By Ozoro Opute
CULTURE impressario Berkley Asiafa will head a 20-man committee to celebrate ancient Eri-Okpe Cultural Festival for Ozoro Kingdom, Isoko North LGA, in Delta State. The festival celebrates the communal deity, Eri-Okpe, which the university town’s founding father Opute left behind as enduring cultural, religious and philosophical legacy. Meanwhile, Odio Asiafa has a herculian task of organising the 7-day festival that has been abandoned in over 10 years since it was last celebrated.
While inuagurating the festival organising committee, President-General of Ozoro Progressive Union (OPU), High Chief Miller Akpoili, said, ”For over a decade or thereabout, the kingdom has not celebrated our cultural festival (Eri-Okpe), and this has made majority of indigenes who were still teenagers at the last time the festival was last celebrated to ignore our cultural heritage, abolish our cultural values as well as take these important signposts for granted.
“Our culture and tradition should never be toyed with. Even Jesus in Mark 12: 17 said to the people: ‘Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s!’ And they marveled at him; so also our cultural heritage.
“The Eri-Okpe Cultural Festival will last through a period of seven days, where different activities will be showcased. Meanwhile, Oweh Lake shall be visited for fishing on March 26, and Eriokpe Cultural Festival will mainly be celebrated from March 28 through April 3, 2022.”
Akoili stated that culture is a reflection of a community or nation which makes culture vital and important determining factor on how the community reacts, responds, and grows. He added that culture plays a major role in the lives of everyone in the society, as it gives everyone a sense of belonging, especially when everyone speaks the same language that evolves with the culture as an intimate product of the way those within the society communicate.
While charging the committee on the need to work whole-heartedly for the festival to be one of the best in the history of the kingdom, Akpoili also commended members of the committee under the chairmanship of Asiafa for accepting the task entrusted to them, also assuring them of maximum support from the kingdom.
Committee chairman, Asiafa, who spoke on behalf of members, thanked the PG and the kingdom for finding them worthy to serve in their own little capacity. He assured Akoili that with the calibre of men and woman in the committee, the kingdom would experience a wonderful and remarkable festival.
Asiafa has an impressive resume in organising artistic and entertainment fiesta. After working briefly in the financial sector, he founded Berkelo Records, a major distributor of American and British music (Hip-Hop, R&B, and Reggae) to independent Deejays, night clubs, and radio stations all over Nigeria between 1989 and 2001. He was appointed board member of Delta State Council for Arts and Culture in 2003 and ‘Super’ Special Assistant to the Governor of Delta State on Entertainment.
In 2018, Asiafa set up a highflying Berkleys Lounge in Ozoro and in 2017, 2018 and 2021 organised the annual Opute Day Festival in Ozoro. Asiafa is the Chief Coordinator of the newly established Isoko International Film Festival (IIFF) and Opute Indigenous Film Awards (OIFA) slated for November that will soon enliven Isoko and Delta cultural landscape.
Other committee members who will assist Asiafa in the task include Comr. Samuel Akwoleno (Secretary), Prince Kennedy Elerara, Princess Margret Ogbovor, Mr. Ozaha Dumez, Mr. Samuel Idodo, Mr John Dibie, Mr. Emma Ughovero, Mr. Joel Owhodeha, Mr. Owhigho J. Onome, Prince Joseph Ohwomero, Mr. Ezekiel Ebenese, Mr. Godwin Oyolo, Chief Ebegbare, and Mrs. Oghale Otekpo. Others are Amb. Caroline Usikpedo, Mr. Sylvester Irevah, Mr. Godwin Edoja, Mr. Bernard Imoniogho and Chief Onowenu Amuke.