Monday 13 May 2024

Ofo Ezioye Na Amawbia - A Symbol of Justice, Truth & Peace

'Aka ji Ofo' (cement on concrete, 7ft, dated 2018) by Dr. Ikenna Aghanya. PIC: c/o of the artist.

By Dr. Chibike Nwuba IPAM, NIMM, IOE

ABOUT AMAWBIA TOWN

The town Amawbia, which is also known as Ugbo-Ogiliga, is situated along the Enugu-Onitsha road and it’s in Awka South Local Government of Anambra State. It is about 35 km from Onitsha town in Anambra State, Nigeria. The progenitor of Amawbia is, according to common oral tradition, Awofia, one of the sons of Nri Ifikwuanim, the first son of Eri (900AD). Eri migrated from the present site of Aguleri, in Anambra East Local Government Area, to Nri, in Anaocha Local Government of Anambra State.

Amawbia town has six villages: Umueze, Ngene, Adabebe, Umukabia, Ezimezi and Enu-oji. From time immemorial, Amawbia had been an autonomous community, managing its own affairs. Beginning from 1905, Amawbia had been the seat of government for the former Awka District and the former Njikoka Local Government District. Amawbia is also home to the state house i.e. Governor's lodge and the State Prisons. The town is known as the land of great farmers and hunters.  Amawbia (Amaobia) meaning… “they don't know visitors and they treat everyone as equal”.

OFO EZIOYE (OBU JI OFO)

The Ezioye Family (Obu Ji Ofo) of Ezimezi Village, Amawbia is the custodian of the Ofo Tradition Inheritance. The Ofo is an Igbo insignia for justice, truth and peace. It is respected and revered. Though the advent of Christianity may slightly have affected the respect for this ‘holy stick’, nonetheless, it is still very active, a symbol of authority, effectively respected in Igbo tradition and culture. It is an age-long traditional stick which Igbo people use for justice, peace, fairness and equity. They always use it to call on the Almighty God to intervene on issues before them. 

Before the coronation of the Okpalaigwe Amawbia (The Traditinal Ruler of Amawbia), the Ezioye family hands over the Ofo to the Okpalaigwe at a colorful ceremony at the Obu Ezioye. This serves as a symbol of authority for the Okpalaigwe to have a successful reign in office. On the demise of the Igwe, the Ofo stick is brought back to the Ezioye family, pending when the next Igwe (successor) is coronated. Also, Ozo title aspirants in Amawbia, would have to visit the Obu Ezioye and receive an Ofo stick, before the Ozo title is bestowed on them.

AKA JI OFO

To create more positive awareness about the Ofo (its true meaning), the Ezioye Familiy in early 2017, commissioned one of their own, Dr. Ikenna Obumneme Aghanya (an award-winning visual artist), to create a sculptural piece in front of the Obu Ezioye.

The said Sculptural piece, rendered in Cement (direct cast) was finished and commissioned in 2018 and is titled “Aka Ji Ofo” (the hand that holds the Ofo). It’s a 7feet sculptural piece of a masculine hand holding the Ofo stick.

Since 2018, the sculptural piece has served as some sort of tourist attraction. Visitors from far and wide come to the Obu Ezioye to take pictures of the “Aka Ji Ofo” and to also get more insight about what the Ofo symbolizes and stands for.

Dr Ikenna Aghanya with his 'Aka ji Ofo' sculpture. PIC: c/o the artist.

ABOUT THE ARTIST 

Dr. Ikenna Obumneme Aghanya was born in Oct.1972 and hails from Amawbia, Awka South L.G.A in Anambra State.  He is an Artist, Researcher, Gallery owner, Baker, Farmer and an Art lecturer. He attended the Federal Govt. College Enugu from 1983 - 1989. In 1995 he obtained a degree in Fine & Industrial Arts, specializing in Graphics/Advertising Designs, from the University of Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria. 

He worked as a Graphic Designer for NICONENG Limited from 1996 - 1999. In 1999, he was awarded a scholarship to study at the prestigious College of Fine Arts, University of the Philippines and was awarded a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) Degree in Computer Graphics.

He also holds a PhD Degree in Studio Arts from the Fine & Applied Arts Dept., Imo State University, Owerri, Imo State, Nigeria. 

Ikenna has worked as an artist in the Philippines, Singapore and South Korea. He is presently a Chief Lecturer in the Department of Fine & Applied Arts and a former Dean, School of Arts, Design & Printing Technology, Federal Polytechnic Oko, Anambra State, Nigeria. 

He has participated in Art Exhibitions and Academic Paper Presentations in Nigeria, Brunei, the Philippines, New Zealand, Ghana, USA, UK. Singapore and South Korea. 

Ikenna is a Fellow of the Society of Nigerian Artists (FSNA) and he belongs to a number of International and Local Art organizations, most notably the E-Art Philippines, CFA Alumni Group (University of the Philippines), The Society of Nigerian Artists, The Igbo Studies Association USA, The World Wide Art Project USA, just to mention a few. He is also a member of the Institute of Entrepreneurs, Nigeria.

He is the CEO of PrintPlus (A Graphic Design firm), Shaky's Art Gallery/Studios Ltd and C&H Designs (A Web Design/ICT firm). He is the Managing Director of NICONENG LTD (An Agricultural/Engineering company). He is also a Director/Partner at Prerogative Ltd (A Marketing firm) and Amerigo Foods Ltd (A pastry and sugar craft bakery).

Ikenna has undertaken so many Art projects in Nigeria, USA, United Kingdom, Philippines and he is continually researching and working on ways to fuse the use of technology (as an art tool) and traditional art techniques, into one Art structure or style. This technique can be seen in most of his recent Art works. He is happily married with children.-Dr. Chibike Nwuba is Head, Department of Marketing, and Principal Lecturer, Federal Polytechnic, Oko, Anambra State, Southeast Nigeria.

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