Tuesday, 29 November, 2022

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Utilising Public Relations Strategy To Promote and Project Igbo Cultural Heritage And Identity In Agricultural Practice Agribusiness Manifest


By Sir. Dennis Chukwukelu Ekemezie, PhD, PHF

Protocol
Preamble
I am deeply delighted to be here among lovers of Ndi-Igbo and their cultural heritage. I am particularly glad to associate with the organizers of today’s occasion—the Mmaigbo Empowerment Foundation for packaging this vital programme for our youth. Importantly, I was part of the Guest Speakers during the orientation course for Skill Acquisition Participants some weeks ago. Rewardingly, the participants are graduating today and being empowered to be part of progressive development in Anambra State and Nigeria in general.
Thank you very much, the Leadership of Mmaigbo Empowerment Foundation, for taken the bull by the horn as Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) having the interest of the youth of Anambra State at heart. May God continue to bless and prosper you for doing good at this austra time in our economic and political development of our nations economy.

The topic, Utilising Public Relations Strategy to Promote and Project Igbo Cultural Heritage and Identity Manifest in Agricultural Practice/Production (Agribusiness) was tailored to x-ray the impact of agricultural practice and production to project and promote cultural heritage and identity of Ndi-Igbo.

  1. Conceptualization
    a. Public Relations, and Public Relations Strategy
    In a Laymans view, Public Relations simply means relating with the public. The term public means a collection of people; a group of people. Public Relations is connected/related to. However, Public Relations is not and will not mean marketing, journalism, advertising and propaganda; though they belong to the family of communication industry.
    Infact, the International Public Relations Associations-IPRA) In 1978 defined Public Relations as the art and social science of analyzing trends, predicting their consequences, counseling organization leaders, and implementing planned programmes of action which save both organization and the public interests. The foregoing definition has been widely accepted and adopted by the generality of Public Relations Practitioners’ Associations Worldwide.
    In view of the above universal definition, every Public Relations Programme must start from appraisal of a situation-known as scanning of the environment. This leads to definition of objectives, which are attained by knowing/understanding the Publics that are relevant to the programme. It has been observed that combined use of Mass Media and Public Relations produces wonderful result in service delivery. It is on this angle utilization of Public Relations Strategy as a tool would help to project, and promote Igbo Cultural Heritage and Identity in Agricultural Production which in modern terminology known as “Agribusiness or Agriprenure”-Agricultural Production.
    b. Agricultural Production (Agribusiness-Agriprenure) And Cultural Heritage and Identity of Ndi-Igbo.
    Professor A.I. Afigbo in his erudite book The Ropes of Sand vividly captured the inter-relationship between Ndi Igbo and Agricultural production. The Pre-colonial and Post Colonial Political Economy of the Igbo Nation (Ndi-Igbo) gives ample account of dependency of Ndi-Igbo in Agricultural production as the mainstay of their livelihood. In Pre-Colonial Economy, Agricultural Production in Igboland was seen as being subsistence like in other nation states of Yorubas, Hausawa, Jukuns, Kanueri, Igallas, Tivs etc. Agricultural Production was main stay to produce food for the family and community people with major agricultural products of yam, cassava, cocoyam, plantain, banana and some sustaining economic trees like oil-palm, Bread fruits, Peas, oranges, mangoes, raffia palm etc. These provided needed food and other household materials to various families, kindreds and communities. Like a known Novelist Professor Chinua Achebe, Postolucated in his internationally read Thing Fall Apart a mans strength and wealth were measured by the span of his yam Ban and the number of wives and children in his household.
    In colonial and some part of post colonial era, the invaded colonial masters introduced with emphasis on production of cash crops to earn income and generate revenue (tax) for colonial government under her Imperial Majesty in Great Britain. It is on record that Colonial and some part of post Colonial Economy of Ndi-Igbo ranked among three triangular cash-crop production in amalgamated Nigeria. Ndi-Igbo in the East produced Palm oil, Palm kernel raffia palm known as Palm Produce. The Yorubas in the Western Nigeria produce cocoa, timber and Hausa (Hausawa) in the North produced groundnuts and cotton. There appeared a natural division of labour in economy of large scale production in agricultural products for the colonial masters under the Imperial Trading Company- The Royal Niger Company.
  2. The Inter-Play of Agricultural Production (Agribusiness) Agriprenure And Igbo Cultural Heritage and Identity.
