From Jeff Amechi Agbodo, Onitsha
The Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism Lai Mohammed has said that the ministry will upgrade to national festival the ‘Ito Ogbo’ longevity festival of Obosi in Idemili North local government area of Anambra State.
Mohammed said that the ministry would also initiate the process of getting festival enlisted into the UNESCO list of intangible cultural heritage.
The Minister who disclosed this during the festival at the weekend commended the Obosi kingdom for the age long festival that celebrates the elderly and honours octogenarians in the community.
Mohammed who was represented at the festival by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry Dr. Mrs. Ifeoma Anyanwutaku said the present ad ministry was determined to diversify the nation’s economy and more importantly making cultural and tourism an alternative to oil as a source of revenue to the country.
“Over the years, Ito Ogbo Obosi festival has been used to facilitate, develop and harness the cultural and tourism potentials of not only Obosi kingdom and Anambra state but Nigeria in general. I thank Eze Obosi, Igwe Chidubem Iweka and others for putting in place structures that have led to the sustenance and development of the age long festival. There is no doubt that this festival has impacted hugely on the health and quality of lives of people of Obosi and its environs.
“Ito Ogbo Obosi is a unique and uncommon festival that celebrates and encourages longevity whereby our indigenous Obosi senior citizens both male and female who are 80 years old and above are inducted, capped and officially received into the prestigious octogenarians age grade.
“This festival is peculiar to Obosi kingdom and it dates back to over four hundred years. We are aware that some neighbouring communities have started to emulate this noble festival. We are encouraging other communities to emulate and copy this festival.
“Over the years, the ministry of information and culture has conducted researchers, identified, documented, developed and upgraded several local and state festivals to national and international festivals and has also facilitated the enlistment of some of these festivals into the UNESCO list of Intangible Cultural Heritage.
“Hopefully, the ministry and the Obosi Kingdom will partner and collaborate together to ensure that this all important cultural festival does not go into extinction. We will work hard to ensure that it is upgraded to a national festival” the minister stated.
The colourful event attracted people from all walks of life where over 130 octogenarians were inducted into the Ito Ogbo of Igwebuike age grade.