Nnewi Afia Olu Festival: The Need for Rebranding

by cornel

The Nnewi Afia Olu Festival stands out as the only remaining traditional celebration among the 14 annual festivals unique to Nnewi. This festival, which typically takes place in August or early September, marks the end of the farming season and serves as a thanksgiving to God for a successful harvest, a tradition common across various Igbo communities.

Though there is limited documentary evidence about its origins, it is believed that the Nnewi Afia Olu Festival began in Uruagu and Nnewichi due to their proximity to Ojoto and Ichi, where similar festivals were held before Nnewi adopted it. Since its inception, the festival has become an integral part of Nnewi’s customs and traditions.

Initially, the four quarters of Nnewi celebrated the festival independently. However, over time, a collective desire for greater unity and communal strength led to a more unified celebration.

In recent years, the festival has lost much of its former glory. Poor participation from local residents and organizational inefficiencies have contributed to its decline. Compared to the vibrant celebrations of other large towns, the Nnewi Afia Olu Festival’s activities have dwindled, and it is now primarily attended by non-residents who have added little value to the event.

The festival used to be held at the Nkwo triangle, a central gathering place in Nnewi. Unfortunately, this area is no longer available for the festival, as the state government and some private individuals have repurposed the land for commercial use.



Nnewi Afia Olu Festival: The Need for Rebranding

Masquerade Performance at Igwe’s Palace during the Afia Olu Festival

There is an urgent need to rebrand the Nnewi Afia Olu Festival to ensure its sustainability and to preserve, promote, and showcase Nnewi’s rich cultural heritage. Revamping and repackaging the festival will boost participation and attract tourists from across Nigeria and around the world.

The festival should evolve beyond the current focus on masquerades engaging in flogging. Instead, it should become a vibrant entertainment event featuring cultural displays, dance, singing, various masquerade parades, and theatrical performances.

To successfully rebrand the Nnewi Afia Olu Festival, a dedicated committee should be established to oversee the planning. This committee should consist of individuals with innovative ideas and high integrity from diverse backgrounds.


The Committee should focus on the following objective:

  • Organizing the festival through Public-Private Partnership arrangement. They should reach out to corporate organizations, Nnewi billionaires and millionaires, government agencies and culturally inclined groups of individuals to join us in the process of rejuvenation of our cultural heritage.
  • Since Nkwo Nnewi triangle which is a holy ground handed to us by our ancestors is no longer available (Ka Chineke mere anyi ebere) they should carefully find a befitting arena to celebrate the event.
  • A conference or summit should always be organized in one the conference centers in Nnewi during the festival. The Conference will provide a platform to facilitate discussions around the history of Nnewi people across the centuries, our identity, ideology, through the sharing of experiences, research and ideas. It will also open discussion on the need to reposition some of our cultural practices and the need to document and preserve the history, heritage and culture of Nnewi People.
    The conference should also discuss Nnewi economy, political, social development and governance.
    It should also feature exhibition of historical artifacts.
    The conference should be attended by Nnewi historians, development experts, entrepreneurs, local stakeholders, professionals, archivists and the general public.
  • They should raise the public knowledge of Nnewi Afia Olu festival through increased publicity and press conferences before and after the festival.
  • The football competition in memory of our great heroes should be expanded to accommodate all the villages that make up the four quarters in Nnewi.
  • They should introduce cultural pageantry with full participation of male and female of the four quarters. This will produce Mr. and Miss. Nnewi.
  • Free medical outreach should also be introduced.

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  • Cultural dancing and singing (Nnewi Songs) competition should be considered.
  • Award Night or Award day will feature different categories of award to Nnewi sons and daughter who are doing well in different sectors of the economy.
    Award and Prizes should be given to winners of the pageantry, dancing, singing and football competition and also the most colourful cultural troupe.
    The award day or night should features different kind of activities like music concert and the rest.
  • The committee should review critically the issue of masquerading, part of what has have caused poor participation in Nnewi Afia Olu festival is the issue of masquerading. During the festival, most churches organize programmes on all the days of the festival to ensure that members do not participate in the festival.
    Personally for me, contrary to religious belief, the Nnewi Afia Olu (New yam festival) has nothing to do with diabolic practices. It is simply the Igbo traditional way of thanking God for a bountiful harvest.
  • They should also introduce fundraising to facilities community development and also sponsor children of the poor in the town in Education through scholarship award.
  • The festival should be rounded up with an Interdenominational Service of Thanksgiving and Prayers for Nnewi in a neutral ground.

Nnewi Afia Olu Festival: The Need for Rebranding

Nnewi Afia Olu if rebranded willl attract people from all over the world to our Nnewi, the festival provide a platform to call home Nnewi sons and daughters abroad to renew and reaffirm the bond of brotherhood, it also brings to mind a sense of belonging and to plan for community development.
The festival will also generate business opportunities especially for small medium enterprises.

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