Umudioka – It was a rich cultural event that reflected an atmosphere of peace, unity and brotherliness as the traditional ruler of Umudioka Community in Dunukofia Local Government Area of Anambra State, Igwe Raphael Chukwurah, Ezedioka II, recently celebrated his first ofala festival.
The colourful ceremony held at the Umudioka Civic Centre, attracted sons and daughters of the town, friends and well wishers, who gathered to merry and thank God for the return of peace in the community.
Ofala festival is an annual kings festival in igbo land, and in Umudioka it is usually a two day event, the first being a cultural singers’ display at the palace of Ezedioka 11 while the second day is called Azu-Ofala, which is the last day, is celebrated at the civic centre square.
Ofala Umudioka, symbolically the anniversary of Ezebo people, when they interact closely and associate freely, with their reigning King, is also a customary survival day of Umudioka people and symbolizes the beginning of umudioka New Year (just like the Christian New Year day).
The Azu Ofala began with different age grades, cultural troupes and chiefs from the 10 villages that make up Umudioka arriving the palace where they wait patiently for the coming out of the king.
Eventually, the Ezedioka of Umudioka, Igwe Chukwurah makes his traditional outings dancing to egwudioka, a royal tune, with his Onowu, after which he inspected his subjects and rejoiced with them.
In his Ofala message, Igwe Chukwurah blessed his subjects and pronounced a prosperous year for them in 2021.
“All over the world we have Dioka indigenes across various spheres of human endeavour who are already making us proud. We pray God to continually guide them in all their efforts. Our children who are the future of Umudioka will prosper in all they do and we will not have any cause to mourn,” he proclaimed.
The royal father described the Ofala festival as an agelong Igbo cultural festival through which progress and unity is fostered in the communities, urging Ndigbo not to allow their culture and traditions to go into extinction.
He expressed appreciation to Anambra State Governor, Chief Willie Obiano for recognizing him as the traditional ruler of the town and pledged to always ensure that peace continues to reign in the community.
A Dioka Cabinet Chief and Chairman of the 2020 Ofala Festival Planning Committee, Barrister Chukwunweike Maduekwe, Ide Isinmili, pointed out that prior to the enthronement of the traditional ruler, peace had eluded the town for more than fifteen years.
“You can see, the people are happy. We’ve not celebrated any Ofala in the last twenty years because of internal issues. Today, the people gathered once again here to celebrate and thank God for the life, prosperity of the people and peace that has returned to our dear town.
“I’m happy and I thank God for using the Governor, Chief Willie Obiano to restore peace in our community,” Maduekwe said.
The newly inaugurated President of Chemical Society of Nigeria and a cabinet member, Ide Prof. Moses Ochendo attributed the success of the ofala festival and yuletide celebrations to adequate security that Obiano government provided and commended him for his visionary leadership of the state.
Earlier in his address, the President General of Umudioka Improvement Union, Chief Samuel Odoji thanked Dioka sons and daughters for rallying round the Traditional Ruler whom he described as a peace lover.
Chief Odoji took out time to appreciate the state government for the numerous developmental projects (completed and ongoing) in the town which he said included Umudioka – Umunya road with bridge, Umudioka – Ogbunike roads, civic centre built through the community choose- your-project initiative amongst others.
Some highlights of the occassion were scarification ceremony (igbu ichi), conferment of chieftaincy titles on deserving individuals like Deputy Inspector General of Police, Chief Celestine Okoye, cultural displays, masquerades, among others.