By Mashe Umaru Gwamna
The seventh edition of the annual Inne Festival of Issele Uku, a town in Aniocha North Local Government Area of Delta State, which comes up on Saturday, September 9, 2023, promises to be grand and more fascinating than it used to be.
It is the seventh official outing of the amiable, young and dynamic handsome king of Issele Uku, Obi Agbogidi Nduka.
Preparations are being put in place to showcase the festival as one of the best tourist destinations and something that could go far as a tourism historical documentation.
A son of the soil of Issele Uku and a Director in a federal government ministry in Abuja, Mr. Chas Uju Nwam, said that the Inne Festival was an occasion where all the titled chiefs of Issele Uku would dress in their best chieftaincy regalia, all of them with their traditional dance groups from their domain, dance to the palace of the king to pay their annual homage to the Obi of Issele Uku, Obi Agbogidi Nduka.
The usual traditional festive celebrations kick off during the first week of August with all kinds of fanfare, including wrestling competitions called NKPA UTUTU, eating of new yam(IWA JI), the king’s traditional visit to the market square and the ultimate Inne Festival, among others.
It is scheduled to run till the end of October.
With all these programmes, this year’s Inne festival promises to be a remarkable improvement on former editions.
According to the chairman of the Inne Festival Committee, Chief Krees Njiokwuemeni, Issele Uku as a town has so many things to thank God for. He said: “Apart from the atmosphere of peace that has existed in the town for some years now, this year’s Inne Festival under my watch is coming with so many side attractions and innovations.
“In addition, Obi Agbogidi Nduka has just come back from the United States of America and, according to him, his major reason for the trip was to meet with his subjects in different states of America on how to attract foreign investors to his domain in other to create jobs and empower the unemployed youths in his kingdom.
“The king, a cerebral culture icon, has insisted that every aspect of Issele Uku culture would be followed during this year’s festival.
“According to the king, ‘Culture is the identity and people’s way of life, and a people without culture are like trees without roots,’ adding that culture is a very laudable, veritable tool for political stability.
“He noted that Issele Uku people are known to be loveable, peaceful and hospitable, and that should be the watchword of all his subjects at all times.
“The king advised that, as we celebrate, we should not shy away from showcasing the rich culture and tradition of Issele Uku in a joyous atmosphere.”
Meanwhile, the security committee has been mandated to come up with strategies to checkmate criminal activities during and after the days of the festival.
They have been asked to activate the involvement of all security agencies within the local government and beyond to ensure maximum peace through out the period of the festival.
On the issue of instilling a peaceful atmosphere during the week preceding the Inne Festival day when the Obi enters his inner chambers to observe his solitude mood called (Iba nzu), a group known as the Ndi Isekwute has been asked to organise themselves on the tasks ahead of the festival. Traditionally, this group of palace boys goes about town to ensure that there is no noise in any part of the town through out the period of the king’s solitude (Iba Nzu).
Historically, wherever these palace boys perceive any noise during this period, they are empowered to kill any fowl belonging to the noisemaker as a punitive measure. However, they have been cautioned not to be overzealous in carrying out this assignment but to caution people/offenders with love by giving them orientation on the need to avoid making noise in any part of the town during this week long period of Iba Nzu.
They are to play the role of monitoring and ensuring that there is no noise in the town, rather than applying punitive measures of killing fowls as deterrence.
In all, this year’s action-filled days of Inne Festival would be a turning point where elegance, culture and tradition will combine with opulence and royalty
It promises to be something that invited guests, tourists, students of arts, hospitality and culture, artists, culture and tourism ambassadors, visitors, journalists and stakeholders, including the younger generation of Issele uku people will be proud to be part of.