Jambo Africa Online’s West African Correspondent, AFOLABI OSHO, interviewed Ambassador Chioma Anyiwo, founder of the Ogene Africa International Initiative who also serves as the Country Representative for the African Tourism Board (ATB)…

Amb Chioma Anyiwo is a graduate of law from Imo State University in Owerri and the Nigerian Law School in Abuja, Nigeria. In 2017 she pioneered Tour Aro, a cultural heritage promotion of her motherland, Arochokwu kingdom, Abia state in Nigeria.

AFOLABI OSHO: Why did you establish the Ogene Africa International Initiative? Anything to do with cultural heritage in Africa if we may ask!

Amb Chioma Anyiwo: Ogene Africa International Initiative is non-governmental organisation with a clear vision to promote, protect and preserve African cultural heritage for tourism development.

 It helps to preserve our heritage sites as well as a platform that provides practical ways to showcase this rich heritage to the world.

When and how did you start this Initiative?

Ogene Africa was actually birthed on 29 September 2020 during that year when COVID-19 was ravaging Africa and the world. I can’t just jump into Ogene Africa International Initiative without saying how my journey started in the tourism sector.

So, let me take you back to how I started Tour Aro-Chukwu in 2017 as a tourism project to advocate for the protection and preservation of the cultural heritage of Arochukwu kingdom in the Abia State of our country through media and tourism promotion. This was inspired by my love for my place, Arochukwu Kingdom, which has a rich tapestry of heritage, tasteful food and good people.  

Anyone who knows Arochukwu Kingdom will know that we have a deeply rooted and rich heritage with amazing culture there.

So, I thought that as they always say “charity begins at home”, I had to plough back home by entering into the tourism sector to promote our assets. 

Therein, I started with the Tour Aro mission where I started taking youth and the people to visit and learn about their heritage. I first discovered some tourist sites in Arochukwu. In fact,I started by discovering the sites and learning about them before I hosted the first Tour Aro programme.

The project started off as a journey of “rediscovering the rare tourism gem in Arochukwu”, with a mission to protect and promote Arochukwu’s heritage and culture through tourism and media. That was how I started my project to go discover those places and discover the abandoned cultural sites.

It was a rediscovery time for me. I believe that for one to say that they have a hold on culture, one has to discover its own, to appreciate, embrace your culture and identity.

So, I embarked on that mission for us all in Arochukwu Kingdom, now it’s an annual tourism event. It’s a way to brand position the Kingdom as the most viable tourism destination.

Ogene Africa International Initiative was created as a platform for me to make this impact in Nigeria, Africa and the world at large. It came as a mission not for Nigeria but the entire Africa.

We are on a mission to put Africa out to the rest of the world, to bring our African heritage sites into the limelight, our culture, people, food have long been downplayed.

Why are you doing the Travel Impact Africa project especially the OgeneAfrica sisters across borders?

One of the projects that Ogene Africa will be embarking upon is the Africa Impact travel.

We started up with a theme Ogene Africa sisters across borders. I want to say that it’s a way to foster entrepreneurship amongst women in Africa.

So, the African impact travel came as a vision to me when I traveled to many African countries. I noticed that people come to their destinations and travel back after enjoying themselves without impacting the indigenous locals.

Now, that’s what Ogene Africa is trying to do with Africa Impact travel. We want to create a synergy between tourists and the locals, encouraging travellers to make positive impacts through education, resources, support and empowering programmes in the communities they visit. Ogene Africa is eager to partner with various organisations, individuals and governments to make a positive impact on Africa and the world at large.