Ofala Festival Ends Communal Conflicts in Isuofia

…As Community Accords Burial Rites to Late Igwe 21 Years after

By Chioma Ndife

The last Ofala Festival of the Late Igwe Pius Awugosi Ezekwesili Gbulieaku II, Isu I of Isuofia has brought the communal conflict which has rocked Isuofia Community for the past 20 years to an end.

The people of Isuofia in Aguata LGA, Anambra State during the celebration accorded a full burial rites meant for a traditional ruler to the late Igwe Ezeabasili who joined his ancestors in 1998, after 20 years of his demise.

Fides gathered that the four days event organized by Isuofia People’s Assembly which commenced with a requiem mass at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, Isuofia, led by the Catholic Bishop of Awka Diocese, Most Rev. Paulinus Ezeokofor and followed by funeral activities was massively attended by the elders, high chiefs, men, women and youths of the six villages to pay their last respect to the royal father.

During the Ofala Festival, all the masquerades in the community and cultural troupes filled out to pay tributes and respect to the late Igwe according to the customs and tradition of the community. The performance was witnessed by over thirty traditional rulers in Anambra State who were on ground to pay their last respects to Igwe Ezeabasili as they danced round the palace, praying to God to accept the soul of the late monarch.

In an address of welcome, the traditional Prime Minister (Onowu) of the community, Chief Pius Muoneme tendered an unreserved apology to the late traditional ruler for the time which it took the community to accord him a deserving burial rites. He revealed that the late Igwe had at the point of his death instructed that his funeral must be collectively done by the six villages that made up the Isuofia Community which he said presupposed that there must be unity for that to happen.

Chief Muoneme said it was in view of that the six villages continued to engage themselves in peace talk and finally achieved peace in August 2017 after 20 years in disunity. He prayed that the reunification achieved by the community may not suffer any set back and that peace may reign amongst the community as well as generations yet unborn.

In his Remark, the Former Central Bank Governor, Prof. Chukwuma Soludo who hails from the town revealed that the celebration marked the end of late Igwe Ezeabasili’s resign, stressing that the community missed so many things in the last 20 years, staying without a traditional ruler but expressed delight that the town at the moment has one united indivisible community. He noted that the ofala festival has united the town under the leadership of one traditional ruler, one central executive and one united indivisible Isuofia rather than what was in existence in the past twenty years. He maintained that the peace had brought the autonomous Community of Isuanioma to a natural death.

One of the kingmakers in the community and the Chairman, Chief Executive Officer of Pokobros Group of Companies, Chief P.A. Okonkwo said that the community would after the last ofala for Igwe Ezeabasili inaugurate its new Igwe in the person of His Royal Highness, Igwe A.O. Muoghalu, a retired army officer, who had already been given a certificate of recognition by Anambra State Government. He attributed the peaceful move which the community had engaged in for the past twenty years to what delayed the final rites of the traditional ruler and described the peace as welcomed “child” in the community. He likened the peace as God’s miraculous deed in the community.

While thanking God for the positive turn around in the community, the Traditional Ruler of Nanka Community, Igwe Godwin Ezeilo and a community Ichie Benedict Okolie described the late Igwe as a man of peace who made Isuofia great through his selfless service and expressed the hope that the new monarch will attract more development and government attention to the community. He beckoned on the indigenes of the community to desist from engaging in any act that would jeopardized the newly regained peace in the community.

Handing over the staff of Kingship to the Onowu of Isuofia, the first son of the departed monarch Prince Uchenna Ezeabasili described the peace in the community as God’s timely intervention, as unity is the greatest gift.

L-R: Ojih of Isuofia Community, Chief Paul Okonkwo; PG of Isuofia, Mr. Jude Okeke, Chairman of Reconciliatory Committee; Prof. Charles Soludo and Onowu Isuofia, Chief. Pius Muoneme, observe as the first son of the departed Igwe, Prince Uchenna Ezeabasili, hands over the staff of authority to Onowu Isuofia.