From Uzonna Ononye, Lagos
On Saturday, the 14th of March, the entire South East will be locked down as the Obosi community celebrate the Ito Ogbo Festival. An age long event that put the new set of octogenarians in the community on the portal for general appreciation and celebration.
Ito Ogbo Obosi, a triennial ceremony, is fashioned after the age grade system where people born within a space of three years are grouped in the same grade.
This year’s event will honour the Asika age grade, those born between 1934 and 36.
Traditional Ruler of the town, Igwe Chukwudubem Iweka III, said the Ito Ogbo festival is a gift from Obosi to humanity.
“This is a gift from our fathers which we now give the whole world; to celebrate old age, to pay homeage to creaky bones and grey hairs. It is not only when people die that they are celebrated in such fashion. If God gives one grace to live up to that ripe age , one deserves to be celebrated. That is what Ito Ogbo Obosi is about”.
Igwe Iweka also said that there is no time his subjects cherish more than that period when longevity is appreciated. He argued that in a country where life expectancy hovers around 54 years, it is remarkable that not less than 150 senior citizens will be marking their 80th birthday.
The traditional ruler said the Ito Ogbo has contributed in giving every Obosi citizen a reason to desire to live long.
“When you know that once you clock that age, you will be lavishly honoured by family and friends and indeed the entire kingdom, you will continue to have a high spirit to the extent that you cannot give up, not minding the challenges life throws at you”. Igwe Iweka said.
According to sources within the kingdom, it will be a weeklong event featuring carrier talks, empowerment programmes, free health services, fashion shows and the grand finale which will hold on Saturday where every male celebrant will be titled as “Ogbu Eshi” and the female, “Nwanyi nokwudo eshi”.
The source told HOMELAND NEWS that all hotel facilities in Obosi and environs have been booked up by tourists and families of celebrants who are returning with their friends from all parts of the world. The period marks a boom for all hospitality and entertainment related businesses in the area and across the South East.
Obosi is an ancient town which is about three kilometer from the Niger Bridge into the South Eastern part of the country. Onitsha, Nkpor and Oba are the communities that it shares common borders with.
Some eminent Nigerians from the town include, the former Secretary General of the Commonwealth, Emeka Anyaoku, Current Minister of Aviation, Osita Chidoka, A former Senator and owner of the foremost private media outfit, Minaj Broadcast International, Mike Ajaegbo.