*Igwe Francis Umennajiego of Unubi
By Nwabueze Okonkwo
ONITSHA – It was a triumph of peace and unity at Unubi, a sleepy community in Nnewi South Local Government Area of Anambra State as they celebrated their mass return.
Mass return in the area is celebrated every four years and it is compulsory that all sons and daughters of the community, both at home and in the diaspora, must return home to participate in all activities lined up for the period.
Activities lined up for this year’s ceremonies which lasted for five days, included the opening ceremony with Unubi Unity carnival, musical night/talent hunt, followed the next day by a match past and cultural dances by all the branches of Unubi Town Development Union, UDU and various age grades with pull-out exercise of Ekwueme Age Grade, Unubi.
General thanksgiving/Bazaar Sales/Face of Unubi Beauty pageant and growing of Miss Unubi (2018- 2022) took center stage on day 3 of the mass return with Okweagu Night as super artist, Umu Obiligbo thrilled the audience with their solo music from 7 p.m. till dawn.
Day 4 witnessed Governor Willie Obiano’s visit to the community and conferment of chieftaincy titles/awards on some distinguished personalities from both Unubi and outside the community which was rounded off with another Okweagu night as the famous musician, Sunny Bobo and the original Egedege Dance of Africa, Theresa Onuora, thrilled the audience.
The events were brought to an end on the 5th day with a raffle draw/Unubi youth anniversary award ceremony/Unubi cultural troupe and official closing ceremony.
In his speech, chairman of the Chieftaincy Installation Committee, Chief Ignatius Agbalizu explained that it took the committee time to select those that were qualified to receive the chieftaincy titles, both from Unubi and outside.
Agbalizu disclosed that certain criteria were taken into consideration by the committee to ensure that those who received the chieftaincy titles got it on merit.
The traditional ruler of Unubi, Igwe Francis Umennajiego (Igwe Ohazurume) who conferred the chieftaincy titles and awards on various receipients, commended Governor Obiano for the Choose Your Project Initiative which he noted has benefited the community immensely.
President-General of the town union, Dr Josiah Okonkwo explained that such mass return programme for the community holds every four years, adding that the community takes the ceremony seriously because it is a strong unifying factor for the people to celebrate their close family ties, affinity and brotherly love.
According to him, it is a rule that indigenes of the community return home with their families and also attend the gathering with them. This practice, he noted, has made it possible for people to know more about one another and also prevent a situation where many people commit incest unknowingly by marrying their blood relations or relating like lovers in the cities without knowing that they are blood brothers and sisters.
Okonkwo also stated that it was a period to initiate and elicit support for community development projects like the medical outreaches and building of community hospital already nearing completion, among others.
Chief Obumneme Ogum who was chosen to light up the Unubi Unity Torch said the celebration typified the unity that has prevailed in the community over time.
Regardless, he expressed regrets over the abandoned Unubi-Akwaihedi road, pointing out that they had made several representations about the stalled project to Government; all to no avail. He said the completion of the road will make it easier for them to access Ukpor, the local government headquarters, among other routes.