Jeff Amechi Agbodo, Onitsha
Nando community in Anambra East Local Government Area of Anambra state could win medals in continental magical competitions if what was on display at its recent Onwa Nge festival was anything to go by.
Over the years, the people of the area return en masse in the month of June for their ‘Onwa Nge’ festival known as a season for displaying of all manners of shrines, charms, masquerades and magical prowess by native doctors and herbalists from the community.
Daily Sun gathered that during the festival, all the native doctors in the community are usually dressed in white apparels; they march and dance round the community demonstrating their charms and their efficacies before retiring to their homes to continue with the celebrations.
Each dance troupe took turn to perform in the course of the procession. Daily Sun observed that many of the troupes were led by native doctors. One of the most spectacular performances came from a popular native doctor; Igwe Onyeachonam Ofomba, (Udenegbaona, Alusi Iyi Isiojii Nine) who was the major centre of attraction apparently due to his powers.
The event which also attracted relations, friends and well-wishers of Nando people from far and near was an opportunity for interaction and reunion. Commercial motorcycle operators; vendors of various items especially foods and drinks would wish that the party continued as they made huge profits that day.
Ofomba who spoke on the significance of the festival, said, “It is a yearly festival we have every June. It is a period to welcome new things coming into Nando that include agricultural produce like pears, corns among others.
“During the celebration, we have various masquerades, dance troupes and traditional medicine practitioners like me display our stock in trade, cultural heritage.
“In Nando, two villages (Ezi and Ifite) out of the three villages celebrate Onwa Nge festival. You need to see the masquerades display what stuff they are made of.”
On how he became popular and ended up stealing the show at this year’s Onwa Nge Nando festival, Ofomba disclosed that the artistry runs in his family, having inherited it from his father.
“Traditional medicine practice runs in my family. Presently, my father who is still into the practice, though age is telling on him, was born a native doctor, it is inherited, we did not get or learn it from anybody and whatever medical protection we give you, nobody will harm or kill you unless your hands are not clean.
“My father and I jointly practise it now. From my primary to post-primary school days, I was being disturbed spiritually to leave my education and focus on the traditional medical practice and I had to obey. I was a good artist then and could draw very well,” he stated.
The native doctor whose fame goes even beyond the community boasted that the trade would not die in the near future despite the looming threat of modernity or civilisation because of the ungodly happenings in the body of Christ.
“These days, the church has disappointed God and until the church turns a new leaf, people will continue to believe more in traditional medicine practice because only the truth is being told there and if you go contrary to it, it results in immediate/unpleasant consequence,” Ofomba said.
One of the visitors to the community applauded Nando people for sticking strongly to their culture but urged that those ones that are devilish and harmful should be discontinued.
John Udeze, who attended the festival from Onitsha, said: “I am not from here but some of us came because of what we had heard about the people of this area and their unique festival. However, civilisation has changed many things; so as Christians, it’s important that they uphold those aspects of their culture that are not retrogressive.”