association USA President and Chairman, Board of Directors of the Association.
An Atlanta, Georgia, United State of America-based Dr David Solomon, hails from Owa-Oyibo, Ika North-East Local Government Area of Delta State.
In this interview, Dr David Solomon demonstrated that he is a personality that loves Ika culture and tradition and craves for a sustained development of the Ika nation, He also spoke on the forthcoming Ika World Congress/National Convention 2022 and why all well-meaning Ika sons and daughters must be in attendance.
The conversation was anchored by Jerome-Mario Chijioke Utomi, Ika Newspaper Special Project Officer.
It is a must read. Enjoy it.
Hello Sir. How are you doing today?
I am doing very fine, and you?
I am doing OK. Yeah, it’s boldly written in your voice that you are doing very well; it is good to have you at this hour. So, Let’s go straight to the business of the day Sir. Our readers will want to know you very well. So, kindly in plain language tell us who you are.
My name is Dr. David Solomon. I am the current President of Ika National Association USA and Chairman, Board of Directors of the Association. I am from Owa-Oyibu, Ika North-East Local Government Area of Delta State. I am based here in Atlanta, Georgia with my family. I am blessed with my wife and four children.
That sounds very pleasant to the ear, Sir. For how long has the association existed?
Ika National Association USA has existed since the year 2000.
Can you give a brief history of the association? Vis-à-vis its leadership?
We had chapters in 12 states with their executives and members. All the chapters came together in the year 2000 to form the National Body of this association. And what is the difference and what does the national body do? The difference is that the National body coordinates all the chapters in the event of any national projects and national convention every two years, Example of such project is the diagnostic Center which is built and equipped in Agbor General Hospital. We have carried medical mission in various Ika lands.
For our readers to get a clearer picture of what the Association is all about, kindly help us with the aims and objectives of the association.
Yes, Ika National Association as the name stipulates, we are all indigenes of Ika Land. Its either we are born in Ika land or we are married to Ika indigene. That is what makes you a member of the Association. Now because we are based out here in the United States, home is a little far. But we can create home among us here in the United States.
Many of us have children born here in the United States. What this association does is to promote our culture and language among our children and give them the opportunity to interact among their peers or even marry within the community and then it also gives us the opportunity like every two years, when we come together to have what we call the national convention even though for the past four years because of Covid, we haven’t been able to do that. We are going to have the first one now for four (4) years in 2022 which is this year that we are in.
So, basically, Ika association is to enable us to coordinate among ourselves, to maintain our roots, our place of origin and to promote our culture and language also to come together and see how best we can give back to our people back home through projects, especially the projects that can benefit our people. I cited an example, like the association, through various chapters, we have been able to do a lot of projects by providing hospital beds, chairs in the hospital waiting rooms, and health care centers in the villages and then, we have been able to provide boreholes to many Communities in Ika land. The overall National Body has been able to provide a diagnostic center that you find at Agbor General Hospital. We built the building and equipped it, we just recently renovated the whole diagnostic center to make sure that the building is intact and working.
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This is a laudable project but sir, I see that you people have a special interest in the area of education, we will later come back to the National Convention which is the main kernel of today’s interview but in the interim, can we get in a synoptic account the Association’s achievement in areas of education?
As a national body we have not done much in the area of education but other community groups in Ika like Agbor, Ute and others have been giving back to their communities in that regards. At this coming convention, one of the focus of my administration as the national president in conjunction with my executive and the board of directors is to provide reading chairs and tables for most of the schools in the villages; because some time ago, we saw pictures of children sitting on the floor, some of them sitting on top of the blocks, some children laying on the floor to write and learn.
Those conditions were not encouraging at all. Most of us grew up in one village or another. We went to primary schools in the villages, we had chairs, we had tables and when a parent look at the child he/she sent to school, the money they spend every day washing their clothes because of the learning conditions these children are. So that’s why in the aspect of education, we want to see what we can do in terms of providing basic chairs and reading desks for Ika children, especially the primary schools in the various villages as much as we can do. That is what we are doing currently.
