How Arochukwu cel­e­brated Ikeji fes­ti­val

Weekly Trust - - News - Tony Adibe, Enugu HRM Eze Aro, Mazi Og­bon­naya Okoro)

The tra­di­tional ruler of Arochukwu King­dom in Arochukwu Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Area of Abia State, Eze Aro, Mazi Og­bon­naya Okoro, on Sun­day, Septem­ber 23, 2018 led other tra­di­tional rulers of the 19 vil­lages that make up Arochukwu and in­deed the en­tire com­mu­nity in a solemn pro­ces­sion into Amaikpe, the ancestral square where Aros as­sem­ble for ma­jor events to cel­e­brate Ekekpe, the high­est ac­tiv­ity of its three-week long new yam fes­ti­val.

Oth­ers who joined in the pro­ces­sion in­cluded the Pres­i­dent-Gen­eral, Nzuko Arochukwu World-wide, Mazi Ge­orge Oko­ronkwo Ezumah and his exco and sev­eral prom­i­nent sons and daugh­ters of the an­cient king­dom, in­clud­ing the kit and kin from Arochukwu in di­as­pora.

A state­ment from the chair­man, ‘2018 Ikeji Or­ga­niz­ing Com­mit­tee’, Dr. Azu­bike Okoro, said Ikeji fes­ti­val is cel­e­brated an­nu­ally to mark the end of the year.

Okoro said: “It started about 912 AD in Arochukwu, the ancestral abode of Arochukwu peo­ple world­wide. It is ob­served in over 350 Arochukwu com­mu­ni­ties, in­clud­ing those re­sid­ing over­seas, cul­mi­nat­ing in the grand fi­nale in the ancestral home, Arochukwu, Abia State, Nige­ria. The Aro monarch re­leases the cal­en­dar fol­low­ing the indige­nous lu­nar cal­en­dar that of­ten co­in­cides with the month of Septem­ber, but at times spills to Oc­to­ber.

“This year’s fes­ti­val started on Wed­nes­day Septem­ber 5. Ekekpe is the cli­max of the fes­ti­val. It is a sea­son ded­i­cated to show­cas­ing Aro’s rich cul­tural her­itage, re­new­ing of an­cient covenant that unite Arochukwu king­dom and thanks­giv­ing to God for a suc­cess­ful year.”

Prom­i­nent per­son­al­i­ties from all walks of life, in­clud­ing lo­cal and for­eign tourists, would par­tic­i­pated in this year’s fes­ti­val.

Okoro fur­ther ex­plained that the cur­rent lead­er­ship of Nzuko Arochukwu which came into of­fice two years ago re­branded the Ikeji fes­ti­val to a very en­vi­able sta­tus, and at­tracted MTN Nige­ria and Nige­rian Brew­eries among many other cor­po­rate and in­di­vid­ual spon­sors to brand it.

“This third edi­tion shall build on the suc­cesses achieved in the last two years, and es­pe­cially serve as a home-com­ing event amongst umuaro (chil­dren of Arochukwu) in var­i­ous places. The an­nual cul­tural fes­ti­val presents a unique op­por­tu­nity to cel­e­brate Arochukwu tra­di­tion and cul­ture in its pure and orig­i­nal form. It is also a plat­form for in­fi­nite en­ter­tain­ment, com­merce and tourism as it fea­tures huge home­com­ing, rare mas­quer­ades, tra­di­tional dances, cul­tural dis­plays and so much more. Arochukwu in­di­genes who may not make it home, es­pe­cially those over­seas, watch the events on­line,” Okoro said.

Ac­tiv­i­ties mark­ing the event com­menced at 10.00am prompt with di­verse cul­tural troupes that com­peted for hon­ors, as the pop­u­lar EkpeArochukwu as usual, graced the oc­ca­sion and ush­ered in roy­alty to the arena.

In line with the peo­ples’ re­solve to use cul­ture to ce­ment good neigh­bor­li­ness, there were ap­pear­ances at the arena by troupes from some of their im­me­di­ate com­mu­ni­ties.

Amaikpesquare was closed to ve­hic­u­lar traf­fic from 8am to 7pm and all cit­i­zens, in­clud­ing VIPs, were ad­vised to use al­ter­nate routes cre­ated for the pur­pose.

This year’s event, aside from ex­pand­ing the com­mer­cial fron­tiers which present big­ger op­por­tu­ni­ties for busi­nesses also fea­tured other sig­nif­i­cant in­no­va­tions. For ex­am­ple, there is a new theme, “Ike­jiArochukwu: Cul­ture for De­vel­op­ment”, which pro­vides fo­cus for all ac­tiv­i­ties thereby di­rect­ing the com­mu­nity’s thoughts and en­er­gies to­wards what will pro­pel or trig­ger col­lec­tive sur­vival and growth.

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