By Lucky Isibor,
The Onojie of Ekpoma, His Royal Highness (Barr) Ehizojie Abumere II has appealed to governments at various levels to be assisting traditional rulers in the organisation of cultural festivals as it will foster unity and cohesion in the various communities.
The royal father made this appeal while speaking with newsmen in his palace at Ekpoma on preparations for this year’s annual Ekpoma Ihuen festival.
He pointed out that as a traditional ruler he has a lot to do during the Ihuen festival such as assisting the less privileged in the society, paying WAEC and NECO enrollment fees for those who are not able to pay, hence the call on government to assist royal fathers to be able to carry out such task during the cultural festivals.
While speaking on the significance of the annual Ihuen festival, the Onojie of Ekpoma said: “Ihuen Festival is to mark the end of year and beginning of a new year, based on our traditional calendar. Like now, we are about to start a new year traditionally. It is different from the January to December calendar. We have our own calendar too and we are about to end a year and begin a new one. There is a way we calculate it and then fix a date for the festival. For this year, it will hold on February 27, 28, and 29. It is the end of a planting season; everybody will come out. Our sons and daughters will also come home from various places.
“There is a part of it we call Inaisa, (traditional procession) although we have also incorporated interdenominational service into it. On the second day, we do Inaisa, where we go round the community to pray on the land, pray for the people, pray for those who are not natives of the land and pray for our sons and daughters abroad. We also pray for the state and the Federal Government.
“After that, the various communities will pay homage to the king at the palace, including those who are not natives like the Igbo, the Urhobo and others. They pay homage to the Onojie. On the main day, we entertain the people and display our culture, then I will address the people and pray for them but I have added some colours to it.
“I have added football match to engage the youth. I have been doing this since I ascended the throne in 2007. We also added beauty competition, traditional wrestling and marathon, from the university campus gate to the palace. Some people come from Benin and other areas to participate. But for this year, we will only allow a football match and funding for indigent students. The last time, we paid the West African Senior School Certificate Examination fees for 20 students and that’s why we are calling on the government to always support traditional rulers for programmes like this.”