Aloysius Attah, Onitsha
Igwe Peter Uyanwa, the Ezedike Ukwu is a man of glamour and panache; this came to the fore once again, at the traditional ruler’s new yam festival at Ukwulu community in Dunukofia local government area of Anambra State.
The event which held recently was a show stopper; a big cultural carnival that that had the high and mighty in attendance including Governor Willie Obiano, the Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Alfred Nnaemeka Achebe, members of the National and State Assemblies and many other dignitaries who described the host as “man of the people”.
Recognising the supremacy of God in the affairs of man, Igwe Uyanwa made the event a blend of the culture and religion. The spiritual component began the activities of the day with a concelebrated holy Eucharistic celebration officiated by four Catholic priests in the presence of an Anglican cleric with many Reverend Sisters and the religious.
In the homily during the holy mass, Rev. Fr. Michael Oguno described season of harvest as a time of thanksgiving to God. He said that man’s first culture in life as human being is to celebrate the goodness of God the creator of the whole universe.
The cleric noted that in celebrating God’s goodness, man does not need to sacrifice fresh blood of animals again to God since Christ has made the ultimate sacrifice and triumphed with His own blood after crucifixion on the cross of Calvary.
Parish Priest and chaplain of St Aloysius Gonzaga Chaplaincy, Ukwulu; Rev. Fr. Luke Okoye while thanking other priests who attended the holy mass for the new yam festival declared that Igwe Uyanwa’s crown was ordained by God.
The festival took a frenzied dimension when guests trooped into the palace for the ceremony. Governor Obiano led the pack with his convoy; then the Speaker, Anambra State House of Assembly, Uche Okafor.
Others that came included the Commissioner for Agriculture, Nnamdi Onukuba, member representing Dunukofia/Njikoka/ Anaocha federal constituency, Hon. Val Ayika and his counterpart from Anambra East/West Federal Constituency, Chinedu Obidigwe, among other political office holders.
From the traditional institution in Anambra State were Eze Obosi, Igwe Chinedum Iweka; Igwe Ben Emeka (Umueri), Igwe Rowland Odegbo (Nteje), Igwe Christopher Okpala (Akwaeze), Igwe Elias Nneli (Umueje) and many others.
The Governor in his remarks lauded Igwe Uyanwa as a leader per excellence, pointing out that his leadership in Ukwulu and as the Chairman of Anambra Central Council of Traditional Rulers has been eventful and fruitful.
He disclosed plans for a central new yam festival in the state where all the traditional rulers from various communities would come together to perform such ceremony in order to foster peaceful coexistence and culture hybrid in the state.
While cutting the new yam, Igwe Uyanwa prayed for God’s blessings on the people of Ukwulu community, their neighbours and friends and for God to imbue more strength on Governor Obiano to continue his good work in the state.
In an interview with Daily Sun, Igwe Uyanwa probably because new yam festival is an age long tradition in Igbo land; several people out of misconception, erroneously think that it has something to do idol worship.
“Our community, Ukwulu is known for farming in Anambra State. We supply garri to the entire Anambra community and we also uphold the traditional tenets and culture of our people. We have diverse people who are deeply religious and many are also Catholic priests amongst us.
“Eating yam promotes longevity; no wonder planting yams was the exclusive preserve of the rich and affluent in the days of yore and the level of wealth is measured then by the enormous yam barn one controlled. In those days of yore, anybody who stole yam was treated as a serious offender and was often splashed with palm oil on the forehead as a sign of disgrace,” the monarch stated.
In his message to mark the new festival, he said although the Federal Government was trying but much still needed to be done.
His words: “Let them fight the incessant killings all over the country. Government should look at security and the herdsmen menace. We have an intelligent Inspector General of Police, so all that is needed is to equip him with the necessary logistics for operations because without adequate logistics, he cannot perform magic.
“For my state, Anambra, we are privileged to have a good Governor, Chief Willie Obiano who knows his onions and has ensured that lives are secured adequately all over the state. We have witnessed high level of insecurity in the past but his administration nipped such ugly situation in the bud. We can only but urge him to keep on sustaining the tempo.
“For my people in Ukwulu, we are peace loving people. There is no crisis in our community. I had been the town union president before my ascendancy to the throne and I served two tenures and relinquished the post voluntarily so that new breed can be injected into the system. I’ve supported many noble causes in this community and I never knew I would become the traditional ruler then. We give God glory for the journey so far”.
Former Vice Chancellor, Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University and an indigene of Ukwulu, Prof. Fidelis Okafor prayed for longevity of the traditional ruler and more good tidings to the community.
The cutting of the new yam (Iwa ji) proper and the cultural displays were indeed spectacular.