By Nwabueze Okonkwo & Chimaobi Nwaiwu
ONITSHA— Activities marking this year’s annual Ofala cultural festival of the Obi of Onitsha, His Majesty, Igwe Alfred Nnaemeka Achebe (Agbogidi) kick off today in grand style at the revered Ime Obi Palace, Onitsha, Anambra State.
The ceremony is expected to attract dignitaries from far and near, including Onitsha indigenes and non-indigenes resident at home and in the diaspora.
A visit to the Obi’s Palace, yesterday, showed that paintings, decorations and renovations had been completed, thus showing the crystal nature of the ancient Obi of Onitsha palace.
Although the Palace secretary, Olisa Agusiobo, was not around when newsmen visited, chairman of the publicity sub-committee, Prof. Ngozi Okafor, the Ogene Onira of Onitsha, confirmed that all is now set for the big event and that expectations are high, adding that the palace would bubble with personalities today, being the main Ofala day and tomorrow, the Azu-Ofala day.
Okafor also confirmed that adequate security measures have been put in place to forestall any possible break down of law and order throughout the event.
As usual, it is expected that politicians from various political parties and their governorship candidates would like to attend the occasion and use it as an opportunity to market themselves and canvass for votes ahead of the November 18 governorship election in Anambra State.
Ofala festival in Onitsha dates back to 1500 AD when the first Obi of Onitsha and founder of ‘Onicha Ado N’idu’, Obi Ezechima reigned.
Free eye treatment
Meantime, as part of activities marking the 16th Ofala Festival, no fewer that 520 residents of Onitsha, yesterday, received free eye treatment and services conducted at the Ime Obi Palace.
The programme which is sponsored by Maldor Gift of Sight, Abuja was co-sponsored by Ora Egbunike Associates Estate Surveyors, Valuers, Facilities Managers and Property Investment Consultants, Lagos
Speaking with Vanguard during the medical outreach, Founder of Maldor Gift of Sight, Dr Doris Onyeador, said the company was a purpose-driven eye care centre that dedicates 10 percent of its proceed to free eye care, examination, medication, glasses and vision aids to people in the rural communities.
Dr Onyeador said the medical outreach to Onitsha and its connection with Igwe Achebe Ofala Festival was at the instance of Nwakibie Ora Egbunike, who ran into one of their programmes and decided to bring it to his people to support the 16th Ofala Festival of Igwe Achebe.