The resurrected Igala Unity and Cultural Hunting Festival also known as OCHO which was banned since 1957 by the British government now holds on Saturday 19 May 2018 at the palace of Atah of Igala in Idah, Kogi state.
Chairman of the Central Planning Committee of the festival, Sen Ahmadu Ali, who conveyed the message of Atah Igala, Dr Idakwo Michael Ameh Oboni, at a press briefing at the palace, said the festival would commence at 9 o’clock in the morning. According to him, all sons and daughters of Igala are expected at the event.
During the carnival-like event, royal cultural troupes and incarnate beings are expected to entertain the teeming crowd who would gather at the civic centre in the palace.
The Omachi Atah Igala, Prof Steven Ikani Ocheni, who is also the minister of state for Labour and Employment, would be the chairman of the festival.
Kogi state governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, would be the special guest of honour while the administrators of Local Government Areas in Kogi East are expected as hosts.
During the festival, His Royal Majestywho is also the president Kogi State Council of Chiefs, Dr Ameh Oboni, would address the kingdom and use the occasion to pronounce blessings on the land.
Sen Ali said the festival would be an epoch-making event as it had not been witnessed by many for a long time. He said, this would be the beginning of a new era in which Igala nation would come together as one big family known for hard work, peace and determination.
Ocho is a festival that showcases the Igalas of old as great hunters. As part of the highlights, the Atah will shoot at a live antelope tied to a tree at a designated spot. If he gets the target, the Ocho is successful, but if he misses it, it means the Ocho has failed and it spells bad omen for the land. The cultural ceremony would be performed with elements of modernity and exactness in the name of God. Ata had said any part of the Ocho outside unifying the people would be expunged.
He enjoined the public to attend the event in their large numbers while also calling on religious bodies to pray for a successful festival.
The festival was banned in 1957 by the British government through the Sultanate because of the allegation that the ceremony was associated with human sacrifice. The real fear however was that the north was said to be afraid of the spiritual powers of the former Atah, Amen Oboni who towering spiritual power was unmatched by other traditional rulers.
The present Atah, Dr Michael is a direct son of the late Oboni