By Chris Onuoha
The ancient city of Ihim in Umuihim community, Isiala Mbano local government, Imo State came agog last weekend with a great convergence of traditional and paramount rulers, notable personalities and government officials as His Royal Majesty, Eze, Oliver Ohanweh, the Obi Gburugburu of Igboland and Paramount ruler of Ihim Community held his 2018 ‘Iwa ji’ New yam festival at his palace.
The event witnessed by large turn out of cultural enthusiasts, some Igbo sons and daughters in Diaspora including neighbouring Igbo communities within the Eastern region was a kaleidescope of colourful display of Igbo cultural endowments: rich cultural dances of the Ihim people, masquerades and parades of some traditionalists.
The ceremony started with a customary rites at the Wisdom Palace of Eze Ohanweh where the invited traditional rulers and special guests paid homage to the Ihim 1 of Umuihim, Eze Oliver Ohanweh to identify with cultural gesture as tradition requires. After the kolanuts, palmwine and other traditional paraphernalia was observed, the entire community and guests trooped to the village square where the proper festival took place.
The special guest of honour, His Imperial Majesty, IGWE KELLY OKALANKWU OF IGBARIAM with an entourage of about 45 traditional rulers from Anambra and Enugu States where accorded the tradition recognition of special treatment specially prepared by the celebrating monarch.
Others on the roll call of invited guests include HRM, Eze Prof Amaobi Uwaleke Obilibi of Urattha Owerri with him 22 traditional rulers. HRM, Eze DOUGLAS OKWARACHUKWU IV of Orlu. HRM, EZE JOHN NWOSU leading 24 other traditional rulers from Orlu. HRM, EZE Dr THOMAS OBIEFULE the Okairuru of Umudoka leading 28 others. HRH, EZE AKARAKA ONUOHA, the Ohanyere of Mbaise; HRH, GodSavours MBA, Ihie of Umuishi; HRH, EZE ROMANUS OBIECHEFU, Omeudo of Umuelemai; HRM, Eze STEVEN ONWULIMBA of Abia State leading 14 traditional rulers.
Very important personalities that was also present include Chief Dr Paulin IGWE from Houston Texas; Engr Chief Celestine Iwuagwu from USA; members of National and State Assembly; State Commissioners; National and international industrialists; students for employment, civil servants and rural populace.
The amiable and cultural enthusiastic Eze Ohanweh alongside his palace chiefs performed the official and customary cutting of the roasted yam with red oil signifying the end of harvest. He prayed, with some traditional incantations thanking God for bumper harvest and new greater expectations for the new planting year. Thereafter, guests were entertained with displays of some rich cultural performances of the people.
Eze Ohanweh, who has been in the forefront of creating cultural awareness and keeping the Igbo tradition alive said in his special speech that the essence of the festival is line with keeping tradition but most especially, attracting tourism in Isiala Mbano noted for its rich culture. He bemoaned that Igbo rich culture may go extinct if nothing is done to preserve its values through festivals. He however, noted that other nations in Nigeria has done much to raise the bar in cultural awareness attracting foreigners and tourists to their place which is what he vehemently proposed by marking the Ihim ‘Iwaji’ festival with a difference.
Eze Ohanweh, meanwhile, called on discerning Igbo people to give the administration of President Buhari another chance to complete his 2nd term so that Igbo President will be possible by 2023.