I am a native of Umumeri Uzokwa in Ihiala local government area, Anambra state. Ihiala local government area was created in 1976 during late General Muritala-Obasanjo regime with the head quarters at Ihiala. Prior to 1976, Ihiala local government area was called Ihiala division. Ihiala is made up of ten autonomous towns namely; Okija, Ihiala , Uli, Amorka, Azia, Isseke, Mbosi, Orsumoghu, Lilu and Ubuluisiuzor. Ihiala LGA has twenty wards and is divided into four quarters namely; 1. Okija Zone 2. Ihiala Zone 3. Uli / Amorka Zone 4. Eboniese Zone
GEOGRAPHICAL LOCATION OF MY COMMUNITY Umumeri Uzoakwa in Ihiala LGA is located 48km North of Owerri and 40km South of Onitsha. It covers an area of 304 sqkm and is bounded by Ogbaru (in Ogbaru L:GA, Anambra State) on the west, Ozubulu (in Ekwusigo LGA, Anambra State), Ukpor and Orsumenyi (in Nnewi South LGA, Anambra state) in the North and in the South By Egbuoma, Ohakpu, Ozara and Oguta in Egbema / Oguta LGA of Imo State.
PHYSICAL FEATURES & CLIMATE OF MY
The Local Government Area by hills, valleys and forest areas. It has a tropical climate with the rainy season between April and October and a dry season from November to March. The annual rainfall ranges from 1,800 milliliters to 2,000 milliliters. TOURISM ATTRACTIONS IN MY COMMUNITY My community has been rated among the top ten of communities with the best tourist attractions and revenue generations which over the years has served as a source of income to my community. As a matter of emphasis, our previous year’s masquerade and new yam festival which recorded guests from near home and far abroad is still making waves in the social media and other media outlets.
NATURAL SPRING WATER
We are naturally endowed and blessed with natural spring water. The spring water stream which is called “Okpu” in my local dialect is the best natural spring water amongst all the twenty communities located in my local government. As a child, dad would always take me early morning during holidays to fetch from the spring water. The okpu spring water is every body’s preference in my community because it’s naturally treated and chilled from the source. Recently, some group of Americans came down to my community to discover more about the spring water and they are ready to partner with my community elites to package the spring water into bottles for the two parties to share the income at a given percentage. NEW YAM/MASQUERADE FESTIVALS IN MY COMMUNITY New yam festival which is know as ‘Iri ji’ in my local dialect is an annual cultural festival by my people which is normally held at the end of the rainy season in early September. The iri ji festival (literally “new-yam eating”) is practiced throughout West Africa(especially in Nigeria and Ghana) and other African countries and beyond, symbolizing the conclusion of a harvest and the beginning of the next work cycle. The celebration is a very culturally based occasion, tying individuals in my community together as essentially agrarian and dependent on yam. The new year festive in my community is an amazing experience which my community members don’t play with. They use it as an avenue to showcase their talents, cultural exhibitions, dancing competitions and so many other interesting activities are linked up in the festive day making it a must attend event for our neighbouring communities and special guests are invited on that day by our igwe(the MASQUERADES AND FESTIVES Masquerades FESTIVES Masquerades (Mmanwu) are held in accordance with the community native calendars during festivals, annual festivities, burial rites and other social gatherings. The masquerades are geared in colourful robes and masks made of wood or fabric. Some masks appear only at one festival, but the majority appears at many or all. Masquerades are associated with spiritual elements, as according to Igbo belief, they represent images of deities or sometimes even dead relatives. The identity of the masquerade is a well-kept secret and performed exclusively by men. In the past, masquerades were regarded as the means for maintaining peace and order and were primarily used as law enforcement agents. The whole village would come out for the ceremony of the colourful masquerades. While entertaining through dances and exhibiting extra-human feats, the masquerades would walk up to certain individuals and loudly expose any bad habits, crimes or misbehaviour of that person. As people would always take corrections from these exposures, the masquerades were effective in keeping up with traditional norms and values in the communities.