The Ofala Festival 2021 was held on October 6, 2021 under strict adherence to the Covid-19 protocol to curb the spread of the novel corona virus.
Deep rooted in spirituality, the festival is meant to mark the annual emergence from seclusion, during which he is said to have successfully negotiated the fortunes of the kingdom. The celebration is recognized as a period of seclusion for the Obi of Onitsha, where he prays for his subjects and the community.
However, the usual display of royal dances, tributes, parades, music, and art as well as other associated events, which have come to characterise the beauty and elegance of the festival were not fully observed owing to the covid-19 protocol in place.
According to a statement issued on Mondaay by the Obi’s chief of staff, Chinyelugo Osita Anionwu explained that the lowkey celebration was in respect to the proclamation made by the monarch. “This year’s low-key Ofala is in line with the proclamation by his majesty that the community will fulfill its annual traditional and ritual obligations in a modest way to comply fully with the COVID -19 safety and hygiene protocols,” he said.
He added that, “There was no Azu Ofala celebration, the second day of the festival, which is an elaborate display by Onitsha indigenes made up of age grade societies in their very colourful uniforms.
“The Owuwa-Ji (New Yam) Festival, which commenced on Friday, 24 September 2021 and will end on Thursday, 21 October with Ikelebe-Ji (the new yam celebration by the monarch) is also being observed very modestly.
“It is the hope and prayer of His Majesty and the people of Onitsha that the challenges of the previous years will come to pass, and circumstances will enable these festivals to return to normal next year.”