The Igbo people are relatively new arrivals to Western Australia. Igbo people, one of the three major ethnic groups in Nigeria started arriving in Western Australia in the 1980’s, mainly as students and by the 1990’s, more arrived as skilled migrants. However, there wasn’t a steady flow of Igbos into Western Australia until early 2000’s when the mining boom in WA fuelled an influx of new students and migrant workers.
By 2007, spurred by death of a prominent Igbo son in WA, some Igbo elders decided to form a structure to support each other, foster Igbo interests and sustain Igbo cultural heritage. This led to the birth of Igbo Association of Western Australia (IAWA). Incorporated as a legal entity in Australia on December 7, 2009, the subsequent inauguration was attended by the crème de la crème of Western Australian society.
Igbo Association of Western Australia Inc has since its inception made tremendous progress in the areas of promoting Igbo culture, arts and language. Igbo Association of Western Australia aims to build a stronger, more cohesive and inclusive multicultural Western Australia through the organisation of events and festivals such as the New Yam (Iri Ji) festival during which we display our culture (food, dance, music, drama, arts, folklore) for the enjoyment of Western Australian diverse communities.
To help resuscitate the dying language of Igbo people as attested by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), IAWA established an Igbo language school with seed funding from the Office of Multicultural Interests, WA Department of Local Governments and Communities. Effort is also on the way to develop a Centre for Igbo Language Arts and Culture (CILAC) which will become a repertoire of resources for anyone interested in researching Igbo arts, culture and language as well as the citadel of learning for Igbo children now and into the future.
As part of its mandate to foster our language, arts and culture, IAWA has successfully held three new yam festivals (iri ji) which attracted the interest of both Africans and non-African Australians. IAWA is in the process of leading the charge to have a better framework for all Igbo Associations in Australia to network, share ideas and represent the interest of ndi Igbo nationally. Igbo Association of Western Australia has had its challenges, but we remain confident that the days ahead would be much better than the days we have left behind.
To provide a platform for people of Igbo extraction to interact and foster their shared interests; propagate and promote Igbo culture, contribute positively to an inclusive and cohesive multicultural Western Australia through the promotion of cultural engagements, festivals and educational programs targeting both Igbo people and non-Igbo Western Australians, and to serve as a reference point in matters affecting the interests, solidarity and general welfare of Igbo people in Western Australia.
Our vision is to continue to nurture a dynamic, sustainable and inclusive cultural association whose members are not only good stewards of our host nation, but true cultural ambassadors of our ancestral homeland.