Anambra State Government has suspended celebration of the yearly Imo – Oka cultural festival this year.
Secretary to the State Government, Prof. Solo Chukwudobelu announced this in a letter dated 10th May, 2020 which stated, ”The Government of Anambra State, taking cognisance of prevailing Federal Government curfew order, State Government order on public gathering, World Health Organisation [WHO], and Nigeria Center for Disease Control [NCDC] guidelines on preventing the spread of Covid – 19 hereby suspends Egwu Imo – Awka cultural festival.”
The State Government also extended the suspension other cultural festivals in the State. It therefore warned that the general public, traditional rulers, pressidents general of town unions, custodians and organisers of such festivals were thereby put on notice that would be held responsible if the festivals went ahead in their communities.
Secretary Chukwudobelu thereby directed security agencies to strictly enforce the suspension order.
Imo – Oka [Awka] cultural festival, like Ede – Aro Abagana or Nwafo – Ogidi, is an annual cultural festival Awka indigenes and residents hold every to worship Imo deity. It mostly takes place in the month of May every year. Thousands of youth at home and ouside Awka look forward to celebrating it. Many leave their businesses and return home to celebrate the one week event that is marked masquerading, visiting, flogging of cane to instill endurance and show manliness.
It starts with Awka people visiting Umuokpa which is an Awka village but separated by Amawbia community. The visit is done with a lot of masquerades with huge youth followers. The festival ends with a visit to the Imo – Oka stream on the last day which is usually heralded by a heavy downpour in the late afternoon.