HISTORIC FRIDAY - OFALA FESTIVAL



The word ofala is coined from two Igbo words; ofo (symbol of authority) and ala (land).  Ofo is the symbol of authority, spirituality and connection to the great Creator (Chukwu okike); the ancestral spirits; and the unborn generations. It also is a symbol of truth, justice and righteousness. The ofor scepter ratifies major rites and seals major decisions binding on the socio-politico cum spiritual spheres.  

The festival dates back to the 16th century and was observed only during the coronation and death of a monarch. Historians have it that this was the Onitsha people’s version of the Igue festival of Benin, having migrated from there. It is a consummation of a week-long consecration of the monarch, who is incommunicado during that period. Thus, the festival is the official event that marks the end of the king’s consecration and ushers in his blessings on the land. It also marks the end of the 13th in Igbo calendar and usher in a new year.



It kicks-off with a twenty-one gun shot and an all-night playing of the royal gong (Ufie), accompanied by traditional dances and several cultural activities. Later at noon the next day, mammoth crowd in their numbers pay courtesy to the king’s palace: the Obi's cabinet of chiefs, guests from other communities, age groups, women and youth of the community, all dressed in the traditional native attires.

Like the Igue festival of the Benin, traditional royal music, Egwu Ota, fill the air at the palace entrance as the red-cap chiefs, Ndichie, dance alongside family and friends, in a procession. The festival comes to its climax when the king goes out in his traditional ceremonial attire and a bronze sword in his hand to welcome the crowd. This is accompanied by a canon gun shut as the crowd cheer the king, who goes around the four corners of the venue, waving in acceptance of the encomium. He retires to his harem where the red cap chiefs, in a procession, pay homage to him according to their hierarchy.

Thereafter, another gun shot is heard, heralding the re-appearance of the king, this time, with his chiefs. The king dances heartily to the traditional royal music. A cogent observation during this second appearance is that the king’s step covers more areas than they did during his first appearance. This is also followed by homage from guests and visitors.

Today, the festival is observed yearly in the Igbo land.

BY IFEANYI

 (Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ofala_Festival)

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