Raymond Ozoji, Awka
Okanga Eze esoteric dance was the mystical performance by His Royal Majesty, Eze Michael Idigo, Eze Udo, Eze Aguleri the 5th, that heralded the grandeur and splendor of the maiden Ovala Ovu Obi carnival held at Amaigwe Aguleri, Anambra-East local government area of Anambra state. Eze Idigo’s traditional dance was reminiscent of the age-long heritage handed down to the present generation by their forefathers.
That was how Amaigwe Aguleri was ignited with cheers and encomiums from lovers of Aguleri customs and traditions, who thronged the arena to savour the uniqueness and richness of the culture of Aguleri people as portrayed in the 120th Ovala Aguleri and first Ovala of HRM Eze Michael Idigo on the throne as Eze Aguleri
Various cultural groups took turns to showcase what Aguleri, the acclaimed cradle of the Igbo nation stood for and represented. The occasion was a tourist attraction of sort as people from home and in the diaspora came in their numbers to thank God for the peace, progress as well as tranquil atmosphere in Aguleri community. Thus the emergence of HRM Eze Michael Idigo as traditional ruler was indeed divine in spite of the machinations of malignant forces, who didn’t want him to succeed late Eze Christopher Nwabuwanne Idigo.
The likes of the former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Prof. Charles Chukwuma Soludo, the traditional ruler of Onitsha, Igwe Alfred Nnaemeka Achebe, the traditional ruler of Umueri kingdom, HRM Igwe Sir Ben Izuchukwu Emeka, Speaker of the Anambra State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Uche Okafor, the Secretary to the Anambra State Government, Prof.Solo Osita Chukwulobelu, the Chief of Staff, Mr. Primus Odili as well as a galaxy of very prominent Nigerians added glitz and glamour to the cultural festival.
The significance of the maiden Eze Udo Ovala Aguleri festival can not be overstressed as evidenced in the opinions of guests on the occasion. Chief Paul Nneli, a member of the Ndi-Ichie Aguleri Ruling Council and a native of Ezi-Agulu Aguleri said the Ovala festival was an annual ritual performed by the community to foster peace, love and unity amogst the people. Nneli said Eze Michael Idigo has come to stay and that all those plotting his dethronement were merely fighting a lost battle.
Also Chief Paul Onuora, the chairman Ojiana Aguleri and a native of Igboezunu Ikenga Aguleri opined that the 120th Ovala festival was devoid of confusion and rancour and that the entire Aguleri community gave their blessings and approvals, which according to him, manifested in the planning and successful execution of the 120th Ovala Aguleri and first Ovala of HRM Eze Michael Idigo, Eze Aguleri the 5th.
He however admonished the traditional ruler to put on the garment of patience in handling the affairs of Ndi-Aguleri as his traditional title name implied ‘Eze Udo’, even though he recognized the difficulty in piloting the affairs of men. Amidst the frenzied atmosphere at Amaigwe Aguleri, Chief Henry Manafa, Onowu Aguleri described the entire scenario as very impressive, noting that Eze Michael Idigo has found a befiting place in history.
He therefore mentioned dialogue as panacea to every problematic issue, stressing that the Idigo Royal Dynasty would embrace dialogue and rally round the traditional ruler to enthrone lasting peace amongst the entire Aguleri community. On his part, the chief servant of Aguleri community, Chief.Barr. Hipo Chibuzor Onwuegbuke said the 120th Ovala Aguleri and first Ovala festival of Eze Michael Idigo was the best in the history of Aguleri ancient kingdom. Onwuegbuke said it was a very colourful event and actually began on 30th December, 2019, when they had children’s party. Thereafter they had Okanga Aguleri Lecture, followed by Ada Masqurade Carnival and the Ovala festival proper while visit to Motherless Babies’ Home took the rear in the line up of activities for the Ovala celebration.
The chief servant of Aguleri community maintained that the massive turn out of guests on the occasion was an eloquent testimony that the king got the endorsement of the people and they were really supportive of his reign as Eze Aguleri. Although he noted that it was only natural for some people to express reservations and resentments about his emergence, the Idigo Royal Dynasty, according to him, presented him to the people as their choice candidate for the throne of Aguleri and he was duly coronated as Eze Udo Aguleri the 5th, even as he expressed optimism that time will calm frayed nerves.
Anambra state commissioner for works, Engr. Marcel Ifejiofor, a member of the Igwe’s cabinet and a native of Igboezunu Aguleri, said the occasion was significant because it was an avenue to show profound gratitude to God for the passing year as well as usher in a prosperous new year. The commissioner said the 120th Ovala Aguleri festival and first Ovala of the new traditional ruler was organised in conjunction with the governnent of Anambra state and that it was a legacy to reckon with.
Meanwhile, Edward Obiefuna Ibuzo, the lawmaker representing Onitsha-North 2 state constituency in the Anambra State House of Assembly, described Ovala Aguleri as Igbo heritage which should be revered and preserved for posterity. Ibuzo who accompanied one of the awardees, Chief Austine Oguejiofor, to the occasion, further emphasized the need for government at all levels to play pivotal roles in the promotion of culture and tourism across the nation.
Also, Emeka Nwogbo, a former member of the Federal House of Representatives, said Aguleri was an old kingdom with very rich history and that the conducive atmosphere created by the present state government aided the display of culture and ancestral heritage as exemplified in the Aguleri Ovala festival. Nwogbo who was in the entourage of one of the awardees, Chief Clem Nwogbo, said the people of Aguleri did the needful and urged them also to always support and be great ambassadors of their customs and traditions while stressing the need for governnent to help showcase the peoples’ heritage.
Addressing the entire people of Aguleri community and all those who graced the Ovala Ovu Obi cultural carnival at Amaigwe Aguleri square, Eze Michael Idigo, thanked all and sundry for being part of the success story of his first Ovala festival on the throne. Eze Idigo said that Ovala festival was used as a platform to end a particular year and also used to begin a new year. He explained that Ovala Aguleri implied that God has ordained that there would be peace, progress and prosperity in the land of Aguleri. The traditional ruler who read his Ovala message to the people in Igbo language, stressed that the occasion was very unique because it was the first time he was at the helm of affairs of the Ovala celebration in Aguleri ancient kingdom. Cognisant of the fact that people may have attended the event with mixed feelings especially with the demise of his predecessor, HRM Eze Christopher Nwabuwanne Idigo, he urged the people to find solace in the peaceful emergence of a new traditional ruler in the person of his humble self.
He told the people that his emergence as Eze Aguleri the 5th was a thing of great joy and beyond human comprehension because he hadn’t the slightest premonition that Aguleri community would crown him king in spite of his very young disposition. He therefore promised his subjects and all those who came to witness the 2020 Ovala celebration that he would take Aguleri community to greater heights. Eze Michael Idigo said, “I came to the throne of Aguleri with peace. I will give Aguleri peace. I will leave the throne of Aguleri in peace.”
He recalled that upon his advent as Eze Aguleri, he toured the three major quarters of the community, Ifite, Igboezunu and Ugwunadagbe Aguleri respectively. He said that the essence was to let the people know that they have a new monarch and that Aguleri was one indivisible whole. He also said that he has the full support of Ndi-Ichie Aguleri Ruling Council, Ojiana Aguleri, cabinet members as well as Ojiana-Uno Aguleri, that all the aforestated institutions have contributed in no small measures to ensure that the throne of Aguleri became very comfortable and conducive for him. Eze Idigo however assured all that Aguleri would continue to blaze the trail culturally and otherwise amongst the Igbo nation and beyond.