Road Walk As A Tourism Potential

One of the agents of social mobilization, integration and enforcement for communal development in the South-East zone is the Age grade system.
The age grade system is an organized social group of individuals born within a certain age bracket formed for the purpose of promoting shared values, maintaining social norms and served as an instrument of deepening communal development.

In the age grade system, class consciousness plays little or no consideration in determining the age grade one belongs but there are instances were one based on his achievement or giant strides commonly referred to as Nwanta Ukwu are admitted into an age grade whose members are mainly his serious or juniors but socialized with.
The age grade system therefore brings together the highly educated, none educated, professionals and accomplishers in various fields of endeavors with the lesser grade of achievers in the society. However, despite the absence of social class in the age grade, everyone know his limits or bounds or where he belongs in terms of conduct, actions and in actions as the primary purpose of the age grade is to stimulate and encourage community development through healthy competition.

There is that pride in every member of an age grade in boasting of or enumerating series of programmes and projects his age grade has embarked on and that have impacted much on the community. Thus there is healthy competition among the various age grades on projects and programmes of actualization and its impact and not competition/rivalry based on individual wealth accumulation.
The result is that, it is the age grade first and this made everyone to strive on those things that would make/put his age grade on the pinnacle of pacesetters and not about individual members status and contributions.
In Amaokwe Item, Bende Local Government of Abia State where the age grade has played significant roles in the overall development of the community, there is always a healthy competition among the age grades on the socio-economic sphere of the community.

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One will not struggle to see the impact of the age grade system in the community with lots of projects and programmers adorning all the length and breadth of the community due to high level organization of its age grade system in the community.
It is in line with this that the Ochonma age grade which attained full fledge age grade status in 2013 has always embarked on programmes and projects that would deepen the development of Okwoaja community as the community popularly called.
One of the age grades programmes that is reverberating the community is its Road Awareness Walk which debuted in 2019, and saw members on a bear fit trekked round Amokwe Item to raise awareness on healthy living and equally a health talk on High BP, Diabetes, Prostate Cancer, among other illnesses ravaging mankind in this 21st century.
However, the 2021 edition took a different positive dimension in colour and organization even non Ochoma age grade members fully embraced and participated activity on the walk due to the enduring health benefit.
Also, neighboring communities of Amaeke and Apuanu Item where the 3km walk stretched to could not hide their excitement of seeing men and women who have made impact in their fields of endeavours defying their social status to embark on a health walk to raise awareness on health challenges.
That walk no doubt proved to be a potent strategic weapon in public and health enlightenment, motivation and education of the citizenry for their active participatory involvement not only in communal development but on issues of concern facing our contemporary society.
Another important aspect of the 2021 edition of the programme was the involvement of sponsors in the programme which saw certain individuals honoured for their contribution to the success of the exercise. They include, of Dr Davey Osoka with the Diamond sponsor award, Mr Onuoha Uke and Dr Onyechelerem Ogelle with gold sponsors award, Prof Ogbonnaya Okpo, Prof Enyidiya Ogali, acting Vice-Chanellor, Uniport, Prince Harrison Eze Okorie, Mr Kesanso Uko of the Central Bank, Chief Okoji Nmaju, President General, AIWU and Mrs Ogbonne Precious Emeka with silver sponsors award respectively.
Speaking on the event, the Managing Director/Editor-Chief, The Sun Newspapers, Mr. Onuoha Ukeh urged the people not to see the programme as an annual ritual but a regular important health habit worthy of been inculcated as part of their daily routine and not to wait for a special event before they would exercise.
Also speaking, Prof. Ogbonnaya Okpo of the Department of Phamarcology, University of Benin enumerated the importance of exercise in ensuring a healthy person and urged the people not to see the road walk as a mere exercise but imbibed the inherent benefits associated with it and that the programme was a health oriented programme that can attract people outside Item to attend.
In his own speech, the Editor of National Ambassador Newspapers, Bro. Kingsley Ugorji said that from the interest the exercise has exerted and generated due to its high level state of organization, the progamme has become one of the interesting yuletide calendar events in Amaokwe Item as people now look forward to participating in the road walk even those who hardly exercise all through the year.
Responding, the Chairman planning and organizing committee, Mr. Uko Chinenye while appreciating the sponsors and participants for the success of the 2021 road walk, assured that the 2022 edition would be more colourful and would attract a corporate image by leveraging on the corporate brands seen in the 2021 edition.
There is no doubt that the Ochonma II Age Grad Road Awareness Walk is fast graduating from being a mere age grade activity to one of the most look after yuletide calendars event not only in Amaokwe but Item as a whole. This is because the road walk due to its promotion of positive healthy living could be made to become Carnival of Sort that would attract participants and tourists from outside Item every December 30 for the Ochomma II Age Grade Road Walk and remained in the community till December 31, to witness and participate in the most colourful and highest community gathering in Nigeria, The Okwe Day Celebration.
The impact of such events in the economy of the community could better be imagined and what is required is appropriate machinery planning for Amaokwe Item to become another the melting point after Calabar, Cross River state in terms of high presence of tourist.