Friday, 21 December 2012

How Obi, Ofala anniversaries thickened cultural cloud in Onitsha

Aside the 10th year anniversary of Ofala Festival held on October 5, in Onitsha, Southeast Nigeria, the people’s passion and cultural energy lifted the festival beyond expectation.   

The reason for the uncommon elation of the people was understandably of a double celebration: the monarch, Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Alfred Nna Emeka Achebe also celebrated his 10th year anniversary on the throne.
Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Alfred Nna Emeka Achebe dancing with his chiefs during the Ofala Festival and the monarch's 10th coronation anniversary.
The Ofala festival is a yearly event aimed at allowing the Obi to publicly engage his people in a dance of life and celebration. The festival involved hundreds of men, women and youths – attired in beautiful traditional and ceremonial costumes – dancing to the pulsating beat of traditional drummers, instrumentalists and singers, which heralds the celebration with the NdiIchie (high Chiefs and the Obi).

The Ofala Festival 2012 unfolded in the traditional grounds of the Obi’s palace with the people witnessing the majestic entrance of the monarch adorned in his royal regalia and decorated crown (okpu ododo), accompanied by traditional trumpeters who eulogized to announce his arrival.

The whole ceremony was enhanced by the red-cap Chiefs (Ndiichie), colourfully dressed in their various traditional attires as well as symbols of their respective villages. They were accompanied by music and dance as they stepped out one after the other to honour and pay homage to the Obi.

The festival, which is one of the most surviving traditional ceremonies of the Onitsha people and the Igbo race, is organized to mark the climax of the New Yam Festival. The yam festival is an occasion for family re-union and merrymaking, and also a medium for the Obi to meet his subjects.

The Ofala is a ceremony, which every Onitsha indigene, both at home and in Diaspora, eagerly looks forward to every year. It is a homecoming for the sons and daughters of the ancient city who use the opportunity to evaluate and contribute to the development of the city by taking appraisal of the previous year for the purpose of projecting into the future. In his address at the occasion, the Obi of Onitsha, urged government to map out strategies to prevent future flood disasters in the country. He commiserated with victims of last flood disasters that ravaged some parts of the country, including Anambra State. The monarch commended the Governor of Anambra State,  Peter Obi for his efforts in evacuating and rehabilitating the flood victims.

The Deputy Speaker, House of Representatives, Hon Emeka Ihedioha, assured the people that the National Assembly would appropriate funds for the development of the town in the 2013 budget .

The event was sponsored by GLO and Diamond Bank plc. The festival closed with the Igwe and his Chiefs giving thanks to God in a church service at St. Mary Catholic Church, Onitsha.

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