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Ofala Festival

Encyclopedia » Traditions/Culture » Festivals

Ofala festival is a ceremony that is being practiced by indigenes of Onitsha in Anambra state Nigeria, the commercial nave center of the south- eastern Nigeria. The Festival is been described as the most important surviving traditional ceremony of the Onitsha indigenes. It is also an occasion where the Natives/Indigenes of Anambra join together for dancing, singing, meeting old friends and making new ones. The festive season is also seen as, when the people of the community, political, cultural, and family systems celebrates anniversaries and commemorate important events in order to create life-giving stories, hope, and a sense of purpose. It is been held every October as a 3days event and it captures the main religious ceremony of the community.

         At the Obi’s palace, tens of thousands of men and women dance to the heart-pulsating beat of traditional drummers and merry making. The highlight of the festival is the Obi’s entrance in his royal regalia, decorated with crown (okpu ododo), which is been announced by traditional trumpeters earlier on. The red-cap chiefs (ndiichie) in their traditional attires arrive independently, each accompanied by their village music. They proceed to the Obi’s throne in order of seniority. There, they pay homage to the Obi by kneeling on the floor and bowing down before him. The celebration then continues as they dance, according to seniority, to the tune of the sacred royal music/drums (egwu ota) at intervals of three along the palace grounds. The beat also changes in accordance with their respective titles and positions.

    The royal music sets the rhythm for the Obi’s dancing, during his three outings. These royal drums, like most traditional ones, are made by stretching animal hides over a frame. Sometimes, these are tied together with raw hides. Other drums are also used, depending on the occasion. During the ceremony, dances and songs by the indigenes, with their traditionally attire, is performed with the performers wearing colorful traditional clothing. The dancing activities usually include beautiful war dances.

            One is often nostalgic because the celebration associated with these ceremonies is not what one should miss such as watching the “ulaga” and “otuiche” masquerades.” The festival also shows that respect is shown for the Onitsha history and their way of life. It is also a great way to keep the heritage alive because, as it is said “Charity beings at home”

Updated 2 Years ago

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