The Imo State General Purpose Committee on Festivals and Cultural Events has started its assignment with a visit to Arondizuogu to observe Ika Ikeji 2022, to interface with the Arondizuogu Patriotic Union regarding Ikeji Festival, and to look at some monuments and places of historical interest in the community.
The Committee led by its Chairman, Mrs Josephine Oguike, started with a courtesy call on Eze Ozuomba of Awa Izuogu Autonomous Community, HRH Eze Oliver Dike 111.
The Committee observed Ika Ikeji, an annual ceremony held at Obi Iheme, the ancestral homestead of the Iheme Clan, to schedule Ikeji. The 2022 Ikeji Festival, by the scheduling, will hold on April 28, 2022, at the usual Nkwo Achi venue.
The Ikeji festival is celebrated by Aro people in Ideato North, Okigwe and Onuimo Local Government Areas of Imo State.
The Committee as part of its assignment visited the homestead of late Peter Nwana, the author of OMENUKO, the first Igbo novel. It also visited the exotic country home and tomb of Dr Kingsley Ozuomba Mbadiwe, a foremost nationalist and sensational First Republic Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The Committee was impressed at the state of the former Minister’s house and charged the keepers of the estate to preserve it as a tourist site and for posterity. The Committee later visited the home of another nationalist and First Republic Legislator, late Chief Mbonu Ojike of the “boycott the boycottables” fame in Nigerian history and politics
Speaking to the Imo State General Purposes Committee on Festivals and Cultural Events at the Arondizuogu Patriotic Union, APU, Secretariat, on behalf of the Local Organizing Committee for 2022 Ikeji Arondizuogu, Mazi Emma Offor, the First Vice President-General of APU, in company of Mazi Obinna Okpareke and Mazi Francis Akanu, said Ikeji originated from Arochukwu, the place of origin of the people of Arondizuogu. He said while the festival was celebrated in April or May in Arondizuogu, it was marked every September in Arochukwu.
According to Mazi Emma Offor, the objectives of Ikeji include promoting peace and reconciliation, resurrecting the spirit of harmony and unity, and paying homage to the elders, especially the eldest in the families in what is called “IBU IHU”. He disclosed that Ikeji, which is celebrated at Nkwo Achi, is not fetish.
Explaining that the ancestors of Arondizuogu people were warriors, Mazi Emma Offor said they used propaganda to instill fear in the public and thereby mystified Ikeji festival. He however added that non-initiates were not expected to join the masquerades and their performances.
He commended the Imo State Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Creative Arts led by Mazi Uche Ohia for identifying with the preliminary stage of 2022 Ikeji Arondizuogu festival and appealed to Government to construct a befitting stadium or cultural arena for the celebration of Ikeji in line with the festival’s international acclaim as a major event in the tourism calendar in Nigeria.
Speaking, the Chairman of the Imo State General Purpose Committee on Festivals and Cultural Events, Mrs Josephine Oguike, commended the Local Organizing Committee for 2022 Ikeji Arondizuogu for their hospitality and for the efforts to plan a resounding festival for the year. She enjoined them to continue to promote and preserve Igbo culture for posterity.
In his remarks at Arondizuogu Town Hall, the Special Adviser to Imo State Governor on Culture and Creative Arts, Paddy Obinna, expressed Governor Hope Uzodimma’s profound best wishes to Arondizuogu people, and the willingness of the Commissioner for Tourism, Culture and Creative Arts, Mazi Uche Ohia, PhD, to partner them to promote and preserve their culture. Hon Paddy Obinna commended the rich cultural heritage and values of the people of Arondizuogu.
It will be recalled that the General Purpose Committee on Festivals and Cultural Events was set up by the Mazi Uche Ohia-led Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Creative Arts to, among other responsibilities, appraise the festivals and cultural events in Imo State with the view to streamlining their activities through providing rules of engagement to ensure that the festivals and events are devoid of any repugnant dimensions, and stop the pollution of our culture and festivals by imprudent youths who unleash difficulties on society, destroy economic trees, molest individuals and block public roads in the guise of celebrating culture.
Other members of the Committee on the entourage included Hon Bobby Michaels, Special Adviser to Imo State Governor on Entertainment; Mrs Assumpta Akujobi, Director, Imo State Council for Arts and Culture, ISCAC; Mrs Adaeze Nzeogu, Head of Department of Creative Arts, Imo State Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Creative Arts; and Mrs Beatrice Amaefu, Secretary, Imo State General Purpose Committee on Festivals and Cultural Events.