By Jude Atupulazi
On Tuesday, April 16, this year, the Nimo Community in Njikoka Local Government Area of Anambra State, was thrown into mourning. It was the day the unthinkable happened: it was the brutal assassination of the town's charismatic President-General, Sir Anthony Igboka, by base elements in the town. It was something that shocked all Nimo people, at home and abroad, to their marrows. It was as if the world had ended as the man whose life was brutally cut short was one of those few mortals that one could not readily associate with that kind of death; even dying at all.
But barely a month later, May 2, the somber mood of Nimo people, of which I'm among, lifted. What lifted it was the recognition by the Governor of Anambra State of His Royal Highness, Igwe Maxi Ike Oliobi, Eze Oranyelu, as the traditional ruler of Nimo. The recognition made him the youngest monarch in the town's recent history.
The ascension to the throne of HRH Igwe Maxi Oliobi, Owelle Nimo, as the town calls her monarch, was seen as a paradigm shift from the old order when only elderly men ruled. And with his emergence comes expectations that things will be done differently, being a youth in his prime. So far, the people of Nimo are yet to be disappointed as the Owelle is bent on addressing basic issues, while presiding over his kingdom right from home.
On Saturday, August 3, he performed his first royal function which was the cutting of the new yam. It took place at his palace before a large crowd of indigenes, friends and well-wishers.
The ceremonial cutting of the new yam was heralded by a Holy Mass in his compound, a development the town's traditional prime minister, Justice Godwin Ononiba (rtd), cites as proof that there was nothing fetish about the ceremony and that everything was transparently done.
Ononiba, the Onowu of Nimo, said the annual Iwa Ji event was always held on a specific date, which, he said, was always on the first Afor Day in August. Before then, he said, the new yam would enter the market the previous day, an Oye Market Day, where, at least four yams harvested from the town will be sold.
Even though people may buy the new yams, none will eat any of it until the Owelle symbolically cuts the new yam at his palace the next day, being Afor. Once that happens, every Nimo person will be free to start eating the new yam.
This was corroborated by the Owelle after performing the task at his palace. He said the festival was a mark of a new beginning which also marked the new native year or Onwa Asato. According to the Owelle, that was how the town's progenitors had always done it.
He described the date of the festival in Nimo as statutory and unchangeable and an occasion when the Owelle cuts the yam to signal the advent of the new yam.
The latest festival, coming after the town's darkest period, is expected to kick-start a new era in the town, an era in which the youth have finally owned their future.
Consequently, Igwe Oliobi is also planning to set the town's youth on the right path by empowering them with skills first, rather than using force to beat them into shape. He believes that providing them with opportunities of making it in life far outweighs any other measure.
As he aims to empower them with skills, he is also poised to expose them to the world of ICT. To this end, an ICT centre will be established in the town and will be stuffed with computers for those interested in keying into his vision of conquering their space.
The Iwa Ji was held amid pomp and ceremony, with the Owelle's childhood club, Omega Club Confraternity, playing a major role in seeing that things went according to plan.
According to the Chancellor of the club, Bar Emma Arubaleze, the club is determined to help their member, the Owelle, to succeed, as his success will also amount to their own success.
There is no doubt that in Nimo, the much touted future that belongs to the youth has come.
Will they seize the opportunity?