By Eze Amaeshi
In strict compliance to the government and NCDC regulations on social distancing and wearing of face masks, the 2020 Igba Nta Irete Cultural Festival could not be celebrated with fanfare as in past years, but the community rather held a quiet thanksgiving church service as a way of marking the annual festival which is as old as the community itself.
The thanksgiving church service which took place on July 12, 2020 at the Holy Family Catholic Parish, Irete in Owerri West LGA had the traditional ruler, HRH Eze Ethelbert C. Ekwelibe (Agubiam1) leading the members of his cabinet, ndi Nze, executives of women, youth and town union, to offer thanksgiving to God for preserving their lives and community to witness the day.
After the church service, everybody went to their various homes and avoided public gathering of any sort.
Speaking to our reporter, the traditional ruler of Irete autonomous Community, HRH Eze Ethelbert Ekwelibe disclosed that it was necessary for everyone to play their part in assisting the government win the battle against coronavirus, hence the need to avoid all forms of public gathering, irrespective of the purpose.
He expressed his delight at the compliance of his subjects in avoiding all gatherings in the name of Igba Nta cultural celebrations and prayed God to preserve his people to make up next year and have a double celebration of the age-old festival.
Also speaking, the President-General of Irete Community Development Union (I.C.D.U), Prof. Andrew Igwenma observed that the Igba Nta Irete cultural festival was supposed to be a great event with several sons and daughters of the community returning home, friends and well-wishers, as well as several cultural displays and Ofe Owerri cooking competition, but the situation of the country and the world at large had forced them to have a low-key event without the usual celebrations.
Prof. Igwenma regretted that the coronavirus pandemic had forced them to only mark the event, praying God to help mankind defeat the disease soon so that they could have a double celebration next year.
The Traditional Prime Minister, Sir R.A. Njoku re-echoed the traditional ruler and I.C.D.U. President-General and regretted the absence of the fanfare that characterize the Igba Nta Irete Cultural festival and expressed his optimism that God would give the world a better 2021 to enable them celebrate as usual.