By Ikenna Nwokedi
It was a beehive of cultural activities as the traditional ruler of Akwaeze Community in Anaocha Local Government Area (LGA) of Anambra State, His Royal Majesty Igwe Christopher Ndubuisi Okpala (Ezennebo III of Akwaeze) on Sunday, 31st December 2023 performed his third Ofala festival.
The colourful Ofala festival held at the Palace of Igwe Okpala brought together sons and daughters of the community including other traditional rulers, political office holders, friends and well-wishers from neighbouring communities and beyond.
Special Chieftaincy conferment and awards were bestowed on three personalities such as H.E. Senator Chris Nwabueze Ngige, as ‘Ochendo Akwaeze’, Chief Mike Agbasi as ‘Chinwatakweaku Akwaeze’ and Chief Sir Eugene Chuba Ilo, as ‘Enyiwaluzo Akwaeze’.
During the Ofala festival, Igwe Okpala in company of his wife, Ndi Ichie, Nze na Ozo and other Chiefs dressed in royal robes, performed the Igbaeze dance round the Ofala arena exchanging pleasantries to the admiration of the guests. The dance was followed by Kolanut rituals as Igwe Okpala prayed for God’s blessings on the land of Akwaeze for bountiful harvest, long life upon Akwaeze sons and daughters as well as good health and prosperity.
In his address, Igwe Okpala stated that the third Ofala festival provided Akwaeze Community with the opportunity to celebrate their unity and love, display their rich cultural heritage in all its splendor and also serves as an opportunity for the monarch to address the entire community both home and abroad.
Igwe Okpala thanked all who graced the occasion for honouring his invitation and being part of the third Ofala festival. He emphasized that this year’s edition is unique as it is happening on the last day of the year which promises to usher in a promising and productive 2024 year.
In his remarks, a member of the Akwaeze Traditional Council and Business Mogul, High Chief Sir Dr. Ikenna Okafor, KSS, prayed for long life and prosperity on Igwe Okpala describing him as a goal getter, a unifier and peace maker. The Ide of Akwaeze harped on the essence of promotion of the cultural values and norms which is the identity of the Igbos as it is essential for unity, growth and development of one of the major tribes in Nigeria.
Responding also, the new President-General of the town, Osita Udemba said since inception as traditional ruler, Igwe Okpala has brought total transformation, mordenized their culture and place high premium in helping the needy and down trodden as well as ensuring strengthening the bond and relationship between them and neighbouring communities. He said Akwaeze is a community that is progressive minded as seen with the innovations by her sons and daughters towards the growth and development of the community, state and nation at large.
On his part, the Chairman of the 2023 Ofala Festival Committee, High Chief Eugene Chuba Ilo stated that the Ofala festival was a way of showing appreciation to God for what he has done for the people of Akwaeze and as well to display their rich tradition and cultural heritage to other communities and tribes, he called on Ndi Akwaeze to continue with their support for Igwe Okpala who is utilizing his wealth of resources and knowledge to reposition the community thereby paving way for progress and development in the community.
Also speaking, Chairman of Ugwumba Age Grade, Comrade Maduka Okoye expressed his delight to witness the 2023 Ofala festival of Akwaeze. He congratulated Igwe Okpala for the festival which has shown the rich cultural values and traditions of Akwaeze while praying God to continue to strengthen the monarch by giving him long life and good health in his quest to transform the fortunes of Akwaeze Community.
Highpoints of the occasion was paying of homages and appreciations to Igwe Okpala by all age grades, Chieftaincy title holders, guests and well wishers. There were also masquerade displays, traditional dances and Ufie dance by the newly decorated Chiefs joined by the old ones.
A retinue of traditional rulers in the state led by their Chairman, Igwe Nnaemeka Alfred Achebe (Obi of Onitsha) was on ground to felicitate and celebrate with Ezennebo III of Akwaeze.