From Aloysius Attah, Onitsha
Traditional ruler of Awka-Etiti community, Idemili South Local Government Area, Igwe Michael Ezeudenna recently marked this year’s New Yam Festival though in a low key.
Ezeudenna, the Igwe Okagbado and Obi of Awkaetiti in the solemn ceremony thanked God for the year’s harvest and blessings on his community while performing the cultural rites of cutting and eating of the new yam spiced with red palm oil and oil bean sauce.
He described New Yam festival as a time of mass return when people at home and in Diaspora get together to rejoice together while thanking God Almighty for life and great harvest.
The Obi Awka-Etiti said New Yam festival remains significant in Igbo land noting that after the celebration of Yam as the King of crops by the traditional ruler, other community members can continue their own and also begin to eat yam officially for the year.
The ceremony also featured the installation of the Board Chairman, Anambra Maritime Practitioners Association (AMPA), Chief Peter Oge-Obi as the traditional Ichie representing Umueze kindred of Ejighinandu village of Awka-Etiti.
Chief Obi was installed the ‘Ichie Okaka of Awkaetiti’, to represent Umueze kindred in the Igwe (Obi) in council.
Before the installation, Chief Ebele Enemuo, Ichie Ohamadike and Secretary, Igwe (Obi) in council of Awka-Etiti announced that the selection of Chief Obi popularly known as Okaka Jesus followed due process and met the community requirements.
Enemuo described him as an illustrious son of the land and a lover of culture who was the Chairman, Awka-Etiti Improvement Union (AIU) Lagos branch for many years.
Expressing gratitude after his installation, Chief Obi said he was very happy to be chosen by his kindred to represent them at the Igwe’s cabinet and to be installed as the Ichie Okaka: “Although my kindred chose me 17 years ago, but I refused. Two traditional rulers had come and gone but when Igwe Ezeudenna ascended the throne, I decided to accept the call.
“More so, I saw that the values of our culture and tradition are fast decaying and have decided to revive the good traditions because some people out of ignorance have started indulging in abominations.”
His gorgeous wife, Lolo Ukamaka Obi who was elated that the community recognised the achievements and person of her husband pledged to always support him.
President General, Awka-Etiti Improvement Union, Chief Izundu Adinigwe described Chief Obi as a patriotic townsman and one of the pillars of Awka-Etiti.
Some of the notables of the community who attended the ceremony included Chief Jasper Okpalafuluaku, Chief Chukwudi Ezeanyino and Chief Azubike Ezisi.
Chief Ezeanyino remarked that New Yam festivals even from his childhood days used to be home-coming and opportunity for every family to exchange pleasantries and promote unity before the advent of Christmas.
Chief Ezisi, a medical doctor whose mother is a German said he was happy to celebrate his roots saying that certain cultures or masquerades people shy away from are kept in museum overseas where tourists pay to visit.
They eulogized the achievements of Igwe Ezeudenna praying that God continues to prosper his reign, bless him with good health and long life to celebrate many more editions of the new yam rituals.
Special cutting of kolanuts, pouring of libations, ushie traditional dances by the traditional ruler and Ichies all added colour to the ceremony.