By Raymond Ozoji, Awka
It would be a festival of masquerades, various cultural displays of the 179 communities of Anambra State and a feast of local delicacies mixed with palm oil like roasted yam, Fio-Fio, Akidi, Abacha, Azu-okpo and others and washed down the throats with undiluted Nkwu-enu (palm wine) at the Dr. Alex Ekwueme Square Awka on Saturday the 21st of October, 2023 as Anambra mesmerises the world with her new yam cultural carnival.
This celebration, according to the Commissioner for Culture, Tourism and Entertainment, Comrade Don Onyenji, is the first of its kind since the creation of the state and it would be a celebration of the cultural heritage of Anambra people.
The cultural festival which he said would serve as a memorabilia thereafter because Governor Charles Chukwuma Soludo, according to him, would perform a groundbreaking ceremony of presenting price money to the 2023 Diji/Eze ji, is also a clarion call to Ndi-Anambra at home and in the diaspora to attend the grand occasion in their traditional regalia to showcase the rich cultural heritage of the Igbo nation.
The Commissioner who addressed an elaborate press conference on the New Yam Festival, said the Iri-ji festival is in line with Governor Soludo’s mandate of promoting and reviving the cultural heritage of the people.
Onyenji who disclosed that the Iwa-ji festival hold sway from August to October every year, noted that the Government of Anambra State, pursuant to developing her cultural activities and selling them to the world, maintained that the state government is organising for the first time, an Iri-ji festival.
He said Governor Charles Chukwuma Soludo is the chief host while the Royal Father of the Day is the Obi of Onitsha ancient kingdom and Chairman Anambra State Council of Traditional Rulers, His Royal Majesty, Igwe Alfred Nnaemeka Achebe.
Onyenji also disclosed that all other traditional rulers, town unions led by their Presidents-General and the entire 21 local government areas would be live at the Dr. Alex Ekwueme Square Awka to feast their eyes on the colourful event.
He said the import of the New Yam Festival is all about love and sharing with one another. That it would be a celebration of unity and love amongst the citizens of Anambra State.
He said that traditionally Ndigbo are very hospitable people; that non-citizens are equally invited to celebrate with Ndi-Anambra on this auspicious occasion of her 2023 Iri-ji festival.
Onyenji said aside from the symbolic cutting of the new yam, other side attractions include acrobatic displays by masquerades, cultural dance performance by communities, exhibition of local delicacies by local government areas and a host of others, adding that it is going to be a forum for enjoyment and entertainment.