n most kingdoms in Anambra State, Ofala is observed as a memorial ritual commemorating the date when the traditional ruler of the territory was installed. Indigenes from various groups eagerly anticipate their Ofala, which takes place once a year, generally at the end of the year. In the history of every king in Anambra, there are two varieties of Ofala.
The first is an annual event that invites friends and well-wishers of the community during which the traditional ruler reviews his year’s activities, and the second is the last Ofala, which takes place after the monarch’s death.
The Ofala Festival is the Igbo people’s most important and well-preserved traditional celebration. It is a time for locals to gather together for dancing, singing, and catching up with old and new acquaintances.
It is also a time to give thanks to the ancestors for sparing people’s lives and ensuring a prosperous planting season.
It is a one-week festival in many areas, and other communities use it to organize a mass return during which community development projects are inaugurated. Virtually all acknowledged traditional rulers in Igbo land celebrate this event known as Ofala in one form or the other. While many communities refer to it as Ofala, others refer to it by different names. For example, Nnewi refers to it as Afia Olu, while Arochukwu refers to it as Ikeji; other villages refer to it by other names.
It is a three-day celebration in Onitsha, for example, that takes place in October. It normally starts with church services in many neighbourhoods. The festival season is also a time when members of the community memorialize important events and commemorate anniversaries in order to share life-giving stories, hope, and a feeling of purpose.
Hundreds of men and women enjoy the festivities at the Igwe or Obi’s palace, dancing to the throbbing rhythm of traditional drummers. The Monarch’s arrival into the arena, occasionally accompanied by his Queen and traditional trumpeters, is normally the climax of the Ofala Festival.
The Ofala celebration, or whatever the community calls it, is usually highlighted by this regal dance; the red-capped chiefs, dressed in traditional garb and accompanied by their village music, arrive separately, in order of seniority. They then proceed to the Obi’s throne, kneeling on the floor and bowing down before the Obi, they pay their respects. Gifts are frequently delivered to the Monarch by local communities, which are received and documented by palace authorities.
They dance to the sacred royal music/drums at three-minute intervals along the palace grounds, according to how senior they are. The beat changes as well, depending on their different titles and placements. As part of their social obligation, corporate enterprises have recently sponsored Ofala events.
All through the Obi’s three appearances, the royal music sets the tone for his dancing. Animal hides are stretched over a frame to make these royal drums, as are most traditional drums. Rawhide is sometimes used to tie them together.
Depending on the situation, other drums are also employed. During the ceremony, indigenes perform dances and songs in their traditional garb, with the performers dressed in colourful traditional attire.
Extensive war dances are among the most common dancing activities on the celebration ground. Indeed, the Ofala Festival provides an opportunity for people of all age groups to display their masquerades as a great method to preserve the people’s legacy. Youngsters also put on their own masquerades to obtain donations from the public.
The Ofala has gone beyond dancing and celebration to empowering people in the Ukpo Kingdom in Dunukofia Local Government Area of Anambra State. The old, the young, the less fortunate, widows, and widowers all look forward to the Ofala Festival since it offers the best chance to make the most money in a year.