Anambra stood still for Achina Idegwu 2018 festival

ODOGWU EMEKA ODOGWU writes that Nigerians emptied into Achina community, Aguata local government area, Anambra state on December 31st, 2018 for the celebration of Achina Idegwu 2018. Achina stood still for hours to no end as tradition and culture were relished in grand style with returnees astonished.

Odogwublog.com reports exclusively that masquerades, cultural display and local dishes and drinks were at display in Achina to cherish by guests, and children who lost touch with home in the last three years. 2018 was unique for Achina community because it was also their mass return.

Former Chief of General Staff, Commodore Ebitu Ukiwe, Senator Andy Uba, representing Anambra South senatorial zone, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola SAN, represented by Engr. Ajayi, Member representing Aguata constituency 1, Hon. Eucharia Azodo , former member representing Aguata constituency Hon Chidi Duru among others graced the occasion.

All the quarters in Achina including Eselle, Umueleke and Umuezeiyi were represented at the Amaiyi field Achina , venue of the Achina Idegwu 2018 day celebration. As well , all the Achina community branches and age grades across the world particularly Nigeria were represented as each had its canopy, dance group while some age grades had masquerades. There were hundreds of masquerades at display.

Prof Etisiobi handing over scholarship to Okpala Juliet as father Christopher Okpala watches

Idegwu celebration Odogwublog.com informs is to remember the community’s founding fathers hence all categories of strata in the community families , age grades , title holders , professionals, businessmen and women, and scholars from the academia, among others return to showcase their strength.

Addressing the community, the former Chief of General Staff, Federal Republic of Nigeria, Commodore Okoh Ebitu Ukiwe , GCON lauded the Achina people for relishing their culture and tradition to ensure their children are not left out and commended the Achina triennial Idegwu day celebration planning committee led by , Chief Modestus .O. Umenzekwe for an elaborate planning that attracted people from all walks of life to deliberate on the development of Achina community.

Commodore Ukiwe insisted that the Idegwu day celebration added to cultural and historical reawakening not only to Achina but to Igbo land and Nigeria at large.

On his part, the Minister for Power, Works and Housing,  Babatunde Raji Fashola, represented by Engr Ajayi described Achina as a community with great people and history lasting over 1000 years. He described Achina people as descendants of Okigwe people and other people from other parts adding that they have built their community into a sophisticated socio-cultural and political system which they have used as a tool for development.

Senator Andy Ubah and his team

He advocated for a responsible and focused leadership as well as an understanding and responsive followership for a better society, even as he commended the planning committee led by Onwa Achina, Nze Modestus Umenzekwe for a successful cultural outing.

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In his speech, Senator Representing Anambra Senatorial zone, Senator Emmanuel Andy Uba appealed to the Federal government to hasten intervention on the collapsed Federal Roads in the South-East particularly Anambra state. He specifically asked the Minister for Power, Fashola representative to ensure the President knows about the dilapidating highways in South East for urgent intervention before elections. He said the day was unique and special for Achina community indigenes. He urged them to be united in peace and love for their community. He thanked Onwa Achina for inviting him.

Addressing the community after the cultural exhibition, award recognition, pageantry award , the Chairman Planning Committee , Achina Idegwu Egbe buru oku , Asoghi anwuru , Chief Modestus Umenzekwe, Onwa Achina, reminded that Achina stands on trinity just like Christianity hence the love and unity that bound them together in the past remained unshaken till date.

Onwa Achina left with Fashola’s rep , Engr Ajayi and Umenduka right

Onwa Achina commended his committee members for their resilience and commitment for the success of Idegwu 2018 day and called for continued support to the institutions in the community for continued development of their cultural heritage.

He said Idegwu day was all about celebration of the community’s birthday which is a period to chart a new cause for the community by professionals, Academia, government representatives and business men based home and abroad as the festival serves as Achina day celebration.

Umenzekwe said: ‘’ The will to resist domination, is part of the movement of History. It is not in our nature to play to play second fiddle to anyone or group of persons. My Joy is unlimited as we assemble for Idegwu 2018.

‘’…..indeed the day of glory has arrived for Achina and we must seize this opportunity to chart a new course. Let us think back and remember where we are coming from. While we embrace modernity, our past cannot be thrown away for History never alters much in its texture. …….the years of acrimony are over. Failure, they say is the backdoor to success. We lost ground in the past due to protracted chieftaincy crisis. We have to regain the lost the ground.

Igwe in council

‘’………….we must market ourselves. Beyond turning Ezekoro Spring water , with its 245 steps into a tourist site , some financial gains will also accrue from doing business with the spring water. ………we must use education as a tool to liberate our children and guarantee collective future ……we salute our forebears Ebele, Ezeeleke and Ezeiyi. Achina di egwu!’’

