Anambra suspends Imoka festival as Awka new lunar year begins
– Non-indigenes lament exclusion from relief materials
Anambra State government has suspended this year’s Imoka festival of Awka people, citing Federal Government’s curfew and the directive on public gatherings, World Health Organisation (WHO’s) and Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC’s) guidelines on preventing the spread of COVID-19.
A statement issued by Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Professor Solo Chukwulobelu, noted that apart from the suspension of 2020 Egwu-Imo Awka cultural festival, other fiestas were affected.
Chukwulobelu said, “Members of the public, traditional rulers, presidents-general, custodians and organisers of such events are hereby notified that they will be held responsible if celebrations hold in their domains.
“Members of the public are advised not to attend such festivals and stay at home or go about their businesses in strict observance of COVID-19 guidelines issued by the Federal and state governments, directing security agencies to enforce the orders.”
The suspension of Imoka Festival came two weeks after the Awka Community sighted the moon on April 28, 2020, as a prelude to the commencement of the New Lunar Year Calendar (Iguaro), which begins with the Imoka Festival.
The event that marked the announcement of the New lunar Year Calendar took place on Oye Market day, April 18, 2020, when the Chief Priest of the Earth deity, Chief Patrick Nkwokie Nweke.
Nweke, who is also the Akadiana-Awka from Okperi Village, performed the rituals pertaining to the moon and fixed April 28 in the presence of traditionalists and members of the community.
Meanwhile, non-indigenes resident in Anambra State through Igwe Amos Nkwuda have decried their exclusion from the sharing of relief materials donated by Federal, state and good-spirited individuals and organisations.
Operating under the aegis of the Non-Indigenes Community Forum, supported by Igwe-in-Council of the Association of Non-Indigenes in Anambra State (ANIAS) and Great Ebonyi Indigenes Forum (GEIF), they said to seek justice, the matter had been taken to Anambra and Ebonyi state governments.
The Non-Indigenes Community Forum has written Secretary to the State Government (SSG) through its zonal representatives, including Igwe Nkwuda (Founding Leader), Tony Utechi (Secretary) and Clem Ekpentu (treasurer), among others saying, “The right thing should be done to accommodate non-indigenes in the Special Non-Indigenes Community Palliatives on COVID-19.”
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