Although, Okpachala is a common name when one is approaching Idah when coming from Lokoja, Okpachala is divided into three; Ate, Ojonu and Ogbagbada. While Okpachala-Ate are mostly people of Unana-Attah clan of Idah, Okpachala-Ogbagbada are maternally of Princess Ojoma of Attah Ayegba, while Okpachala-Ojonu of descendants of Akumabi ruling house of Attah Igala. Okpachala Ojonu are known with the celebration of their Olagenyi deity/incarnate being festival yearly. According to some elders of Okpachala Ojonu, the celebration began right from the time of their ancestor; Odekina Odoma who migrated to the place, and later, one his ancestors came back to stay with him in the form of incarnate being as Olagenyi incarnate being. An elder added that the date had never changed right from the time of Pa Odekina through various elders who had also become ancestors now till this moment. In order to make it easy to remember, the original date was traced to the any last Friday that is on Ega market day towards the end of the month of March. This date is not just remembered by the people but also the ancestors as well as the Olegenyi god himself, as there will be a serious problem including sickness among the elders in charge of the festival if they try to skip this instituted date, sources told me. But what are the importance of the masquerade or the ceremony? According to the people, here are some. 1. It is the celebration that brings the descendants of Odekina Odoma and other relatives from all over the world home yearly. 2. It is the time the people thank the ancestor and the god for the blessings so far, and to pray for future ones. 3. The Olagenyi deity protects the people or believers against evils. 4. As Ibegwu (ancestor), he regulates the activities of the people of the community thereby keeping the community clean of “dirty” ways of life. 5. The Olagenyi god apprehends witches and wizards, allow them to confess, and free some, and sometimes allow those who have killed others through their acts to die after confession. 6. Olagenyi deity is visited by some people looking for work, fruit of the womb, or having abiku child (child which goes and comes and goes, …), and make convenant which he will do for them. 7. Olagenyi deity also reincarnate as new born babies as some children are said to be adawa Olagenyi by the believers in the area. But irrespective of these importance stated by the people, it is very important to note that the festival is one of the major yearly tourist attractions in Idah/Igalamela as the display by the Olagenyi incarnate being is very spectacular to behold. In addition, other incarnate beings will also display at event, and this is the reason thousands of people attend this event yearly especially the afternoon one which is on Saturday. The people without culture are a lost one. This is their heritage. They cherish it. And they have continued to uphold it even after centuries. Not too long again, Olegenyi festival shall be a state festival. Attend the festival on Saturday 27th March, 2021, maybe as a tourist. God bless the United Igala Kingdom. God bless Okpachala Ojonu.
Credit: Amb Ayegba Abdullahi Adojoh,Teacher, Researcher and Igala History/Culture/Tourism Promoter.