Let’s go to the area of sustenance of Ika culture among the children of Ika origin there in the United States. Sir, what strategies or plans do you have to achieve that?
It would amaze you to know that most of the children we have here, there are very few who maybe their parents were able to maintain Ika cultural practices and language in their homes and around them. But we have a generation of children who are hungry for Ika knowledge, who are eager to learn and most of them are checking out all available resources now and one of the things we have done as an association is making this resource available for them.
I have always been in touch with somebody like Mr. Dan Usifoh who is the head of Onu-Ika, and he has been able to supply me with some of Ika books, books written in Ika language and there are some video recordings through which most of our children are learning some of the languages and we continue to also in any opportunity that we have whenever we come together educate the children. For instance, in this coming convention, many of them are looking forward to demonstrating some of the cultural practices of Ika. For example, if you remember in those days how they do what is called odoro, to eat yam. Those things are unique to Ika people and even when people visit you, the presentation of Kolanuts. We try to teach our children here them the importance of these things and why it is done in Ika land and then how to conduct marriages in Ika Land. All these and other various things are what we put in place to educate our young generation so that they can understand the basic cultures of Ika. So, we continue to educate them and inform them in every way possible and they themselves are reaching out to people who they also know that can help them with resources, especially the young lady that is our Ika National Youth Coordinator in the person of Mrs. Dorothy Mefom-Edmond. She is doing a fantastic job putting materials together and sharing it among the young generation.
Thank you so much for this clarification. I would now like us to discuss the Ika World Congress/National Convention properly. Just kindly in a few words, tell us what informed this year’s world congress/convention and possibly, why now?
If you look at our announcement out there, this year’s convention is a unique one. Why is it unique? Because we have two (2) major events that will be taking place side by side. One of them is first Ika World Congress. What is the Ika World Congress all about? If you look at Ika land and you look at Nigeria today, Ika land is blessed especially with various political office appointments in Nigeria.
Ika land has the Executive Governor of Delta State, Ika land has the Chief of Defense Staff of the federation. Ika land has a Governor of the Central Bank and there are other positions that Ika people occupy in Nigeria and we have to tell ourselves the truth, it has never been this good in Ika land in terms of these political offices. And it is not going to be like this forever. If you look at Nigeria, it is important for every community to protect their interests and at the same time to address their problems and then to know what next. Also, to celebrate our own successes.
So, the congress is going to give us the opportunity to sit down at a round table as a people to discuss the issues confronting Ika land and what we all can do together, I mean all Ika people around the world putting strength together to move Ika progress forward. And how we can position ourselves as a community to remain relevant in the nation Nigeria and Delta State. We look forward to addressing all issues of Ika Land at the Ika world congress. For the convention, it has always been our main activity every two (2) years. So, for the first time in four (4) years due to global pandemic we are now having the convention and we are taking advantage of this season to combine the two events to take place.
Thank you so much sir. But I would like you to comment on the relationship between your Association and Onu Ika, the most prestigious and most highly placed socio-cultural group in Ika nation?
Our relationship at Ika National Association USA is very cordial with Onu-Ika under the leadership of Mr. Dan Usifoh. For instance, we are hosting the Ika World Congress, it is not only the Ika National Association USA that is involved in consultation. One of the things that I have done as National President and host is to reach out to various Ika Associations groups such as those in United Kingdom, in Germany, in South Africa and other places where there are Ika Associations and Onu-Ika especially in planning the congress.
Why am I so particular about working with Onu-Ika? One, looking at the name, Onu-Ika is the voice of Ika people back home and Onu-Ika has been in the forefront in many battles of the Ika people back home and the work they are doing is very impressive in Ika land, and they have kept on. For instance, donations for fire incidence that poured in from all over the world to make sure that the people were taken care of and was well managed and accounted for by Onu-Ika. That is what a group like Onu-Ika has done that set them apart for the total wellness of Ika people.
Now, just before we go, Culture and tradition across the country is facing serious challenge you know, and Ika tradition isn’t insulated from this challenge. What do you think is the solution we can employ to keep our culture undiluted here at home?
