From Obinna Odogwu, Awka
The people of Enugwu-Ukwu community in Njikoka Local Government Area of Anambra State converged on Obu Umunri recently for this year’s Igu Aro festival.
The venue also hosted guests who came from within and outside the community to be part of the event. The expansive amphitheatre was filled to capacity, even as the surging crowd caused gridlocks on nearby roads.
Some of the eminent figures at the event were the 2019 vice-presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and former governor of the Anambra State, Mr. Peter Obi, represented by Dr. Patrick Obi, and the Catholic Bishop of Awka Diocese, Most Reverend Paulinus Ezeokafor. Also at the event were traditional rulers of Abba, Nimo and Ochuche-Umuodu communities, Igwe Leonard Eze, Igwe Maximus Oliobi, and Igwe Ike Ijoma, as well as Dr. Ramas Asuzu, among other political, religious and community leaders.
Various masquerades in the community took turns to entertain the audience, even as a number of musical groups thrilled the crowd with exciting renditions.
Igu Aro affords the people of Enugwu-Ukwu the opportunity to take stock of the past year and commit the New Year to God in prayers. Each year, during the festival, the people pray for the year’s farming season, hoping that it would yield a bountiful harvest.
For the people of the community, this year’s Igu Aro was symbolic, as their ruler, Igwe Ralph Ekpeh, marked 11 years on the throne. It was also the 10th Igu Aro the monarch was celebrating.
Some members of the community who had contributed in different ways to the development of the town were honoured at the event.
As soon as the monarch stepped into the arena with his cabinet, shouts of “Igwe,” rent the air. He was ushered into the arena with Igba Eze dance beat, even as he also danced to the beat of Ufie traditional music.
While performing the traditional function of “iwa Oji”, Igwe Ekpeh thanked God for protecting the community and its inhabitants in the past year. He also thanked God for the bountiful harvests recorded in the past year and prayed for more blessings in the New Year.
“In other places like the academics, we have an unprecedented soaring as our people occupy professional chairs in nearly every university in Nigeria. This did not deny us places in medical and legal fields and in corporate organisations.
“Recently, we had one of our sons made an ambassador. He is Igbakigba. This is the first governmental ambassador Enugwu-Ukwu produced. The above is to give us insight into the Almighty’s benevolence to our people and what all of us collectively achieved these past 10 years,” he said.
Igwe Ekpeh described the festival as the biggest cultural event in the community, calling for joint efforts in showcasing more Igbo cultural events and festivals to the global community.
President-general of the community, Bonny Ozo Nkwuaku, did not hide his excitement about the festival. He thanked God for his mercies on the community even as he prayed for more blessings in the town.
His counterpart in Enugwu-Agidi community, Dr. Chidi Okoye, said that Igu Aro remained a unifying factor for Umunri clan, which comprised Enugwu-Ukwu, Agukwu Nri, Nawfia and Enugwu-Agidi communities. He prayed that God would sustain the unity and enrich Igwe Ekpeh with wisdom to continue to lead Umunri aright.
Meanwhile, there was conferment of chieftaincy titles and awards of recognition for some deserving people who had contributed in different ways to the development of the community.