Pomp as Ofala festival rocks Onitsha
This year’s Ofala festival lived up to its expectation as a colourful celebration. The festival, an age-long tradition of the Onitsha kingdom, is celebrated once a year in October, to mark the climax of the New Yam.
Four days before the festival, the Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Alfred Achebe, goes into seclusion. He retreats to commune with his ancestors, and to thank them for protecting him and his subjects for the past one year as well as pray for peace and prosperity in the year to come. At the end of the retreat, the Obi emerges during the Ofala to bless his subjects and say prayers for the community.
Nigeria’s number one prayer drink, Eagle Schnapps, joined the Onitsha people to celebrate the festival. One of the highlights of the festival is the appearance of the Obi in his Ofala regalia. A cannon shot announces the entrance of the Obi, who is usually dressed in ceremonial robe and carries a bronze sword on his hand, acknowledging cheers of the gathering.
The Obi then retires and subsequently, the red cap chiefs pays homage to him according to seniority, thereafter, both the Obi and the Chiefs reappear after the firing of another cannon shot. During the second appearance, the Obi dances in the arena, something that is rarely seen and his steps cover more distance than the first appearance. The visiting chiefs and guests then pay homage to the Obi.
Among the guests the Obi, received was the Eagle Schnapps team led by the head of Marketing, Intercontinental Distillers Limited, Makers of Eagle Schnapps, Mr. Mobolaji Alalade.
Alalade congratulated the Obi and the kingdom on the success of another Ofala festival.
He prayed for the peace of the people and the long reign of the Obi in good health. He said that Eagle Schnapps would in the spirit of the festival continue to promote and support tradition and culture.