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First Annual Commemoration in Asaba

Oct. 7, 2010, marked the first public commemoration in Asaba of the massacres. The event included a procession, speeches by dignitaries and clerics, and digging of a foundation for a monument at Ogbe-Osawa, the site of the single largest killing. Our Community Advisory Board Chair, Dr. Ify Uraih, sent photos, and reported that it was a solemn and memorable occasion. There are plans to mark the day every year.

Prof. EAC Nwanze, a member of the Community Advisory Board, delivered a speech at the event (see photos); for the text of his address, click here. Another Board member, Ogbueshi EUD Ijeh, also offered brief opening remarks; for his text, click here.

Symposium Keynoter, Chief Philip Asiodu, meets with USF President Judy Genshaft and Provost Ralph Wilcox

Symposium Keynoter, Chief Philip Asiodu, meets with
USF President Judy Genshaft and Provost Ralph Wilcox

First Asaba memorial Symposium

In October 2009, we hosted the first Asaba Memorial Symposium, in partnership with the USF Library’s Holocaust and Genocide Studies Center. Distinguished speakers, including Keynoter Chief Philip Asiodu,  discussed the events at Asaba, as well as larger issues of massacre, memory, and memorialization in Africa. The event marked the inauguration of the Asaba Memorial Project Archive and website at the University of South Florida

Alongside the presentations, the research team conducted eight video-taped interviews with witnesses and survivors of the killings, who traveled to Tampa to participate. The symposium was opened by USF Provost Ralph Wilcox, and was attended by Dr. Bartho Okolo, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Nigeria. Nsukka. On Saturday evening, members of the Tampa Bay Igbo community, led by Dr. Veronica Dike, hosted a Gala Cultural Evening, with Nigerian food, dancing and music.

Speakers included:

Chief Philip Asiodu, the Izoma of Asaba, has held many positions in the Nigerian Federal Government, including Chief Economic Adviser to the President, and Minister for Petroleum. He has been Chairman of Ecobank Transnational, and holds many positions on boards of businesses and environmental organization. He has been Visiting Fellow, Woodrow Wilson Institute, Princeton University, and holds numerous awards and honors, including Grand Officier, Ordre National du Mérite of France.

Chima J. Korieh, Assistant Professor of History at Marquette University. He is a well-known historian of Africa, whose most recent books include Gendering Global Transformations: Gender, Culture, Race, and Identity (2009) and Olaudah Equiano and the Igbo World: History, Society and Atlantic Diaspora Connections, (2009). He is founding editor of Mbari: The International Journal of Igbo Studies, and has published widely in journals such as Dialectical Anthropology and African Economic History.

Chimalum Nwankwo, Professor and Chair of English, North Carolina A and T University. His dozens of articles, poetry, and book reviews have appeared in leading journals in Literature and African cultural studies in Africa, Europe and the USA. His major publications include two books of literary criticism, a play, and five books of poetry. Nwankwo, whose poetry features in most significant new anthologies of modern African poetry, won Nigeria's prestigious ANA and ANA-CADBURY Prizes for poetry in 1988 and 2002 for his books Toward the Aerial Zone and The Womb in the Heart and Other Poems .

Michael C. Nwanze, professor in the Department of Political Science, Howard University, Washington, D.C., specializing in International Law, International Relations and Comparative Politics, having previously taught at University of Exeter, England, and the University of Windsor, Canada, as well as being among the charter faculty of USF. At Howard, he directs the annual Seminars in Diplomacy, which simulate the proceedings of regional international organizations such as the Organization of African Unity, and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.  While at Howard he has held adjunct positions at the Johns Hopkins University, School of Advanced International Studies and Georgetown University, School of Foreign Service in Washington, D.C. He is the editor of a recently published volume, Nigeria – Romania Diplomatic Relations.

Obiora Udechukwu is the Charles A. Dana Professor of Fine Arts and Coordinator of the African Studies Program at St. Lawrence University. His artwork references Igbo Uli drawing and painting, have been exhibited in Africa, Europe, Asia, North America and the Caribbean, and are in public collections in Nigeria, Germany, Britain and USA. His first book of poems, What the Madman Said (1990), won the ANA/Cadbury Prize for Poetry (Nigeria) and received Honorable Mention for the Okigbo Prose/Poetry Prize (All Africa). He has also published articles in books, exhibition catalogues and journals on aspects of traditional and contemporary African art, and Igbo oral literature.

Dora Obiajulu Chizea, M.D.  Dora Obiajulu Chizea has been recognized and honored by the Asaba people many times. In 1982, ASDEV, the Asaba Development Association (consisting only of men), made Chizea an Honorary Member in recognition of her contribution to society. Then in 1991, marking its 10th anniversary, the organization named her the Most Distinguished Asaba Woman in the Decade 1981-1991. The Asaba Elegant Ladies League honored Chizea in 1995 with an Award for Personal Achievement and Contribution to Society. Finally, in 2001, the New York Chapter of Asaba National Association Inc. in the Americas, gave her the Presidential Service Award, “in recognition of your sponsorship and affairs of our people in the USA.”  She presented on her work, “They Killed Us Twice: An Asaba Soul Cry,” based on interviews with massacre survivors.