Thank you for that question. You see, one of the things that I see as the major problem is that, the major custodians of our cultures and language must agree that it is dying in their hand. Who are the primary custodians, our Royal fathers; second every Ika person home and abroad, if the custodians of our culture can agree to these problems, it become easy to solve the problem? The western way we try to adopt is not culture at all, it was their way of colonizing us and robbing us blind of our God given natural resources and culture, we all must take the responsibility of reviving Ika culture.
We used to have various festivals such as igwe, oso ezi and new yam festival I do not hear of them anymore, Ika kingdoms use banish people if they commit certain level of crimes not anymore, we all need to wake up. I am beginning of late to see many calls and competition activities to promote our culture those are steps in the right directions
So, I believe that all of us have the responsibility to continue to practice our culture. We must not allow the English or foreign culture to overtake our Ika culture and whenever we come together, we all must ensure that there are still practices of our culture and language that will remain memorable in the hearts of our children and the hearts of everyone. It is because of this interview that I am speaking English. I can equally answer every question in Ika language, the problem is how you will translate it to your readers.
After how many years of living in abroad sir?
I speak my language very well. I can never lose my mother tongue.
So, as the entire Ika nation prays for a successful first Ika World Congress, I would like to ask, what should be our expectation?
Well, you can agree with me that the unity of Ika nation can never be over emphasized, and it is one thing that we will continue to promote, and I believe that all of us coming together from various parts of the world to attend this Ika world congress, it will bring us closer.
Also, to look at ways to strengthen our progress, and gains that Ika land have gotten through our various key political office,
It will be an opportunity to look at various existing cultural, and security challenges facing Ika land. To be honest with you, Ika land has been blessed compared to many communities in Delta State and Nigeria at large.
There are many communities in Nigeria who have experienced many deaths, bloodshed, loss or properties and all of that. But, Ika land has been a very safe community. Thanks to the government of our brother, Senator Dr Ifeanyi Okowa and many key players that have ensured that things remained ok, there are many threats that continued to confront Ika community. So, I believe that when Ika people come together like this from all over the world, professional privileges and connections could be of help to Ika land.
These are the things we want to harness in this congress. We are looking forward to a more united Ika nation, more sustenance of the progress and prosperity that Ika is experiencing and a better opportunity to see that the Ika community and Ika kingdoms are becoming the next happening kingdom or community in Nigeria. So, there is so much to expect in this first Ika world congress. Everything may not be perfect but I can assure us that there is so much good to expect in this congress that is coming.
On a final note, what message do you have for the entire Ika nation back home, particularly; the people back home in Nigeria?
My message to everyone that will be reading this is to make an effort to attend this Ika World congress. It is open to every Ika Son and Daughter. I know that it is not everybody that can afford to travel because of the cost involved but if you are a notable Ika Son and Daughter, it is not time to isolate yourself and think that you don’t need your people. We may not know everyone who is well-to-do in Ika land, who can afford to be present but people who are well-to-do know themselves.
Please, reach out to us, we are willing and are welcoming and we will be happy to have everybody come and another thing I would want to say to our people is that Ika belongs to us all. We need to stand and start telling ourselves the truth. We should not allow politics to divide us in Ika land. We should not allow kingdom to divide us in Ika land, as we are, we speak the same language, we have things in common and if we begin to trace our roots, we may discover that we come from one kingdom but may have another family in another kingdom.
There is a tendency that we all are one. Let us work together to protect the interest of Ika land. In every developed nation or society, there are people that put efforts together to make a better society. Let’s do that and continue to move Ika forward. Shy away from bad vices that destroy communities. Shy away from being evil. Let us build and put things together in any little way that we can contribute, personally or collectively. Let us all do that to advance the progress of Ika land. Thank you.
Thank you so much sir. On behalf of the publisher of Ika Weekly Newspaper, Mr Steve Ekiri-Mekiriuwa Ashien and the entire management and staff of the organization, we express our sincere thanks for this wonderful opportunity to talk to us. We are indeed grateful. Thank you so much Sir and enjoy the rest of your day Sir.