High Chief Obiora Okonkwo and Chief Osita Chidoka are two Anambra sons who take pride in celebrating Igbo culture. David-Chyddy Eleke reports that recently, in separate events, the duo lit up communities in Anambra State in traditional celebrations
For two days, the Northern and Southern Senatorial Districts of Anambra State took turns to honour High Chief Obiora Okonkwo in very colourful traditional celebrations. Okonkwo is the chairman of Some Event centre in Abuja, a prominent Anambra politician who is touted to be eyeing the Anambra State government house, and philanthropist. The events were his installation with traditional titles by monarchs of the various zones, who gave their reasons for awarding Okonkwo as reward for his many phlanthropic gestures.
Meanwhile, in Obosi, Idemili North Local Government Area, former Aviation Minister, Osita Chidoka celebrated the 10th anniversary of his instalment as the Ike-Obosi, and the Iwa ji (new yam) festival of his community. Chidoka who is touted to be a governorship hopeful in the state on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) drew dignitaries from within the state and outside to his country home to celebrate with him.
Both men incidentally hail from Anambra Central Zone of the state, but in the case of Okonkwo, even though he hails from the central, traditional rulers from all the communities in Anambra North Zone came together to crown him the Ibobo Ndigbo; the highest traditional title in the area. It was a day to celebrate culture as masquerades of various shapes and sizes converged on the Igwe square in Igbariam to celebrate him.
It was garlands for Okonkwo, as the host monarch, His Royal Majesty, Igwe Nneli Kelly, Okalakwu Igbariam, during the breaking of the kolanut prayed extensively for Okonkwo, while also declaring that the installation of the title meant nothing more than endorsement and support for his good deeds.
He said, “We have gathered for a two-day celebration of the culture of our people, and to honour a man who deserves to be honoured.” He disclosed that the joint installation of a title on an individual by all the traditional rulers of the Northern Senatorial Zone was something that was rare. He said that the last time it happened was six years ago, and that it was happening again because of the feat Okonkwo had achieved with his philanthropic gestures in and around the state.
esides the traditional rulers of Anambra North zone who were complete in their number, visitng monarchs also witnessed the installation, including; chairman of Anambra Central Traditional Rulers Council, Igwe Peter Uyanwa, Ezedike Ukwulu, Igwe Alex Onyido, Ezechuamagha of Ogidi and Osuofia of Nawfia, Igwe Chijioke Nwankwo among many others.
After savouring the day, yet another title beckoned the next day, with traditional rulers of Anambra South installing him with the title of Ebube Mba at Ekwulobia Township Stadium. Just like that of Anambra North, the event was attended by many and had in attendance all traditional rulers of the Southern Senatorial Zone and leadership of town union, just as coulourful masquerades entertained the crowd.
The day was declared open with the traditional prayers and breaking of kolanuts performed by the ageless Igwe of Nnewi, Igwe Kenneth Orizu, who also prayed for longevity, good health and good neighbourliness and better life for all. In his prayers, Igwe Orizu urged for peaceful co-existence among Nigerians. He also called on the Igbo people never to forget their cultural heritage. Done with the prayers, Igwe Laz Ekwueme, a professor of music and doyen of choral music in Nigeria who now sits on the stool of Oko kingdom, mounted the podium and performed the traditional cutting of the yam.
The traditional title investiture, which was combined with the celebration of New Yam Festival, witnessed the cutting of yam, and High Chief Obiora Okonkwo was led to the podium for the formal installation of the title; Ebube Mba.
With these two installations, Okonkwo becomes one of the few people in Anambra State to have received such acclaim by the traditional institutions in all three senatorial zones of the state. He had earlier been installed as the Mbuba Anafolu Mbulu N’Ukpa of Anambra Central, while in his home town of Ogidi, he holds the title of Dikeora Idemili.
In Obosi, the cream of Anambra elites converged to witness Chidoka cut the new yam. The list of dignitaries present at the event included; the former president of Sierra Leone, Mr Ernest Bai Koroma; Delta State Governor, Sen Ifeanyi Okowa, Dr Obiora Okonkwo; former Governor of Anambra State, Mr Peter Obi; Governor of Imo State, Rt Hon Emeka Ihedioha, Senator Ben Obi, Dr Nnia Nwodo; President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, and so many others.
The event which started with a church thanksgiving at St Andrew Anglican Church, Obosi was also meant to thank God for the 10th anniversary of Chidoka as Ike-Obosi, which ushered him into the cabinet of the traditional ruler of the community. Besides masquerades and dance groups also featured the traditional Egwu Ekwe which was danced by Chidoka and all the titled chiefs in the community, then the symbolic cutting of the new yam, which was also shared amongst children who flooded the arena.
Speaking at the event, Chidoka rated himself as one of the biggest supporters of culture in Igbo land, saying that culture is the identity of the people, and should not be jettisoned because of the invasion of western culture. The event continued into the night with performances by various masquerades.