Ofala Festival has received federal government’s award of Excellence in Culture due to its outstanding and excellent contributions to the development and preservation of Nigeria’s cultural heritage.
In a statement made available to newsmen, the award was made on the occasion of the First United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) Global Conference tagged, “Linking tourism, culture, and the creative industries as pathways to recovery and inclusive development,” held in Lagos.
According to the statement, the Ofala which was the high point of the Onitsha ceremonial cycle usually display royal dances, tributes, parades and music running over two days, with the Obi of Onitsha as the celebrant of the spectacle that is rooted in deep spirituality.
The award was presented in Lagos to his Majesty, Nnaemeka Achebe, Obi of Onitsha by the minister of information and culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, and the secretary general of the UNWTO Mr. Zurab Pololikashvili.
Speaking on the award, his Majesty conveyed the appreciation of the Onitsha community to both the federal government and the UNWTO.
According to him, “this recognition added to the endorsement of the Ofala by the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation, as a major Nigerian festival, has further enhanced our goals of attracting considerable national, west African, and international attention to the Ofala and getting the festival to attain the status of a major event in the Nigerian, and by extension in the West African cultural/tourism calendar.’’
His stated further, ‘’this honour will serve as a boost to our plans of bringing the world to Onitsha to experience our rich cultural heritage and enhance the growth and development of our community.”
It was, however, gathered that the Ofala has been broadened with an international art exhibition (Oreze), a youths’ carnival (Ofala Carnival), and a marathon (Onitsha City Marathon) which has been approved by the relevant national and international athletic bodies.