OWUKPA”REWORKS” DESTINY THROUGH CULTURAL RENAISSANCE-Out Of The Ashes Of Despair And History Of Failures Rose A Star-studded Performance- By Matthew Abah-Enyi

Onomo of Owukpa, Chief Emmanuel Odeh, delivering his speech.

A people’s culture and its essence is the point of convergence between their daily existential core values, collective life aspirations and their God who puts all things together to apportion their deserved destiny to them. This is because lives in the future and the here-after have everything to do with life here and now. Put more succinctly, a dwarf-cultured people cannot be giants at the socio-economic or political fronts. These are the facts that must have agitated the minds of Owukpa leaders and followers for the past decade as they planned and prayed for the people to rise above the ashes and despair of past failed cultural renaissances until 27th-29th December 2018 when what has been variously described as a continentally rated cultural revolution was celebrated with reverberating success.

Owukpa National Community Leader, Chief Mathias Abutu, addressing the audience.

The three-day event which was kick-started with a full mass celebrated by the Catholic Bishop of Otukpo Diocese, His Lordship Bishop Micheal Apochi had two major segments – unity football matches and cultural group dances and displays. The Bishop prayed for the strong hands of God to guide the people of Owukpa through a successful event and spiritually enriching future endeavors. On the same day, the final leg of the Primary Schools version of Owukpa Unity cup was played between LGEA Primary School, Unit 14, Udaburu, and LGEA Primary School, Unit 13 Aifam. The match was won by the young starlets from LGEA Primary School, Udaburu. The second day was also fully dedicated to the final football matches for the Secondary Schools and Club Sides Unity Cup trophies. While the Secondary Schools final match was successfully completed on that day, with the commentary box speaker system periodically intermingling football commentaries with messages conveying the damaging disadvantages of drug abuse amongst youths and adults. The Club Sides final match was however marred by nerve-fraying late arrival of one the Club Sides and consequent multiple allegations of match rules violations by the same Club Side. The match was eventually cancelled.

ODA National Chairman, Chief Ejugwu being presented with an Award of Excellence to Society

Mr. James Abakpa, Retired Assistant Director of Education being presented with his Award of Excellence by Barr. Boniface Apochi.

The third and grand final day of the event was the day the community paraded all her cultural wherewithal before the world to the exciting applause of almost all her great sons and daughters and their friends from across Nigeria and other parts of the world. About thirty different cultural dance groups and masquerades entertained the home-crowd and invited guests to continuous standing ovations. The Onomo of Owukpa, who was the Royal Father Of The Day, HRH Chief Emmanuel Odeh, Chairman of the event, Sir Clement Ejeh, Owukpa Community Leader, Chief Matthias Abutu, ODA National Chairman, Chief Nicholas Ejugwu, DCP Peter Omoha Okoh(rtd), Barr. Boniface Agada Apochi, Vice Chairman of ODA,(who spoke partly on behalf of the Chairman/ECO members and Dr. Cordelia Agada, National Chairperson of ODA Women Wing who stood in for the Chairlady of the occasion all spoke with nostalgia about the hopeful reemergence of Owukpa’s nearly lost   glorious era. They pleaded for renewed advancements rooted in her rejuvenated Cultural Unity. The Onomo also performed the “feed the people” ceremony, reemphasizing the need for the federal government to urgently come to the aid of masses of graduate sons and daughters of the soil who have willingly returned to farming on their rich soil in advancement of the federal government’s backward re-integration economic policy.

The winners of Cultural/Masquerade dance competition, Okpe Agbadu Dance Team

Other Dance Groups putting up spectacular performances.

In the district’s quest for durable unifying future, the present Executive, led by Chief Nicholas Ejugwu and his equally strong-willed Exco members acquired and fully paid for a Unity Center at Adu Aiede. The 10 hectares of land with its Unity Center/Secretariat is the present unifying point for Owukpa people. The Unity Center/Secretariat which was single handedly built up by Owukpa National Leader, Chief Matthias Abutu was formally handed over to ODA at the event. The structures include a fully built Secretariat and a Public Pavilion which provided shelter for invited guests at the event.

Other Dance Groups putting up spectacular performances.

The national Chairman of ODA, Chief Nicholas Ejugwu, Mr.James Idoko Abakpa, a retired Assistant Director of Education and a late Kaduna-based philanthropist Elder George, were given Meritorious Service Awards for excellent services to society, to the people’s appreciative applause. Football trophies donated by the Onomo, Chief Emmanuel Ode, ODA chairman, Chief Ejugwu and Barr Apochi were handed over to winning teams.

