Igu aro Festival

THE ARO FESTIVAL IN UMUERI


The Aro festival also called the "Igu aro" is one of the most colorful and celebrated festival in Umueri . The Festival has a prime position in the life of the people due to economical importance  attached to it . Because the Oracular and Prophetic utterance of the Priest depicts what would happened in a given year.

 This include the oracular utterances of the priest in regards on what to expect during the harvest season: Whether there will be "Ugani" (famine), Nsogbu (problem), Ogu (war), onwu (death) etc. it was a sort of annual prophecy or prediction on what would happen in the coming season. If the prophecy turns out to have positive effect, the people tend to work tiredlessly hard so as to reap the fruit of hard labour. But on contrary, they tend to be cautious during the planting season starting with the first moon of the new season.

The festival also called Iri-ede or oriri ede (feast of coco-yam) takes place during the tenth and final moon of the year, which coincides with the western Christmas period. Usually, it’s a post New Year affair (falling with the First or Second week of January).

Atimes, it usually comes before the New year depending on the counting of the moon. This all important festival lasts a full market week, viz Eke. Oye, Afor and Nkwo. The week is known for its festive and peaceful atmosphere - when one endeavour to be at peace with ones neighbour and creator( Chukwu Okike or Chukwu abimme). The first day been eke is noted with the arrival of guest from neighboring towns. This is called the "Izi okwu" in the local parlance. Every adult (man or woman) is expected to invite at least two friends/mates from neighbouring villages. This depends on the economic status of host. The clans that make up the town would celebrate it on their respective area on the second day been Oye, by displaying some cultural music and dances.

Meanwhile, it’s on the night of that very day that the priest of feast called Ajeh would receive the divination on what to tell the people, on the next day.The climax of the festival takes place on the next day been afor, at a Mmanoma village Square at Nneyi- Ezi Umueri.On that appointed day the villages that make up UMUERI along with musical troupe besiege the priest palace waiting for the great divination, while also entertaining the crowd. Meanwhile, the title men and other important personalities would be inside the palace to obtain first hand account of the prophecy. These men also serve as middlemen or intermediaries between the priest and crowd who would be informed of the message thereafter. Since the customs state that, the priest would not use microphone or public address system on such occasion.

It’s also worth to remark that towns that have ancestral and cultural ties with UMUERI MUST as a mark of brotherhood send emissaries to the town. The towns include the "Agukwu Nri" - said to have migrated from UMUERI; the "UMUIGUEDO CLANS" (COMPRISES OF Ogbunike, Awkuzu, and Nando) - said to have the same maternal affinity(mother) with Umueri; finally theIgalas -also said to have migrated from Umueri as well as the first area, the founders of the town settled before departing to their present abode.

During this festive moon, midnight masquerade called 'Ayaka' also add colour to this all important feast. Ayaka is believed to be an ancestral spirit according to the people’s folklore. And for that the womenfolk would not see it. That was why women would confine themselves indoors, after the Night supper. To a first time visitor to the town, it sounds as one of those gender policy and law designed by the men to victimize their opposite sex; but alas the women are in love with it; moreso with the "egwu-ayaka" and "vu-vu-vum revelries" associated with the music of the masquerade. However, the ancestral spirits appears on morning of the great Aro day (afor day). But must stay inside the bush to avoid women glimpse (eyes), while howling their music and dance to the hearing of passerby. Every woman is expected to cook coco-yam and present to umuayaka along the bush path, for the masquerade to eat before going to the feast.

The next day been nkwo would be for feasting on family by family basis. The visitors and guests are also free to go on that very day - which invariably marks the end of the festival.

Apart from feasting and entertainment that goes with the Igu-aro, the people of umueri hold the festival to a very high esteem due to the fact that according to history, the festival has not fail but rather gives accurate divination on what would happen. For instance, before the outbreak of UMUERI/AGULERI crisis, the priest during the 1994/95 festival proclaimed that many houses would be burnt down. Nobody understands what that implies until the war broke out. That was why an averageUMUERI man must know what the future holds for him in the incoming year. Therefore, when next you see an Umuerian going home for Xmas, don’t waste your energy demanding to know when he would be back; because he certainly would not be back until the festival have been concluded.

 
Contributed by Comrade Biafra Diboh

From Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
 

THE TOWN PROFILES

Name:
Umueri(Mispronounced Umuleri)

Location:
Anambra East LG of Anambra State.

His Royal Highness
(Traditional Ruler)
 


H.R.H Igwe Nelson U. Okoye
Igwe Okebo 1 of Umueri

His Majesty
(Traditional Prime Minister)


HRM Mike ekweonu
Onowu Iyasele  of Umueri

P.G Umueri General
Assembly (UGA)


Hon. Pius Okonkwo
(President General, U.G.A)

Title(Male):
Amanwulu,Ivejioku,
Oba,Asammuo
Ogbuevi,Ogbuanyinya

Title(Female):
Ekwe, Iyom,Nne-
Mmanwu,Okomme

Population:
Est. 155,000.00

Occupation:
Farmers,Fishers,trading
business,Crafts & Arts etc