On 27th December, Uvuru Autonomous Community would be the place to be as the annual Okwunakuwa Day celebration takes place. It’s a day set apart by the community to celebrate life, show gratitude to God, exhibit the richness of her cultural heritage and launch for community development projects. People from different parts of Igboland join the host community in that matchless fanfare.
Chief Joe Chukwuka, a retired Director General of Imo Broadcasting Corporation (IBC), Owerri Imo State is the Chairman, Planning Committee of this year’s event. In his elaborate preview to the African Democrat, Chief Chukwuka explains:
“From time immemorial, the 27th day of December every year has been observed and celebrated by the people of Okwunakuwa - Uvuru Autonomous Community in Aboh Mbaise L.G.A Imo State Nigeria, as their cultural day-nay "Egwu Okwunakuwa". Okwunakuwa Uvuru is made up of Umuaghara on one block, Akuwa and Umuorobara on the other block according to historical antecedents.
The festival day is a day our sons and daughters abroad look forwards to: as opportunity for home coming. The people at home on the other hand use it as an opportunity to launch/execute some community projects with the massive support from their abroadians.
The day starts with the firing of eight canon shots early in the morning to herald the ceremony. Between the hours of 8am-1pm. Families prepare different food delicacies, provide drinks and our local palm-wine to entertain their guests-mainly in-laws, friends and other well-wishers. At about 1pm in the afternoon, the second and final phase of the ceremony starts at the common playground which has been the LA school field, now known as Okwunakuwa Primary School play Ground. This phase is characterised with cultural dance displays, the action now shifts from the families to the playground. People troop out en masse to watch and enjoy the different dance displays. Such traditional dances like Ekpe, Abaigbo, Agbachaekurunwa, Ekereavu, etc take the centre stage.
The traditional taking of kolanuts cum donations from our sons and daughters for community projects follow suit. The frenzy and euphoria that
becloud the ceremony are unprecedented. Little wonder, the children display youthful rascality with different brands of fireworks aka "knock outs" with little or no admonition from the elders.
In this year's celebration as in the recent past years, the ceremony starts with a non-denominational church service at about 9am in the morning. This is due to rededicate the community and its affairs to God and seek His face for a successful celebration.”
Chief Chukwuka, who holds the title of Ochendo Ummuna Uvuru; and Enyioha I of Ibeme adds that:
“The social aspect which is the second phase of the event kicks off at about 12noon. There are two significant aspects of this year's ceremony. One, this is the first cultural Day celebration being superintended by our new traditional Ruler, HRH Eze F.I. Elugwaraonu - Eze Oha II of Uvuru-since the death of HRH Eze R.U. Mbalewe - Eze Oha I of Uvuru, in 2006. Two, this is the first time the celebration of the cultural day festival is hosted on rotational basis starting with Umuaghara. This decision was reached during the 2013 Okwunakuwa Day celebration. By this agreement, the 2015 Okwunakuwa cultural day celebration will be hosted by Akuwa and Umuorobara. This arrangement will engender more active participation by the communities involved and also create a wider platform for unity.
Highlights of this year’s event are the conferment of chieftaincy titles to many of our illustrious sons and daughters who have made significant impacts in the development of Uvuru, cultural dance competition and the taking of the traditional kolanuts. The bottom line of this gathering is to foster unity, peace and harmony amongst our people, to eschew bitterness and rancour so that progress in Okwunakuwa will know no bounds.”
Speaking about the conferment of Chieftaincy titles, His Royal Highness, Eze F. I. Elugwaraonu, Eze Oha II of Uvuru emphasized that it’s a call for greater service and an opportunity for recipients of titles to work for their people.