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President General Achina Town Union, Sir Chito Ezeani informed that the 2018 Idegwu day celebration would be use to raise funds for completion of Achina town hall/Civic center complex which remains furnishing/equipping the conference rooms with computer and internet facilities , library as well as indoor recreation facilities; further development of Oye market axis like building of market stalls , and transforming/giving our Central Business District (Oye Market) a facelift; funding the community’s erosion control efforts (Okpalanwa erosion site, Ezeokoro erosion site, St Joseph ‘s Catholic Church (OPS) erosion site, Okpaasomiri erosion site , Nwaitata erosion site among others as well as funding / rehabilitation of their Comprehensive Health Center (Hospital) at Amaiyi.

Women Group at Idegwu

He thanked Achina Amazon under the auspices of League of Achina Women Professionals LAW-P for their enormous efforts in this regards even as he appealed to Governor Willie Obiano hasten tarring of Oye Achina-Onneh-road , Achina-Enugwu Umuonyia –Ezira road , Oye Achina –Eke Achina-Umuchu road , Achina-Amahie Umuchu road to ease transportation within the area.

Chairman on the occasion, High Chief Johnbosco Onunkwo commended peaceful relationship between Achina and its neighbours hence he was made Chairman on the occasion and enjoined all Achina people to be their brother’s keeper. He thanked Onwa Achina, Modestus Umenzekwe and his committee , the president General , Sir Chito Ezeani, a lawyer as well as the traditional ruler , Igwe Obiora and his cabinet  for their commitment for the progress of their community.

Eze-Idegwu the third of Achina His Royal Highness Igwe Godwin Nnaemeka Obiora in his speech appealed to Achina people to always maintain the peace and love that exist amongst them and to always be a shining armour anywhere they found themselves He also reminded that the celebration was a medium for Achina people to showcase their cultural heritage.

In a goodwill message, Chief Joe Ifedobi, Okosis Akpo , Ijikara 11 said he was wondering why he was from Akpo community instead of Achina community and lauded the Achina community for uniting for Idegwu 2018 celebration even as he prayed that Achina soon becomes a local government headquarters of Amaiyi local government, it deserves.

On his part a religious leader and Catholic Bishop of Nnewi diocese, Most Reverend Hilary Paul Odili Okeke did not only gave his blessings for the 2018 Idegwu celebration but commended the celebration as a way of being in touch with their progenitor , assuring them of spiritual union.

In a chat, a member of the planning committee, Paul Chuks Umenduka described the event as apt, having succeeded in uniting the people of Achina better than ever and prayed God to bless Achina people anywhere they are.

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The first runner up of Ada Idegwu beauty pageant 2018 Miss Oledibe Chinelo and her second and third runner ups were presented to the Igwe and cabinet for blessings and prayers. Igwe Obiora challenged them to be exemplary and stand out as Achina Ambassadors in all they do in the next three years.

While Miss Okpara Juliet who took the overall best in WAEC in Nigeria was given scholarship to read Medicine at UNN where she gained admission by Prof Etisiobi Ndiokwelu.

Igwe Obiora, Eze Idegwu 111 of Achina held the Community’s Ofala festival on Saturday in readiness for the high profile event billed for Monday 31st December, 2018.

The event which took place every three years in the kingdom, was being considered by the people to now take place every seven (7) years if the Achina community approves the proposal.

This according to the Secretary Idegwu Day Planning Committee, Mr Sylvester Umenduka is to make it unique and a must for Achina people to wish to participate by planning ahead of time.

Umenzekwe , Umeduka and other elders of the community, including 84 year old Nze Nnebelam Onyetusionwu who is the custodian of the Idegwu shrine and Igwe Obiora on Friday during the ‘Itii Omu’ Achina Idegwu Egbe Buru Oku, Asoghi Anwuru’ at the market square said there was no fetish act attached to the festival, rather to celebrate the birth of Achina, which was bequeathed to them by their fore fathers.

Special Assistant to Obiano on political matters, Hon Anayo Okpalaeke said  the’ iti omu’ and ofala before the event on Friday and Saturday respectively,  were to herald the Achina Idegwu festival.

On Sunday, the entire village particularly Ada-Idegwu and maidens went to fetch water from the Ezekoro spring with their calabashes, while Igwe in council with the Town union leadership fetch Ezekoro on Sunday preceding the Idegwu day proper.

There was also football match and outing of a new age grade even children were not left out as they performed a carnival with their Igbe dance. Idegwu music albums by Chika Okpala as well as Idegwu brochure were distributed.

All kinds of masquerade paraded in style to herald the Achina Idegwu day celebration with young stars who returned for Christmas enjoying the countryside convivial atmosphere and spirit of brotherhood lacking in the cities.

The monarch used the ceremony to confer chieftaincy titles on some of the illustrious sons and daughters of Anambra.

Before the event which climaxed on the eve of the New Year, the traditionalists, led by 84-year-old, Nze Nnebelam Onyetusionu, had called out all the masquerades numbering over 100 at the Oye market for rituals.

The rituals were performed at the Ezekoro shrine, where women are forbidden to enter, located inside the Oye market square.

Awards were given people who contributed in making Achina thick, some posthumous while others received their life time achievement awards as prominent Achina indigenes including the chairman planning committee of Idegwu day celebration , Onwa Achina, Nze Modestus Umenzekwe , Chief Martin Okpala and Ichie Cletus Dim to mention but a few.