The event climaxed with cultural exposition as the Ijele masquerade treated the crowd to a spectacular performance.
Dr Obiora Okonkwo has overtime become a recurring factor in cultural promotion in the South East; his commitment to the preservation of those cherished values of the Igbo is second to none.
A holder of many chieftaincy titles from different parts of Igboland; he was on December 23, last year, once again honoured for his unbridled love for culture and tradition; industry and contribution to the development of Anambra state; especially, the central senatorial district.
The traditional rulers’ council of Anmabra central at a grand ceremony held at their Chairman’s palace in Ukwulu, Dunukofia Local Government Area of the state, acknowledged his deep support for the rejuvenation of Anambra culture by conferring on him the uncommon chieftaincy title of Mbuba Anafolu Mbulu N’Ukpa; meaning an unusual warrior and defender of his people. Chairman of the monarchs; Igwe Peter Uyanwa (Ezedike Ukwulu) said: “We commend you also for your unrestrained support for the promotion of our culture and tradition as well as appreciate your life of selflessness, commitment to good of Anambra Senatorial District and the upliftment of our people through your numerous empowerment programmes, support for education and skills acquisition.”
After his decoration and blessing by the royal fathers; Okonkwo whose excitement knew no bounds described the honour as a call to duty; saying “I will continue to do more.”
He expressed surprise that the custodians of culture and tradition took notice of his modest efforts in building the state and humanity.
Okonkwo said: “My decision to work towards the promotion of our culture is because of my belief that our culture holds a lot of meaning for the revitalisation of morals in our society. If we watch global trends; we will come to the understanding that culture revival is a prerequisite for progress. We got lost in the pursuit of westernisation”.
He further noted that the issue of corruption could be tackled if indigenous cultural values were respected and promoted, while urging governments at all levels, to show greater commitment in projecting the positive values and using them to rebuild morals in the society.
Aware of the role played by the traditional institutions in ensuring peaceful coexistence and tackling crime in the communities; Okonkwo called for constitutional role for them to add value to leadership.
The traditional rulers in their separate interviews with Daily Sun justified why they singled out Okonkwo for the honour.
Igwe Alex Onyido of Ogidi, Okonkwo’s home town said that “It is because Chief Okonkwo has been supporting and helping the people of Anambra central senatorial zone; I appeal to other people in the zone to support our collective projects. He has been helping the poor in the community and beyond and we are proud of him as a worthy son who has put smiles on many faces in the community and the state in general. I’m happy not because he is from my community but because the title went to the right and deserving person from the zone”.
His counterpart of Uke, Igwe Charles Agbala described the title as most appropriate “One in town; it is an uncommon title, that is the highest of all warriors and he deserves it and I congratulate him for that. He is a man of the people and that is why the whole traditional rulers in the zone came together to give him this title and I think he is the second person after the governor that has received such recognition.”
Regardless, Igwe Alphonsus Ezebuilo of Amanuke community and Igwe Michael Okonkwo Etusi of Eziowelle both charged the recipient not to relent in his good work.
“My advice to him is to keep up his good work and more blessings will come his way in future,” Etusi said.
Also, former Special Adviser to the President, Senator Ben Obi described Okonkwo as his political ally who has contributed to the development of his party over the years.
“He is like my younger brother and he has achieved a lot, I know he has along way to go and he should always put God first and fear God. The will of the people will always drive him anywhere he goes or in whatever he does”, Obi stated.
The event climaxed with cultural exposition as the Ijele masquerade treated the crowd to a spectacular performance. Igwe Uyanwa, Igwe Onyido and Okonkwo; at different periods took to the stage with their electrifying dance steps.
The songs of honour continued for Okonkwo at Umunya in Oyi Local Government Area of the state as the Igwe Umunya; Chris Onyekwuluje further adorned him with the chieftaincy title of Ebekuo Dike of Umunya Kingdom.
Okonkwo, who was accompanied by his heartthrob, climbed the podium alongside Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, Gov. Obiano, Sen. Uche Ekwunife among many others who were similarly honoured in the event that marked the monarch’s 21st anniversary on the throne of his forefathers.
The monarch also announced Okonkwo as honorary citizen of Umunya as well as a distinguished member of his cabinet.
Other people who witnessed the event include oil magnet, Prince Arthur Eze, Sen. Ben Obi, Minister of Labour and Employment, Sen. Chris Ngige; former Chairman of Police Service Commission (PSC), Chief Simeon Okeke, a member of the House of Representatives, Hon. Obinna Chidoka and Commissioner of Police in Anambra State, Chris Garuba amongst many others.
Meanwhile, no fewer than 5,000 women had as early as 9:00 that day; gathered at Okonkwo’s country home in Ogidi where each of them received a bag of rice and piece of wrapper.
Like Senator Obi; they sang the praises of their benefactor and prayed God to grant him his heart desires. One of them, Mrs Ngozi Onwuasoanya said “My prayer is that God continues to bless Chief Okonkwo and his family. He should propel him to be governor so that he would go on with lifting the poor.”
Another beneficiary who told our reporter that she came from Onitsha disclosed that it was her fifth year of coming for similar gesture from the philanthropist; adding that her neighbour’s son had also benefitted from Okonkwo’s scholarship scheme.
By Magnus Eze, and Jeff Amechi Agbodo, Onitsha