By Chimaobi Nwaiwu – Nnewi
Following the crisis that trailed the #EndSARS protest and the ravaging effect of COVID-19 Pandemic, the Omor community in Ayamelum Local Government Area, Anambra State, has announced a lowkey, with strict compliance to COVID-19 Protocols for the forthcoming 2020 Ofala Festival of its traditional ruler.
A statement signed by Mr Benedict Alachenu Michael, who is the Press Secretary to the traditional ruler of the community, Eze Anaukwu, Eze Igulube of Omor, His Royal Highness, Igwe Oranu Chris Chidume, approved the festival to be held low-keyed.
The statement said that the resolution for the low-key Ofala festival, was passed after the monthly meeting of the Omor Royal Cabinet, and the traditional ruler considered the current COVID-19 pandemic ravaging the world, to approve the decision since it will be to the best interest of the populace to adhere to the government’s guidelines on COVID-19.
The statement read, “In view of the COVID-19 challenges, the Omor Royal Cabinet and the Omor Supreme Elders Council have resolved that the 2020 Ofala Festival of Igwe Omor will be celebrated on a low-key at Igulube Royal Palace, Omor.
“This resolution is in response to the extant Anambra State Government’s COVID-19 protocols on hygiene and safety, which among other measures, stipulates a gathering of not more than 30 people.
“In consideration of the resolution, which is a departure from the pomp and elegance characteristic of the festival, His Royal Highness usual Ofala largesse to his subjects will be delivered to them in their respective quarters and not in the palace as is customary during the festival.
The Ogbagidigidi Omor, a symbolic representation of Igulube (Locust) which signifies Omor’s numerical strength and a critical highpoint of the event will not future in this year’s festival. Also, a homage to the Igwe by his subjects, friends and well-wishers will not be observed.
“Reflecting further on other events that shaped the year 2020, His Royal Highness pointed out that aside from the COVID-19 Pandemic, the year has been fraught with many other challenges which significantly affected the community and the country at large.
“In May 2020, the Anambra State government waded into the skirmishes between farmers of Omor and Umumbo extraction arising from claims to designated land clusters at Lower Anambra Irrigation Project at Omor. The cluster in connection was E71, E72, E8, E9 and E10. This crisis affected the economic activities of the community.
The flooding witnessed in different parts of the country affected Omor as an agrarian community with farmlands submerged by the flood.
The #EndSARS movement, which saw protests erupting in different parts of the country distorted economic activities of the country as the government enacted curfew to quell the unrest. These events, His Highness maintained called for sober reflection.
“This year definitely is not a year if effusive celebration but calls for sober reflection. I, therefore, appeal to all Omor indigenes both at home and abroad and in Diaspora as well as friends and well-wishers who had wished to be part of this year’s ceremony to bear with us. We hope that subsequent years, the festival will be conducted with all the pomp and pageantry characteristic of Omor Ana-Ukwu.
“The basic ceremony of the Ofala, Omo-in-focus, will be conducted only by Eze Ana-Ukwu and members of the Omor Royal Cabinet and Omor Supreme Elders Council are expected to participate actively.”