The excitement which gripped the suburban town of Egbu in Owerri, the Imo state capital, climaxed last weekend as this year’s Mgbugbuzo Festival came to a glorious finale with festival organisers praising sponsors, telecoms firms, MTN for positioning their community’s name on the map of ‘A’ rated festivals in the country.
The three-day age-long cultural celebrations had attracted over 500, 000 indigenes, both from home and abroad, of the communities at that make up Egbu as well as visitors and tourists alike.
The community also celebrated the telecoms firm’s gesture of donating the total sum of N2.5m towards boosting community development activities in the area.
Egbu lies on famous Otamiri River and is part of the part of the 19 autonomous communities divided into four blocs which make up the Owerri North Local Government Area. These are Uratta Bloc; Emekuku/Emii Bloc; Alaenyi Bloc, (which consists of Egbu, Naze, Awaka,Ihita Ogada); and the A.O.U Bloc – (comprising Agbala, Obibiezena, Ulakwo, and Obube)
Egbu itself is made up of five villages namely; Umuofor, Mpama, Umuayalu, Ofeuzo and Ishiuzo. The town is bordered by Owerri, Awaka and Naze and is about ten minutes drive from the capital city Owerri.
Reacting to the festival’s success and the role of MTN at lifting community development in the area, the paramount ruler, Eze Egbukole, while receiving the traditional rope, which represents donated cow, from MTN’s representatives, expressed his gratitude at the gesture by the firm.
“We thank MTN for this noble gesture,” he said. ‘Never before have we seen this kind of interest in the over 100 years of this celebration. We also thank MTN for what it has done through its Foundation. We appreciate it”, he said.
On his part, Denis Okoro, a Director of MTN Foundation, announced a further donation of N2.5 million towards equipping some schools in the Egbu community. He said the telecom company, which is 10 years old in Nigeria this month, is willing to do more.
Furthermore, Okoro announced that each recharge card bought has a certain percentage going to the Foundation and that percentage is what is used to touch the lives of people in communities across the nation.
Daniel Nwankwo, MTN’s Regional Marketing Manager, South East, while affirming his company’s commitment to the festival, reiterated the uniqueness of the festival.
“This a unique moment that the people of Owerri North and indeed the world look forward to and we are proud to bring it to reality,” Nwankwo said, adding that his company’s involvement in festivals’ sponsorships in Nigeria is aimed at ‘ensuring that the unique culture of our people is projected to the world.’
This year’s celebration had a heavy government presence, led by the State’s Deputy Governor, Mr Jude Agbaso, and the Speaker of the Imo State House of assembly, Hon. Ben Uwajumogu.
The Mgbugbuzo Cultural Festival is uniquely different because of its celebration of peace and tranquillity. The people believe that the declaration and promotion of peace have remained vital to their co-existence, progress, fruitfulness and longevity.
The celebration is a suffusion of colours, bringing together indigenes, friends, tourists, sons and daughters in the Diaspora, thereby providing a platform for healthy competition among cultural talents as well as for the engagement of youthful energy and relevance.
The telecoms firm has been very active in the festival sponsorship arena, supporting such festivals as the Nwonyo Fishing Festival, Ibi, Taraba State; the Anyangalu Talking Drum Festival, Osun State; Anioma Festival in Delta State and the Osun Osogbo Festival.
Other festivals that have benefitted from MTN sponsorship over the years include the Ofala Festival in Anambra State; the Leboku Cultural Festival, Cross River; Oganihu Carnival and Ogwashi Ukwu festivals in Delta State.
Egbu as a united people has one leader known as Eze who happens to be the only traditional ruler in the community and who is selected from a particular family known as the Egbukole. In Egbu the position of the Eze is not contestable.