– By Patrick Ochei
Issele-Uku, the headquarters of Aniocha North Local Government Area of Delta State, is reputed for her traditions and culture which are carefully kept and nurtured for centuries.
Saturday, 11th September, 2021, is another festive season that brings sons and daughters of the Ancient Kingdom together in love, peace and unity.
It is a festival usually marked with joy known in our local parlance as “Ine Onyimi” where people make merry and are free to say anything they like, even to the King.
The Ine Festival is satirical in nature. There is no holds back in exposing what is hitherto known and kept as secret before an Ine Festival; it is where every wrong doing is brought to light. It’s a Festival among several others in the annual festive calendar of Issele-Uku (Ine Aho) where the Agbogidi performs warlike (Ime Uje) activities that distinguishes him as a king and a warlord.
On this occasion, various cabinet chiefs (Onotu Chiefs) would come in their regalias, dancing to the music from heavily beaten drum (Olimgba). They come to the Palace to pay Homage and Obi would extend a hand of fellowship to them as commanders of war and dependable allies in keeping the community together in peace and unity.
At the open space at ‘Ishu Ogwa’, various chiefs put up different performances as they dance to the rhythm of the sound from the Olimgba; while the Agbogidi is being praised and eulogized at the inner chamber of the Palace (Ogwa) with Opi flute and Egwu Issoh (originally from Bini).
This year, the Onotu Chiefs that came for the Traditional Homage/ Handshake (Inaka) with Agbogidi Obi Nduka include: the Traditional Prime Minister of Issele-Uku (Iyase Issele-Uku), Chief Engr. Innocent Etemua Ashiedu, the Ozah of Issele-Uku, Chief Victor Isiekwenagbu, the Okwalegwe of Issele-Uku, Chief Dr. John Ochei, the Isama of Issele-Uku, Chief Barr. Krees Njiokwuemeni, the Omeogor of Issele-Uku, Chief Innocent Ikpeamanam Nwakpati and the Esogba of Issele-Uku, Chief Fidelis Jigide.
At the end of this segment, Agbogidi Obi Nduka retired into the inner Palace to prepare for the second coming out, which is to perform the ‘Igbu Agbo’. On his way inside, he stops over to receive the love of his wife, HRM Queen Rosemary Dumebi Nduka (Anasi-Obi Issele-Uku) who was flanked by her attendants and other members of the Royal family.
Agbogidi Obi Nduka was spectacular in his red regalia, as he emerged this time in a warlike atmosphere notable for the conquest Issele-Uku recorded in several ancient wars she fought against her enemies. This is symbolic in our Traditional experience and it is called “Igbu Agbo”.
At this stage, chicken liver men and women are restrained from coming close. It is also not for media coverage as what happens inside the Afor Market where the ‘Igbu Agbo’ takes place is usually not for the consumption of persons not traditionally privileged for such.
According to Prince Victor Egbune who is the Chairman of the 2021 Ine Aho Festival Committee, “Agbogidi Obi Nduka is a King with a difference. He is a God-sent monarch whose coming has brought so much gains in investment, growth and development, not forgetting the unlimited peace, unity and love that currently exist among his subjects and within the Issele-Uku community.
“This year’s edition of Ine Aho Festival is awesome, fantastic and delightful to all and sundry. We hope to sustain this tempo.
“To show you how blessed Issele-Uku is as a kingdom, there was no single drop of rain even at this time that it rains virtually every day. Issele-Uku is a community that does not depend on the services of rain makers to hold rain during our festivals. However, how God does it is unimaginable. When it comes to this day, rain will just disappear to enable everyone enjoy the moments of joy and glamour without weather interference.
“We are using this medium to call on Government, Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Council of Arts and Culture and other government and culture loving corporate entities to come and understudy Issele-Uku traditions and culture as a way of developing a masterpiece for a viable Tourism Industry. We are at best with our traditions and culture which need documentation, promotion and marketing from government for the good of all.
“Again, for us to continue to pride ourselves in the value that our culture is noted for, we need government and corporate partnership. Government should really get involved by creating a policy that enables it to sponsor aspects of Issele-Uku culture for the boosting of the Tourism Industry and attraction of Direct Foreign Investment”, Egbune posited.