A cross section of spectators at one of the football matches

The most spiritually lifting and memorable moment of the event, however, was the Cultural display by dance groups and masquerades. Over thirty dance groups and masquerades took the crowd on a voyage of Cultural entertainment in a competition to outshine each other. At the end of the show, Owukpa land spoke about its present and future dreams through the winners of the Cultural show, Okpe Agbadu Dance and Masquerade group from Ipole Owukpa. The awesomeness and spirits-lifting dexterity of their performance is beyond prosaic description. The group spoke for Owukpa because it was led and reportedly formed by a giant minded but physically challenged elder who defiled all of his challenges to personally lead his team of gigantic masquerades and most spiritually controlled pairs of dancing legs that won them the first position. The wining Team would be effortlessly given the first position in a similar completion anywhere in the world. Their mountainous sizes and performance simply told the world that Owukpa district, despite all its temporary challenges, will now rise like the mountains and make haste towards all-inclusive socioeconomic progress that would be the envy of similar geographical entities in Africa and beyond.

ODA National Chairman, his Vice & Host parish Priest.

Owukpa district is peopled by descendants of one father, Amuche Onomo whose children, Ogwuche Ekwo, Okpe Atakwu, Agada, Agbo Ogiri, Amuche(Jr), Ai Oko, Unwaba and Oche Idu are the forefathers of all the children of the land.

The event which had been on the drawing board for about one year was to be the testing ground for the resiliency and will power of the present crop of leaders and followers of Owukpa extraction at home and the diasporas. This was so due to the jinx of inexplicable spanners which had been thrown by invisible      hands to mar previously organized unity-promoting events in the land. Interestingly, there is no Owukpa son or daughter who is openly known not to have the interest of the land in his or her mind. Every one preaches unity and progress for the land but most of her economic emancipation projects have somehow met with inexplicable failures for the past two decade. In a geographical entity where there are great achievers in most aspects of lives’ endeavors working to push Nigeria forward and recording outlandish successes for country and self actualization, it challenges the mind as to why Owukpa homeland’s socioeconomic projects have come to suffer what many have refered to as a growth stunting jinx. This was the prevailing situation as the eventful Owukpa Cultural Day 2018 approached. According to keen watchers of such events in Idoma land and other acolytes of historical documentation, the story of the making, the challenges and the jinx-breaking success the soul stirring even eventually recorded needs to be told for many reasons, the most important of which is to act as a guide for future endeavors and the motivation this feature story.

Winners of the Secondary Schools Unity football trophy

According to information made available to Wind Sound Africa, Owukpa Development Association’s national body, which organized the event, set up a compact Central Planning Committee to midwife and deliver what was initially called Owukpa Day at its June 2018 National Delegates Meeting with Engr. Sunday Ochai, former national Chairman of the group and present Chairman of Abuja Contact Group as Chairman, Other members of the Committee are Philip Akogwu who was its Secretary, Gabriel Agene, Ben Ede and John Okpe. The setting up of the Centre Planning Committee marked the beginning of a nation-wide preparation for the event. All branches of the organization spread across all state capitals in Nigeria as well as sons and daughters of the land were mobilized to join forces not only to ensure massive attendance, but most importantly to encourage  adequate funding provision for the event. Invitation letters went sent to all branches, friends of the community, their sons and daughters as well as corporate organizations. Thereafter, almost every member of the community waited with bated breath for the 27th-29 December date,

A line-up of Owukpa Leaders who pledged loyalty to Owukpa land and Onomo’s stool.

According to information pieced together by Wind Sound Africa before and during the celebration, key leaders and members of the community who staked their times, resources and intellects to ensure that the jinx of failure was kept out of the land this time around kept vigil over preparations.

The Onomo of Owukpa engaged in diplomatic shuttles and consultative visits in pursuance of a well attended and adequately funded event. ODA chairman and his EXCO members virtually joined the CPC members in endless meetings. Despite all these hands on the deck, desperation was said to have dogged the months and weeks preceding the event day for many reasons, the most urgent of which was paucity of funds.

The individual son of the land whose sacrifices and determination  for a jinx-breaking successful event to be held, according to confessions openly repeated by most concerned members of ODA, is Barr Boniface Agada Apochi, the Vice Chairman of the organizing body. He is on record to have taken to the social media, placating members of ODA nation-wide to do the needful which he himself led in the doing. Through his various forms of consultations and personal sacrifices, desperation gave way to hope and the success that was achieved.

Chief (Dr.) Paulinus Agada Igba and others at the event.

An opinion sampling conducted by Wind Sound Africa on the grounds of the event and amongst members of the public indicated that the event’s resounding success is beyond any iota of doubt. However, those who spoke to us at the event venue and other towns from various backgrounds said Owukpa land and the organizers of the event missed the main meat which the day would have provided the people and the leaders. They are of the opinion that in Nigeria and the world of today where existential threats from worldwide insecurity, Climate Change, disunity, morbid nepotism and scientific crimes constitute road-blocks on the way of collective  journeys towards societal self actualization, the organizers should have dedicated part of the event to paper presentations that address these issues relative to the peoples peculiarities.

Archival contributions by Christopher Ochigbo.

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