BY OKEY MUOKWE
At Igbariam in Anambra East local government area, where all the traditional rulers of Anambra North, led by His Royal Majesty, Igwe Nkeli Kelly, Okalakwu Igbariam, had gathered for a two-day celebration of the culture of the people, the atmosphere was ecstatic as colourful masquerades entertained guest following the traditional breaking of kola nuts and prayers after canon gun salutes had announced the arrival of all guests and commencement of the celebration. Supported by his colleagues, Igwe Okalakwu offered prayers for the good of Anambra state and its leadership. He prayed for longevity and good health of people of the state and Igboland in general. He also implored God, and ancestors of the people, to open doors of blessings for the people.
Igwe Okalakwu also enlisted support of all present for the administration in the state to enable it deliver on its mandate. With a thunderous chorus of isee, isee from the crowd comprising of members and leadership of town unions in the zone, Igwe Okalakwu declared the event open as dance troupes entertained guests including visiting traditional rulers from Anambra central senatorial zone, led by its chairman, Igwe Peter Uyanwa, Ezedike Ukwulu, Igwe Alex Onyido, Ezechuamagha of Ogidi and Isuofia of Nawfia, Igwe Chijioke Nwankwo among many others.
Welcoming their guest from Anambra Central, Igwe Okalakwu spoke so eloquently of the personality and philanthropic gestures of High Chief Okonkwo who was accompanied on the trip by his wife, Gina, and associates. He was listed for special recognition and award during the two-day cultural fiesta.
According to Igwe Okalakwu, it became expedient for traditional rulers of Anambra north, the home zone of Governor Willie Obiano, to specially honour High Chief Okonkwo, a business mogul and Russian-trained political economist, because a goldfish has no hiding place. He stated that through his foundation, Pro-Value Humanity Foundation, High Chief Okonkwo is touching lives in more positive ways adding that such gestures have become necessary to help the younger generation in finding their bearings in life.
Urging High Chief Okonkwo, who was on December 26, 2018, similarly appreciated and recognized by traditional rulers of Anambra central zone as Mbuba Anafolu Mbulu N’Ukpa, not to relent in his decision to use the foundation to push for self-actualization of Anambra youths, Igwe Okalakwu asked Okonkwo to step forwards and have another feather added to his already heavy cap.
Stepping out with his wife, High Chief Okonkwo walked into a circle of the Anambra north Traditional Rulers who accepted him warmly and dutifully capped him as Ibobo Igbo amidst thunderous ovation from the crowd. It was the first time in seven years that all traditional rulers of the zone had gathered to, also, fete a non-indigene of the zone, said Igwe Okalakwu who also capped High Chief Okonkwo’s wife, Gina, as Ugomba Ndigbo.
High Chief Okonkwo had barely rested after a well-spent day when the traditional rulers of Anambra South beckoned. This time, the traditional institution in Anambra south had gathered for the zonal celebration and cutting, of the New Yam.
The very colourful event took place at the Ekwulobia Township Stadium and had in attendance all traditional rulers of the southern senatorial zone and leadership of town unions in the zone. They were entertained by different dance troupes including the famous Egedege Dance troupe made popular by Teresa Onuora. There were several Ogene Music groups in tow.
The day was declared open with the traditional prayers and breaking of kola nuts performed by the ageless Igwe of Nnewi, Igwe Kenneth Orizu, who also prayed for longevity, good health and good neighbourliness and a better life for all. In his prayers, Igwe Orizu urged for peaceful co-existence among Nigerians. He also called on the Igbo people never to forget their cultural heritage. Done with the prayers, Igwe Laz Ekwueme, a professor of music and doyen of choral music in Nigeria who now sits on the stool of Oko kingdom, mounted the podium and performed the traditional cutting of the yam.
As he cut the yam, he prayed for a more bountiful harvest in the next farming season while a dance troupe and crowd of supporters waited to lead High Chief Obiora Okonkwo to the podium having been listed and invited, for recognition for his philanthropy. Okonkwo, led by several traditional rulers from the central and northern senatorial districts danced to the rhythm of the drums and flutists that accompanied him as he mounted the podium, accompanied by Ugomba Ndigbo, to, again, be awarded a plaque which read “in recognition of your exceptional philanthropy and achievements”.
Kneeling before traditional rulers of Anambra south, Okonkwo was capped, for the second time within 24 hours, but this time, as Ebubemba. He was also decorated as a warrior with the traditional ikpu akwa after which he was handed a specially designed hand fan and an ivory tusk signifying strength. The conclusion of the installation threw the crowd into wild ecstasy signifying acceptance by people of Anambra south senatorial zone and their traditional rulership.
With the successful outing, Okonkwo becomes one of only a few people in Anambra state to have received such acclaim by the traditional institution in all three senatorial zones of the state. High Chief Okonkwo, the Mbuba Anafolu Mbulu N’Ukpa of Anambra Central left his home as Dikeora Idemili, and within 24 hours added two more feathers to his cap becoming Ibobo Igbo (Anambra North) and Ebubemba (Anambra south). The trilogy is complete.
An elated High Chief Okonkwo, grateful for the recognition and acceptance by the traditional institution in the state promised not to let Anambra people down in his quest to use his talents and gifts to make more impacts on the people.
He said the joy of being accepted by the traditional institution in the state is a morale booster announcing that Pro-Value Humanity Foundation will do more in reaching out to youths and indigent people of the state.
The installations rounded off cultural festivities for the celebration of Omenani Anambra north and the New Yam festival of Anambra south, which has entered the zonal calendar as New Yam festival day for the southern senatorial district.
In between, High Chief Okonkwo was called in by Women’s Wing, Christian Council of Nigeria (WOWICCN) in Anambra state to receive yet another award for ‘excellent leadership’.
State President of WOWICCN, Dr. (Mrs) Elsie N. Nwokolo, who eulogized Okonkwo for his efforts at uplifting lives of people of the state thanked him for all he has so far done for the people while urging him not to relent.
She also lauded Okonkwo for his work in promoting ecumenism in Anambra, an effort which has helped deepen intra-faith and inter-faith harmony in the state.
For this, Okonkwo was asked to step forward for recognition. He did. And he went home with a plaque of honour for excellent leadership.