The Onitsha Traditional Council has said that the Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Nnaemeka Alfred Achebe, has clocked 20 years on the throne and is set to celebrate it with the Ofala Festival.
The Chairman of the 2022 Ofala Festival Steering Committee, Chief Mike Areh, disclosed this during a press conference at the Ime-Obi Palace, Onitsha, Anambra State on Thursday.
Areh said the festival would hold at Ime-Obi, Onitsha on October 21 with Ofala Youths Carnival while other events would hold on October 22 and 23 with the ‘Iru Ofala’ and ‘Azu Ofala’.
He added that the carnival will be organised by the Onitsha Ado Youths Council and will showcase the rich cultural heritage of Onitsha to the global world.
He described the Ofala festival as a special celebration where the monarch feasts with his subjects after his emergence from seclusion, during which he had successfully negotiated the fortunes of the kingdom.
According to him, His Majesty, Nnaemeka Achebe, Agbogidi, Obi of Onitsha will also use the occasion of the Ofala to commemorate his 20th anniversary as monarch with thanksgiving.
Areh said this year’s festival was sponsored by Globacom, adding that subscribers would stand a chance to win gifts in special Ofala promo.
He said the Oraeze Arts Series, would take place with no fewer than 120 artists participating, adding that dignitaries from various parts of the world would grace the event.
He said, “Our monarch ascended the throne of Ezechima 20 years ago on May 14, 2002, which coincidentally was his 61st birthday.
“The Ofala is the high point of the Onitsha ceremonial cycle. The Obi of Onitsha is the celebrant of this spectacle which is rooted in deep spirituality; it is an occasion for the monarch to fulfill certain obligations.
“It is also a re-enactment of the joy which the monarch shared with his subjects, at the discovery that yam is non-toxic, and a valuable source of food,” he said.
“It is also an avenue for multi-talented and well-established artists from various parts of the world to exhibit their works, at least 120 artists will be exhibiting their works at Oreze VIII.
“A royal banquet organised by Globacom in honour of the Obi would hold on October 26 at Dolly Hills Onitsha and there will be Ofala thanksgiving at St. Stephens Anglican Church on October 30.
Speaking on the sponsorship deal, the Regional Manager, Globacom, South East Zone, Mr Mike Ehunadu, said the partnership with the Onitsha Traditional Council had commenced in 2011.
Ehumadu said the company was working towards making the festival attain the status of a major event in Nigeria, and by extension in the West African cultural/tourism calendar.
He said, “Aside from hosting the royal banquet, we will be empowering the people of Onitsha with gifts that will impact their lives.
“Lucky subscribers will have an opportunity to win two tricycles, five sewing machines and five grinding mills in our special Ofala promo.”
The organisers said Ofala had been endorsed by the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation, the apex tourism Regulatory Agency in the country as a major Nigerian Festival.