From Jeff Amechi Agbodo, Onitsha

The United Nations under the auspices of the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has been urged to accord Obosi Longivity festival known as ‘Ito Ogbo’ in Anambra State recognition and designate the first Saturday in March of every year as International Day for the Elderly.

An elder statesman and a Medical practitioner Dr. Godson Onochie Amechi who made the appeal said that UNESCO should include it as a festival of note in the world calendar of cultural records.

Dr. Amechi in his lecture titled Ito Ogbo’ Obosi, Sustaining the Culture of Longivity said that the federal government has accorded the festival recognition in 2021 when a delegation from federal ministry of Information and Culture graced the occasion.

He said that the festival started as far back as 500 years ago, saying that the festival has mythological origin and as the Greek civilization grew out of Greek mythologies so has the unique festival grown to become the corner stone of Obosi people’s life.

The lecturer said that Ito Ogbo’ is different from birthday celebration, stating that Ito Ogbo’ Obosi is a special rite of passage marking when liminality is covenanted in a ceremony that occurs triennially.

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According to him, “liminality which describes the threshold moments in one’s life, occurs at every stage of life and when are the fullness of life and living this is specially covenanted, we mark such rite of passage as Ito Ogbo’ Obosi.

“A person who has attained the ripe age of 80 and was not covenanted but Ndi Obosi in a ceremony called Ito Ogbo’ cannot answer Ogbueshi or Nwanyi Nokwudo eshi. Such a person though as an elder cannot adorn the insignia of that covenant which is red cap for men and special ornamental adornment for women. Obosi people do not ask someone his or her age but will ask what is your name of the person’s age grade?

“Ito Ogbo marks the day of ritual remembrance and reflection on the vicissitudes, the failures, the triumphs, the betrayals, the humiliations, the frustrations, the near escapes from death and the subsequent resurrections, the successes and the dashed hopes the elderly did meet in life and what these have translated into as a celebration of life and the subsequent canonization as Ogbueshi Tolu Ogbo’.

“This is the moment if reflection when one gets the opportunity to look back again and again at the revers crossed, the gates opened and walked on and the various threshold moments one had passed over.

“The person undergoing this rite at Ito Ogbo’ looks with gratitude to God that he or she lived and was able to come this far. The person remembers that not all who started this race with him or her is ending it in this rite of passage. It is this realization that gives the rite it’s momentum and calls for it’s celebration and it’s canonisation.

“It reminds the celebrator the finitude of human existence and how brief this life has come to be because those years of toil and sweat that looked interminable, have come to be like the morning dews that soon passes away. Ito Ogbo’ parrels the myth making of human race through ritual remembrance” Dr. Amechi stated.