Posted by Obinna Uchendu
The 2019 edition of the annual Ofala Festival of Onitsha Kingdom in Anambra State took place in Onitsha from October 5 t0 14. The annual festival usually takes place at the Palace of the Obi of Onitsha, His Majesty, Igwe Nnaemeka Achebe.
Ofala, a display of royal dances, tributes, parades and music ran for two days, October 11 and 12. The cultural festival is steeped in deep spirituality. It is the highpoint of the Onitsha ceremonial cycle and a celebration by the Obi and his subjects to mark the monarch’s annual emergence from seclusion. It is believed that he must have successfully negotiated the fortunes of the kingdom during the period. Interestingly, the scope of the festival has been widened, with various events now part of the celebrations.
Ofala was recently endorsed by the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC), the apex tourism regulatory agency in the country as a major Nigerian festival.
This year’s festival which sponsored by data grandmasters, Globacom, was well publicized as the communication giant was able to shine light on the rich cultural heritage of Onicha Ado Nidu on showcase. Many said the 10-day event was full of glamour and entertainment for both visitors and residents.
The activities were rounded off with a Royal Banquet, organised by Globacom in honour of the Obi of Onitsha. The banquet will be held at the Dolly Hills Hotel, Onitsha, on Monday, October 14. It began with Onitsha City Marathon, organised by the Onitsha Business School, on October 5. The 21-kilometre road race was approved by both the Athletics Federation of Nigeria and the International Association of Athletics Federations. Many renowned international marathoners, particularly from countries, such as Kenya, Ethiopia and Uganda as well as Nigerian athletes in the Diaspora participated in the event.
This will be followed by the Oreze Arts VII, a group art exhibition promoted by Igwe Achebe’s Chimedie Museum Trust Foundation and supported by the National Gallery of Art.
The works of 250 artists from various parts of the world were displayed at the show from October 9 to 13. Frank Ugiomoh, a professor of Art History and Theory at the Department of Fine Art and Design, University of Port Harcourt, will be the special guest of honour at the opening ceremony of the exhibition.
The Ofala proper, which is a display of royal dances, tributes, parades and music running over two days, will take place on October 11 and 12. The scope of the festival has been widened, with various events now part of the celebrations. The activities will be rounded off with a Royal Banquet, organised by Globacom in honour of the Obi of Onitsha. The banquet will be held at the Dolly Hills Hotel, Onitsha, on Monday, October 14.
News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reported that the Director General, the NTDC, Mr. Folorunsho Coker, said t the Ofala Festival is an asset, which can be further developed into regional and global cultural event.
“The just concluded 18th Ofala Festival of the traditional ruler of Onitsha remains a unifying factor that connects diverse cultures, which brings people together from all walks of life.
“The Ofala among other cultural festivals in Nigeria, showcases the rich culture of our people through dance, colourful attire, traditional foods among others,” he said.
Coker emphasised the need for collaboration among tourism stakeholders such as airlines, hotels, tour operators and festival owners, to create a festival economy in tourism.
The DG noted that tourism remained a central pillar of economic growth in many countries, adding that the country could also benefit from the sector in like manner.
He said the corporation was prepared to assist cultures, communities and festivals, to attain profitable tourism height.
“We at NTDC are always ready to collaborate with the private sector to strengthen events that will make people focus on the consumption of f tourism assets in Nigeria. Hence, we are willing to promote other cultural festivals in Nigeria,” he pledged.
Coker, who referred to the recent Onitsha Ofala Festival as wonderful exploit of tourism showcase, expressed delight on the conscious efforts by the Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Alfred Nnaemeka Achebe to preserve the cultural heritage.