Aloysius Attah, Onitsha
Ugamuma village, Obosi community, Anambra State, was electrified in a cultural carnival recently when one of the first class Ndichie in the royal cabinet, Chief Hyacinth Udemba, celebrated the new yam festival marking his fifth year as an Ndichie Obosi.
Udemba was installed member of the Igwe-in-Council with the traditional Ndichie title of Akamposi Obosi in January 2015.
Since his installation, he has played several prominent roles in the community including the rehabilitation of youths of the community involved in drug addiction while integrating them into mass education and gaining employment in various fields of endeavour
Several dignitaries thronged his country home in Ugamuma village to pay homage and also felicitate with him on this year’s ceremony. About 30 masquerade groups also entertained the audience as the ceremony witnessed no dull moment from morning till dusk.
The ceremony started with early morning prayer meeting among elders of his kindred family-the Umuezechieamalu family and the different heads of sub family units, followed by general family meeting involving the executives of Umuada and Ndi Nwunyedi.
After the brief meetings, the Akamkposi proceeded to greet all the visitors around, making a brief introduction of the celebration to the august visitors who are not conversant with the reason for the celebration.
The next process was Igo Ofo Ana with kolanut, thanking God for the celebration and praying for the long life, good health and successful next season. He prayed for those who serve the community well including the leaders for peaceful co-existence.
Settling down for the Iwaji proper (cutting of a roasted yam), assisted by his wife, Stella, Akamposi dipped a piece of the roasted yam into a plate of palm oil garnished with oil bean (Ukpaka) and fresh pepper and ate first, washed it down with a cup of palm wine and then served all other titled men around him, and they all ate together.
At this stage, many children present queued and were served with pieces of the roasted yam with prayers before the same sauce was served to all other groups and invitees. The new yam ritual was capped with a cultural dance by Ekwe titled men, which the Akamposi took with measured steps, drawing applause and cheers from the crowd.
Akamposi spoke on the challenges facing the Obosi community presently over some disagreements among the Ndi Ichie and the traditional ruler as well as efforts he had made to live up to the expectations of the people:
“It has been turbulent in the past five years in so to say because the community is battling with urbanisation. Challenges of crime, lack of employment, cultism and whenever a community is undergoing urbanization, you have serious alterations to the culture and traditions of the people.
“It requires a strong Eze and Ndichie to be able to maintain a strong traditional system in the face of a changing environment such that today, we revere Agbogidi, the Obi of Onitsha because despite the challenges of urbanization, he has maintained the culture and tradition of the people to the extent of non-pollution.
“But a situation whereby a community is becoming more diverse to the extent that it affects the culture and tradition of the people seriously then the lifestyle of the people will continue to change because our traditions and culture define our lifestyle and once it is altered, other things follow.
“That is the bane of our system and whenever such happens, the community should rise quickly and make a kind of traditional guideline, a kind of procedural system where certain agreements can be made within a family.
“For a community to move forward there should be guidelines not constitution that would drive the process which can also be transferred from one generation to another. Onitsha has such system and it has guided them for over forty years but unfortunately for us in Obosi, we don’t have such.
“Attempts have been made to write such guidelines but it has not worked out. The challenges I had therefore was that when I came into the traditional institution as an Ndichie, I observed that things were not going on well because nothing was written down as guidelines, such challenges I’ve been trying to solve but certain interest groups wouldn’t want such guidelines introduced because it may affect their interests and that’s where we are.”
He said the positive changes may not be realised in his time but he is not relenting and neither will he be violent or insist that it must happen now.
Diokpa Ezechime Obosi, Chief Emeka Okeke, a retired Assistant Inspector General of Police, former President General, Obosi Development Union, Chief Dan Igbokwubili-Obih, and Dan Ilechukwu, Chairman, Umuezechienamalu family while sending their goodwill wishes to Akamposi Obosi also called on the traditional ruler of Obosi, Eze Chidubem Iweka to address the fractionalization of the community and alleged bastardisation of the people’s culture.