BY DON UCHE#
The balkanization of Owere Nchi Ise, Owerri municipal rubbed off on the annual and popular Oru Owere festival.
The 2017 version of the festival was held Saturday, 5th August, 2017.
In the past, the Oru Owere was a festival with so much fanfare marked with a colourful procession of all the age grades drawn from the five villages of Owere Nchi Ise.
But the 2017 edition was a different scenario as it was marred by the balkanization of the traditional institution of the Eze Owere traditional stool.
The Imo State government with the backing of the State House of Assembly had granted the request of four of the five communities that make up Owerri for an autonomous status.
Each of the four villages namely Umuodu, Umuonyeche, Umuonyima and Umuororornjo villages were granted autonomous status and a traditional ruler appointed for each of the communities.
Amawom village which has since produced the Eze Owere objected to the balkanization and insisted that the traditional stool of the entire Owerri community is produced by the Njemanze royal dynasty.
Since the demise of Eze Emmanuel Njemanze in 2016, the other four communities elected their traditional ruler which has not become functional.
The Njemanze family and other component traditional organs in Amawom village had dragged the Imo State government to court to oppose the status of autonomous communities accorded to the four villages and the balkanization.
This affected the Oru Owere festival this year with Amawom village refusing to take part in the event. Several other traditional institutions such as the Council of Elders (Nde Oha) did not also participate in the event.
At the Ugwu Ekwema Civic Centre, located egbu road, where all Owerri indigenes converge after the procession for the event, the Police barricaded the area denying entrance to anyone.
Information available to this news website reveals that the Police had intervened in the dispute between some key stakeholders from Amawom community and the President Generals loyal to the four other traditional rulers.
The representatives of the Amawom community had opposed the 2017 Oru Owerre festival from taking place on the basis that the late Eze Owerre, Emmanuel Njemanze is being mourned and the period of mourning is not over.
They were also said to have kick against the event on the grounds that the autonomous status accorded the four communities were illegal and was still in court.
Due to the inability of fueding factions to have an agreement, the Police in a bid to avoid break down of law and order prevented anyone from having access to the Ugwu Ekwema Civic Centre.
Later on, the four traditional rulers later converged at Umuodu village where a small ceremony took place and was witnessed by the member representing Owerri municipal state constituency and Majority Leader, Imo State House of Assembly, Hon. Lugard Osuji.