Ido Oji Ezinihitte: Celebrating cultural heritage in style
By Valentine Amanze
Kolanuts have both commercial and cultural values in Igbo land, Nigeria.
The Igbo or Ndigbo have two types of kolanuts - the native one called Oji Igbo and the other type found in other parts of Nigeria, which is nicknamed gworo. Cherished visitors are welcomed with the presentation of kolanut by their hosts.
On Friday, September 29, 2017, all the 13 communities in Ezinihitte Mbaise, and Umuhu, Lagwa and Ibeku in Aboh Mbaise, Ezinihitte Mbaise in Ezinihitte Mbaise, Imo State, converged on Orie-Ukwu market square in Oboama na Umunama, to pay homage to their ancestral home, with the traditional planting of kolanut (Ido Oji Ezinihitte), thereby kick-starting the main event, Oji Ezinihitte, which holds on the first day of January of every year. All the monarchs (Ndi Eze Ezinihitte) in the Ezinihitte communities (Oboama na Umunama, Ife na Owutu, Akpodim, Chokoneze, Amumara, Ihitte, Okpofe, Ezeagbogu, Itu, Ezudo, Obizi and Onicha plus the three communities of Okwuato - Umuhu, Lagwa and Ibeku) play vital role in the success of the event which is rotated annually among the Ezinihitte cultural communities.
On this year’s Ido Oji in Oboama na Umunama, the Chairman, Sub-Committee on Publicity, Hon. Tony Inyama, said that the event was a huge success.
He said that it returned to Oboama na Umunama after a 14-year sojourn, stressing that the last host was Onicha.
He confirmed that the cultural festival comes to the host community once every 14 years and takes place on the first day of the New Year. Inyama described Oji Ezinihitte as one of the largest cultural gatherings in Africa, attracting over 500, 000 tourists all over the world. Corroborating, Ezeji Chief Cletus Ogbonna, KSM, the Chairman of the Local Organizing Committee (LOC), traced the origin of ceremony years centuries ago. Ogbonna, who is popularly called "Otombadi" by his admirers, said that the 2018 edition of Oji Ezinihitte Cultural Fiesta otherwise tagged "Oboama na Umunama 2018", is a "Home coming of Ezinihitte Mbaise people to their ancestral home", from thence they moved to their present respective communities.
The host traditional rulers of Oboama na Umunama, Eze J.N. Amaefuleh, KSM, JP, Aladinma II; and Eze J.C. Ebii, Ntuala Nnamuoha V, stated that "Ido Oji" was introduced in 1954 to replace the old practice of idol worshiping as Ezinihitte people had embraced Christianity at the dawn of the 20th century. They said that "ido oji" used to hold at Orie-ukwu Market Square, the cradle of Ezinihitte creation and its ancestral home until then Chief Dennis Abii and others suggested that the ceremony be rotated to give the people a sense of belonging.
His Royal Majesty, Eze Desmond Ogugua, the leader of Ezinihite Traditional Rulers Council, who observed his 90th birthday, recently, while addressing the crowd at the event, said that he started attending the festival, when he was just nine years.
He pointed out that the event was celebrated by African traditional religion worshipers and later Christianized in 1953. Eze Ogugua praised the Local Organizing Committee (LOC) for Oji Ezinihitte 2018 otheriwise called Oboama na Umunama 2018 for the innovation it introduced, stating that in deed the Committee demonstated that Oboama na Umunama are the parents of Ezinihitte Mbaise peeople and communities. Numerous traditional dance groups displayed their arts as many visitors witnessed the "Ido Oji Ezinihitte Ceremony".
Caption: From right HRH Eze Dr. J.C. Ebii, Ntuala Nnamuoha V of Umunama, HRH Eze Myke Orji, (Dimgba of Amagbor Ihitte) Ezeji Chief C. N. Ogbonna (LOC Chairman) Prince Mbozuigwe, Barr. Nze R.I. Ahaneku, HRH Eze J.N. Amaefuleh, Alaadinma II of Oboama, Hon. Tony Inyama (Chairman, Publicity Committee) on the occasion of "Ido Oji Ezinihitte" traditional ceremony at Orieukwu Oboama na Umunama, the ancestral home of Ezinihitte Mbaise people.