By Chimaobi Nwaiwu, NNEWI
New Yam Festival is one of the traditional and cultural festivities Igbo people do not play with, and without performing this festival as group or individual, no full-fledged or mature man eats new yam in Igbo land.
The festival is done at community level first and then well placed individuals now takes queue to celebrate their own with members of families and friends, thereby kicking off the eating of new yam in the families that participated in the ceremony, whether you have money to celebrate with others or not.
Sometimes, individuals who participated at the community level, do not bother to celebrate it at family level, may be due to lack of money or time.
But the good thing is that once involved at any level, where it is celebrated, such a person or people can go ahead with his family to start eating new yam.
In most families in Igbo land, wives and children can start eating new yam, without the men or heads of the families joining them.
This is because the men regard it as an abomination to eat new yam without celebrating it, whether in high or low key, with his ancestors.
During the period, libation are poured by the celebrant to his ancestors and forefathers and fathers, with some traditional activities that involves throwing on the ground some part of the nee yam for the ancestors to participate in eating.
Oba community in Idemili South Local Government Area Anambra State, was in the news again last Saturday when the Regent of Oba, and first son of late Eze Okpoko I of Oba, His Royal Majesty, Igwe Peter Ezenwa, Prince Noel Ezenwa, celebrated the community’s New Yam festival with members of Igwe-in-Council in continuation of Oba culture and tradition.
The ceremony witness the presentation of gifts of cows, cattle’s and goats including assorted types of drinks by groups, age grades and well meaning sons and daughters of Oba to the Regent and members of the Igwe-in-Council, for yet another successful year of New Yam Festival and in appreciation of the peace they have maintained and development they have brought to the community since the exit of the traditional ruler in 2018.
The Regent and members of the Igwe-in-Council, who in appreciation of the gesture of their people, performed some dancing steps round the palace of the late traditional ruler, and addressed them on the new development in the town.
Speaking with Vanguard, the Regent of Oba, Prince Noel Ezenwa, said that Oba is now a global town due to some latest developments and the fame its sons and daughters are bringing to the community.
He said: “As successful as the New Yam Festival was, the significance is that Oba is doing well, because wealth is about what you get from the soil and that is your health, wealth is health.
“And so the extent that all the members of the community were so well represented and they brought their tubers of yams, palm wine and other assorted drinks, goes to show that truly ‘Ife Di Na Oba, Only bata Oba, Oba baraya’ (there is wealth in Oba. If you enter into Oba, you will benefit from Oba).
“This unity and prosperity I truly believe is just a tip of the iceberg of good things that will be happening in Oba.
“There is more to offer by Oba to our people, Ndi Anambra, South-East and Nigerians in general in the nearest future.
“I have been the Regent of Oba since 2018 when we lost our traditional ruler Igwe P. C. Ezenwa, Ezeokpoko I of Oba.
“And I am happy with the peace that is existing and support my people are giving me and members of the Igwe-in-Council and we will not disappoint them in appreciation of their support and loyalty.
“When you have peace you have all the potentials of becoming great, the peace we have suffered to maintain is the peace we have realised, the old adage of Onye aghala nwanne ya(be your brothers’ keeper), we have maintained it.
“We are all our brothers’ keeper. When you get along with your brother you do everything in peace.
“So it is of great significance that Oba is witnessing a level of peace that we have not been witnessing in some villages in long time and one thing has led to the other.
“From time of the reign of Igwe Ezenwa to his demise till now, things have been improving and getting better in Oba.
“The loss of my father, the loss of my mother and so many great minds in Oba have not reduced the tempo of the development and Oba is still on the move and I thank God for that, and that is why we happily celebrated the new yam festival.
“Peace is one thing that has existed and will continue to exist in Oba community coupled with some developmental activities being witnessed in the community.
“Oba is one town everybody wants to visit now due to the good name the sons and daughters of the community are bringing for the community.”
Below are more images from the feast: