A life size sculpture of the image of Director-General, National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC) Otunba Segun Runsewe was unveiled last Saturday, in Etiti Village, Igboukwu, the ancestral home of the Igbo nation in Anambra State, as part of activities to herald the new Yam festival across the Southeast region.
The historical project and first in honour of any Nigerian in public sector of Nigeria’s tourism industry was inaugurated by MBIDO Igbo Association, an inter-agency committee on culture, arts and tourism in the Southeast. In a tribute, the association noted that Otunba Segun Runsewe will forever be remembered for constructing the biggest Yam House in Igbo land nay Nigeria, and for listing the Yam Festival on national and global cultural festival calendars during his time at the Nigeria Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC) in 2007.
Words on marble at the site of six feet effigy of Runsewe in Igboukwu reads: “This statue of Otunba Segun Runsewe OON, the indefatigable icon of Culture in Nigeria and Tourism Dynamo of our time, stands as testimony of a detribalised Nigerian who gave the Igbo race the deserved voice in cultural tourism world.”
National Chairman, MBIDO Igbo Association, Chief Okafouzu Ugochuchukwu stated that Otunba Runsewe is so honoured for his enduring practical statement in the erection of the first national Yam House in Nigeria in 2007, and for enlisting the celebration of the Igbo Yam festival in national and international cultural calendar.
“Otunba Segun Runsewe stood with the Igbo cultural tourism history and tradition as an Iroko tree and Zuma rock in a dogged effort, not only putting a national structure in recognition of the Igbo traditional hold as producers of Yam but also in ensuring that the Yam festival is listed in the national cultural calendar which has helped the Yam Festival celebrated in eastern Nigeria, gain international influence and sustainable prominence,” he said, noting that the unveiling of statue in Igboukwu was witnessed by top government officials, traditional rulers and Igbo cultural stakeholders.
Chief Ugochuchukwu reiterated the urgent need for Igboukwu as the ancestral home of the Igbo nation to be enlisted as a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) site, in order to preserve and promote the socio-economic and cultural tourism value chain in Igbo history, tradition and socio-economic endeavours.
“We appeal to all relevant Federal government Culture, Arts and Tourism agencies to help us enlist Igboukwu as a world heritage site as strategic global attention to encourage more research and to attract tourism visits to other numerous Igbo ecological tourism sites in the south east of Nigeria. Sadly, none of the sites in Igbo land is so enlisted on the UNESCO heritage map in Nigeria nay the world today,” he aded.