Festivals are held to commemorate the cultural heritage of a people but for the people of Nnewi in Anambra State, the yearly Ofala Festival has become a unifying force, bringing sons and daughters of Nnewi together.
A statement from the organisers indicates that the 2012 edition of the annual two-day festival, held on December 28, attracted many people and was sponsored by Nigerian Breweries and MTN. Canon shots heralded the beginning of the festival as Ndi Nnewi started arriving at the palace to pay homage.
For the Igwe, Dr. Kenneth Orizu III, it was double celebration as he also marked another year of ascension to the throne. He welcomed the people, in company with the Obis of the different clans of Nnewi. According to history, in times past, the Igwe was inaccessible to the people. A platform like the Ofala Festival was the only one he could take advantage of to interact with his subjects.
The Igwe’s son and Deputy Speaker, Anambra State House of Assembly, Chukudi Orizu, said Ofala does not just bring the people of Nnewi together but also creates a platform for interaction between the traditional ruler and his subjects.
On the significance of the festival, Governor Peter Obi of Anambra State stated that the Ofala Nnewi has a huge tourism potential for the state.
“For us, projects like this, are critical not only because the people need to be abreast of their culture, but also because it can turn around the fortune of the state. Ofala Nnewi Festival holds great tourism potential for us and that is why we help to mobilise people annually, to come back to our rich culture,” he said.