From Aloysius Attah, Onitsha
It was a festival showcasing the rich cultural heritage of the Igbo people recently at Akpu community, Orumba South LGA, Anambra State when a philanthropist, Chief Emeka Agba marked this year’s new yam festival.
Agba, a Lagos based businessman is a Culture Enthusiast and Founder, Chief Emeka Agba Foundation where many young talents have been discovered and supported to excel in various life endeavours.
Agba also holds the traditional title of Odagbulu Ihe Dagbulu Ihe Dagbulu Enyi of Igbo land conferred on him two years ago in Anambra by a retinue of traditional rulers from the Southeast.
The colourful new yam festival held in his country home Akpu featured many masquerade displays and various cultural entertainments that left guests in frenzied excitement till dusk.
The event kick started with a thanksgiving mass at St. Matthews Catholic Church Akpu.
Parish Priest of the Church, Rev. Fr. Obioma Okeke in a homily said God is still in the business of saving those who seek His face at all times and urged the people to worship God in truth and in spirit.
The cleric described Chief Emeka Agba as a blessing to the community through his numerous interventions in church, community and human resources development.
While praying during the cutting of the yam and breaking of kolanut, the priest described new yam festival as an age long culture set aside to express gratitude to God for good harvest and offering prayers for better season ahead.
Also performing the symbolic breaking of kola nut, Chief Agba who thanked God for a successful planting season underscored the significance of new yam festival in educating the younger generations as regards Igbo cultural heritage.
On breaking the kolanut, it presented five lobes and he recalled immediately that the previous kola he broke presented seven lobes, an unusual record which the elders and guests at the ceremony agreed that it was all signs of good omen for the celebrant and the community.
As a business man who is also into farming, Chief Agba encouraged people to engage more in agriculture to ensure food sufficiency.
Hear him: “Yam is a unique crop in Igbo Igbo land and it is not ordinary. We celebrate yam festival because we believe that when we mark the new yam festival, we thank God for a new year of harvest and invoke His blessings for more goodies within the year”.
“The Igbos doesn’t celebrate cassava and that’s why you have to process cassava into several methods before one can eat it or else it can kill when consumed. But because we celebrate yam, you find out that yam is the quickest food you can prepare and eat. Straight from the farm, it can go into the fire to be roasted and eaten with oil, it can be cooked and served immediately as yam sauce while it can also be cooked and pounded for swallow”.
On his message to his people as he marked the new yam festival, he said “It is a message of love, peace and prosperity and also a message to encourage them to be entrepreneurial. There are many ways to make money legitimately. Some of my people are still surprised that I engage in farming but I think it should be emulated and encouraged.
To the youths, he has a message of love again even amidst cases of gunmen attack in some parts of Anambra state.
“Violence in any form does not pay anybody. There may be lack of jobs from government but people can still be useful and productive instead of taking to crimes. The government can also encourage the youths to do better by providing incentives for them because violence doesn’t promote progress in any way” he said.
Chief Agba reaffirmed his commitment towards improving lives and alleviating the plight of the downtrodden through his Foundation.
In a remark, the mother of the celebrant, Mrs. Agatha Agba commended her son for his grateful heart in assisting people. She prayed for the grace for continuity and also prayed for the media people to continue to shine the light in information dissemination without encountering any danger.
Eulogizing Chief Agba for his kind gesture towards the well-being of the people and upliftment of the community, a cabinet Chief, Alexander Okoli commended him for the passion and initiations in championing the course for humanity.
Okoli a retired civil servant and former chairman of Orumba South LGA said there is need for more of the type of Emeka Agbas in many communities so as to lift many out of poverty.
Some friends who came to identify with him, including Okwudili Adindu , an engineer and Chief Obumneme Ofoma explained that new yam festival has remained a sustainable way of promoting peace among peoples and communities.
A beneficiary of the Foundation, Mrs. Nwanneka Nwafor who were among those who received cash and household gift items shared during the festival, recounted various life touching initiatives of the Foundation and prayed God to bless the benefactor.