The traditional ruler of IgboUkwu, HRH Barr. M. Ezeh, Idu II of IgboUkwu has explained the need for Igbo sons and daughters to join in the efforts of the Mbido Igbo Association to place Iri Ji Ndi Igbo (Igbo New Yam Festival) in the world map.
The Royal Father stated this on Saturday, 29th August, 2015 at the National Yam House, IgboUkwu in Anambra State, on the occasion of the grand finale of activities marking the 2015 edition of the culturally rich New Yam Festival.
Igwe Ezeh reiterated that Igbo people are now serious with cultural rejuvenation, stressing that the new yam festival was part of the steps being taken to revive and sustain the culture of the Igbos for posterity.
In his address, the chairman of the Mbido Igbo Association – an Igbo socio cultural organization – Mazi Okafouzu Ugochukwu, made special mention of the parastatals under the Federal Ministry of Tourism, Culture and National Orientation that have established their offices in IgboUkwu, such as the National Gallery of Art (NGA), Centre for Black and African Arts & Civilisation (CBAAC), National Commission for Museums and Monuments (NCMM), and expressed gratitude to Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC) for its support in giving prizes for the various competitions in the festival.
He finally urged the Anambra State Government to give its support to the festival by enriching its cultural content, providing a functional vehicle and the rehabilitation of the road leading to the festival ground.
Iri ji or iwa ji, the Feast of the New Yam, is an annual event practised throughout Igbo land to mark the season of harvest; it is one of the few remaining cultural activities that bind the Igbo communities.
Yam is considered to be the most important food crop and it is to the Igbos what the potato is to the Irish; and during the festival, the new yam is cut, followed by thanksgiving to the presiding deity of the yam crop, while the people pray for better harvest in the next season.
In the traditional Igbo society, yam cultivation was the most serious occupation, which was used to measure a man’s wealth or status; and the number of yam barns in one’s compound entitled him to answer Ezeji (king of yam).
The annual celebration of new yam in IgboUkwu, where the National Yam House is situated, has consistently drawn dignitaries from within and outside Anambra State, for such attendees to personally witness the colourful ceremonies.
The climax of the occasion this year, which started with a line up of activities from Thursday, 27th August, was the award of chieftaincy titles to dignitaries by the Mbido Igbo Association, among who were the DG, National Gallery of Art (NGA), Mr. Abdullahi Sabo Muku, represented by the Deputy Director, Research and Documentation, Mr. Dubem Egbunike; and the Director, Finance and Accounts in NGA, Dr. Henry Achugbu.
Present at the event were the DG, NCMM, Mallam Yusuf Abdallah Usman; the DG of CBAAC, Chief Ferdinand Anikwe, represented by his Personal Assistant, Mr. Henry Obinali; and the Executive Secretary of National Institute for Cultural Orientation, Dr. Barclays Foubiri Ayakoroma, represented by the Zonal Coordinator, NICO South-East Zonal Office, Mrs. Chioma Duru.
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