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Ofala Igwe Nnewi
The Ofala Festival is an annual ceremony practised by Igbo people, particularly the indigenes of Onitsha, Umueri, Umuoji and other neighbouring communities such as Aguleri, Nnewi and Ukpo in Dunukofia Local Government Area. It serves as a rite of renewal of the king or Igwe or Obi and it is similar to the Igue Festival in Benin and the Ine, Osi or Ogbanigbe Festival in many mid-West Igbo communities of Nigeria. The term ofala, is derived from two Igbo words – ọfọ (English: authority) and ala (English: land). The festival is celebrated within two days mostly in October by the Obi (English: king) and is a customary obligation that must be performed every couple of years without fail.
The festival usually starts with a traditional twenty-one gun salute followed by an all-night Ufie (royal gong) drumming, dancing and other cultural activities. In the afternoon, the Obi’s cabinet of chiefs, guests from other communities, age groups, women and youth of the community usually throng the palace grounds or Ime Obi dressed in traditional or ceremonial attires befitting the festival occasion. The royal music or Egwu Ota is played during the entrance of the Ndichie or red cap chiefs who arrive after the gathering of the crowd and bringing along a few of their friends and family members their procession to the palace. The highlight of the festival is the emergence of the Obi in his royal regalia to the cheer of the crowd, a cannon shot announces the entrance of the Obi who is usually dressed in ceremonial robe and carries a bronze sword on his hand, he walks to the sides of the arena or a third of the arena acknowledging the cheers of the gathering. The Obi then retires and subsequently, the red cap chiefs pay homage to him according to seniority, thereafter both the Obi and the Chiefs reappear after the firing of another cannon shot. During the second appearance the Obi dances in the arena, something that is rarely seen and his steps cover more distance than the first appearance. Then the visiting chiefs and guests pay homage to the Obi. The festival is also sometimes an occasion for the Obi to honour individuals with chieftaincy titles