By Chris Orji
The traditional ruler of Nike Kingdom in Enugu State, Igwe Julius Nnaji has celebrated the New Yam festival with fanfare. It was an occasion which attracted dignitaries in the state including Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi.
Also in attendance were members of the Enugu State Executive Council, local government chairmen, security chiefs, members of the state and National Assembly as well as other traditional leaders from within and outside Enugu.
There were as well different dancing troupes and orchestra bands in place to entertain the large turnout of crowd that trooped to witness the occasion.
Igwe Nnaji was assisted by members of his community to perform the rituals associated with New Yam festivals with his wife by his side.
The Igbo refer to the wife of their Igwe or Eze as Lolo, but the Nike community and indeed entire Nkanu prefer them to be called Ugoeze. And Igwe Nnaji insisted on this during the yam feast.
The ceremony was flagged off with the Ugoeze accompanied by women of the community bringing out several tubers of yam and presenting them to the Igwe and members of his cabinet. That aspect was actually a solemn occasion as the women tenderly carried the yams as they were carrying eggs.
After the presentation, the Igwe significantly gave out to the Ugoeze, a tuber of yam and one cock to prepare for him. That done, freshly roasted yams were brought to the Igwe with palm oil sauce prepared with Ugba (oil bean seed).
The Igwe cut a piece and dipped into the palm oil sauce and did justice to it. There was applause. The ceremony kicked off. There was a lot of yam to eat. Mention it. Roasted, boiled, fried, pounded, porridge etc were distributed to all and sundry at the occasion.
There were other delicacies and various types of traditional Igbo soups. Drinks were inexhaustible using them to wash down varieties of the bush meat served.
All the dignitaries that graced the occasion were each presented with two tubers of yam and a live cock.
Igwe Nnaji told the gathering that yam regarded as the king of the crops in Igboland is being celebrated yearly not only in his community but the entire communities in Igboland.
Giving an insight of how yam is regarded in his community, the Igwe said if anybody matches on yam in the community, that person has to perform some rituals to appease the gods and cleanse himself from the “abomination”.
He urged Ndigbo never to allow “this tradition to go the way of others.” He thanked the Governor Ugwuanyi for “squeezing out time in his tight schedule to grace the occasion”, adding, “this shows you love my family and the entire Nike community.”
The chairman of Enugu East Local Government Council where Nike community falls into, Hon. Cornelius Nnaji, who is the younger brother of the traditional ruler expressed gratitude to God that the event went well as planned.
He thanked the governor for “gracing the occasion with almost the entire members of the Executive Council.”
The local council boss who is also the Enugu State Association of Local Governments in Nigeria (ALGON) chairman promised that the next yam festival of the community would improve on this and thanked all and sundry that made it a success. (The Nation)