Friday, February 16, 2024

Glamour As Igbere Cultural Festival Organised By Orji Uzor Kalu Foundation Ends In Style

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THERE was a glimpse of the reawakening of rich culture and tradition of Igbere-Ebiri in Bende local government area of Abia state on Wednesday as the 2023 Igbere Cultural Festival grand finale was held at the 13 villages of the community.

Organised by Orji Uzor Kalu Foundation, the festival brought back the proud memory of Igbere greatness and uniqueness in a ceremony witnessed by the former governor of Abia state, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu, Chairman of Sun Newspaper, Barr. Neya Uzor Kalu, Senator Kalu’s billionaire son, Mr. Michael Uzor Kalu, Dr. Madukwe Ukaegbu, Federal Commissioner, Public Complaints Commission; Chief Mrs. Georgina Ehuriah Arisa-Alaukwu, retired Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Interior; Chief Smart Ukoha, Hon. Paul Uche, Mr Ese Ese, Traditional Rulers and the leadership of Igbere Development Union at the background.

The cultural funfare started with a visit to Agbo Igbere — where Senator Orji Uzor Kalu was welcomed with the Ikoro drum. In Igboland, especially in Old Bende, Ikoro is played only when a prominent personality is visiting the community.

After the drumming of the Ikoro, Ndi Akpa Mma m displayed an ancient rites done before the harvest of new yam in Igbere. It is said that without their performance, there won’t be harvesting of new yam in Igbere.

After welcoming the lawmaker through the pouring of libation, Aju-Izu, a prophetic ministry was performed – which is the first rite done before Chioha (the people’s god). According to them, the rite is usually done around November of every year through prophetic proclamations.

The Agbo community concluded their performance with the Ikpa cultural dance, before presenting agricultural products from the community to the lawmaker, which was done by Elder Onuoha Agu.

On arrival at Eziama community from Agbo, Senator Kalu was again greeted with the Ikoro drum, where he was prayed for, and greeted with the sound of ogbunigwe (gun powder).

After the presentation of kola nuts by Eze Michael Izuka, Eziama community performed Ogudu war dance, Ofemba wrestling competition, whip was won by Mr. Chike Sam. A vote of thanks was done by the President General of Eziama Community, Mr. Ikenna Maurice.

At Amaukwu and Amakpo Igbere villages, the people displayed a rich cultural heritage which included the use of opo-ndi, to demonstrate Uronyi which is done in Amakpo before the harvesting of yam in Igbere Ebiri. Women from Amaukwu community showcased how rich the community is blessed with palm oil, and how it is produced.
Iyom Amaukwu-Ebiri displayed some notable Igbere cultural dance like the Iri-omume to the admiration of Senator Kalu and his entourage.

Addressing the community, the former Abia state governor urged Igbere sons and daughters to always be good ambassadors of the community by living together as one.

He said: “ You must remain good ambassadors of Igbere by doing what is right before God. You must love one another. Though, I’m a Christian, but it is important we protect and promote our culture and heritage. We are doing this to foster peace and stability in Igbere, as well as to promote our culture to the world.”

From Amakpo, the train moved to Ibina-nta, where Senator Kalu was welcomed by the President General, Hon. Jonah Mbah.

After the presentation of kolanut, Senator Kalu was rubbed white limestone (nzu), representing peace and purity. Agiri Ibina-nta Igbere followed with a cultural dance.

Similarly, Nri ndi exhibition of Ibinanta showcasing the agricultural prowess of yam production, Ikeji Igbere
was done by Godswill Ekeoma while Ndi ojo nkwu masquerade and cultural dance was also performed.

In his speech, Senator Kalu urged the community not to allow the tussle for traditional stool set the community ablaze, while preaching for peace and unity.

He further suggested that: “The elders should sit amongst themselves, have an indoor meeting and select a candidate suitable for the seat, and only approved by the tradition of the people.”

He restated his commitment not to back any group in the community, saying: “I don’t have a candidate, rather the community should speak with one voice.”

At Amaofufe, Ibinukwu, Umuisi, Okafia, Ohumola, Amaoji and Amaiyi communities, representatives from these communities clad in uniformed native attire under canopies and tents, dancing and watching to add glamour to this year’s festival.

Earlier, some notable groups like Mezie dance group, Umunwanyi Ibinaukwu dance group, Mezie- ohia dance group, Ujunwa cultural dance, Enye nke, Ojuku and Akang masquerades in the presence of Senator Kalu and his entourage performed to the delight of the traditional council and the audience.

The displays before the lawmaker attempted to showcase those features their communities were known for as there were cheered by thousands of community dwellers.

In his address, the President General of Igbere Welfare Union, Mr. Godswill Awara Okorie said: “The essence of this is to bring unity to Igbere again. By this, you can see people gathered together, even if you have issues with somebody, when you come here, it’d be resolved. So the most significant part of it is to showcase our culture to the world and to bring unity and development to the community.”

On the significance of the festival, the Executive Secretary of Orji Uzor Kalu Foundation, Rev Mrs. Jemaimah Ola Kalu said: “Igbere Cultural Festival has done a lot to revive our culture. You can see them performing Erim and others being exhibited — that some of our young people are not even aware of. Essentially, it is about reviving our culture, heritage, identity and uniting Igbere community. It is for the younger generation to see what is happening here and pass them to other generations.”

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