Back to Top


Six main festivals are celebrated in one Onitsha calendar year whose basic sacred divisions are set by the phases of the moon. The Obi proclaim each of the twenty-eight-day lunar months ‘Onwa’ and defines the ceremonial sequences in terms of the seven four-day weeks ‘Oge Isa’ that make up each month.

IFEJIOKU FESTIVAL: Also known as ‘Osisi Akasi’ is the customary eating of coco yams and thanksgiving to the gods of farmland to be cleared and cultivated. It is celebrated every January and considered the end of the harvesting season by offering one fowl in the farm and also a goat back home as sacrifice.

AJACHI FESTIVAL:  A very significant aspect of Onitsha tradition celebrated every June. In ancient times a human victim was dragged round the town by the ‘Isi Okpala’, Chief Priest on whom the sins of the people is heaped. This tradition of human sacrifice has since been replaced by the use of a scape goat which afterwards would be thrown into the River Niger. Today, the Obi of Onitsha seems to be the only celebrant supported by the Ndichie and Agbalaniregwu in his palace. It is celebrated to beseech the creator to guide every adult to prosper in all sphere of their endeavour.

ITE UMATU FESTIVAL (UMATO): or the first harvest festival is celebrated by graduation, according to the following ranks. The Obi of Onitsha, ‘Eze Idi’, ‘Isi Okpala’ (Chief priest), the ‘Ndiche’ and ‘Ozo’ titled men. The main food supply for the festival is corn food known as ‘Nni Oka’. In the course of its celebration, second funeral rites are officially stopped until after the ‘Osisi Ite’ ceremony is performed.

OWUWAJI FESTIVAL: Also known as the new yam festival is celebrated in September, twenty-four days after ‘Umato’ in celebration of the eating of new yam and particularly observed by ‘Isi Okpala’ and ‘Ozo’ titled men. It is an occasion for farmers to thank the gods for bountiful harvest. It starts with the ‘Iju Uno’ by the ‘Ada’ (first daughter  of the family bringing about the spiritual cleansing of the household. It is followed by ‘Mkpulu’ roasting of smaller yam tablets prepared with medicine green vegetable called ’Nnaedi’.

OSISITE FESTIVAL: The festival is celebrated nine days after the lifting of the suspension on second funeral rites in Onitsha which was put on hold and which took effect at the feast of ‘Umato’ as well as the end of the harvest circle. It involves lot of cooking, the height of which a special sauce of Okro with pounded yam from a special sauce known as ‘Ji Oku’ takes the centre spread for entertainment of guests. And OFALA FESTIVAL.