    Ndi-Igbo are known for their dependency on Agriculture as means of living and way of life. Agriculture produces wealth for Ndi-Igbo as it provides food, shelter and satisfy other cultural needs. Hence, Agricultre as a way of life and means for Ndi-Igbo has water-tight but mutual relationship. Such intermingling create favourable synergy for both nature and humanity.
    In historical perspective, Ndi-Igbo have been well known for horticulture and livestock farming which sustain their daily life either as an occupation, vocation or hubby as the case may be. In short agriculture plays dominant role in spiritual life of Ndi-Igbo. The spirituality attached in Igbo culture and tradition compels Igbo Traditional Worshippers to reverence and worship some agricultural materials, products and often make their instruments of worship from agricultural products and materials. Think of the place of Plam fronts in Igbo worship. What of Ogilisi, Ofo, Yam-Ji, Fowl, goats, cows-Efi-Igbo among others, which are critical materials use in Igbo Traditional spirituality and rituals for worship of their respective gods.
    The foregoing has vividly explained the inter-relationship and inter-dependency of Cultural Heritage and Corporate Identity of Ndi-Igbo in Agriculture as well agricultural production. Hence, agriculture is an indispensible occupation, vocation and profession for Onye Igbo. This is manifest in some socio-economic and cultural life of Ndi-Igbo. Think of various festivals, ceremonies, functions in Igbo land including child-birth, funerals, what of the Iwa-Ji-Festival-Ilo-Muo-Afia Olu, Uzo Iyi, and so on and so forth.
  3. Application of Public Relations Strategy (Principles) To Package, Project and Promote Cultural Heritage And Corporate Identity of Ndi-Igbo Manifest In Agricultural Production (Agribusiness-Agriprenure).
    As noted earlier, Public Relations as the top management function, which evaluates public attitudes identifies the policies and procedures of an organization with the public interest and executes a programme of action to earn public understanding and acceptance John Marston (1963). The fundamental purpose of Public Relations Practice is to establish a two-way flow of mutual understanding based on truth, knowledge and full information Jossy Nkwocha (2003).
    Public Relations is now acknowledged as a major tool in achieving social, economic and political goals and objectives of governments, organizations and individuals. Hence, proper application, deployment or utilization of Public Relations Strategy or principles to package, project and promote the Cultural Heritage and Corporate Identity of Ndi-Igbo Manifest in Agricultural Practices/Production would be fruitfully profitable. The Public Relations Strategic-Principles need to achieve the above:- is captured/coined under RACE Research Action Communication Evaluation.
    According to Professor Eward Robinson (1966) Public Relations as an applied social and behavioral science is the function which:
    Measures, evaluates and interprets the attitudes of various relevant publics (stakeholders)
    Assists management in defining objectives for increasing public perception, understanding and acceptance of organizations services, products, plans, policies and personnel.
    Develops, executes and evaluates a programme of action to earn public understanding and acceptance.
    The topic at its introductory analysis exposes some guided strategies (strategic principles) the Public Relations Practice dopts to solve cases, issues which many organizations have seen as insurmountable, these include product-cycle identity branding, community relations, corporate social responsibility, organizational crisis. These are scientific approach as of survey research which are embarked upon before objectives are planned within a time fram-period. Hence would be very useful to Igbo leaders of thought custodians of Igbo culture and tradition to package, project and promote Igbo Cultural Heritage and Corporate Identity in relationship with Agricultural Practices, Agribusiness as an enterprise and agriprenure as a vocation and profesion.
    Conclusion
    Deep insight in our analysis of the place of Public Relations Strategic Principles and Models to be utilized to package, project and promote Cultural Heritage and Corporate Identity of Ndi-Igbo in relationship with Agricultural Production/Practice has exposed us to discover umbilical attachments. Such attachment manifest in the way-of-life of the people as imbedded in the culture, custom and tradition of Ndi-Igbo. Hence, explains the importance of todays ceremony whereby the Mmaigbo Empowerment Foundation is showcasing the first graduates in skill acquisition in all walks of life. The Honouring of some philanthropic personalities are part of Public Relations function to identify with individuals and corporate organization who have helped or assisted the society to develop and transform. On this note I want to thank you for your apt attention and wish you God’s blessings as you care to stay safe, such that when you see something, you say something to help keeping you environment safe.

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