Awka youths defy goverment ban, celebrate Imoka festival
The annual Imoka festival, celebrated by the Awka indigenes of Anambra State in honour of the protective deity, Imoka, that saved the people from the attack of warrior-mongers and slave raiders led by Okoli Ijoma of Ndikelionwu, was celebrated at the weekend in defiance of state government’s suspension.
The government, in a statement, signed by the Secretary to the State Government, Prof. Solo Chukwulobelu, few days to the festival, suspended celebration of all cultural festivals in the state, citing COVID-19 pandemic, and urging physical cum social distancing. The government also banned the use of cane and flogging of persons during the festival, even as it mobilized the Joint Task Force to enforce the directive.
But Awka youths trooped out to the Imoka deity’s groove (Olulu Imoka) and its surrounding to mark the event in a frenzy, though it was low-keyed following the non-return of indigenes from outside the country and major cities, occasioned by the interstate lockdown.
The festival was eventually marked to remember the time past when monkeys swarm into homesteads making squawky noises that compelled the elders to foil ambush led by Okoli Ijoma warriors against Awka.
A perplexed Chief Priest of Awka Culture and Traditions, Chief Patrick Nkwokie Nweke, who performed the Iguaro Feast to fix and announce the new year lunar calendar that ushered in Imoka Festival, warned that the suspension, without recourse to traditionalists and custodians of the culture of the people, might attract repercussions.
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