Emmanuel Ezikanyi is now a household name in both Igbo land and students of Igbo history. After his invention of modern Igbo calendar, which received a national acceptance, he has become a much talked about as far as Igbo culture is concerned.
WITHIN NIGERIA had a hearty chat with him as he bares his soul on his invention and other issues.
In the beginning
My name is Mazi, Ezikeanyi Emmanuel from Aku Diewa in Igbo-Etiti LGA of Enugu State. I love my people the Igbos and her culture and tradition. I am the inventor of modern Igbo calendar and dating system first in history of Igbo land and I have started to create communities calendar and dating system for them which I started with Nsukka Asadu community.
I studied Adult Education and Administration in University of Nigeria, Nsukka and now I am facing my research on igbo culture and tradition which I started with calendar and dating system of Igbos.
Why I invented the Igbo Calendar
I invented Igbo calendar and dating system because of my finding. I noted that what is being thought in schools at all levels about Igbo calendar system has nothing to do with Igbo calendar system. I mean the 28 days in a month and 13 months in a year has nothing to do with Igbo calendar system of the year and also the need to let Igbos to know that Eke, Orie, Afọ and Nkwọ is not a calendar of the year, but week calendar just like the English week calendar of Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and so on.
I also invented this calendar to help communities in Igbo land resolve the issues of miscalculation of Igbo traditional calendar which is creating a lot of problems among the traditionalists. For instance, in 2021 and 2022 it created division among the traditionalists of Aku Diewa and Opi people respectively. This work creates alternative dating system for Igbo people, thereby helping them to use their traditional calendar system in writing dates of events and activities. It restores and reform our culture and tradition so as to fit in into modern society. It helps women to use our traditional calendar to understand their monthly cycles and also avoid unwanted pregnancy. It will set a standard calendar and dating system for Igbo communities in general.
Other relevance of the calendar to the Igbo people
It will ensure that Ndigbo have a unifying standard calendar that will regulate their cultural events; for instance, the feast of new yam festival that depends on moon in fixing its date of celebration.
As Ndigbo, we should stop the use of civil calendar in place of Igbo traditional calendar. Today, our people use civil calendar and attach Eke, Orie, Afor and Nkwo on it and term it Igbo calendar. That is not Igbo calendar at all. Different authors use international fixed calendar with 13 months of 28 days each with addition of one day making it 365 days of solar year as our calendar. This work has addressed this problem of misconception of Igbo traditional calendar. It also shows that Igbo traditional calendar has male and female calendar, the male calendar is based on lunar month which alternate 12 months in a year; sometimes one month is added to balance the year. Each month has 29 or 30 days and female calendar is based on weeks which have 28 difference periodic months; it takes each of this month 14 days to complete one solar year of 365 days,” he explained.
The invention further addresses the problem of Igbo date system of Uka Eke (Sunday Eke), Uka Nkwo, Uka Afor, Uka Orie and so on, used in various periodic meetings or for fixing date by the rural dwellers which always posed challenges to those in urban centres.
This work has provided Igbo date formats that will enable people to use moon and weeks in writing dates and joint date. It also provides formula to convert Igbo date to civil date and civil date to Igbo date; formula to find out when someone was born by using formula to convert date to Igbo native week. For example, with this formula I found out that 1/10/1960 was Eke and Saturday, 15/1/1970, with this we can find out those born on Eke, Orie, Afor or Nkwo day, so that we can maintain our natural and unique name of Nwa Eke( Son of Eke), Nwa Orie, Nwa Afor and Nwa Nkwo.
Finally, every Igbo person should understand and use our traditional calendar all over the world. This work has provided phone APP, titled Modern Igbo Calendar on Google play store, but needed to be updated, to ensure that distance is not a problem. Above all, the calendar is a wonderful instrument for unity and cultural stability. No culture can survive without calendar that regulates its activities. So, for Igbo to exist as a united people, they need their traditional calendar to bring them together as one entity. When my work came into limelight, I was invited by the Director of Institute of African Studies, UNN to defend the invention which I did. I have also presented the work to the entire council of traditional rulers, Enugu North chapter and it received an unprecedented acceptance.
Acceptance of the calendar
The Igbo Modern Calendar has received an unprecedented acceptance by traditional rulers, academics and the general public.
In addition, I want the state Governments of South East to adopt this work in schools so that our children will learn it. Again, I want schools in the region to adopt Igbo calendar reading in the curricula from primary to university level. This will go a long way in enhancing Igbo language and culture.
Challenges in the invention
Regardless, my challenge had been the sponsorship to publish the calendar and update the phone App that is online. I need sponsorship to create the awareness in the media especially radio and television. Since this invention, I have not had any government sponsorship or help in any form.