The address by the Ofala Steering Committee at the Press Conference, held on Thursday, August 31, 2023, at Ime Obi Onitsha in the resources section should be moved to the 2023 Ofala Press Conference.
Ladies & Gentlemen of the Press
Members of The Ofala Steering Committee
Our Partners From Globacom and International Breweries Plc
It gives me great pleasure to welcome you to this press conference on the arrangements that have been made for this year’s Ofala. Our partners would also be speaking on how they would be providing support to the Ofala.
All is now set for 2022 Ofala of His Majesty, Nnaemeka Alfred Achebe, mni, CFR, Agbogidi, Obi of Onitsha. The celebration, which would be held here at Ime Obi Onitsha will span two days – Iru Ofala on October 22 and the Azu Ofala on October 23. His Majesty will also be using the occasion of the Ofala for thanksgiving in commemoration of his twentieth anniversary as monarch. He ascended the throne of Ezechima twenty years ago on May 14, 2002, which coincidentally was his 61st birthday.
The Ofala is the high point of the Onitsha ceremonial cycle. The Obi of Onitsha is the celebrant of this spectacle which is rooted in deep spirituality. The Ofala is an occasion for the monarch to fulfill certain obligations. It is primarily a celebration by the monarch and his subjects, of the monarch’s annual emergence from seclusion, during which period the monarch has successfully negotiated the fortunes of the kingdom. It is also a reenactment of the joy, which the monarch shared with his subjects, at the discovery that yam is non-toxic, and a valuable source of food
The Onicha Ado N’Idu community is looking forward to celebrating the 2022 Ofala in the normal way after two years, during which the Covid-19 pandemic had caused the ceremonies to be held devoid of the usual fanfare. Some of you may recall that in 2019, we announced a plan for placing the Ofala on a higher pedestal. The plan had three broad objectives. The first is for the Ofala to attract considerable national, West African, and international attention. The second is for the Ofala to attain the status of a major event in the Nigerian, by extension in the West African cultural/tourism calendar. The third is for the Ofala to become a viable commercial venture, making reasonable contributions to the Ime Obi treasury. We took off well in 2019. That year, the Ofala was endorsed by the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation, the apex tourism regulatory agency in the country, as a major Nigerian festival. NTDC has also issued a specific mandate in its support. However, the Covid-19 pandemic led to a situation in which we could not go ahead with implementing our plans. Now that the pandemic is reasonably behind us, we can now focus attention on our purpose for the Ofala, which in the words of His Majesty is to bring the world to Onitsha.
Globacom and International Breweries Plc are the official sponsors of the Ofala. Globacom has been partnering with the Onitsha Traditional Council since 2011. The relationship these bodies have had with the Onitsha community has contributed in no small measure to the growth and development of the Ofala.
The 2022 Ofala events will commence with the Ofala Youth Carnival on Friday, October 21. The carnival which is organized by the Onitsha Ado Youth Council (OYC) showcases the rich cultural heritage of Onitsha indigenes. It is probably the biggest cultural street fanfare in the South East region of Nigeria. With the Covid-19 pandemic, there were interruptions in 2020 and 2021. Against the background of the pandemic, the 2022 edition will not be staged at the same level as those of previous years and has been restricted to an arena: Okwueze Umuezearoli.
After a two-year break arising from the Covid-19 pandemic, the Oreze Arts Series, a group art exhibition promoted by His Majesty’s Chimedie Museum Trust Foundation, returns. The eighth edition of the series will also open on Friday, October 21 and run till Tuesday, October 25. The series is designed to provide exposure to budding artists living and practicing in the South East of Nigeria. It is also an avenue for multitalented and well-established artists from various parts of the world to exhibit their works. At least 120 artists will be exhibiting their works at Oreze VIII. They include masters such as Alex Nwokolo, Kainebi Osahenye, Edison Ekwueme, Dr. Bolaji Ogunwo, Tola Wewe, and Ayeva Nourridine Medjeva. The special guest will be Professor John Ogene, Professor of Art History and Graphics, Department of Fine and Applied Arts, University of Benin.
A Royal Banquet organized by Globacom in honour of the Obi of Onitsha comes up on Wednesday, October 26. The banquet will be held at the Dolly Hills Hotel, Onitsha.
The activities will be rounded off with an Ofala Thanksgiving service scheduled to be held on Sunday, October 30 at St. Stephen’s Anglican Church, St. Stephen Road, Inland Town, Onitsha.
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen of the press, we look forward to your coverage of the various Ofala events. Our Strategic Marketing and Communications team remains available to provide any help that you may require.
I thank you for coming and God bless.
Images from the 2023 Ofala Press Conference