… All festivals to be marked in low-key
ONITSHA Traditional Council has announced that it will scale down on celebration of its traditional festivals this year, in line with outlined measures by the state government to contain the spread of COVID-19 pandemic.
“We will ensure that members of the community will not take any action in contravention of extant laws and regulations during these festivals.”
This is contained in a proclamation by the traditional ruler of the kingdom, Igwe Nnaemeka Achebe, which provided the rationale for the decision.
“Based on current projections, the coronavirus is unlikely to be brought under control, and the country fully opened up, before the end of August and into September.”
The proclamation also observes: “The adverse consequences for the economic and social lives of the country will naturally have a serious impact on our own community life in Onitsha”.
“A major outcome of this development is that the Ofala Festival — the highpoint of Onitsha Ceremonial Cycle, which is scheduled to run from Oct. 11 to Oct. 12 will be held without the homecoming of Onitsha indigenes; display of royal dances, tributes, parades, and music in addition to the associated events which have come to characterise the festival.”
It notes: “The low-key approach was very evident in the celebration of Ajachi on June 29, the first on the ceremonial cycle.
“Ajachi occurs at the peak of the famine (Ugani) period when every householder/family head makes offerings and prayers to his guiding spirit to intercede with the Almighty God to grant him a bumper harvest in the months ahead.”
Igwe Achebe marked the Ajachi in strict compliance with COVID-19 safety and hygiene protocols.
It adds: “Ndichie (Redcap Chiefs), Ndi Diokpa (spiritual heads of kindred groups), Agbalanze (titled men), and all householders/family heads will also celebrate the Ajachi in adherence to the with COVID-19 safety and hygiene protocols”.
The other festivals are Umatu that entails Thanksgiving to God on the first harvest of the year, namely maize which is scheduled for August 1; OwuwaJi, the celebration of the New Yam harvest, which will run from Sept 29 to Oct. 26.
Another festival is `Ifejioku’, which will be held in January 2021, and signals the end of the harvest period and the beginning of the preparation for the next farming season.
It said that all the festivals would be marked in the constrained manner arising as stipulated in the guidelines for the prevention of COVID-19.
“The Onitsha Traditional Council hopes that the situation will return to normal and that the festivals will be celebrated in the usual manner.’’