The people of Ebem Ohafia, in Ohafia local government area of Abia state, on Saturday 7th September 2019 celebrated their 2019 new yam festival with a cultural display popularly called “Igba Ekpe”.
The new yam festival ABN TV gathered is part of the tradition of the people of Ebem Ohafia which marks the advent of a new yam harvest season.
The festival also highlights display of yams as their farm product for celebration. The event had a display of masquerades, various dance steps and cultural songs of Ebem Ohafia.
Speaking with ABN TV, Barr. Anaga Kalu, the president-general of Ebem Ohafia Development union (EODU). He said: “the display of masquerade is regarded as the symbol for the new yam celebration.”
When asked if the celebration has anything to do with the development of the community, Barr. Kalu said: “well, to an extent. Today we took stock of what has happened in the last farming season and also prayed to God to safeguard us to reach the next farming season.”
The event also witnessed the inauguration of new executives of the youth council of Ebem Ohafia Community.
“The youths form a very critical arm of the leadership structure of the community. They are our foot soldiers. Today, those newly inaugurated were presented to the community. They are to start their work and to also let the community know that the former executives, has been dissolved by reason of the expiration of their tenure.” Barr. Kalu said.
Elder Idika Kalu Uche, the secretary-general, Ebem Ohafia development union (EODU), gave some hints about the history of Ebem and the festival.
“Ebem is one of the 26 villages in Ohafia and the only village founded by a woman. So, Ebem’ tradition is unique and this new yam festival comes up every September. It’s a kind of harvest, our ancestors, our elders and every Ebem indigene today are thanking God for a fruitful season. It is a practice that we do to tell God that we are thanking him for a successful farming season because when you thank God, you expect more. Everything about the new yam festival is centred on God. Its God that creates, revives and makes harvest bountiful. As Ebem people, we have gathered to thank God.” Elder Idika said.
Nne Ugoeze Ojingwa Ukoha, the wife of HRH Eze U.K Ukoha, the paramount ruler of Ebem kingdom, expressed her joy for the God weather that allowed the peaceful celebration. “Today is a great day. All these while, it has been rainy, but today everywhere is dry. We thank God for his mercy and grace.” Ugoeze Ukoha said.
New yam festival which is also celebrated in some communities in Nigeria, is believed by many to have diabolic origin or spiritual connotation and undertone.
Elder Chief Okali K. Ubaka,(Rtd) one of the motivating pioneers of the activities in Ebem Ohafia community gave reasons to debunk such beliefs and the purpose for their celebration.
“We are happy that almighty God blessed Ebem people and their farm. We harvested our new yam tubers. God has made it possible, we celebrated without having any problem. It’s just a customary thing, there is nothing like spiritual. Before we showcase the yams that we harvested from our farms, a reverend father prayed for us, thanking God for what he has been doing for Ebem people. There is nothing like spiritual. I am elder in the church, if there is anything spiritual attached to it, I wouldn’t have been among the celebrants.” Elder Chief Okali said.
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