By MCPHILIPS NWACHUKWU
The Anioma Cultural Festival has progressively become an upstage cultural event for the sons and daughters of the Anioma to celebrate the rich cultural heritage of the Anioma people within the nine Local Government Areas of Delta State, Nigeria.
The yearly cultural festival organised by the Organisation for the Advancement of Anioma Culture, OFAAC, the cultural umbrella body of Anioma people has become a rallying point of Anioma cultural revival and a veritable platform for community development.
The massive turnout at the 2012 edition held at the Arcade Ground Asaba on Easter Monday included monarchs; participating groups and dignitaries.
Interestingly the Anioma Festival is getting bigger, more entertaining and more encompassing with the infusion of new features yearly. This year’s festival had more than 98 dance performances simultaneously, providing wide choices for spectators.
Traditional wrestlers heightened the excitement. The different dance groups and associations, dressed in the best of Anioma attires with all the accoutrements of splendour and majesty, took the stage in a carnival like manner as they sang, danced, and paid homage to the custodians of Anioma traditional institutions.
The festival is Anioma’s biggest unifying cultural festival with hundreds of thousands of devoted participants drawn from traditional institutions, cultural groups, schools, decision-makers, corporate bodies and visitors enjoying live traditional dance and other Anioma performing arts.
Arc. Kester Ifeadi, President of OFAAC in his welcome address said, the 2012 festival theme, Anioma Unity and Sanctity with Nature was timely, as unity and cohesion among Anioma people cannot be over emphasised.
Ifeadi thanked those who kept faith with Anioma. He also commended the corporate sponsors.
The Speaker of Delta State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Engr. Victor Ochei said unity was the only way forward for Anioma people generally. According to him, “the yearly event has continued to expand because of the genuine efforts and commitment of the OFAAC leadership and the desire of Anioma people to preserve and promote their heritage through the cultural festival.” He pledged his support for the objectives of the festival.
Among dignitaries that graced the occasion were Chief B.S.C Elue, former deputy governor Delta State; Evangelist Hon. Joan O. Mrakpor, member of Delta State House of Assembly; Chief Theodora Giwa Amu.
His Royal Majesty, Obi Chukwumalieze Victor, the Obi of Onicha- Ugbo in the opening prayers thanked God for members of OFAAC and the peaceful coexistence among the people. HRM Obi (Prof.) Chike Edozien, the Asagba of Asaba, who played host to over 46 monarchs and high chiefs at the event, applauded the great efforts of Arc. Ifeadi and the activities of OFAAC in Anioma land.
There was also a special performance from the Igbanke Dance Group from Edo State who came to identify with their kith and kin in Anioma land.
Monarchs present at the festival include, HRM Obi (Prof.) Chike Edozien the Asagba of Asaba, H.R.M. Chukwumalieze Victor Obi of Onicha- Ugbo, HRM, Obi (Dr.) David Azuka (JP) – Obi of Akwukwu Igbo, Her Royal Highness, (Dr.) Martha Dunkwu the Omu of Anioma, HRM. Vincent Nmor the Obi of Ugili Amai, HRM. Obi Kikachukwu (J.P) the Obi of Ubulu- Unor, HRM. Ezenwali Ahoma Collins- Obi of Otolokpo, HRM. Obi Gabriel Chukwuma Jikeme the Obi of Utegboje, the Onewu of Okwe, HRM. Emmanuel O. Offor, the Obi of Adonte, HRM. Obi Kenneth Ezegbunam JP Obi of Nsukwa, HRM. Obi Chukwudi Ikedi the Obi of Ukala-Okpuno, HRM. Obi Nwoko Albert, Obi of Idumuje Ugboko, HRM. Obi Gold Ubosiagwuia Obi of Umute, HRM. Obi Ofulukwu III JP, the Obi of Obior, HRM. Obi Godwin Onyenwuwa, the Obi of Ewulu, HRM. Obi Ayo Isinyemeze I, the Obi of Ugbodu, HRM. Obi Stephen C. Osagie, the Obi of Akumazi, HRM. Obi Samuel N. Oliegede III the Obi of Idumogo, HRM. Obi V.A. Nwaokobia IV, Obi of Okpanam, HRM. Obi Ifechukwude, the Obi of Olodu, Chief P. C Eziashi, the Iyase of Onicha –Olona, Chief Stephen Adagbuzia, the Onowu of Okwe, Chief Sunday Ofune, the regent of Ebu, HRM. Obi Francis RSJ, the Obi of Issele-Uku, Prince V. Efeizomor Rep. of HRM. Obi of Owa, Chief Enwenike, Rep. of Ezemu of Emu, HRM Obi Dr. Chukwuka JP, the Obi of Ute-Okpu, HRM Obi of Aba Unor, HRM, Obi Okolie Alfred 1, the Obi of Egbudu-Akah and longest reigning monarch in Africa was also represented by a high chief.