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In memory of my brother, Lieutenant General Ibrahim Attahiru —Archbishop Emeka Agwu

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In Loving Memorial Of Late COAS, Lieutenant General Ibrahim Attahiru, Chief Of Army Staff, Nigerian Army

Life itself is futile in several respects, but made plausible by the rectitude exercised by veritable men, such as you were among us. Today, we recount your attributes with gleeful hearts; yet, with sincere pain in our hearts we thank God profusely because a conqueror is reckoned amongst us, one that overcame the oddities of this life and triumphed over its inordinate allurements to the realm above.

Lieutenant General Ibrahim Attahiru, a friend, but a brother, my wife and I went through enormous grief when we received the news of your sudden departure, especially after we learnt the circumstance that orchestrated your painful exit. The light of joy we had always experienced in our relationship with you was extinguished, just like a candle in the wind; and we went into pensive mood, recalling with nostalgia the times we spent together, and the unforgettable moments of communal fraternity.

We would not forget your resourcefulness and resilience, and your unalloyed pursuit for peace, mutual respectability, love, and enduring tenderness towards the people. We were witnesses to your profound humility, eschewing bitterness in circumstances that mean men would vent their anger, given their place and status such as you occupied variously in your lifetime. For this, we revere you.

You adorned your dispositions with utmost gentleness, such that people who knew you too well were encouraged that in our time, one still lived that was as harmless as a dove. You were indeed meek beyond measure, and such is one of the salient identities of astutely disciplined minds. Your quiet mien, reconciliatory approach to vexed issues, diligence, sensitivity to the wellbeing of others, disinterestedness in earthly acclaim, and continual quest for oneness and unity of purpose are some of the salient attributes you possessed, for which you were known, and for which you would always be remembered. You wore integrity as a garment, kindness radiated from your heart like the rising early morning sun. For these and many more, we thank God immensely for granting among us, such a rare gem as you were. You would be remembered always, especially within the military circle of the Nigerian army, but more so amongst people who knew you too well.

Lieutenant General Ibrahim Attahiru, you were called to duty as Chief of Army Staff. You nursed in your heart the necessity to reposition the Nigerian Army. You had the revered purpose of entrenching professionalism in the Nigerian army. You were poised to foster integrity as a culture within the ranks and file. Again, it was utmost in your agenda to scuttle insurgency and create again a peaceful Nigerian State where everyone would be safe. You yearned for a detribalised Nigerian nation where everyone is welcome everywhere, and accommodated warmly, irrespective of tribe, ethnicity, or any other untoward inclination.

In some of our conversations, you were worried about the future of the Nigerian child, and the economic imbalances that have grossly derailed the wholesomeness of the family unit. You looked up to a time when the womenfolk would be suitably empowered in diverse ways to function appropriately in their God-given role as home makers and builders in no little dimensions, and by extension, help in remodelling the Nigerian society. Furthermore, you craved for such a time when we would have a beautiful Nigeria to which Nigerians in diaspora would return, as their motherland and be glad that they have a country they could call home.

You were charitable in several respects; and those who came to you went away rejoicing often times. You did not know how to send them away empty-handed. It was not in your character. People who knew you with this attribute will always adore you still.

You detested nepotism, sectionalism of all sorts, and you decried religious intolerance. It was your unalloyed wish that Nigerians should love and care for one another in oneness of heart and spirit.

Beloved, we are pained in our hearts still; and probably, this wound would be hard to heal. However, what can one say or now, especially when all ill is done. The ill-fated plane crash of May 21, 2021 took all our calm away. Now we are distraught, and only God can heal the wound in our hearts.

We pray God to grant my beloved one! Continues Rest in perfect peace.

Archbishop (Dr) Emeka Agwu is the general overseer of Houston-based Voice of Evangelism International

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Texas Southern partners with IgboFest to promote education, culture, and diversity

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IgboFest Houston, a cultural entity and festival that showcases the African heritage and Igbo culture to the great city of Houston has partnered with the Texas Southern University (TSU) to promote, embrace, and encourage culture, and diversity education in the community.

TSU will be visibly present at this festival to showcase their potentials as an inclusive, equitable, and welcoming institution for all members of the community. Internationally renowned TSU’s Debate Team will also be at this event to perform the “Igbo Landing Mass Suicide of 1803”, a rendition of one of the largest mass suicides of enslaved people that took place when Igbo captives from what is now Nigeria were taken to the coast of Georgia.

