Onitsha Ijele Festival: Sustain Cultural Heritage, Tony Nwoye Urges Citizens

Tony Nwoye

ONITSHA- The Senator representing Anambra North in the Senate, Dr Tony Okechukwu Nwoye has urged the constituents to imbibe the cultural heritage to safeguard, promote and protect the diversity of the state.

Senator Nwoye gave the advice at the first official outing of Ijele masquerade in Iyiawu Onitsha, held on 31st December 2023.

The Senator was accompanied by His Lovely Wife, Mrs Ifeyinwa Nwoye, Hon Jude Umennaejiego and Hon Azuka Justice and they were hosted by Former Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Matters during Mr Peter Obi’s administration, Chief Mrs Azuka Enemo.

Tony Nwoye

Speaking at the Event, Senator Nwoye opined that what we are witnessing today is that Iyiawu Village is out to rescue, restore, preserve and protect our heritage not only because it is our past, or because it is unique or beautiful.

It is not a matter of buildings, stones or about intangible traditions; our cultural heritage is our identity, it represents our values, belongings, our strength, continuity and our pride. It is the treasure that we want our children to learn about and to keep for the following generations.

He added that Culture is peoples way of life, the way they do things, speak and eat etc, here in Onitsha and Anambra North, culture is such an interesting practice that every Onitsha Ado and Omanbala Sons and Daughters should not abandon to other foreign cultures and practice. “We should uphold our Culture for it defines us. It is our identity and Heritage”.

It is the connections between the past and future, a part of history to understand correctly and learn from. When we rescue and protect our heritage, it is the same as when we protect our children. Both carry parts of our souls and our ancestors’ spirits.

The Senator said,” I believe cultural heritage can play an important role in building a bridge of peace within society and bringing people closer together.”

Ijele masquerade is a famous and special masquerade in Anambra State and it stands tall as a symbol of grandeur and splendor. It is believed to be the king of all masquerades in the Eastern part of Nigeria.

This ancient and revered masquerade holds a special place in the hearts of the Igbo people, captivating audiences with its majestic presence and captivating performances. Rooted in centuries-old traditions, the Ijele masquerade represents the essence of Igbo culture, reflecting the beliefs, history, and spirituality of this vibrant ethnic group.

The Ijele masquerade is renowned for its remarkable size and elaborate design, often towering up to 15 feet in height. The Ijele mask holds the distinction of being the largest mask system in the history of global masking traditions. It consists of two distinct sections, namely the upper and lower segments, with a significant python serving as the dividing point at the center.

The upper section of Ijele is referred to as Mkpu Ijele, while the lower section is known as Akpakwuru Ijele or Ogbanibe. The central part is called Eke-Ogba, symbolizing the Python.

The masquerade is adorned with intricate and colorful costumes, featuring an array of feathers, beads, fabrics, and masks that represent different deities, historical figures, and ancestral spirits.

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