It was all colour and glamour! It was an endless train of men,women,children from all walks of life enveloped in unprecedented excitement: feet stamping, body gyrating and voices raised high in answer to the electrifying rythm and chorus of Igbaeze , Ogene music, and Ekpili traditional beats. Intermitently, the crowd would burst out with a glorious salutation of “IGWEEE” each time HRM Okaije Okija took some dance steps.
It was the ASALA OKIJA TRADITIONAL FESTIVAL, an annual event when the Igwe must march to the ancient NKWO OKIJA to dance with ndi Ezeahia and Ogbuehi (the title holders) and Ikwu na Ibe (the citizens).
After the Nkwo Market outing, the Igwe must retire to his Obi (palace) to dance again accompanied by some chiefs to the sound of the UFIE the ancient drum of the guardian spirit of the land meant for ndi Ogbuehi Ulasi
So after that glorious outing on Dec. 28, 2018, I saw more than a glimmer of hope that We have not lost the battle yet. As a matter of fact,we are winning. We are winning the battle to sustain our cultural heritage against the backdrop of incessant unslaught by westernisation.
For thousands of Ndi Okija from across all the 30 villages to march with the Okaije on ASALA day was unprecedented in Okija the land of elephants.
Despite the fast urbanization of the town, despite our individualistic streak and inspite of the blazing sun we all gathered under one banner: from Ana mmiri Okija (the coastal region) to Enu Okija (the upland region), to march with our Igwe and to celebrate the only festival that has held us together since foundation, this for me is a clear demostration that we are indeed making progress in the fight to keep aspects of our culture alive,it is also an unmistakable pointer that the largest indigenous town in Anambara under one King has moved to the next level.