By Mike Nnamah
The people of Amawbia in Awka South Local Government Area, Saturday, 5th January, 2019, rolled out the drums to perform the last Ofala ceremony for their traditional ruler, HRM Igwe Michael Ositadinma Okoye.
The events marking the ceremony commenced with a non-denominational service on Wednesday, 2nd January, 2019, culminating in the last Ofala proper on Saturday, 5th January, 2019.
The ceremony attracted government functionaries, politicians, businessmen and traditional rulers from far and within. They included the Governor of Anambra State, Chief Willie Obiano, represented by his Deputy, Dr. Nkem Okeke, who praised Amawbia people for organising a befitting last Ofala for their traditional ruler.
He urged them to take time to select another Igwe who would replace him.
In the same vein, all the traditional rulers that graced the occasion thanked Amawbia people for performing last Ofala for their Igwe whom they variously described as a good traditional ruler.
They advised Amawbia people to be very diligent in selecting a replacement and prayed for God's blessings and guidance during the election of a new traditional ruler for the community.
Igwe Michael Ositadinma Okoye, Okpaligwe I of Amawbia, was the first traditional ruler of Amawbia, who was on the throne for forty-two years and joined his ancestors at the age of Ninety-two. He was the first secretary of Traditional Rulers' Council of Enugu and Anambra States and was honoured in 2016 by the Governor of Anambra State as an ''Icon of Tradition of Anambra State''.
At the Eziopkaligwe Square, Amawbia venue for the ceremony, the “Osejeze and Onowu Amawbia'', Chief Nnaemeka Maduka, announced the exit of the traditional ruler, an announcement that was greeted by cries from his subjects.
The traditional funeral rites, “Ogbubuta”, were performed to the admiration of all who gathered for the ceremony. From the Eziokpalaigwe Square, a royal motorcade and a 4-horse chariot made a procession led by Prince Chinua Okoye and other members of the royal family, from the square to the Okpaligwe Palace for the continuation of the ceremony.
The climax of the ceremony was the display of different cultural dances and masquerades, including Ijele, Izaga, Agaba, and Ufie Music Dance by the Nze-na-Ozo Amawbia.
The events marking the ceremony were capped by the handover of the traditional rulership stool by Prince Chinua Okoye to the Osejeze Amawbia who now becomes the regent pending the crowning of a new Okpaligwe.
Tributes and condolence messages poured in from well meaning personalities, including the Governor of Anambra State who described Amawbia people as exemplary in the respect they accorded their ruler throughout, even at the height of his frailty.
The Principal Secretary to the State Governor, Sir Willie Nwokoye, remarked that the Okpaligwe Amawbia was an unsung example of ancient authority of a king who lived long, ruled long unto old age and despite the infirmities of age, commanded the universal respect of his people.
Also the Head of Service Anambra State, Barr Harry Udu, in his message, said the late Igwe Michael Okoye was a well loved monarch during his active days and bore the royal stool with dignity and respect.
In a good will message, Hon Anayo Nnebe, who represents Awka North and South in the House of Representatives, noted as “Okwe” Amawbia, that he was particularly delighted with the efforts of Okpaligwe Amawbia in bringing unity and togetherness among the people of Amawbia, as well as maintaining peaceful co-existence with the neighbouring communities.
Also Igwe Joel Egwuonwu in his tribute said, they took solace from the fact that Igwe Okoye left enviable legacies, lived a warm, loving, peaceful, disciplined and principled life.
In his vote of thanks the President General of the community, Engr Chris Nwoye, thanked the guests, monarchs and other dignitaries for gracing the occasion. He also thanked the Anambra State Government for their support.
The ceremony was attended by many traditional rulers in Anambra State from Awka, Nise, Mbaukwu, Nibo, Nnaka, Ikenga, Ezinato, and other communities.
Also in attendance were the chairman of Awka South Local Government Area, Hon. Leo Nwuba, as well as political office aspirants and very other important personalities, groups and