DEMONSTRATING THE SUBSTANCE OF AFRICAN TRADITION IN THE FACE OF MODERNITY
The place of Ofala festival in the history of Onitsha Kingdom cannot be over emphasized. It is one of the most important and most celebrated festivals in Onitsha today and stands at the centre of the Monarchy.
And for thousands of the Onicha Ado N’idu who throng home to celebrate the annual festival, the feel of the finest rhythm of culture and festivity is always a common experience. The cascading tempo of loud drumbeat, enthralling traditional hymn and parading train of age-grade group thronged the Ime Obi with military passion wading through a sea of heads and taking turn to pay homage to the Obi who in turn waved and offered prayers.
Ofala which is the annual re-emergence, ‘Inyepu Ukwu na nlo Eze’ of Obi from seclusion, ‘Inye Ukwu Na Nlo’ of communal mourning during which period he undergoes spiritual cleansing and purification, meditating with the gods and spirits not only for himself but subjects that have passed on in the outgoing year. The Obi performs the festival after the religious ceremony of ‘Mgbapu Afa Obodo’.
The festival marks the end of an annual circle and ushering in of another. The Obi’s re-appearance demonstrates that the Monarch has survived another year in atonement for the sins and misdeeds of the people of Onitsha Kingdom.
In modern times, the festival happens to be one of the rare opportunities for the Onitsha people to see their much revered Monarch who is rarely seen in public in his arena, ‘Ime Obi’.
Above all, it is a time the Obi himself and his subjects re-unite to pledge their cooperation and loyalty to his reign…