When new yam festival unites feuding Anambra villages

Yams, king of Igbo crops
Yams, king of Igbo crops

By Aloysius Attah, Onitsha

The people of Oraukwu community in Idemili North Local Government Area of Anambra State are presently in a happy mood. After many years that peace literally took flight from the community, things are taking shape with the bond of unity and brotherhood being re-enacted again.

Oraukwu is composed of eight village quarters – Otta, Dim-Ubana, Ibenabo, Irukwelekor, Urua-Amada, Ezennaja, Amaeze, and Nkwelle.

Since the death of the former monarch and the deadlock in choosing his successor, the various quarters of the community have been left on their own while the various traditional events that bind the community together were left unattended.

But recently, through the instrumentality of an illustrious son, Prof. Solo Chukwulobelu with the assistance and co-operation of other members of the community, Oraukwu people assembled together to mark the 2015 annual new yam festival.

The rgent of the community, Chief Samson Chiedu   was all smiles as he cut the roasted yam and ate from the sauce prepared with fresh palm oil, oil bean seed and other spices.

The prelude to the new yam festival was a prayer and peace rally which brought the people together to seek the face of God.

The Regent, Chief Chiedu while performing the Iri ji tradition thanked God for His love and kindness on the people.

He thanked the church and Anambra State government for their noble roles in fostering peace in the community.

He appealed to those still fanning the embers of discord to have a rethink and embrace peace.

Prof. Chukwulobelu who is the Secretary to the Anambra State Government in a remark expressed delight that the community has taken steps to reclaim its festival and culture.

He noted that the essence of promoting such Igbo cultures like the new yam festival was to preserve it as a legacy for posterity, noting that most children born in this generation residing in the big cities do not even know what a masquerade is and what it stands for.

A community stakeholder, Chief Joseph Ukaeji described 2015 as a unique year for the Oraukwu people.

An American-based legal practitioner, Dr. Emeka Onuorah, urged his people to leave no stone unturned until peace becomes the only song in every lip in the community.

He assured that those of them that are still aggrieved in any way would still be reached for final surrender.

The Obiezu of Ezennaja village, Chief Alphonsus Ugochukwu also advised those still fanning the ember of discord to turn a new leaf, saying that it was impossible for a single person to fight a dozen.

Chairman of the Planning Committee and Onistha-based lawyer recalled that the Oraukwu community has been in disarray for many years following the inability of the people to select a new king which was supposed to come from the Ezennaja village quarter.

“The late Archbishop of Onitsha, Most Rev. Albert Obiefuna who is from our community with the help of others like Prof. Ewelukwa Okanu all tried. The crisis that erupted took its toll on all of us, but we thank God who gave us somebody like Prof Chukwulobelu, the present SSG in Anambra State.

Pat Okonkwo, another member of the committee and publisher of a local tabloid, said the new yam festival was organized to promote the socio-cultural practice of the Oraukwu people.

Speaking prophetically he said with the trend of development in the community and sustaining the peace already established, the community would likely have a new monarch in the next three months.

After the central celebration at the palace of the regent, the various Obis from the different village quarters all proceeded to their various homes for the continuation of the celebration after paying homage to the regent.

Masquerades and other native dances added colour to the event. (Daily Sun)

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