July 16, 2017

Umu Igbo definitely show off in Houston

June 24th second generation descendants of Nigerian immigrants from the Southeastern region of Nigeria in the diaspora gathered in a soiree to celebrate their culture in Lighthouse Hall, Houston Texas. Umu Igbo Unite (UIU) is an organization formed to keep young Igbos and professionals connected to their roots in the motherland through networking and social advocacy. Since its inception in 2005, the platform has grown to ten chapters across the United States and is expanding. This banquet would be the first for the Houston chapter since its inception nine years ago.

The chapter went all out on the June 24th weekend with three days of events that brought together so many Igbos, many from other states to one place. The impressive turnout could be easily attributed to the tireless work by the chapter's executive board, campaigning for months on end, reaching out to the community as a whole and raising the awareness.  You can always tell when you're in a Nigerian event when you hear Afrobeats reverberating in the background and you suddenly find yourself with the urge to roll your waist even just a little, the environment takes a familial tone only recognized by the people gathered, it becomes home away from home. It is not uncommon to hear me breakout in what I call "the bush girl" character (an inside joke only known to a friend). Igbonics and pidgin suddenly becomes the only language I know, and because the environment had become so familiar, I felt right at home. Another familiarity within the community is the tendency to live up to the stereotype of arriving fashionably late where an appointed time only means its time to start getting ready and the majority don't start to arrive to an event until about three hours later. I do however have to admit that we did better this weekend for the banquet in starting on time.
Eze and Lolo Igbo
The start of red carpet on the day of the banquet seemed like a brief abbreviation on a party that carried on all night, with everyone deciding to touch base with home to freshen up, arriving in their colorful best—mostly traditional garb designed specifically for the occasion. Ladies didn't disappoint with hair and makeup on "fleek." The gentlemen did good too. The evening held a promise of a long awaited chain of events advertised for months—good music, food and drinks, performances, special guests and a chance to meet and mingle with new people. MCofLife and Prince Kalu moved the evening along smoothly keeping the audience entertained in their light-hearted, yet rough comedy and jabs at each other. There was enough on the evening's itinerary to ensure an engaged and a well-entertained audience with performances and special guest speakers to include some comedy and traditional dance performances. A notable act to mention is the performance by the author and poet Mr. Ben Amushie, taking the audience on a journey back to the motherland even if just for a moment with his conscious-raising drama ensemble and poetry.


The evening was mostly fun, however serious issues where discussed by some keynote speakers. Notable was mental illness in the community that can be overlooked or stigmatized due to lack of awareness or long held traditional values that prohibit seeking help. The overall mission of the event would not be complete without discussing ways to move forward as a community both in the diaspora and back home to ensure a better future for those that come after us. One can only hope that an event such as this one moves the needle forward.
#MCofLife & Prince Kalu
UIU Dancers 
Ben Amushie's performance
Traditional dancers
No Nigerian Occasion is complete without the spraying of money
UIU Houston's E-Board

Enjoy the video below, you can find videos like this and more on Youtube, find me as MsadakuMsadaphotography on Facebook.

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