It was a colourful ceremony that celebrated the rich cultural heritage of the Igbo race as the ancient Onitsha kingdom celebrated its 2022 annual Ofala festival.
The Ofala also marked the 20th year Obi Alfred Nnaemeka Achebe, Agbogidi, has sat on the traditional stool of the community as the Obi of Onitsha.
The ceremony featured various cultural displays from the Royal cabinet chiefs, Otu Odu, the Agbalanze, Ikpolo Onitsha as well as the different quarters, age grade groups and dance groups from within and outside Onitsha.
Governor Chukwuma Soludo, top Government functionaries, sons and daughters of Onitsha, friends and we’ll wishers were also present at the Ime Obi, venue of the event.
The event had commenced in earnest with the arrival at the arena, of the Obi of Onitsha from seclusion.
In his Ofala address, Obi Achebe said the Onitsha kingdom remains a viable key to sustenance of the Igbo culture, tradition and values, adding that promoting the people’s culture is a veritable means of returning the people to the path of truth.
Obi Achebe thanked God for a successful Ofala and a successful journey through the last 20 years.
Bemoaning the evil that has befallen the Southeast region, Obi Achebe who sits at the helms of the Southeast Traditional Rulers Council, said Ndigbo must rediscover themselves and uphold values that inhibit so many alien cultures that have crept into their society.
He also advised that the Federal Government be careful to avoid dispositions that breed violence, restiveness and agitations in the region.
“It’s amazing how twenty years have elapsed. It hasn’t been an easy rise. We met so many setbacks but however, we are grateful to God for the remarkable strides Onitsha as a community has achieved.
“In 20 years, we have hosted 5 Governors of Anambra State and 4 presidents of Nigeria who have encouraged and helped us greatly. Several corporate bodies and friends of Onitsha have given their support in this journey.
“It’s all about transformation and re-invention in order to stay afloat in the 21st century through strategic seminars, workshops and conferences. Indigenes in the diaspora are also active participants in this remarkable journey.
“Values reorientation at all strata of our community have been imbibed to lift our people out of poverty but our efforts must be supported with core values.
“I appreciate every unflinching support. Let’s renew our commitment today in the upliftment of our motherland.
“I thank the Ofala planning committee for their amazing work in making this event a remarkable one,” he concluded.
The monarch while reflecting on the essence of the Ofala, prayed for his subjects that God will bless their endeavours, declaring a new year of bounties.
On his part, the State Governor, Prof Soludo called for the upliftment of the rich cultural heritage of Ndi Igbo as the only identity.
The Governor, who attended the event in company of his wife, Mrs. Nonye commended the Onitsha kingdom for its rich cultural heritage, saying the reign of Obi Achebe has brought many positives to the community.
“Onitsha has a rich culture! Agbogidi is the only Traditional Ruler that have two LGAs under his care.
“I thank you Agbogidi for your work in Igboland. You are the Chairman South East Traditional Rulers Council, Anambra Traditional Rulers Council and the Obi of Onitsha.
“It has been 20 years of impactful rulership. I was amazed that you ascended the throne at the age of 61. Even now, you still look young and strong.
“Our culture is our identity. Our identity is who we are. We as Igbos, our culture is diverse. Any wayward member of the society can’t be an Ozo in Onitsha.
“I listened keenly as Agbogidi made a call that we should go back to our culture, re-orientate our values of hard work, persistence and honesty.
“I plead with all traditional rulers to have a harmonious relationship with their elected council and town unions.
“We are Ndi Anambra and one of the safest states in Nigeria. Without safety, this kind of event won’t be happening. People from all walks of life have come to grace this historic occasion.
“Life and darkness will never mix. This is Anambra, light of the nation. Unknown gunmen, criminals and touts should go to other states to ply their trade not in Onitsha and Anambra State.
“I have toured all the roads in Onitsha and must confess that all the roads are bad but we are coming. Solution is here!
“Onitsha will rise again to regain its prominence as the largest prosperous homeland in the Southeast,” he said.
Governor Soludo thereafter wished the Monarch extra 70 years of life on earth.