By Jude Atupulazi
It was a cultural carnival of sorts in Urum, Awka North Local Government Area of Anambra State, recently when the community held the Egwu Ori Festival which is used to thank the gods for a bumper harvest. The people of the area do not play with this celebration as everybody, young, old, rich and poor, partakes of the festival. It is a celebration that sees the people of the community returning from far and near.
The four villages in the town usually take turns within the five days of the festival to showcase their foods, masquerades, and able bodied youths who perform the Ikpa Ogbondu, which takes the form of flogging themselves beneath the belt to the admiration of the spectators.
The event which takes place in village squares presents a great African atmosphere where all the people gather with different cultural attires, dance groups, and costumes to cheer up themselves as they get entertained.
An indigene of Ifiteorah village, Comrade Luke Oraekie, and a youth from Akitinyi Village, Comrade Chimezie Udekwe, speaking about the festival, said there was a river in which the people abhorred killing any living thing inside it as the water was also used for cleansing purposes.
The Chairman of Umuife Village, Chief Jerome Nnabuchi, explained that immediately after the festival, the people commenced farming activities, having thanked the gods for protecting them throughout the out gone year.
The festival accommodates people from all walks of life and forbids the breaking of bottles, physical fighting, or bullying of strangers by anyone or masquerade.
Chief Mike Arinze from Akaeze Village, said the festival was in celebration of Ori, a deity that had existed and benefited the entire community.
Different people, both from within and outside the town, took turns to visit the Obu Ori where they tabled their needs before the gods who passed their supplications to the chief priest, Ozor Mazi Festus Nwafenna Echetabu.
The Chief priest, while praying for a bumper harvest, both in agricultural ventures and business, said the event was also used by many to redeem their pledges to the deity.
The festival is also used by the community to confer the prestigious Igbo traditional title, Ozo, on some illustrious sons who have distinguished themselves in character and deeds as confirmed by two recipients, Ozor Cosmas Obiesili; Ozor Nwonyibo Ndidi Aniebonam and others.
The women are not left out of the celebration as they are adorned in traditional beads, corals and attires, dancing round the villages to the admiration of both old and young who spray them money, in appreciation.
Their sons and daughters travel from all parts of the world to be part of the Egwu Ori celebration, which, according to Ite Ego from Akaeze Village, who returned from Senegal, remains a strong deity that protects those who are faithful to it.
Friends and tourists from neighbouring communities were fully part of the festival for the five days of the event.
Mr Chukwuma Nnenna from Mgbakwu said such festival needed government’s support in order to make it more attractive to international tourists.
The traditional ruler of Awba Ofemili, Igwe Ezekwesiri Maduagwuna, said the festival which the entire Awka North Local Government area took turn to celebrate, ushered in the farming season.
The Onowu of Ebenebe Community, Chief Joe Nwegwu, commended the Willie Obiano administration for creating the needed awareness which he said had rekindled the conscience of the people to take interest in the culture and tradition of the Igbo race.
The member representing Nnewi North Constituency in the Anambra State House of Assembly, Mr Smart Okafor, who was represented during the Ozo title taking, said the State Ministry of Culture and Tourism had the mandate to continuously promote such traditional events across the area. He urged the people to also know they had a duty not to allow their culture to go into extinction.
The people of Urum Anike, including Chief Ebenezer Nwakeze and Chief Hon. Louis Umegbolu (Chairman, Nze n’ Ozo Society, Urum), while dancing to the Uvie cultural play, commended the President General of the Community, Chief Aloysius Chijioke Tabansi, for reinvigorating the fun and peace in the festival as they looked forward to a bumper harvest and celebration of Egwu Ori 2022 in grand style.