Paul Osuyi, Asaba
ISSELE-UKU Kingdom in Aniocha North Local Government Area of Delta State has unveiled plans for the 2019 annual Ine Aho festival.
The kingdom said this year’s edition of the traditional festival would be unique and exceptional in terms of various activities of traditional, spiritual and social significance to the people.
Monarch of Issele-Uku Kingdom, Agbogidi Obi Nduka, while unveiling the plans for the Ine Aho festival at a meeting of Oligbo Consultative Forum, gave the date of the event as Saturday, September 14.
Obi Nduka stated that Ine Aho festival was the period of the year when the community showcased its rich traditional and cultural heritage, peace and unity, love and hospitality.
He explained that Ine Aho, apart from celebrating God’s goodness with bountiful harvest (new yam), was also a time to celebrate the essence and joy of the unique people of Issele-Uku (Ine Onyimi), annually, addin, “wadi agba aho ayali aho.”
Daily Sun learnt that as a prelude to the Ine Aho festival, various traditional rites officially started on August 19, with Ilo-Ifede Unyagbie, followed by Izu Afiachi on August 23; Ilo-Chi Eziogwa on August 26; Iwaji Umuaka on August 27; and Ilo-Chi Ikpala on August 28.
Other activities heralding the festival include Ilo-Chi Ikolo on September 1; Ite Umatu on September 2; Iwaji Ikolo on September 3; Igbu Awai on September 4; Mgba Ututu on September 6; Ibu Odu Ukwu, September 7; and Iba Nzu on September 9.
“The Ine Aho festival itself will take place on September 14, a day to showcase our rich culture with the Onotu chiefs displaying the stuff they are made of as they and their villages will dance to the Oligbo Royal Palace for a traditional handshake with Agbogidi Nduka.
“After the Ine follows Iwaji Obi on September 18, Ihu Onicha, where the Idime chiefs (palace chiefs) will pay their own homage to the Obi, while receiving the blessing of a handshake (Inaka) will take place on September 20. The traditional year will officially end with the Eke Obor on September 22 and Eke Mmo on September 26,” a palace source disclosed.
An indigene of the town, Solomon Ojei, told Daily Sun that Agbogidi Nduka has introduced unique cultural events to hold after the Ine festival to inculcate a bit of modern glamour.
“This one will involve both Issele-Uku indigenes and non-indigenes in dancing and singing competitions, including a beauty pageant to produce Miss Issele-Uku (Ada Issele-Uku).
“Issele-Uku has nine villages and so the dance competition will be segmented into three villages each per day. The emerging winners will now participate at the grand finale, which will hold on September 19 with panel of judges from the Organization for the Advancement of Anioma Culture (OFAAC).
“During the cultural festival, the winner of the Ada Issele-Uku pageant will be unveiled, while non-indigene communities will be given opportunities to pay homage to the Obi and also participate in the dance.
“More so, as a way of empowering our people, there will be raffle draws where persons with winning tickets will go home with motorcycle and sewing machine,” Ojei said.
Meanwhile, Agbogidi Nduka has warned against any form of civil disturbance or violence throughout the Ine Aho festival, appealing to parents to advise their children against running foul of the security rule for the period of activities.
He affirmed that ‘Ine Aho’ means festival of joy (Ine Onyimi), which affords Issele-Uku people the platform to express their appreciation to God for a productive year, at the same time celebrating the joy and essence of culture.
The monarch posited that security would be beefed up to forestal any form of lawlessness. He, however, appealed for peace and friendly celebrations during the festival.