The Federal Government has awarded the Ofala Festival its “Award of Excellence” in the arts. The prize honors the Ofala festival’s outstanding and superb contributions to the growth and preservation of Nigeria’s cultural heritage. The honor was given in conjunction with the just-completed First Global Conference of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) on Tourism, Culture, and the Creative Industries as Pathways to Recovery and Inclusive Development. The conference was held in Lagos.
The culmination of the Onitsha ceremonial cycle is the Ofala. This two-day spectacle of regal dances, tributes, parades, and music, which features the Obi of Onitsha as the celebrant, has its roots in a profound spirituality. It is an opportunity for the king to fulfill some duties. The Ofala is largely a celebration of the monarch’s annual exit from seclusion by the monarch and his subjects, during which time the monarch has successfully negotiated the kingdom’s fortunes. It also serves as a recreation of the monarch’s subjects’ excitement upon learning that yam is a healthy food source and harmless.
At a gala night and command performance during the conference, the award was given to His Majesty, Nnaemeka Achebe, Obi of Onitsha in Lagos by the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, and the Secretary General of the UNWTO, Mr. Zurab Pololikashvili.
Speaking about the honor, His Majesty thanked the federal government and the UNWTO on behalf of the Onitsha community. He claims that “this recognition has further enhanced our goals of attracting significant national, west African, and international attention to the Ofala and getting the festival to attain the status of a major event in the Nigerian, and by extension in the West African region.