Raymond Ozoji, Awka
As Umueri community in Anambra-East local government area of Anambra state gears up for its new yam celebration on 21st September 2019, the traditional ruler of the community, Igwe Sir Ben Izuchukwu Emeka, says that this year’s Iwa-ji festival of his community would be done in the Christian doctrine devoid of esoteric traditional inclinations.
He observed that an occasion like the new yam festival should be used to thank the Almighty God for his blessings and bountiful harvest for the people. But on the contrary, he said people misconstrued the celebration thereby offering thanksgiving, prayers and supplications to objects he considered as small gods inferior to the ultimate supreme being who provided the rain and sunshine for the crops to germinate and grow into maturity to provide food for the people who had toiled to cultivate the crops.
Speaking with our correspondent at the office of traditional rulers at the government house Awka yesterday, Igwe Emeka noted that preparations were in top gear and that the Iwaji festival would commence with a church service at the palace after which the new yam festival comes up immediately thereafter at the Igwe’s palace.
He said there would be no conferment of chieftancy titles at the Iwaji Umueri but such traditional titles would be conferred on deserving individuals on the day of his Ofala celebration which would take place on a date yet to be made public.
Although igwe Umueri noted that a lot of cultural activities have been lined up for the new yam festival ranging from traditional wrestling tournament and some others, he was of the opinion that the significance of new yam ceremony could not be overemphasized as it is a highly respected cultural activity that is part and parcel of the Igbo people.
He said, “New yam festival as far as I’m concerned is a period that the Igbos used to thank God for a bumper harvest. For God giving them rain and sunshine that the yam which they cultivated germinated, grew and became a big harvest.
“So it is a period of thanksgiving to God but those that are doing in a traditional way will now ascribe the glory to their local gods instead of God Almighty. But for me, I will give thanks to God.”
Okebo Umueri however said that the governor of Anambra state Chief Willie Obiano was among the dignitaries being expected on the occasion.