A welcome Address by Mba Nwakanma, President, Ngwa Progressive Association of Southern California, Inc. (an affiliate of the Ngwa National Association, USA) on the
11th Annual Ngwa National Convention at the Long Beach Convention & Entertainment Center, Long Beach, CA August 31, 2002

The president and national executives, chapter presidents and council representatives, members of NNAUSA, friends of the Ngwa community, distinguished guests, on behalf of the Ngwa Progressive Association of Southern California, (NPASCA) Inc., I welcome you all to the 11th Annual Ngwa National Convention (Los Angeles 2002) here in the City of Long Beach. The road to "Los Angeles 2002" never started easy. We had earlier reported at the last convention, that this convention would be at one of the two hotels in Universal City. However, the complex nature of the world's fifth largest economy, California, accounted for the many changes we have made in our plans for this meeting. I am proud to report to you that our brothers and sisters here in Southern California have proved unfaltering in their resolve to make this event a success. This can be evidenced in their gallantry in securing the Long Beach Convention and Entertainment Center tha! t we can enjoy this weekend.

NPASCA has proudly become a beacon in the comity of NNAUSA chapters and Nigerian organizations in the United States, thanks to the selflessness and patriotism of its members. From rapidly increasing its membership, which has helped it inaugurate major Ngwa-impact programs such as our NPASCA University Scholarships and the Annual Oha Ngwa Lecture Series (AONLeS), to varied responses to calls to assist and encourage efforts directed at advancing the cause of the Ngwas, we have tried to justify our people's time in belonging to this organization. Since the past national convention, NPASCA has awarded twenty university scholarships to deserving Ngwa students in various institutions of higher learning. We have also recognized and immortalized some eminent citizens of our land for their selfless contributions to the community, and most importantly, we have demonstrated that a strong coalition of selfless individuals could be developed to help champion a com! munity development program anywhere in Ngwaland. I cannot say a word about the NPASCA University Scholarships without paying a well-deserved homage to some dynamic personalities outside Los Angeles that have made financial sacrifice towards this cause. I would like to use this opportunity to thank our external sponsors of the NPASCA University Scholarships for Ngwa Students. Please join me in recognizing Chris and Catherine Ugwumadu from Atlanta, Dr. & Mrs Chime Adiele also from Atlanta, and Dr. & Mrs. Paul Ogbonna, from New Jersey, Mr. & Mrs. Udo Ephraim Jacob from Philadelphia, and Mr. & Mrs. Ishmael Nwangwa from Chicago. Let me draw your attention again to the Annual Oha Ngwa Lecture Series (AONLeS) that we have inaugurated this year in Aba. It is clearly intended to become a global annual forum for Ngwas to begin an exchange of ideas and information on issues of Ngwa and world interest. Please permit me to accord a spec! ial recognition to Professor John Oriji for his dedication and foresight in allowing us to use him beyond our ability of gratitude. I encourage our people from every part of the world to rise and make the Annual Oha Ngwa Lecture Series a continuance that it deserves to be.

Our national conventions have become annual rituals and a major outing for our people here in the United States. While I encourage everyone to forget work this weekend so as to relax and enjoy the convention and California, I must not fail to draw your attention to expectable and attainable ideals of our enviable membership in NNAUSA and participation in the national conventions. First, our conventions should offer opportunities for sober reflection on our inability to realize the full potentials of our numerical strength and resources toward redressing the socio-economic predicament that pervade our communities at home and abroad. Since most of you can quickly cite equivalent quotations from the Bible, let me draw from the Koran 13:11 which admonishes "God does not change the condition of the people until they change the condition of their own souls." We must be conscious of those things that are inevitable in our community if we must regain our birth right of dignity and respect in Nigeria. In the spirit of NPASCA, let me challenge each one of you to sincerely reflect on your individual contributions to the advancement of our community. Our people are accustomed to the scandalous inability of folks at home to agree with one another, making it difficult to muster a united front to advance the Ngwa cause. People at home must not take the blame alone. We in the United States have also imported that same discordant conduct! , all in the pretext of advancing our community. The result of the disunity is evident in Ngwaland, if compared with other neighboring communities. It is time for Ngwas in United States to exert enough influence that would mitigate the scope of disunity among our people. The convention is a forum for the exchange of ideas to attain this goal.

I would hope that you will not unpatriotically abandon the convention programs as I inform you of great places that add to the great package for this convention by the Pacific Ocean. The aquarium shares the same premises with the convention, there is the Shore Line Village which provides great eating and drinking spots as well as souvenir stores, the AMC theatre at pine square, the famous Queen Mary (a gigantic, old passenger ship-turned Hotel and Tourist center), and the Belmont Shores on Ocean Boulevard. While we treat ourselves with the exquisite Long Beach environment, let us always think of what we can individually and collectively do to make our own country better.

I would like to thank Dr. Obinna Ubani-Ebere and his outgoing executive team for their tenacity and sacrifice for this organization in the past four years. It would only be proper for them to use their wealth of knowledge and experience to help in-coming NNAUSA administration as we forge ahead to greater heights. To those Ngwa indigenes that believe NNAUSA and collective effort are not their business, let them be reminded that home is too far, and that someone will have to do the job, if any, to salvage the collective psyche of our people here, at home, and around the globe. This convention could not be possible without the great abilities and dedication of our Convention Planning Committee under the dynamic leadership of Mr. Okey Nwachukwu. I salute each member of this committee for their understanding, hard work, and commitment. I also thank the entirety of our membership for all the sacrifice even in face of other activities that our chapter ! is engaged with.

I do hope that the 11th Annual Ngwa National Convention will be memorable for all of you. I also hope that the conventions will continue to strengthen us as a people.

Once again, I welcome you to Los Angeles 2002.

Mba Nwakanma President/CEO, Ngwa Progressive Association of Southern California, Inc.