By Dr. Harris Chuma Odili – Ogene Igbo
Festivals are celebrated to preserve the cultural heritage of the society.
As a socio-cultural phenomenon, culture festivals in Ogbunike are connected with various deities like Aro, Ogwugwu, Kisa,Ogba, among others to preserve their heroic deeds and attributes and as means of venerating them. Festivals in Ogbunike land represent auspicious occasions when people celebrate religious, social, political and cultural events. Indeed, in Azu-Ogbunike, Onwa isato festival is celebrated annually in commemoration and recognition of the rich cultural heritage of the Azu people.
The festival is a rallying point for all Azu sons and daughters from far and wide to celebrate and remember the great exploits and bravery of our forebears. According to the native calendar lores, Onwa isato celebration serves as a prelude to the farming season. The festival is observed in February with alot of fan fare; cultural music performances, day and night’s masquerades exhibitions are usually the major point of attraction during the festivity. The eve of the festival witnesses the dreaded masquerades known as “Ogbazulu Obodo” and “Ayaka”. The Ayaka traditional dance is fully observed to celebrate valor and heroism of our forebears. Only the initiates do the Ayaka masquerade dance.
The Onwa isato Festival is a very significant annual traditional celebration in Azu-Ogbunike. It is a 3-day culture festival in the native calendar of Ogbunike. The festival constitutes a major commercial activity that brings about economic integration and development of the Azu village in Ogbunike, Anambra State, Nigeria.
Umunnem, we must continue to promote and preserve our cultural heritage, it is our identity which gives us recognition. Our forefathers were so passionate and committed to the preservation of our cultural heritage, we must not let it go into extinction because for a society to be societal it must be cultural. Society and culture are also intertwined. The culture and tradition of people are their identities as it affords them due recognition. It is their underlying distinguishing factor from other peoples and cultures. In fact, all societies across the globe have various and divergent cultures which they cherish and practice.
Onwa isato festival is promoting our culture and tradition to the whole world. The festival has shown to the whole world that Azu- Ogbunike culture is very rich. The festival is no doubt seemingly the most glamorous cultural and spiritual festivals in Ogbunike land, and Anambra state, in general.
Aro meeeyiiii! Aru ogbodu deedeedeeedeee!!!!!