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Published On: Mon, Nov 26th, 2012

Urhobo Group to build $2.4million Cultural Center in Chicago

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Member of UPU Chicago celebrating during the fund raising ceremony of the the cultural centre

by Joseph Omoremi, Chicago

CHICAGO: The proposed $2.4 million Urhobo Cultural Center in Chicagoland received a boost at the official launching and fund raising ceremony held recently with over $84,000 realized.
President of the Urhobo Progressive Union,(UPU), Ovie M. Okpodu said, at the Hyatt Regency McCormick in Chicago, venue of the event, that the cultural center will boast of a museum to exhibit the culture, arts, music, education, artifacts, politics and the heritage of Urhobo natives and kingdoms.

According to Okpodu, ‘the center will serve as a venue to learn about the Urhobo common heritage and a huge tourist destination for Nigerians, Americans, Asians and Europeans.”
Urhobo leaders who graced the occasion called on Chicago and the state of Illinois to extend a sister state status to Urhoboland in order to enrich the cosmopolitan nature of the third largest city in America.

“Culture is the new identity of today. People go to China or Bahamas to know what they are made off. Tourists will one day come to Chicago to learn more about Nigeria and the Urhobo culture,’ said Professor Pender Gbenedio, a leading Urhobo scholar in the US.

Okpodu called on Mayor Richard Daley and Democratic candidate for Cook County in the upcoming November election, Alderman Tony Preckwinckle to assist UPU in completing the project. He also sought the cooperation of all Urhobos across Chicagoland to rally behind the project and other programs of the Union instead of feuding over ephemeral issues.
Responding, Alderman Preckwincle praised UPU for citing the project in Chicago and promised to participate in the fund raising to ensure early completion of the project adding, “it is critical for the soul and cultural identity of a city.”

Preckwincle said the center would bridge the gap between the two cultures and extend, “our understanding of Urhoboland.” She described the Cultural Center as first of its kind in the city and was happy that it came from a tribe in Nigeria, the most diverse and populous nation in Africa.

Earlier, Mayor Daley who was represented by Dana Starks, Chairman of the Commission on Human Relations had welcomed them to the city and urged the guests to enjoy the city’s cultural institutions, shoreline and exciting nightlife.

Leader of the Urhobo Political Forum, (UPF) worldwide, Chief Ighoyota Amori (JP) linked the aspiration of showcasing Urhobo ways of life to David in the Bible and urged the Urhobos to pursue the aspirations doggedly by completing the project and make it a house of the Lord.
Other dignitaries at the occasion include Urhobo folktale hero and the first to earn a Doctoral degree (PhD) in Urhobo literature, Dr. G.G. Darrah, who along with other scholars of Urhoboland promised to spearhead a team of experts to draw up the content and curriculum of the Center.
The multi-purpose complex will have a 400-guest banquet hall, office space, retail stores, library and a senior transitional accommodation.

Brigadier-General Dominic Oneya (retired) patron of the Chicago chapter,urged the organization to be accountable to themselves, the state of Illinois and the city of Chicago that gave them a piece of land to build the center.


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