According to Dr. Chris Ulasi, TSU’s acting Dean of the School of Communications who also chairs the Houston IgboFeast, “This partnership is highly needed and most importantly, would reflects the mission of the IgboFest in building cultural awareness, linguistic diversity through teaching and learning of critically endangered languages, and youth cultural literacy.”

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Texas Southern University President Dr. Lesia L. Crumpton-Young. Texas Southern University, one of the nation’s largest HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities), possesses an impressive array of undergraduate and graduate programs, a diverse faculty, and 80-plus student organizations.

IgboFest Houston has reigned for decades in the City, bringing in performers from across the United States and globally. The 2022 IgboFest will showcase the  Ijele Masquerade, classified as the biggest masquerade in Sub-Saharan Africa. Group performances will range from traditional to acrobatic dancers, whereas other displays will involve very rare masquerades from the Igboland. Expected at this event are; Government representatives including Houston’s Mayor, Sylvester Turner, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, Congressman Al Green, Texas Hour Rep. Jarvis Johnson, and others.

This colorful carnival which also is the largest African cultural festival in the City will hold at the Discovery Green – 1500 McKinney on Saturday, July 16, 2022. Admission is free. Bringing the African heritage and indeed the Igbo culture to the most diverse city in America is traditionally motivating and spiritually authentic.

Texas Southern University, one of the nation’s largest HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities), possesses an impressive array of undergraduate and graduate programs, a diverse faculty, 80-plus student organizations, and an alumni network comprised of educators, entrepreneurs, public servants, lawyers, pilots, artists, and more, many of whom are change agents on the local, national and international stage.

For more information, please call 281-788-8133  or  832-452-7784

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Houston’s Emancipation Park Bubbles with Juneteenth Festival Excitement

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Saturday, June 18, and Sunday, June 19, 2022.  Sizzling temperatures rising to triple digits, humidity at its highest, and this spectacular Juneteenth festive celebration is on in Houston, Texas. Just the kind of vibe Houstonians needed to balance the heat.  From memory lane to everyday sing-along lyrics, be it cultural, social, historical, or contemporary, Kool and the Gang, The Isley Brothers, Sheila Escovedo, aka Sheila E., and Maze, featuring Frankie Beverly all projected a dynamic type of energy and synergy that surpassed the heat.

Multi-colored flashing stage lights. Action begins with the world renown R&B group Kool and the Gang entering the main stage showing off their funky and jazzy appearance—old school/new school.  Horns playing softly in the background, lead singer proudly welcomes the audience, then gives a brief historic account of their humble beginnings. Being the longest performing R&B group in history, and the most sampled R&B band of all times; JT naming each player as an original with the group, dating back to 1969 when they officially assigned their name as Kool and the Gang; group, album, and song all called Kool and the Gang.  This high energy performance certainly reflects the message in their music. “Celebrate good times! Come on! It’s a celebration. Everyone around the world . . . Come on! Cel-a-bra-tion!”  This signature line had the audience on their feet, rocking to the beat, and echoing every word.

Congress Woman, The Honorable Sheila Jackson-Lee, and Houston’s Mayor Sylvester Turner dancing to Kool and the Gang while celebrating good times on the VIP pavilion.

Like a shepherd with his staff tending to his sheep was Ron Isley with his cane entering the stage, capturing the crowd, singing their 1978 classic, Groove With You. And the audience swinging side-to-side, singing along, and . . . grooving.  This epic old-schooler slows it down, calling out the “Choosey Lovers.”

Day 2—Sunday, June 19, 2022

But Houstonians were not only grooving with the musical artists, among many others was one political rock star, Beto O’Rourke -candidate for Texas Governor immersing in all the festivities at the Juneteenth Celebration at the Emancipation Park 150th Anniversary.

This multi-ethnic, multi-talented diva is ‘multi’ with a sense of ‘purpose’ from all angles; she sings, plays, and dances to multi-genre music. With the mic in her hand, rocking to the background instrumentals, Sheila educates the audience of her Mexican Indian father and Creole mother.  Soaked in a medley of instrumentals, she signaled to the musicians to halt.  She then commands the keys, and each musician strikes accordingly.  As a woman of the Christian faith, not only did she sing, danced, and played the guitar and drum to secular and gospel music, she also gave a chilling testimony about surviving childhood molestation at the age of five.  Her statement shows in her performance: “Music is love, God is love and God is music.”  She talked about her faith in God.  Being a believer who sings secular music, but loves Jesus, she said, “I bring church to the people. My ministry is ‘Abuse’.”  She uses her voice to bring out the best in people. At 64 plus, going non-stop about 70 minutes in her performance decided to take the guitar off stage to engage directly with the audience.  It was just about sunset and the temperature was cooling down when she asked everyone to stand in solidarity with her in ‘passing the love.’  In obedience to Sheila’s request, the audience stood up, and as instructed, each person telling as many around them, “I love you.”  This sacred moment was followed by Sheila passing the love with the song “What the world needs now is love sweet love.”

Maximum security. Houston Police Department standing at attention at work.

Frankie Beverly greeting Houston with his favorite line: “Long time nuh see!”

The grand finale! With the volume pumped up, stepping on stage in style is the distinguished legend, Frankie Beverly starting off with one of his greatest hits, ‘Laid Back Kind of Girl’, then he serenades the ladies with “Southern Girl”, followed by “We Are One,” and the rest of the show was a rap.  Pausing, Frankie in his rhythmic posture, dancing from within, points the microphone to the audience, drums, keys, strings, and chords on medium sound, and the audience on one accord becomes the loudest voice, singing to Frankie’s all-time classics.  So then, what do you say about this artist who enters the stage with such an effect? Yes! Vintage, classical, and mystical is Maze/Frankie Beverly with countless recordings, performances, and awards on the global stage for more than 50 years.

______________________________________

Interesting facts about Emancipation Park.  November 7, 2007, a remarkable act took place when the Houston City Council declared the park a historic landmark after it voted unanimously.  On April 24, 2019, United Nations Education Scientific Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated Emancipation Park as a UNESCO Site of Memory.

Mission of Emancipation Park—To enhance Emancipation Park by preserving its integrity and enriching its heritage as a local, state, national, and international landmark. (For more information visit https://epconservancy.org)

In a brief conversation with Ramon Manning, Chairman of the Board of Directors, I asked, “What is the ‘Why’ behind this celebration?” Ramon responded, “This festive event goes beyond food, fun, fellowship. There is an educational aspect that educates generations about historic, cultural, and social issues that are embedded in American history. Often, there are stories about the struggles that the slaves encountered, but there were also countless untold victories, one of which is about the group of former slaves who pooled together the funding and purchased the property where the park is located.”  Another question I asked was, “And what value does this all bring to the community?” He answered, “This community park is an asset to Houston, Texas, and American history.  It stands significant to recognizing and acknowledging culture, history, and continuing education.”

♦The Guardian News would like to express sincere thanks to Michelle Kelly and Tara Hanney of Kelney Communications for such remarkable hospitality and accommodation

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Africa

Celebrate Afrobeats And African Culture At Jollof N’ Chill This Summer

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Within the last five years Afrobeats has risen in popularity due to the music from artists such as Wizkid, Burna Boy, Davido, and many others. The genre stems from the music of West Africa with some influences from American hip-hop, jazz, and calypso, creating a sound that is undeniable, positive, and most importantly, fun to dance to.

Photo credit: Jollof N’Chill, LLC

Meet Ehimwenma Ima-Edomwonyi, born in Nigeria and the holder of an MBA in finance from New Jersey City University, he is an Afrobeats connoisseur who has founded the event Jollof N’ Chill, a celebration of all things African; not just the music, but also the culture, the food, the art, and businesses representing all the countries in the African continent. These Afro-centered events support diversity among the countries as well as bring new ears to the Afrobeats sound.

Photo credit: Jollof N’Chill, LLC

“Our mission is to inspire individuals of all backgrounds to hear, see, and taste Africa. Our events bring people of all cultures and backgrounds together. We continue to bring people from all over the world to learn, embrace, and empower African cultures. Our events have been the core of our community’s growth. People have used the opportunity to expand their worldly views, cultural knowledge, and connections with each other,” stated Edomwonyi when asked about the purpose of his Jollof N’ Chill events.

Since 2018, Jollof N’ Chill has toured to major cities where there is a heavy presence of West Africans, such as New York, Atlanta, Miami, and Los Angeles, building a following and seeing an increase in diversity among its attendees.

We hope to connect our growing audiences with parts of the African culture they might have only seen on social media. Our joy is bringing together all African descendants from outside/within the diaspora and individuals who appreciate African culture,” says Edomwonyi.

Of course, like most businesses, the Jollof N’ Chill events took a heavy hit during the pandemic. But Edomwonyi, is no stranger to adversity and is looking to make 2022 his year of expansion.

Photo Credit: Jollof N’Chill, LLC (To learn more about Jollof N’ Chill visit their Instagram page: @jollofnchill, their next event will be for Juneteenth in New York City.)

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