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Ohanaeze Ndigbo, others harp on cultural preservation, unity



Apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, former Deputy President, Ike Ekweremadu, and Deputy Minority leader, House of Representatives, Toby Okechukwu, have harped on the need for preservation of cultural and traditional practices as a way of enhancing unity and development in the community.
They stated that cultural beliefs have helped to promote peace and good upbringing, stressing that it had become necessary with rising insecurity in the land.
They spoke at the 2021 edition of the Aju cultural festival of Ugbo community in Awgu Local Government Area of Enugu State.  
The festival, which is held every three years, witnessed the initiation ceremony of young Ugbo men as they perform their rite of passage from adolescence into manhood known as “Iwa Akwa” (clothing) Aju Festival.  It involved males between the ages of 18, 19, and 20 years.
Ekweremadu stated that despite modernity, the people of Ugbo had not relented in observing the Aju festival, stressing that they had used it to foster peace and development of their area.
He said: “I know this is a period in Ugbo when illustrious sons and daughters come together, both within and outside Nigeria, to celebrate their sons who have reached the age of adulthood.
“For eighteen years, every three years, I have celebrated the Aju festival with Ugbo people and I participate in every ceremony the Ugbo people are doing. We thank God for the land of Ugbo today. Ugbo was not like this in the past 20 years but today, Ugbo has electricity, good roads, water, schools, and other things and I pray for God’s guidance upon these children.”

“Let God see them through in life so they will be influential in society and become great people who will also marry and have their own children.”

Speaking also, Okechukwu, who represents Awgu, Aninri, and Oji River Federal Constituency, tasked youths to leverage the age-long tradition of Iwa Akwa festival for bonding and networking.
Stating that there was no other avenue or platform that could bring the youth of the same age grade together in contemporary society if not for such events, he stated that the Iwa Akwa was the most cherished festival in the life of every Ugbo indigene.
National  Publicity Secretary of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Chiedozie Alex Ogbonnia said Aju festival, from time immemorial, was the process of young male children being incorporated into cosmology.
He stated that the age-long practice had helped people to identify their seniors. “If you ask any Ugbo man when he did his own Aju, then add 21 years to it, then you have known his age.”


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