By Chimaobi Nwaiwu

UMUNZE — THE 2020 Duji Umunze (New Yam festival) was indeed more than new yam festival. Succinctly put, it was a celebration of the return of peace to Umunze, a fast growing commercial community.

It was a good to behold stakeholders in the community who hitherto were indifferent come together under one canopy to celebrate Duji.

Umunze, a community with great potentials has been held down on account of political disagreement among some notable individuals in the town, a myth the 2020 Duji has broken, bringing together all the major gladiators to ensure that peace reigns in Umunze once again.

This did not however come easy. It took the ingenuity of Odinma Umunze Initiative, an elite group of like minds, Umunze sons and daughters, home and in the Diaspora, that took it upon themselves to ensure that peace reigns in the community for development to happen. Though the group has a lot on its development programmes for the community, it chose to get everybody together and make peace first and Duji 2020 readily provided the opportunity.

So, it was a fun and happiness galore. It was joy seeing an elated traditional ruler, Igwe Promise Eze sitting together with some prominent members of the community who for years have been at loggerheads with him. It was indeed a new dawn in Umunze.

Addressing the opening ceremony of the new yam festival, Igwe Eze, the Abilikete 11, expressed happiness at the turn of events in Umunze and appealed that the peace is maintained and urged the people to avoid religious politics in the community. Eze expressed gratitude to God for making it possible for peace to return to Umunze after some years of crisis.

The monarch also thanked God for some developments now being witnessed in the community, including the building and commissioning of a High Court and the ongoing new market project.

On the forthcoming election into the town union, the monarch warned against introducing religious politics into it.

“The Umunze Progressive Union, UPU, election is coming up in two or three months time. We must do something urgently to avert problem in that election by ensuring that religious politics is not resurrected.

“The type of propaganda that is going on about that election is too much. That kind of thing does not happen in Umunze before but today, it is happening. We are not going to allow it to continue. Some disgruntled elements are trying to resurrect religious politics which we killed and buried for over 33 years now.

“We do not discriminate against the Catholics and Anglicans in Umunze. In fact religion is never a matter in development or leadership in Umunze but some people are trying to reintroduce it. We will not allow them to resurrect it in Umunze because it will not do any good to us.

“What we want in that election is the best candidate that will take Umunze to the next level of development and peace to reign. We do not care whether he is Anglican or Catholic; religious denomination is immaterial in leadership and development in Umunze.

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“I am an Anglican but the majority of members of my cabinet are Catholics and we have been working together and even in my absence, they are discharging their duties diligently. I do not feel unsafe with them, so nobody will bring that kind of discrimination and sentiments in UPU election. We must not allow that to happen. “We will sanction anybody who resurrects religious politics in

Umunze because of that election. What we want in Umunze is whatever positive thing anyone one can do for the community let him do that for us.

“I am therefore urging you never to support anybody that comes to you to tell you I am an Anglican or Catholic. Once anybody tells you that, please on the Election Day, don’t vote for him because he has nothing to offer Umunze community. The election of the President General of UPU must be on merit, personality and what the person can do for us. We are one in Umunze, nobody will be allowed to bring division among us. We also expect our people to conduct themselves very well during the election. You have seen what the women wing did during their election; they conducted themselves properly and had their election peacefully.”

The traditional ruler also announced the introduction of Age Grade system in Umunze. According to him, “from 80 years to 90 years will be referred to as Golden Age, 70 to 80, 60 to 70, 50 to 40 and others will be ascribed names too.”

Each group, he said, would take upon development projects of their choice in the community. Igwe Eze also commended the Umunze Vigilante Services for providing security to the community and urged them to step up their work.

“Time has gone when armed robbers came and terrorized us, held Umunze hostage, robbed and left without being apprehended”.
Earlier in his remarks, the Chairman of Umunze Cultural Committee/Odinma Umunze Initiative, Chief John Egwu, thanked God for making it possible for Duji Umunze 2020 to hold in spite of some setbacks.

“We hope that future Duji festival will be enlarged in scope as we intend to incorporate contemporary shows like fashion parade, beauty contest to attract tourism to Umunze.

“We, therefore, call for support and sponsorship of the festival by our sons, daughters, friends and well wishers.

“Some of the things tearing us apart, like religious bigotry, Catholicism, Anglicanism, Pentecostalism and selfishness must be discouraged in Umunze.

“We should therefore encourage our people to come home and invest in various fields which will help Umunze grow industrially and be able to fix many highly educated young men and women searching for employment to come home. We are ready to receive them”.

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