By Nwogha Ndubuisi Andy
Following mixed insinuations from some members of the public among believers accused of seeing new yam festival as idolatry activity, the traditional ruler Amegu autonomous Community, His Royal Highness, Eze Fidelis Nwonumaru said the aged-old culture has no link with diabolism.
Eze Nwonumaru revealed this to newsmen during the grand finale of the new yam festival known as akwaha oba Ojiji day at Amegu, Izhi clan ancestral home in Abakaliki Local Government Area, Ebonyi State.
The event recorded a large turnout with their stakeholders who harped the relevance of the ancient culture and need to promote the event of unity.
In an opening remark, an elder statesman, Eze John Nwenyi said the carnival signified that Izhi people which cut across the three council areas and partly Benue state are one and maintained that the unity of the clan can never be tampered with, no matter the weight of forces that may be trying to inject disorder in the land.
Also speaking, the traditional ruler of Agbaja autonomous community, His Royal Highness Eze Emmanuel Nwojiji stated that the event showed that Izhi people still have regard for their culture.
He further noted that the peculiar nature of the festival made it that no one harvest their yam until this festival takes place in the entire clan.
His words”no one no matter how hungry you are going to harvest new yam until Ojiji day, but today we come today here for the grand finale and to show you that the people have been expecting the great celebration is conspicuous with the level of happiness express by all present here.
On his part, His Royal Highness Eze Pius Nwankwo Akam-Alo of Ndiebor Nkaleke Achara autonomous community, said that Ojiji festival signifies the coming out of famine because after planting season average farmer always faced with scarcity of food, precisely an Izzi man who values yam to other food crops, adding that the festival ceremony marked end of hunger in every home.
The traditional ruler stated that the month of the festival marked the beginning of the new year as the people believed that the celebration has strong value with their own calendar.
He pointed out that clearing of compound and road path are some of the activities taken by the youth of every village to mark the week of the celebration which serves as social responsibility among villagers.
Lending her voice, the immediate past Senior Special Assistant to the governor on Higher Education, Prof. Adaeze Nwuzor, described the event as” Ojiji umunwanyi” meaning women’ new yam festival, narrating that it was women that gathered wood, oversaw the kitchen activities, advising all children especially the present generation mothers while teaching their children culture of the land to also show more interest on educational programmes to help elevate women folk from illiteracy.
In the same vein, the Special Assistant to the Governor on Internal Security Ebonyi North and utilities, also, National President Izzi Nnodo Youth Forum, Comrade Ben Nwovu, hinted that the feast taught them more on cultural value.
According to the national president,” this Ojiji festival teaches that our cultural heritage and custom in Izzi land is in progress. There was a time when it almost went dead but some concern Izhians took it upon them to revive the culture.
So, Izzi youths are very happy about the revival and sustenance of our culture. We must not allow our culture to go into extinction but ensure that much values are given to it for wide acceptance instead of copying other people’s culture which many clans are known today and I wish to say clearly that nothing is fetish in Ojiji festival as some people are seeing the celebration because no idol is here at the celebration ground.
Also, Hon. Cyril Ibeogu, Secretary People Democratic Party,Izzi council area described the festival as one of the oldest culture of the people, and pointed that it has unified and remains the only celebration that bridge gap among status of participants, even as, it gives room for the clan to celebrate their ancestors who lived before them.
The former Coordinator Ekumenyi Development Centre, Hon. Ebere Nwogba maintained that the culture serves as a forum to identify true sons and daughters of the clan, stressing that it is pertinent that the event is promoted to engender division commonly seen in other clans.
Meanwhile, SA to the Special Assistant to the Governor on Project Monitoring North, Hon Raginus Ogbonna, prayed that present and next-generation promotes the culture as foreign culture has done a lot of damages in the land.
Hon. Ogbonna revealed that various social vices taking over present-day youth among prostitution, cultism, drug addict and many others are all borrowed culture which if not fights to stand still would do a lot of destruction to the society.
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