By Phil Okose, Onitsha
About 128 octogenarians from Nkpor community in Idemili North local government area of Anambra state have been placed on N5,000 monthly stipend and exempted from levies and community duties in honour for attaining 80 years of age.
The announcement was made by Chief Francis Okeke during the Nkpor Etolue title ceremony held at St. Alphonsus Catholic Church field, Nkpor last recently.
Okeke, who was the special guest of honour at the occasion, said he decided to place the 128 persons who attained 80 years of age on the monthly stipend for the next six months in order to ensure that they did not suffer the effect of the coronavirus pandemic.
The philanthropist commended the president general, PG, of the community, Chief Innocent Mbagha, for his selfless service to the community.
The Idemili North local government area chairman, Ralph Asha, also commended the PG for resuscitating both the Etolue and Enemma festivals hinting that, “we started this Enemma festival in 2009 and, since then, it went into oblivion until now that the PG resuscitated it.”
He expressed optimism that subsequent events would be better. “We encourage events like that.”
Earlier in his speech, Mbagha said “Etolue ceremony is organised as one of our cultural heritage designed to celebrate our octogenarians and they are exempted from all community duties.”
The 2020 Etolue event involved 47 men and 81 women who, henceforth, would have their name prefixed with the title “Etolue.”
According to him, “the Etolue title Award is akin to the culture of “ito ogbo” (coming of age) in neighbouring communities and is a celebration of longevity.
“It also motivates children to take passionate care of their aged ones with the expectation that they will take part in this rewarding celebration in due times. The occasion strengthens family ties as in-laws and well-wishers will use the opportunity to visit, interact, make merry and exchange gifts which the celebrants will enjoy in their life time”.
The Enemma festival, cerebrated few days after that of “Etolue,” the PG added, was aimed also at reviving the cultural heritage, stating that, “the issue of value reorientation deserves serious attention of ndi Nkpor in particular and Ndi Igbo in general because it’s an issue that defines us as a people. The present generation appears to be unwittingly debasing our cultures and tradition for no reason other than ignorance induced by Western influence. The number one casualty among our culture and tradition is our language which is gradually fading away”.
The special guest of honour, (Okeke) hinted that Chief Ngozi Anyakora, one-time PG of the community, started the Etolue ceremony and commended him for that.