Anioma Cultural Festival glitters with royalty
Over 30 traditional rulers were among the huge gathering of Anioma people that were thrilled at this year’s Anioma Cultural Festival, the 14th edition, held last Easter Monday at the Anglican Girls Grammar School, Asaba.
Organised by the Organisation for the Advancement of Anioma Culture (OFAAC), the culture umbrella body of Anioma people, this year’s fiesta lived up to its billing, as the biggest festival in Delta State. As early as 8.00am, the venue reverberated with singing, drumming, dancing and cheering, with about 117 musical, dance and drama troupes from all over the nine local government areas that make up Delta North Senatorial District, otherwise known as Anioma nation.
This year’s fiesta, with the theme: Let’s Celebrate Our Culture, was not only a carnival, as has been the tradition, but it was also a championship for the active promotion of Anioma culture. The performances of the competing troupes were adjudged in seven categories and each group winner, runner up and second runner-up went home with mouthwatering prizes. OFAAC also awarded big money prizes for three overall best performers from the various categories.
This year, the heavyweight performers did not disappoint. Defending champions, Ayolo Troupe, an eclectic, mixed, youth dance troupe from Igbuzo retained the best overall performing group. Otu Chukwu Anyi Ri Mma, the well-costumed, energetic women’s dance ensemble, from Agbor-Obi were first runners-up, while Onu Anioma, the war dance group from Owa Alero, bagged the prize for the third overall best performers.
There were also non-competing groups, such as the Otu Odu Enyi of Asaba led by Barr. Giwa Amu. The large number of performers included community and school-based troupes, church-affiliated bands, as well as amateur and semi-professional collectives. There were also traditional wrestling and exhibition of arts and crafts of Anioma people.
In his welcome address at the fiesta, president of OFAAC, Arc. Kester Ifeadi, showered praises on Delta State government for its cooperation and support to his organisation’s efforts, “to promote and protect the rich culture of the Anioma people. OFAAC has supported its cultural promotion activities with community development initiatives.”
Giving further kudos to the state governor, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, who he described as a long-time supporter of OFAAC, Ifeadi informed the gathering: “Only recently, we took delivery of two tractors, given to us by the Delta State government to boost our people’s agrarian efforts.”
To the royal fathers, who came in large numbers, the OFAAC president stated that but for their encouragement and support, OFAAC’s efforts would have been in vain. He thanked them for their fatherly support and solicited continued cooperation.
In his remarks, Governor Okowa, who was represented by his chief of staff, Hon. Tam Brisbie, said: “We cannot have a future without a past, which includes valuable culture that other people would appreciate, if we preserve and promote it. We have a rich cultural history in Delta State that can bring people from other states and even abroad.”
Through the years, Anioma Cultural Festival has attracted the attention and support of key national brands and products.