By Peter Okolie
The Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Alfred Acehebe, on Tuesday inaugurated the ‘Golibe festival’, describing it as a cultural innovation designed to reinvigorate and reposition the Onitsha culture and economy.
Speaking at the colourful event in Onitsha, Achebe said that Golibe, which means rejoice, was part of the initiatives to attract indigenes, neighbours and other Nigerians to the ancient kingdom.
“Golibe is instituted to re-engineer Onitsha into a vibrant 21st century city and globally acclaimed destination for commerce and cultural tourism.
“It is designed to be an annual festival of arts, music, culture, family and community building that will take place at the end of the year.
The monarch further said that the festival would help to provide a window of opportunities for individuals, groups, small and medium enterprises as well as corporate entities to grow their businesses and brands.
“It will also go a long way to stimulate growth and employment in Onitsha local economy.
“The main purpose of Golibe is to create a forum at this time of the year for our children from all over the world to stay together and do things that make everyone happy.
“So, Golibe is about community self-renewal,” Achebe said.
Achebe said in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on the sideline of the event that the community had developed 17 work plans to harness the potential of the Onitsha people in various fields of human endeavour.
Part of the work plan, he said, included the setting up of a website for interaction among the indigenes and an entrepreneurship and vocational training scheme for youths of the community.
He said that remedial courses were also being organised for students of Onitsha origin with deficiencies in their West African School Certificate to enable them to gain admission into the tertiary institution.
The traditional ruler said: “Our objective is to develop the different aspects of our lives, our culture, tackle unemployment, education and health challenges.
“It is about solving the problem of drug addiction among youths and providing entrepreneurial skills and keeping Onitsha clean and sustaining its boundaries.
“Beyond these, the community seeks to build the character of its youths and to see them work hard at school, while setting their goals and achieving them.”
In a brief remark, the Transition Chairman of Onitsha North Local Government Area, Mr Patrick Mba, promised that the council and state government would continue to support the initiatives of the Obi of Onitsha.
“The government of Anambra is always in partnership and support of what the Obi of Onitsha is doing.
“Golibe has come to stay and Anambra Government will be supportive in the project to ensure that Onitsha takes its pride of place in the African cultural history and tourism sector,” Mba said.
NAN reports that the week-long festival, with the theme, “Rejoice, for God’s blessings abound,” would feature the award of scholarship to students, choral and football competitions, carnivals, masquerade displays and music fiesta, among others.