By Dennis Agbo, Peter Okutu & Chinedu Adonu
Enugu — APEX Igbo cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Enugu Chapter, weekend celebrated their first new yam festival, Iwa ji or Iri ji, with a lamentation that there was poor harvest this year.
Chairman of Ohanaeze, Enugu State chapter, Hon. Eric Ebeh who made the lamentation in an address at the occasion that took place at Ohanaeze Secretariat, 7, Park Avenue, Enugu attributed the poor harvest to the handiwork of Fulani herdsmen that used their cattle to destroy farmlands among other atrocities.
Ebeh described yam as the major crop which Igbo people preferred to use in every occasion and the first to be cultivated.
“Yam as a crop occupies a very important position both in diet and socio-cultural live of Igbo people. As the king of crops, it appears in important ceremonies like marriage , birth and burial ceremonies as well as conferment of tittles and reception of heroes,”Ebeh said.
He said that the new yam festival being observed in Igboland has helped to maintain and sustain the significance and cultural heritage of Igbo people and promote their cultural life.
Ebeh, however, lamented that the damage caused by Fulani herdsmen has dealt a deadly blow on yam and other crops on the entire Igbo race and pointed out that if government does not do something urgently, the Igbo will suffer severe consequences unless the activities of herdsmen are controlled.
“Activities of the Fulani herdsmen have destroyed the production of our farm crops, particularly yam, the king of crops and will affect Igbo people adversely if the authorities fail to control their wicked act,” Ebeh said.
In a lecture delivered at the occasion by Dr. Ferdinand Anikwe in Igbo language, he said that Ndigbo should value their language and learn how to speak Igbo language properly. He equally urged the parents to teach their children Igbo language because “charity begins at home.”
Anikwe said that efforts are being made to ensure that all Igbo people will know how to speak their language by 2023.
The event featured traditional wrestling, cultural dances from different local governments of the state, awards of recognition and proper eating of yam as the chairman of Enugu State traditional ruler, Igwe, Prof, Lawrence Agubuzu piloted the cutting of yam. He prayed that their coming together would be fruitful, bring good health and abundant harvest next year.
Top dignitaries that include traditional rulers, commissioners, state assembly members as well as local government caretaker committee chairmen .
How we resolved herdsmen crisis in Ebonyi
In another development, the leader of Hausa community in Ebonyi state, Alhaji Gambo Danjuma, has disclosed that the reason there is low rate of herdsmen/host community clashes in Ebonyi state is because of the technique they employed in resolving the problems.
Danjuma said that for any farm or crop damaged by cows, the herdsmen are made to pay.
“In that way, the problems are reduced because the herdsmen now take care in trespassing through the farm,” he said.
Danjuma spoke shortly after muslim prayer for Ed-el-Kabir at Abakaliki.
He noted that the issue of herdsmen and farmers clashes is an old problem that did not start in the recent times but gained prominence with time.
He said: “In Ebonyi state, we wade into the matter whenever there is problem with the fulanis and they pay for any destroyed farm or crops and with that the fulanis are taking care.
“They pay because we see the farmers as being maltreated because the farms don’t go anywhere, it is when you go to the farm that you can destroy it and so we make them pay damages and also ask them to stay away from farms and that has been help full.”
Danjuma said that despite the economic challenges, Muslims are celebrating Sallah, adding that nothing is compulsory in the celebration.
“Its about what you have and at all times there are those that have and those that don’t have. Even without the economic crisis there are those who don’t have, so for that we thank Allah. Those who have are advised to help those who don’t have especially in occasions like this,” he advised.