How Onit­sha cel­e­brated this year’s Ofala

Sunday Trust - - NEWS ROYALE - From Jude Aguguo Owua­manam, Awka

This year’s Ofala Fes­ti­val of the Onit­sha peo­ple was full of spendour.

It was pomp mixed with rich dis­play of cul­ture as Onit­sha peo­ple in Anam­bra State cel­e­brated the an­nual Ofala fes­ti­val. It was in­deed a his­toric home-com­ing for in­di­genes of the com­mer­cial city akin to Christ­mas fes­tiv­i­ties.

The Ofala fes­ti­val, orig­i­nally cel­e­brated by Onit­sha in­di­genes, is now be­ing held by other neigh­bour­ing com­mu­ni­ties like Nnewi and Ukpo. In fact, in some places it is called Ikeji, es­pe­cially in Imo and Abia states where it is cel­e­brated as New Yam Fes­ti­val or the be­gin­ning of the plant­ing sea­son. Mbaise calls it Iriji, Nnewi, Afia Olu, Arochukwu, Ikeji and Ow­erri, Oru-Ow­erri among oth­ers. The fes­ti­val is the cel­e­bra­tion of life, love and one­ness among the peo­ple of the com­mu­nity.

How­ever, this year’s Ofala, which was the 17th in the se­ries, kicked off on Septem­ber 29 at the Ime Obi, Onit­sha with the Oraeze In­ter­na­tional Arts Ex­hi­bi­tion at­tract­ing over 100 artistes from Nige­ria and the Di­as­pora.

The fes­ti­val also fea­tured a youth car­ni­val and age-grade com­pe­ti­tions, the Ofala and Azu Ofala fes­ti­vals.

The cer­e­mony proper was held at the Ime Obi (In­ner Court) of the pala­tial palace of Obi of Onit­sha, Igwe Nnae­meka Al­fred Achebe.

It said that in Anam­bra, there are two types of Ofala-the an­nual cer­e­mony, at­tract­ing friends from other com­mu­ni­ties. In this fes­ti­val, the monarch usu­ally takes stock of his ac­tiv­i­ties within the year while the sec­ond usu­ally takes place at the death of the king.

This year, the Igwe, apart from cel­e­brat­ing the rich cul­tural her­itage of his peo­ple, also used the oc­ca­sion to thank his an­ces­tors for giv­ing them long lives and to launch com­mu­nity de­vel­op­ment pro­grammes.

On the day of the Ofala proper, in­side the Igwe’s palace, men and women of var­i­ous ages, dance to the beat of tra­di­tional drum­mers. The cli­max of the fes­ti­val was the Igwe’s grand en­trance in royal re­galia with adorned with crown and beads danc­ing in the process. He was led into the arena ac­com­pa­nied by his queen and tra­di­tional trum­peters. This royal dance is usu­ally the high­light of the Ofala fes­ti­val. He was fol­lowed by the red-capped chiefs in their splen­did re­galia, each ar­riv­ing in­de­pen­dently and ac­com­pa­nied by their com­mu­nity drum­mer. The chiefs then pro­ceeded to the Igwe’s seat in or­der of se­nior­ity pay­ing ho­mage to the roy­alty. The beat also changes in ac­cor­dance with their re­spec­tive ti­tles and po­si­tions.

How­ever, the Obi, in his speech, lamented the de­cay in so­cial val­ues fu­elled by unem­ploy­ment among the youths which has led to in­creased cor­rup­tion, cultism, drug ad­dic­tion, armed rob­bery and called for ur­gent mea­sures to curb this malaise.

Anam­bra State Gov­er­nor, Wil­lie Obiano con­grat­u­lated Igwe Achebe and Onit­sha peo­ple for up­hold­ing the tra­di­tion of their fore­fa­thers and for the dis­play of their rich cul­tural her­itage.

He com­mended Igwe Achebe for his ded­i­ca­tion to the up­hold­ing of the peo­ple cul­tural her­itage and sus­tained de­vel­op­ment of hu­man re­sources in his do­main, es­pe­cially the youth.

A monarch, the Omorula of Ondo King­dom, Oba Vic­tor Adei­bok­ilade, was full of praises for Onit­sha peo­ple and ex­pressed his de­light to be part of the cel­e­bra­tions. He was also full of praises for Igwe Achebe for turn­ing the fi­esta into a global fes­ti­val.

The Ofala fes­ti­val was rounded off on Oc­to­ber 8 with a royal ban­quet in hon­our of Igwe Achebe.

In­ter­net

A pro­ces­sion PHO­TOS:

A sec­tion of tra­di­tional ti­tle hold­ers

Igwe Achebe

Women group at the fes­ti­val

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