AUGUST 31, 2023 – This year’s festival with a theme: ‘Better. Stronger. Together, will run over a three-week period in the month of October with the peaks scheduled for two days, Iru and Azu Ofala – October 14 and October 15, 2023, respectively.
Addressing a news conference on behalf of the Ofala Steering Committee, Mr. Nn’emeka Maduegbuna, the Chairman of the Steering Committee Subcommittee on Strategic Marketing and Communication, said Maduegbuna observed that “even though celebratory, cognisance has been taken of the prevailing economic situation in the country in planning the various events, hence the modalities for the 2023 Ofala would be restrained.”
He added that ”the annual Ofala has grown steadily over the years in terms of its scope, social glamour, and intrinsic meaning for ndi Onicha. ”An international art exhibition, a youths’ carnival, a marathon and a post-Ofala banquet have enhanced the content and attractiveness of the festival. A lecture series will be introduced this year.
”With the strides that the Ofala has made, it continues to receive both national and international recognition. The Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC) has endorsed the Onitsha Ofala Festival as a major Nigerian festival and issued a specific mandate in its support.
”The Ofala has also received a Certificate of Recognition for Excellence in Culture from the United Nations World Tourism Organisation. This is in recognition of its Corporate Contribution to the development of culture. ”We believe we are on course
to achieving the objectives of the Ofala attracting considerable national, West African, and international attention, and attaining the status of a major event in the Nigerian, by extension in the West African cultural/tourism calendar, ” Maduegbuna said.
He notes that in twenty-one years as Obi of Onitsha, His Majesty, Nnaemeka Alfred Achebe mni, CFR, Agbogidi, has made giant strides. ”These find expressions in several areas. They include a modernised and revitalised monarchy and a leadership the aura of which today radiates beyond Onitsha to Anambra State, the Southeast region, Nigeria and beyond.
”Furthermore, His Majesty has also articulated a vision for communal transformation hinged on a new value system for lifting the poor and most vulnerable in his domain from consumption and dependency to production and self-reliance. This vision is animated in the work of the Onitsha Advancement Foundation (OnAF) www.onaf.org.
According to Maduegbuna, “the natural step is to consolidate the breakthroughs that have been made from the onset. It is against this background that His Majesty has adopted Better. Stronger. Together., as the theme of the 2023 Ofala. ”It is a concept that whilst building on the gains that have been achieved, facilitates addressing the challenges ahead. In addition, it draws attention that this is a “work-in-progress” and requires that “all hands should be on deck.”
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 fulfil 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.”
Maduegbuna explained that currently there are two major sponsors of the Ofala — Globacom Limited and International Breweries Plc. ”The relationship these bodies have had with the Onitsha community has contributed in no small measure to the growth and development of the Ofala.