From Anthony Obi
The people of Ezinifite otherwise known as “Obodo-oma” in Nnewi South Local Government Area of Anambra State are set for the maiden Ofala festival celebration of their monarch on Tuesday, January 2, 2018, after many skirmishes that trailed his election.
The new dawn began to show from the constitution of the Igwe Samuel Obika, Ezeoha II of Ezinifite maiden Ofala festival planning committee which was all-inclusive, with Chief Fabian Ifediniru, president, Ifite Improvement Union (IIU) as chairman, Chief Vincent Ojukwu, president, Awor Ezimuzor Progressive Union (APU) as secretary and Chief Clement Ezeobi, president, Umudiana Solidarity Union (USU) as treasurer.
Every native of Ezinifite looks up to the Igwe Ezeoha II Ofala celebration that would have Governor Willie Obiano as chief guest of honour. This would give the community opportunity of being among the early communities, if not the first to host the governor on his second term victory.
Dr. Lizi Ben-Iheanacho, Director (Research & Documentation), National Council for Arts & Culture is the special guest of honour, while Rita Maduagwu, Speaker, state House of Assembly and Greg Obi, Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, are guests of honour.
Igwe Alfred Nnaemeka Achebe, Agbogidi, Obi Orizu II, Igwe Nnewi is royal guest of honour. Other members of the state Traditional Rulers Council are royal fathers of the day.
The festival, the first to be celebrated by Igwe Obika, since his coronation on January 2, 2014, also marks his four-year anniversary after the community stayed for five years without a traditional ruler. Therefore, the mass return of the people of Ezinifite is expected.
That became an issue of interest and upon inquiry on the sudden change of attitude by those that originally opposed the candidacy of Igwe Ezeoha II, who now preach unity by allowing peace to prevail and could also be so committed in the arrangement of the Ofala celebration to stand out as a classic event.
The royal father attributed everything to God.
“It’s the Lord’s doing. Who am I under the power of God? I am only here as Ezeoha on trust from my Lord to be in control of the affairs of my people. They own me as I own them (Eze nwe oha, oha nwere Eze). I will be held accountable for how I handle the trust and that is why I have been prayerful at all times and don’t have to-for once-distance myself from the worship of God.
“So, no Eze must consider himself above the subjects because, he is Eze, first and foremost, because God made it possible by directing his people to accept him as their Eze and He (God) alone can make him a successful Eze if he is close to Him. He alone can remove him by directing the same his subjects to remove him if He so wills.”
Ogbuefi Akwudoleze Ray Ifeme, Odogwu-Abii Ezinifite, told Daily Sun that in four years of Ezeoha’s reign, the Lord has been gracious to the people of Ezinifite.
“He has kept the community together in love, peace and unity, despite the initial problems encountered before now that included legal tussle. Let me use this medium in thanking God for Igwe Obika, whose tenacity and courage have kept Ezinifite afloat. It is miraculous how he is able to attain this enviable height side by side with other obligations of private life.
“Indeed, Igwe Obika’s maiden Ofala festival to all and sundry is a celebration of new beginnings. While we celebrate Igwe’s heartwarming/outstanding peace and plenty, confirming the saying that “when the righteous rule, the people prosper”, let us equally continue in fervent prayers for our community. Ezinifite belongs to all of us irrespective of our village of origin or religious inclination. Eze ga di ndu rue mgbe ebighiebi”
Going down memory lane, he declared: “In Igbo oral tradition, the introduction of the all important celebration of Ofala into the socio-cultural life of the people is credited to Obi Ezechima, the first Obi of Onitsha dated back to the 1500AD, from where it spread to the length and breadth of Igboland. It is the annual appearance of the traditional ruler from an enforced isolation from communal enclave to mark the end of the year and the beginning of a new one which is significant in many aspects in the traditional calendar of the Onitsha people and most communities as an epic royal fete that embodies a tribe’s culture and character.
“Apart from Onitsha and few other communities where Ofala is celebrated annually, the celebration of Ofala varies from community to community. In some communities it is celebrated every two or four years. While in other communities it is celebrated once in a while, but whether, yearly or periodically Ofala is always an exciting event when the people celebrate the king’s rites of renewal and their cultural heritage.
“Ofala festival is a homecoming of sorts. The people come from far and wide to participate and pay homage to their monarch. The occasion afforded citizens opportunity to meet old friends, relations’ and showcase their rich cultural heritage. Royal fathers also use the Ofala celebration to confer chieftaincy titles on illustrious sons and daughters of their community, in-laws and friends whose contributions to the development of the town is unquantifiable.
“Essentially too, the final passage rite of a royal father is referred to as the ‘Last Ofala Festival.’ This signals the last celebration on earth; by the affected monarch who joined his ancestors and immediately after the celebration, it allows for the enthronement of a new monarch. To show the importance of the Ofala festivity, the steering committee is headed by men of honour and integrity who are knowledgeable about the culture and tradition of the people, likewise the sub-committee members.”