By Victor C. Ifeajuna
The ancient city of Onitsha on the 11th of August 2015 wore a very colourful look for the Umatu,the advent of Ofala festival. Umatu EZE ONICHA runs first for four market days and is seconded by Umatu Eze Idi for another four market days. This is closely followed by Ikpalla of two various quarters respectively for four market days each, amounting to sixteen days of celebration.
Ite Umatu by the Obi is the first step towards the celebration of the Ofala festival. It started with the arrival of men ,women,young and old , titled men and women (Agbalanze and Otu Odu), Ndi Iche (Red cap Chiefs) arrived one after the other and went into the hallowed chamber of the IME OBI (palace).
By 2pm, the Obi-in-council lined up according to seniority and in readiness to usher the Obi into the arena to commence with the process of Ite Umatu festival. The Obi’s first appearance saw him march through the center of his cabinet as they all chanted Obi Echi O Ewooo Ewooo, moving into landscaped lawn.Obi Achebe acknowledged the ovation of his subjects, friends and well wishers as he proceeded with a majestic dance to the beat of royal drum (egwu ota).
Obi Achebe retired to the throne of Ezechima, Obi in council (Ndi Iche) came out according to their heirachy knelt down and bow before the Obi as an expression of loyalty. The Agbalanze followed suit, then came Otu odu, ogbo na achi ani, youth , men and women of different status.
Obi Achebe prayed for everyone present and those not present, he prayed for the land and asked OLISEBULUWA(God Almighty) for long life peace, harmony and prospering the land and on earth. Obi Achebe made three appearances to the arena dancing to the beat of the royal drum, retired to the throne and prayed again,with kola nut in his hands, he later poured libation with mmanya ocha(palm wine) and finally with mmanya oku(hot drink).
The major highlight of the ceremony was the process at which the Obi presided over the traditional way of eating the corn flour(nni oka) draw soup(ogbono). He now played the role of humble servant as he cuts lump of nni oka, a piece of meat and called for his subjects to come and receive communion, starting from Obi in council down to untitled men. Finally aku na ukwa, okpodudu snacks were shared according to tradition of Onitsha kingdom, while entertainment on food and drint went on at different points in the palace, Obi poured the final libation by 6pm to bring the occasion to an end.
President Agbalanze United State (Washington D.C.) And Children came down to Onitsha because of Umatu Obi of Onicha 2015.