Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Cultural Galore As Umuoji Marks 2015 Uzoiyi festival with masquaredes of all kinds

Okechukwu Onuegbu

It was a cultural galore at Umuoji in Idemili-North Local Government Area of Anambra State as the community recently celebrated its 2015 “Uzoiyi festival” with pomp and pageantry.

The festival is an annual event, and one aspect of the culture of Umuoji Igwulube Okodu people, aimed at commemorating the Ideakpulu River, belief to inhibit gods, the regulator of the amount of rainfall in the town at farming season.

Also, it is the culmination of weeks of dining and winning with family, friends and well-wishers as the community thank God for her last Year’s harvest, even as they pray for moderate rains and bountiful harvest as planting season begins.

Previously, Umuoji, who are mostly farmers, mark the aged long festival on week days as announced by the Chief Priest of the Idemili Oracle but as the days for the subsequent celebrations became inconsistent and as more observers identified with the festival, a date was set for the festivity.

That memorable date, our reporter reliably gathered is first Uka Afor (first Sunday in the month of March corresponding with Afor market day) irrespective of the world calendar.

Sequel to this, the 2015 Uzoiyi festival held on Sunday, March 1st witnessed a mammoth crowd of spectators and participants from all works of life including the Senatorial candidate of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) in the forthcoming election, Chief Victor Umeh; the Anambra State Commissioner of Information, Culture and Tourism, Chief Tony Onyima who is also from the town; among other personalities.

The festivity, as usual, featured masquerades display (which mostly represent different kinds of animals) and cultural dance drawn from the 23 villages in the community.

Among the masquerades were Ezenmou (the oldest masquerade in Africa); Anyinya (horse); Aja-Agba-agu mgba (lion); Akum (hippopotamus); Atu (a tropical animal); Agaba (the strongest); Nnyawulu (camel); Akwugo (king of masquerades); Obammili (a monster); Nkenekwu (Reindeer, a hermaphrodite animal); Aguiyi (crocodie); Onoko (donkey); Afuekwe (seen is believing); Eze-odezuluigbo (the world renowned Monarch); Ugo (Eagle); Enyi-Nnunnu (ostrich); Okpoko (a huge bird which makes lots of noise on its way); Ochammili (Giraffe); and others.

Speaking to, the State Commissioner for Information, Culture and Tourism, Chief Tony Onyima disclosed that the masquerades featured in animal form portends that before now, Umuoji people were predominant hunters and farmers.

Chief Onyima, who extolled his people for keeping Igbo culture and tradition in the limelight, noted that Governor Willie Obiano was committed to keeping African Culture alive.
On his part, the sponsor of the 2015 Uzoiyi festival, Chief Celestine Olisa Aniuno of the Oliswarren Group, described the celebration as an aged long event which would never go into extinction from generation to generation.

While declaring the ceremony open, the Traditional Ruler of Umuoji, HRH Igwe Dr. Cyril Enweze (Ebube Igwulube Okodu) praised God for bountiful harvest granted to the community last planting season, even as he prayed for long life and prosperity of his subjects.

Igwe Enweze further commended Governor Willie Obiano for impacting the community and Anambra State generally, positively in all sectors, especially security, education, health and empowerment, and pledged that Umuoji would continue to support his government.

Speaking on the 2015 general election, the Monarch endorsed the candidates of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) from the State Assembly to the National Assembly, and President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan for Presidency, citing socio-infrastructural development been witnessed in the community since inception of APGA led administration in the state as yardstick for the endorsement.

Responding, the Senatorial Candidate of APGA in the Anambra Central Senatorial Zone and National Chairman of the party, Chief Victor Umeh rated the Community high for keeping to the norms, values and culture of Africa.



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