OSIEZI FESTIVAL; THE FOUNDATION OF AGBOR CULTURAL HERITAGE

IKA WEEKLY- While growing up, in my first few years on mother earth, I came to know that the people of Agbor Kingdom celebrates what they call Osiezi Festival. The festival was celebrated once every year, around the period of the raining season, the exact month and date I cannot say accurately.

                            

My childhood experience of the celebration, which was the last of the event comes clearly into focus each time I recall that there was once a celebration like that in the ancient Kingdom of Agbor. That year, I remembered going to Chief J.E Imudia’s house as a very small child with my little friends in our shots without shirts to join in the eating and drinking. It was the night before he was to pay homage to Obi Ikenchukwu, at the palace. I remember also being part of the people, even though I was very tender in age then, that were at the home of late Chief John Akpenyi, the Odozi Alli of Agbor Kingdom to watch him dance from his house in Orogodo to Ime-Obi, where the royal palace is situated.

                            

I still recollect with nostalgia, the little my tender memory could absorb, how interesting it was. I cannot remember how, but I remember vividly that somehow, we were at the palace where I observed with excitement the paying of homage by all traditional chieftaincy title holders in the kingdom to his Royal Majesty, Obi Ikenchukwu, who was in his full traditional regalia, which we thought in those days was made up of leaves.

                            

Of particular interest to us were the men who stood beside His Royal Majesty, carrying what I was later to know is called ‘Ada and Eben’. These men were always semi-naked, and we wondered in our infantile mind how matured men could appear in that manner, but we were later to know that it was part of the celebration and the tradition of the land.

                            

There is no gainsaying the fact that the rich culture of Agbor Kingdom is put highly on display to the admiration of the subjects of His Royal Majesty and lovers of the kingdom who came from different parts of the country, even from other parts of the world to witness the events.

                            

In the past few years, majority of Agbor indigenes that I have had cause to discuss the issue with, are of the strong view that the Osiezi festival should be restored and celebrated as it used to, because it is seen as emphasizing the wonderful and remarkable culture of Agbor kingdom. The Binis, who are known to be culturally inclined, regard their cultural heritage as of great importance and celebrate, ‘Igwe’ festival in December of each year. That also goes for other ethnic groups in Nigeria who cherish their time-honoured cultures.

                            

In my candid opinion, I believe the Osiezi is the true embodiment and essence of the cultural heritage of the people of Agbor Kingdom. To me, it is central to the kingdom’s cultural prestige. It is on this strongly held opinion that I am calling on the Agbor royal palace as personified by the ebullient and highly revered traditional monarch, His Royal Majesty, Keagborekuzi 1, to look into ways of bringing the Osiezi festival on stream again.

                            

It is imperative to note that the people of Agbor Kingdom, especially the youths are seriously desirous of witnessing the festival, which a good number of them only hear of through the elders of the land. My call is hinged on the fact that we cannot allow such rich aspect of our culture to be extinguished completely.

                            

Secondly it will be an opportunity for our revered monarch who spent most of childhood outside Agbor to invite his friends from different countries to witness the rich cultural heritage of his kingdom. This ceremony if held annually could be foreign exchange earner to the country and also put Agbor kingdom on the world map as a tourist center comparable to all other cultural celebrations worldwide.

                            

Now should be the time to bring it back, as we still have people around who knows all about it. For it will be a cultural failure on the part of our fathers, if these individuals are allowed to go to the great beyond without passing the Osiezi festival and other areas our culture to the younger generation, who inturn will pass it down to coming generations.

                            

We must retain all aspects or areas of the our culture that we know to be good and desirable. And honestly, the Oseizi festival is one of them.

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