• Town celebrates new yam cultural festival
From Jeff Amechi Agbodo, Onitsha
Peace has finally returned to the Uke Community in Idemili North Local Government Area of Anambra State. Kingship tussle between two brothers had sharply divided the town into factions.
But recently the community got united again to form a common with all the factions burying their hatchets and voting for peaceful co-existence following the emergence of Igwe Charles Chuma Agbala (Igwe Oranyelu III) as its new traditional ruler last year.
The new peace was manifest during the colourful celebration of the annual new yam (Iwaji) cultural festival held at Igwe Agbala’s palace recently.
It was the second of its kind to be performed by the monarch since he ascended the throne shortly after he was elected and certificate of recognition by the state government given to him after the last Ofala festival of the late Igwe Nwabufo Ezeude who joined his ancestors in 2011.
On the morning of the day of the festival, there were the traditional 21 canon gun salute to announce the beginning of the ceremony, which was preceded by a Holy Mass celebration.
This was followed by the traditional breaking of kola nuts before the cutting of the roasted new yam to symbolize the official declaration that every citizen of Uke could eat the new yam without violating the laws of the land.
The traditional ruler danced round the arena with his cabinet members, acknowledging cheers from well-wishers and members of the community as he thanked God for seeing another new yam festival celebration.
Speaking after declaring the ceremony open, Igwe Agbala said the uniqueness of the year’s Iwaji ceremony was that peace and unification were being celebrated in the community many years after it was enmeshed in crisis, which in turn retarded progress and development in the area.
“I am very happy that this is happening at a time I assumed the position as chief servant of the people,” he said.
Igwe Agbala, a quantity surveyor, who attributed the return of peace in the area to the handiwork of God, declared: “I am a peaceful man and peace returned during my reign, but I won’t give myself the credit for the return of peace, but rather to God who made it possible.”
Describing the celebration as a witness of what had not been witnessed for many years in the community, the monarch said: “Peace comes and flows from God and since I came on board, God has been on my side and people on the fence are joining us in droves with dancing and happiness.”
On the forthcoming Anambra governorship election scheduled for November 18, Igwe Agbala recalled that all the traditional rulers from the state had unanimously subscribed to the zoning formula.
He, however, noted that although the zoning arrangement was not constitutional, it would be better if it is respected to reduce rancour and acrimony that go with electioneering processes in the state and Igbo land in general.
He noted that a new entrant from another zone could participate to popularize himself even when it is not yet the turn of his zone to occupy the seat, so that when it eventually becomes the turn of his zone, his impact would have been felt.
On youth restiveness, the monarch charged the youths not to engage themselves in criminal activities or violent tendencies capable of ruining their lives, but should rather engage themselves in learning of good handiworks or going to school.
He urged them to desist from the current trend whereby youths believe in making money the easy way.
“The youths emphasize on value system. They should not allow themselves to be used to cause anarchy or political thugs. If they don’t allow themselves to be used, there will be peace and it is because of peace that we now have electricity and other structures in Uke.
“The state government has done for us the Civic Center in the first phase of N20 million community infrastructural project. The second phase will go to the development of our famous but dilapidated Eke Uke Market and others,” he sai.
In a remark, a commissioner in Anambra State Independent Electoral Commission, ANSIEC and Public Relations Officer, Rose Obioma Aniagoh, noted that there was no crisis in the community again because the choice of Agbala as the new Igwe was a unanimous decision which made every native of Uke to be happy.
Also in his speech, Chief Chuka Agbala (Ichie Okpala II of Uke), representing Uruezeani/Uruabor village in Uke chieftaincy cabinet, said: “We have relative peace in Uke community and an Igwe who is a man of peace. Therefore, we have a peaceful atmosphere in its entirely.”
Others attributed the return of peace to the community to the successful and colourful celebration of the Iwaji festival, saying the people have united to foster good governance and development in the community.