New Yam festival
By Chimaobi Nwaiwu, Nnewi
Isuofia the home town of Prof. Chukwuma Soludo and foremost industrialists, Chief Paul Okonkwo, chairman Pokobros Group of Companies was on Saturday agog as the crisis-torn community celebrated it’s first unity New Yam Festival, after 22 year of crisis that divided the community into two, Isuofia and Isuaniocha, before they finally came together again to be one united community.The traditional ruler of Isuofia Igwe Ryder Col. Christopher Moghalu performing the Iwa Ji, Yam breaking to commence the eating of yam in Isuofia community.
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Eminent sons and daughters of the community trooped out emasse to be part of the celebration, as they filed out according to the six villages that make up Isuofia town, namely Umueze, Ozalla,Isiaku, Okpoko, Akulu and Ezioka, to participate in the ceremony.
Visibly happy Chief Paul Okonkwo, who has never hidden his love for the unity of Isuofia, having thrown his weight, money and personality for the resolution of the over twenty years crisis that rocked the community, told South East Voice, SEV, that with the Unity Iri Ji 2019 (New Yam Festival) of Isuofia, after over twenty years, the community has come back to its right footings that will ensure development.
Chief Okonkwo and Ojii Isuofia, the Eze Ugochinyere and a leading member if the Nze na Ozo, Isuofia, said that New Yam Festival is very important not only in Isuofia community, but in South East in general, noting that it is the reason communities in Anambra State like Akwaeze, Neni, Igboukwu where he earlier in the day visited as a guest celebrated their own the same day his community was celebrating.
He said that he came into the world over seventy years ago and met New Yam Festival in Isuofia, although it was then called Ime Muo, which held between May and June every year, but it became a more elaborate and celebrated festival in Isuofia in 1998 and now called Iri Ji, (New Yam Festival ) which other communities in the state and beyond copied from them.
“You know Yam has its pride, and therefore respected in Igbo land. If anybody steals yam in Igbo land, it is an abomination, and that makes it a unique crop that is celebrated in the entire South East part of Nigeria and Igbo speaking parts of the country in particular.
The reason why yam is the king of all crops is that basically, it is the only yam that evolves like human being, if you plant it by putting it inside the ground, the old one will die by decaying for the new one to germinate and yield crop, unlike other crops that germinate and stay long.
Yam has its nature, features and peculiarities, it must decay before the new one comes up, so yam has been the most respected crop among all the crops particularly, in Igbo land because it’s presence means and brings a lot if good things as it is used in many things in Igbo land including marrying a wife.
“In Isuofia and many parts of Igbo land, New Yam Festival is used to achieve unity and development, because it is the time we see ourselves as people far and near come home to be partof it and we use the ceremony to raise funds for developmental projects as people who live outside the country also come home to be part of it.
“Isuofia people admire New Yam Festival more than Christmas celebration because you cannot see this kind of crowd together during Christmas celebration as that is done individually in their homes, but on the day of Isuofia New Yam Festival, all personal and public programmes and ceremonies are put off and never allowed to clash with the day.”
Also speaking, the oldest and Onye Isi (Head of Nze na Ozo) title holders in Isuofia, who took Ozo title in 1946, Nze Ezenwa Ezeonyedika and the chairman of Nze na Ozo title holders of Isuofia, Nze Aloysius Nkemjika said respectively that they will do everything in their power to sustain peace in the community, adding that with peace, the community will see more development in no distant time.