It is December, the last month of the year 2021, but some events cannot be forgotten. One of such events was held in Unizik at the Awka Window on America. The Window positioned beautifully at the School of Postgraduate Studies in Nnamdi Azikiwe University offers educational resources, services and programmes at no cost at all. According to the US Public Affairs Officer, Mr. Stephen Ibelli, “The Awka Window on America is a welcoming, collaborative, technology-driven centre where young people can share ideas, develop skills and grow capabilities.”
“The Window Way”, hosted by Ichoku Academy was an entertainment and enlightenment program for secondary school students in Awka .It held on the second of September,2021.The event was organized to bring children together to the Awka window on America at Unizik and engage them with music that they can relate with, ultimately educating them through music.
Ichoku Academy comprises of mentors in different musical aspects. As a voice coach in the Academy, I engage pupils and students on voice training and stage performance. The Academy also has mentors in other aspects of music like music theory and indigenous Igbo music. The Ichoku Academy also has an ensemble troupe made up of children and teenagers, and their duty is to entertain and educate people in the society.
The Ichoku Mission is to bring children to the realities of opportunities around them in order to maximize these opportunities as they grow in the society. Indeed young people sometimes do not attain their potentials because they are not aware of an opportunity that is just at their doorstep.
My experience at The Window Way was a rather splendid one. The seminar kicked off with a simple prayer and opening speech by the founder of Ichoku Academy, Gerald Eze. He mildly introduced himself and then went on it introduce “The Incognitos”, a band consisting of some mentors of the Ichoku Academy. I couldn’t help but notice the expectations on the faces of the pupils and students as well as their parents and teachers.
I introduced myself and my bandmates made a brief speech about the seminar and went on to sing ‘Autumn Leaves’ by Nat King Cole, a cool and icebreaking song. The ambiance it imbued on the environment was enough to know that the choice of song was apt. Next was Whitney Houston’s “One Moment in Time”. I saw some parents mouthing the words and even singing along. This was truly an instantly blissful moment for I and my bandmates.
While the audience was still relishing on the imports of the songs they had listened to, two guys interrupted the event in a surprising manner, and right there was a drama performance that was going to take the audience round the happenings in the Nigerian society (with focus on Awka). They linked all these happenings with how the Awka window on America was going to be of great benefit for the Nigerian child and youth.
The actors stormed the arena with hunter outfits and as if that wasn’t enough, they fought over a wife and nearly killed each other only to tell the audience at some point that they were only rehearsing. The experience was captivating and highly engaging. Eventually, when the audience was totally fixated on them, they were on to converse with themselves about the Awka Window and its benefits. Such creative minimalist performance which employs tragic-comedy to educate is indeed a special experience to behold. It was pure genius to say the least.
After the Drama, the event went on with a speech by the deputy director of The Awka Window On America, Dr. Martha Egenti. She spoke extensively on the program and activities of the window. Some students of the Ichoku Academy also had a chance to showcase their talents. The spectacular Oluoma Odimegwu, who for a while has been learning the Ubo-Aka and keyboard came up to play her Ubo and sing some folk songs with the accompaniment of Gerald Eze who played the Oja and Flute, and Nwabuogu Odimegwu who played the Ubo-aka. Oluoma played the keyboard and sang “Let It Go” from Frozen with commendable expertise.
Michael-Salem Ezenwuba strutted to the stage with confidence. The 14-year-old stunned the audience with his rib-cracking folktales, and like a master minstrel sang the accompanying folk songs while playing the Ubo-Aka.
The event ended with a round of questions from the audience about the centre and the answers were supplied by Dr. Martha Egenti. To close the show, Dr Martha Egenti asked the audience to supply the answers to the questions: “What is the capital of America?” and “Who is the Vice President of America?” The answers were gotten by the 13-year-old Ikechukwu Mbagwu and he was gifted a brand new Ubo-Aka by the Ichoku Academy.
A duet performance of “A Whole New World” from Aladdin ended the event as the attendees gradually exited the seminar. A round of pictures and handshakes were taken. It was indeed amazing.
This day was a very remarkable one for me.
–Benita Amaluwa is a 200 level student of music at Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka