By Sunny A Ijomah
New Yam festival has been one of the traditional and cultural festivals Igbo people do not play with and without performing this festival as Group or Individual, no full-fledged or mature man eats New Yam in Igbo land.
The festival is done by the Traditional Ruler of the Community first and then well placed individuals now take queue to celebrate their own with members of their families and friends, thereby kicking off the eating of new yam whether you are rich or not.
Atani Community in Ogbaru Local Government Area of Anambra State, recently led by the Traditional Ruler, Igwe Augustine Azuka Ngoddy celebrated the Community’s OKPOTU (New Yam festival) with members of Igwe-in-Council and Community Groups and indigenes as custom demands.
The ceremony witnessed the presentation of gifts of cows, cattle and goats including assorted types of drinks by groups, age grades and well meaning sons and daughters of Atani to the Igwe and members of the Igwe-in-Council, for yet another successful year of New Yam festival and in appreciation of the peace they have maintained and development they have brought to the Community till date.
The Monarch in the company of members of the Igwe’s cabinet as well as other members of the Community marked the celebration in a colourful manner.
He expressed gratitude to God Almighty for another harvest year noting that the traditional celebration of OKPOTU New Yam festival is embedded in the people’s culture and tradition. “It is a ceremony to appreciate the wonderful gifts and blessings of the Creator.”
“I fell very happy looking at my elders in council of the Community celebrating OKPOTU festival. So once any indigene gets home, he is now free to eat the New Yam. I am also grateful to God for this day because we did not experience any form of rainfall.”
“This is our culture; it is an old aged tradition. It is not easy to plant a very small seed of yam and in some months, it comes out to be a big tuber of yam.”
Igwe Ngoddy said the act of OKPOTU festival is not a ritual ceremony but an event to give Almighty God thanks for giving the people a prosperous harvest season. He observed that the indigenes of Atani are predominately Christians.