Aloysius Attah, Onitsha
The people of Awka-Etiti, Idemili South Local Government Area, Anambra State, crossed over to the new year in a celebration mood, amid the second Ofala festival of their traditional ruler, Igwe Michael Chiedozie Ezeudenna, Okagbado, the Obi of Awka-Etiti.
The Ofala celebration was a unique one in many aspects; the community took stock of its achievements within the short space of the Igwe’s coronation and they were very happy that his reign has brought peace, prosperity and progress to them.
Secondly, some distinguished personalities from the community were inducted as Ichies and chiefs. The inductees came prepared to the palace and they all added glamour, royalty and panache to the festival.
The traditional 21-gun salute boomed as early as 6am, heralding the Ofala, followed by the traditional ushie music.
With the sun shining brightly and the palace wearing a colourful look, Igwe Okagbado began the day in his palace with the important function of breaking of kolanuts.
He prayed for his subjects, the ndichies and various families. He asked God for more wisdom and strength on the state governor, Chief Willie Obiano, as well as the general wellbeing of the people of the community, Anambra State and Nigeria at large.
At noon, the Igwe, his wife and the royal cabinet were in the Ime Obi amid a thunderous ovation and reverence as the ushie drummer continued dishing out melodies while the Igwe and his cabinet danced in measured steps to the arena.
Presenting the Ofala address, the Owelle of Awka-Etiti, Inno Anoliefo, described Ofala festival in Igboland as a celebration of thanksgiving, during which a monarch communes with his subjects.
He expressed appreciation to Awka-Etiti people for supporting Igwe Ezeudenna, the council of Ichies, and council of chiefs for their loyalty, and extolled Awka-Etiti Improvement Union for their cooperation in various matters.
The Owelle, who lauded the Nze na Ozo Awka-Etiti for religiously upholding their traditional tenets that would help in cultural sustenance, stressed the need for the Igbo to embrace their rich cultural heritage.
Paying tribute to the monarch, he said: “Two years ago, one had the occasion to asseverate that Okagbado, since ascending the throne, has brought exceptional intelligence and enlightenment to the affairs of the potentate.
“Okagbado is accessible to all, 24 hours a day, and gravely eschews procrastination. He has confounding patience and listening ears, plus a decoding wisdom. It is with these weapons that thorny and intractable issues are dismantled daily at the palace and profound peace and tranquillity reigns in the land.”
He named one of the Igwe’s visions for the community as the N140 million stadium complex, with 7,000 sitting capacity, adding that discussions to acquire adjourning parcel of land to expand the overall space of the complex were ongoing. He disclosed that the community youth development centre has been completed too.
Anoliefo expressed appreciation to Governor Obiano for awarding the contract for the reconstruction of St. Joseph Secondary School Road, Awka-Etiti, but regretted that work was yet to commence on the project one year after. He advised that the contractor should be mobilized to site before the rainy season sets in.
One of the traditional rulers that attended the Ofala, Igwe George Okaa-Onwuogu of Nawgu community, also extolled Igwe Okagbado’s virtues and his useful contributions during the meetings of the traditional rulers’ council in the state. He urged the community to continue in their line of support to the traditional ruler for the benefit of all.
Ikenga Awka-Etiti, Chief Jasper Okpalafuluaku, described the second Ofala as an improvement on the maiden edition, stressing that the presence of those that mattered at the ceremony gave credence to the fact that the Igwe enjoyed enormous support of his people.
Also, former commissioner for information in the state, Chief Joe-Martins Uzodike (Dikeudo Awka-Etiti), described the Igwe as a team player who has brought his wealth of knowledge and personal experience as a retired director in the public service to bear on the community.
Highlights of the occasion, were the award of certificates to new Ichies and Chiefs, display of different masquerades and other cultural dances.
As expected, the Council of Chiefs, Ichies, women’s wing, the seven quarters of Awka-Etiti, town union branches and various groups and individuals all paid homage to the Igwe until his final outing and retirement in the evening.