Encomiums, As Eze Bobby Aguocha Celebrates New Yam Festival
…We don’t buy yam, we cultivate yam-Finance Commissioner, Aham Ukoh
All roads led to Umuohuru Kingdom as the atmosphere was filled with euphoria yesterday, in celebration of the 2022 Iriji (New Yam) Festival, by Eze Bobby Chijioke Aguocha, Itigidi Agu Loro Ihe Lori Ehi, Ohuruzo 1 of Umuohuru Kingdom, in Ohuhu, Umuahia North LGA of Abia State
The event which attracted a mammoth crowd had in attendance traditional rulers from across the State as well as dignitaries from ‘all walks of life’, among whom were Hon. Aham Ukoh (PhD), the Commissioner for Finance, Abia State.
In his remarks, Itigidi Agu Loro Ihe Lori Ehi, Ohuruzo 1 of Umuohuru Kingdom, described New Yam you as a core Igbo custom and tradition which is often celebrated yearly, in appreciation to God Almighty for the gift of life.
“It’s not everybody that saw today. So, we appreciate God for keeping us alive to see the new yam and eat it together with our fellow traditional rulers.
Eze Bobby who insisted that the country was desperately in need of change, used the medium to advise Nigerians to be meticulous in their choices of candidates in the forthcoming 2023 general election.
“I advise Nigerians to be careful with their choice of candidates; they must vote their conscience and not just because the person made them an offer, because Nigeria is in need of change.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with Famousreporters.com, the Honourable Commissioner for Finance, Abia State Government, Dr. Aham Ukoh (PhD), expressed gratitude to God Almighty for a fresh season of bountiful harvest of yam.
The Commissioner who is also an in-law to the royal father, described Iwa-ji ceremony as an annual cultural event in Igboland.
“I’m excited because I feel I need to come identify with him on a day like this. Iwa-ji ceremony is an annual cultural event in my place, wherein the King, in appreciation of a very rewarding farming season opens the year with new yam celebration. That heralds every other person to start feasting on yam. So, it’s a thing of joy to come celebrate with him. So, I thank God for the opportunity to witness another season of bountiful harvest of yam.
Hon. Uko used the medium to inform that yam is one of the major crops cultivated in the land of Umuahia, reiterating that most farmers in the land specialised in the planting of the king crop.
On the assertion that the people of Umuahia are not yam farmers as is being speculated, he said:
“Well, everybody is entitled to his own opinion, so in my view, that’s their own opinion. Nobody can tell us that we buy yam, or we don’t cultivate yam; that is not correct. We have major farmers here whose busines essentially is that of yam cultivation. We have farmlands here and even at subsistent level, there’s hardly any home here that does not have yam bans, lands or does not cultivate yam. So, that’s not correct”, he insisted.
Addressing newsmen, HRM, Eze (Sir) Ralph Ogbonna, Oru Onyerubi of Oru Community, in Ikwuano Local Government Area of Abia State, described yam as a king crop that must be celebrated before its consumption.
“We have come to celebrate with our fellow Onye-Eze (King) and we are please with him. The festival is a core Igbo tradition which is being celebrated right from the time of our forefathers.”
“Like it’s often said, Yoruba plant kola but, Hausa eat it while Igbo celebrate it. So, just like the kola nut is being celebrated, we also celebrate yam in Igbo land”.
In his views, HRH, Eze Joshua Mgborogwu Akomas of Osaa Ibeku autonomous Community, described Iri-ji as one of the core norms and culture of the Igbo nation, adding, “it’s our tradition through which we thank God for a bountiful harvest.
“It’s a time that our people thank God for his support and protection all through the time of planting yam, cocoa yam, and other major crops. It’s a characteristic of the Igbo nation.”
Similarly, HRM, Eze Chiabuotu Emelike, Ezimba of Eziama autonomous Community, in Ibeku stressed that new yam festival was a celebration of harvest for which yam is used as a point of celebration.
Hear him: “New yam festival is summarily, thanksgiving for a bumper harvest each year and for thanksgivings to God for keeping us alive, for the blessings of the year, and farming and all.”
Asked about his views about some people who are yet to embrace agriculture as a cultural practice, he said:
“The issue is, do you have a land, do you have the resources. These are the major things in consideration. So, those who do not embrace farming are probably those who do not have land and perhaps the resources. So, as a people and traditional rulers, we have come to celebrate with our fellow king”, he said as he commended Ndigbo for embracing farming more than ever before.
Also, HRH, Eze Edward Ibeabuchi (JP), of Okwulaga Afaraukwu Ibeku, described New yam festival as a major Igbo culture, saying, “I’m happy to be here because it’s our culture. I’m happy that HRH, Eze Aguocha is trying to remind our people that there’s a time to go to farm and there’s a time to celebrate what you have been able to produce. That’s the essence of new yam festival.”
Corroborating, HRM, Eze Obi Uluocha, Oparaukwu Ogbodi described yam as a king crop in Igboland, saying, “and it’s unusually celebrated. During this time, we invite our friends and loved ones to celebrate with us. It is a crop usually eaten with happiness.”
The royal father used the medium to advise Christians to embrace Iri-ji and refrain from mistaking same for idol worshipping, saying, “there’s nothing fetish about the festival. They should repent and start planting yam. When you plant, you harvest and then you can eat it.”
HRH, Eze Uzo Nwosu, Ochi 1 of Ochiukwu, the traditional ruler of Umukaibia- Okaiga autonomous Community, wished Eze Aguocha long life, saying “so that he will also plant this year and harvest next year. And then we’ll all come to celebrate with him. As we ate last year, we eat this year then we should also eat next year.”