The distinctive symbolic festival and the heart of traditionalism in Doma, Nasarawa State, the Odu cultural play is a symbol of unity for the Alago people. The Odu cultural festival is the major festival celebrated by the Alago people of Doma to celebrate victory over enemies and also usher in the rainy season. Although, Odu cultural festival is also celebrated in Assakio, another Alago settlement, that of Doma remains unique as it is characterised with fanfare. The Odu annual cultural festival attracts spectators from far and near, and other Alago neighbouring towns, who come out in their numbers to celebrate culture. The annual cultural festival normally takes place in March, specifically on Mondays and Tuesdays. The first day, Monday, is usually for the subjects, while the second day, Tuesday, is for the traditional ruler, the Andoma of Doma, to show up, well dressed in Alago traditional regalia, where he will sit and admire his subjects exhibiting their different dancing steps.
The climax of the annual Odu cultural festival is when the Ekwu (masquerade), will also exhibit some dancing steps and somersault in the presence of the Andoma of Doma, then the Ekwu and the Andoma, will retire to the palace and that marks the end the annual cultural festival. An indigene of Alago who could not hide his excitement had this to say. “I am very proud of this great culture passed on to us by our ancestors. Though, I am a christian, but I think that does not stop me from partaking in my cultural dance” Those were the words of John Adanu Ari, a 14- year old student, who was beautifuly dressed in a traditional wear called ‘Opa’ and beats called ‘Ekkye’ in Alago language, to add colour to the Odu festival.
Another indigene, Zuwauira Ozotu Adams, 15, who expressed satisfaction with the inherited culture and constantly shouted “ may the gods bless our land” danced to the admiration of spectatirs She said, “I am very happy to be part of Odu festival, that’s why you see me in this mood dancing and sweating.” Thousands of people, young old, male and female, dance in groups to celebrate the annual Odu cultural festival of the Alago people of Doma, in Nasarawa state. Like I noted earlier, the Odu cultural festival is celebrated annually in March, by the Alago people, one of the major aborigine groups in Nigeria that “totally” looks to or trust God (Owuso) for its existence, sustenance, and history. The 2018 edition of the festival witnessed unprecedented performances by the various cultural groups that lighted up the occasion which witnessed a mammoth crowd in Doma town, the headquarters of Doma local government area of Nasarawa state.
During the festival, guests were thrilled with ancestral dance and other cultural displays, to admiration of thousands of spectators. The custodian of the Alago culture and chairman, Doma local government traditional council, Alh Ahmadu Aliyu Ogah, during the festival poured out passion in calling on the sons and daughters of Alago nation, to join hands to sustain their culture. The monarch advised Alago people and their friends, to key into his efforts and that of other Alago traditional rulers, to ensure that peace and unity reign among them and their neighbours. The Andoma said, “the Odu annual cultural festival was passed on to us by our ancestors and in our little way, we are doing everything humanly possible to preserve it for the generation yet unborn. “Every tribe and comumminity is striving to preserve its cultural values, so ours cannot be an exception, we would continue to do our best not to allow our culture to go extinct”.
The royal father encouraged his subjects to revert to farming, crafts, fishing and petty trading which are the mainstay of the economy of the Alago people. Also speaking, the chairman, organising committee of Odu festival 2018, Mr John Ogah (Ogbole gi Doma), advised Alago people not to allow politics and religion to divide them. The retired educationist said,”let me thank the Andoma of Doma, Alhaji Ahmadu Aliyu Ogah, for his foresight in sustaining our cultural heritage and bringing our people together to celebrate it. He said, “I want use this medium to appeal to Alago nation that we must not allow politics and religion to divide us. All our traditional rulers must keep out of politics and religion, and help bring our people together to preserve our cultural values. “On behalf of my family and the entire people of Doma, I wish to felicitate with His Royal Highness, the Andoma of Doma, Alhaji Ahmadu Aliyu Ogah and the entire Alago nation as we celebrate this year’s Odu annual cultural festival”.
He added. Ogah, called on the people to prioritise the education of their children in order to move Alago nation, Nasarawa state and the country forward. The Chairman of Doma local government area, Rabo Sani, on his part said that he wished and prayed that the celebration will bring more unity, love, peace, friendship, togetherness and progress to the Alago nation. He said, “Odu festival no doubt epitomises the resolute commitment and determination of the Alago people, to sustain this cultural celebration because of the value it has on generations. The Odu cultural festival is celebrated annually and the 2018 edition of the festival was unique, and it was more attractive than the previous ones as it witnessed an unprecedented crowd performances by the various cultural groups that lighted up the occasion.
Guests at the event were thrilled with ancestral dance and other cultural displays by both young and old, who came out in their thousand to showcase their dancing prowess. There was display of uncanny aspects of the Alago culture, where participants showcased series of beautiful traditional attires, some locally made drums, flutes and dane guns, to entertain spectators at the event. The 2018 edition of Odu cultural festival has come and goneh, but its memory will linger on for dome times.
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