By Jude Atupulazi
All roads led to the Owelle’s Palace, Nimo in Njikoka LGA, August 26, 2023, when the traditional ruler of the town, HRM Igwe Maxi Ike Oliobi (Eze Oranyelu), celebrated this year’s New Yam Festival. It was a ceremony that drew the crème d’ la crème of Nimo society and beyond as friends, associates, brother monarchs and the religious showed solidarity with the Owelle in a ceremony that was the best held since he ascended the throne.
Speaking to Fides, Igwe Oliobi said what happened was a continuation of the legacy of the town’s progenitors during which time they thanked God for a fruitful season.
‘During this season we get the best from crops which were planted. In Nimo we call this season Onwa Asato. In the olden days such crops, especially yams, were stored in barns which were a kind of warehouse.
‘In every eighth month in Nimo, we celebrate it on a particular date which is Uka Nkwo of the eighth month,’ Owelle said, while describing the recent event as outstanding and the best which drew all the big wigs in Nimo.
He expressed delight in what he described as the solidarity shown to him by the people of the town and beyond, including the Anambra State Government which was represented by the Chief of Protocol and Deputy Chief of Staff, Hon Chinedu Nwoye (Glamour).
The Owelle also praised what he termed the intelligence of his kinsmen whom he described as very watchful of events after which they spoke with one voice as they did on that day.
He also praised the synergy between the Church and tradition, noting that the coming of Christianity was good as it got rid of some harmful cultural practices, noting that it was what informed why he started the event with a Mass because the Church and tradition now complimented each other.
For his part, Rev Fr Anthony Anazodo, parish priest of St Vincent’s Parish, Nimo, described priests as the ichies (titled men) of the Church and said that the significance of the involvement of the Church in the New Yam Festival had roots in the Christian doctrine of death and resurrection as was represented by the yam which was sowed (buried) and harvested (resurrected). He said it was what they came to celebrate and urged the people of the town to feel free to celebrate the new yam.
Earlier in his sermon, Fr Anazodo preached for peaceful coexistence among the people of the community and thanked God for the gift of harvest.
Highpoint was the presentation of gifts that encompassed all the good things of Nimo by virgins led by His Honour, Philemona Ijeoma Cyprian-Okonkwo. She said the choice of virgins was to signify purity.
After the Mass, the Owelle thanked the priests for coming, as well as for how they had been piloting the affairs of the Church. He thanked members of his cabinet and said the ceremony was in furtherance of the town’s culture, while declaring that the yams had been blessed and could be eaten after the formal rites had been performed by him.
Other attendees at the occasion included royal fathers such as Igwe Idris Okoye from Enugu; Igwe Umuawulu; High Chief Daniel Maduka from Amawbia and Eze Ndigbo Badagry; Fr Jude Chiadika Okolie of Ekwulobia Diocese who performed the Mbem; Igwe Obele of Nawfia; Igwe Akwaeze and Igwe Ikwulu; as well as the transition chairman of Njikoka LGA, Hon Clems Aguiyi, among many others.
The occasion was capped by presentation of gifts to the Owelle by visitors and friends, while financial rewards were given to three best yam farmers who got N50, 000; N30, 000 and N20, 000 respectively from the Owelle.