It was all joy and celebration during the Yuletide at Uturu, as over four states from the eastern part of the country, among others, gathered to celebrate Igbo Uturu Cultural Carnival. ANDREW IRO OKUNGBOWA and GORDI UDEAJA write on the thrills and attractions of the yearly celebration.
UTURU, the host community of Abia State University in Isuikwuato Local Government area of the state was aglow during the last Yuletide as the fourth edition of the Igbo Uturu Cultural Carnival was celebrated. It was an occasion devoted to the re-enactment of the cultural heritage of the people of Igbo extraction.
The celebration, which lasted over three days and held at the expansive complex of Greg Ibe University, a private university owned by the originator and promoter of the communal carnival, Dr. Greg Ibe, had in attendance about five eastern states and others. The roll call include Delta, Imo, Ebonyi, Anambra, Rivers and Enugu as well as other nationalities from the southern and northern parts of the country.
From the first day to the last day of the carnival, the university town was aglow with pomp and celebrations of different types with almost every available space and leisure spots taken over by the celebrants, particularly the youths who had travelled from across the country to celebrate the Yuletide with their kinsmen.
The carnival, which has gradually assumed a place of prominence among the people as the only cultural carnival of that magnitude holding at such time of the year, was full of colour and excitement, reaching a climax on the final day, which was New Year Eve.
The first two days of the celebration witnessed some sparkles in terms of the activities that were staged by the organisers of the event. The musical night was a full house with the people partying into the next day. In attendance were a lot of upcoming local artistes from the eastern parts of the country, all displaying abundant youthful talents and creative zest as they entertained the people.
The acts on parade ranged from musical artistes to comedians of different blends. The fact that the audience was largely comprised of youths made the night more electrifying and colourful with a lot of dancing and singing round the clock.
It was a night to be remembered and the following day heralded the real cultural celebrations with traditional dances and music. Again, the youths were not left out of this, as it was a mixed audience that populated Greg University and the adjacent Uturu Royal Country Club, also owned by Ibe, which served as host venue as well, to witness and partake of the communal feast that was enacted.
The grand finale was indeed a colourful and entertaining event and it was more of masquerade day with a lot of them in different captivating costumes coming out in their numbers to entertain the large audience that turned out for the last day of the celebration. Masquerades that performed at the occasion include those from Izuogu, Izaga from Agulu, war dance from Ohafia, and Ojionu. Dances include the owuonu from Ogidi, Uturu women group, those from Delta, ijele and many others.
It was also an occasion for speech making with Ibe, the sole sponsor of the yearly carnival, reiterating the reason for the festival, which, according to him, is dedicated to sustaining and promoting the cultural heritage and values of the people, while staging the event in Uturu is design to draw attention to a place he said is the original ancestral home of the Igbos.
Ibe also captivated the people with the rich and enduring history of Ndigbo race and that of the famous Uturu cave, which once served as the home and bulwark of the people. The cave today attracts a lot of visitors to the community. “We would not allow our culture to die,’’ declared Ibe.
He further enjoined the people to discard the bad and obsolete aspect of their cultural heritage while cleaving to the good and positive ones, which should foster unity and rapid development among the people. The carnival promoter also spoke extensively on the need to demystified the Igbo masquerade for both sexes to enjoy the culture, adding that Ndigbo have rich cultural heritage that should be preserved.
Both the Minister of Culture, Tourism and National Orientation, Edem Duke and the Director General of the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC), Olusegun Runsewe, who were represented by the South East Zonal Coordinator of NTDC, Mr. Vincent Aruah, expressed delight and appreciation at the effort being made by the people to promote and preserve their tradition even as they enjoined them not to relent in their effort as tourism is a socio – economic agent that should benefit the people.
Also speaking at the event, the Chairman of the occasion, the former Vice Chancellor of Nnamdi Azikiwe University and Chairman, Otu Suwakwa Igbo, Prof. Pita Ejiofor, said he has seen many types of cultures and has come to the conclusion that the Igbo culture is about dying.
Ndigbo, he said, should begin to lay more emphasis on their cultural heritage and values.
Some of the dignitaries at the event were Chika Okpala alias “Zebrudaya” of the “Masquerade” fame; HRM, Obi Gogwin Nzemeke of Delta State, HRH Eze Cyril Ibe, Chief James Iroha, alias “Giringory” also of the “Masquerade” fame.
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Uturu Aglow For Igbo Uturu Cultural Carnival