The Easter season throbs with the celebration of the annual Anioma Cultural Festival in Asaba, Delta State. This year marks the 15th anniversary of the festival of royalty, glamour, pomp and pageantry. Arguably the finest cultural event in Delta State, Anioma Cultural Festival is the panoply of fashion, music, dance, traditional sports and creative arts of historical value to the Anioma people from the nine local government areas of Delta North Senatorial Zone. Initiated 15 years ago by the Organisation for the Advancement of Anioma Culture (OFAAC), the culture umbrella body of the Anioma nation, the unity-inducing festival has helped to reawaken the consciousness of the people to their cultural values.
This year’s fest is anchored on the theme: ‘Building Bridges’. Ever since its inception in 2003, OFAAC has remained faithful to the objective of preserving and promoting the rich cultural heritage of the Anioma nation, with the festival serving as a melting-pot for the revival and appreciation of Anioma culture.
Well over 300 delegates and stakeholders representing the four dialectical groups in Anioma nation gathered recently in the commodious Orchid Hotels, Asaba, Delta State to put the plans for the festival in a fitting sync. The committed and irrepressible President of OFAAC, Kester Ifeadi, an architect, did not mince words in stating that the organisation is committed to the Anioma cause and as such this year’s festival can only get better than previous ones. Calling on all good-spirited sons and daughters of Anioma to come together in unity of purpose so the people can achieve the Anioma of their dream, Ifeadi maintained that culture and arts are essential elements of education.
Different dance troupes, traditional wrestlers and other performing artistes from Anioma communities have upped their ante for epic performances on Easter Monday, April 2, at the AGGS (Anglican Girls Grammar School), Asaba. The Asaba International Airport, the gateway to the fest, welcomes friends, culture enthusiasts, corporate organisations and stakeholders. Anioma Cultural Festival showcases the award-winning Agwuba royal dance, Egwu-Ajah maiden dance, Uloko dance, Egwu Ohuhu, Olingba dance, Amala dance and multiform occupational and contemporary dances.
The festival has over the years enjoyed the support of the venerated royal monarchs of Anioma, representatives of federal and state governments, corporate organisations such as Grand Oak Ltd, MTN Nigeria, Zenith Bank, Union Bank and Orchid Hotels Asaba, among others.
According to Paddy Ugboh, Executive Vice-President, OFAAC, “Our focus is to showcase the unique culture of the Anioma people and thus enrich Anioma, Delta State and Nigeria’s cultural life by promoting cultural diversity in order to foster harmony and friendship among people with different cultural backgrounds.”
Ifeadi looks at the 15 years of resourcefulness with delight, and remains poised on breaking new grounds in the mobilisation of Anioma people for cultural renaissance, empowerment and positive self-esteem. The major strategies for this evolution are built on advocacy, workshops, lectures, research, micro-credit schemes, exhibitions, and the trailblazing publication of the colourful magazine Anioma Essence.
In seeing culture as the totality of the people’s way of life, OFAAC undertakes the onerous task of boosting small-scale businesses within the Anioma communities for poverty reduction. There is the regular intervention of assisting interested participants from Anioma in entrepreneurial development through micro-credit schemes. This is aimed at empowering the poor and the less-privileged in Anioma nation. For Arc. Ifeadi,, the scheme is as an important milestone in OFAAC’s poverty reduction drive in Anioma which, in his words, “is consistent with the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) of the United Nations.”
From the early beginnings 15 years ago of a handful of stalwarts, notably Ifeadi, Ugboh, Emeka Nmadu, Gideon Nwaomu and Monn Olodu, a lawyer, OFAAC has moved steadily to a large movement that attracts nearly 5,000 volunteers and loyalists. The non-partisanship of the non-profit organisation has made the body a darling of all Anioma sons and daughters.
The drums have been rolled out to make the Easter season of the Anioma Cultural Festival a once-in-a-lifetime celebration.