It was jubilation and excitement for people of Umu Aro at home and in the Diaspora on September 22, 2019 as they celebrated Ikeji Arochukwu festival with friends, neighbours and well wishers. It was the day Umu Aro from all walks of life converged on the venue – Amaikpe Square – in great numbers, to participate in the grand finale of Ikeji Arochukwu, and to welcome the traditional New Year.
The ceremony started at about 2pm with the royal entry of the Eze Aro, Eze Ibom Isii, Eze Ezeagwu accompanied by Ndi Eze Ogo and Nzuko Aro exco members. They were led into the arena by the troupe from Arondizuogu. The traditional presentation of kola nuts was observed immediately as the President-General of Nzuko Aro, Mazi George Okoronkwo Ezuma, assisted by the Chair, Nzuko Aro patrons, Professor Okoro Ijoma coordinated the ceremony. Eze Aro representative and the Arianzu, Mazi Oji Kanu Oji in the company of Eze Ibom Isii and Eze Ezeagwu performed the traditional prayers and pouring of libation.
Ezuma expressed gratitude to God for making Umu Aro see another Ikeji and yet another Eke Ekpe. He hailed the efforts of the organizing committee for making sure that this year’s event was better than last year’s. He urged villages to be at their best performances to lift the trophy. He used the opportunity to thank Umu Aro for electing him and his team for a second term and pledged to continue the good work they have started.
Chairman of the occasion, Sir Chikwe Udensi (Ugwu Aro), said Aro has witnessed a high level of development in the last few years because of the unity and peace that the Kingdom enjoys. As the theme goes, “Culture for Development”, he urged Umu Aro from all walks of life to come together to rebuild Arochukwu.
Senator Mao Ohuabunwa said he has always been bothered about Aro affairs and has always answered when called upon. Promising to continue supporting Arochukwu Kingdom to the best of his ability, he noted that even after the election, he was still carrying out projects.
There were the traditional “Iwaji ovuru” (cutting of the new yam) by Ndi Eze and prominent Umu Aro, plus cultural parades by villages. Agbagwu village, Amangwu with Odu Mgbede cultural troupe, Amankwu came with three masquerades from Arondizuogu, Amannagwu stormed the arena with Amarigwe war dance, Amasu, Amoba, Atani came in a different and unique way with a big artistic Enyi (Elephant), the symbol of the village.
People were more stunned when the President-General, Mazi Chekwas Oti, pulled out his head from the open roofed elephant and waved to the cheering crowd. Villages including Obinkita, Ugbo, Amukwa and Asaga, stole the show when they arrived the arena with a crafted tiger and a scintillating performance by the Emmanuel Theatre Academy. Ugwuakuma came with Kokoma, Ibom, Ujari came with Ekpo masquerades, Amuvi and Ugwuavo stormed the arena with a seasonal masquerade called Inyi Agbaoku and Atuejeogu. Isimkpu, Oror and Utughugwu were merely represented.
The top five villages included Asaga, Atani, Amoba, Amangwu and Ibom. As they received their cups and cash prizes, they were advised to do better next year. Asaga village has remained on the number one spot for three consecutive times. The youths took over the arena few moments later with the Arochukwu Got Talent and Face of Ikeji Aro (Mgbede Aro contest) 2019. The judges were Goddy Okoronkwo, Mazi Ogbonnaya Okereke Akumah and Obasi Praise Genesis.
In a fun and party mood, hundreds of youths gathered to watch the show and witness the crowning of the first Mgbede Aro Okeigbo. Dance, comedy, music, rap and drama competition were highlighted at the night show as young people took the opportunity to show their talents.