MORE THAN JUST A FESTIVAL
Wonders shall never end. when you travel, you will marvel at the traditions you’ll come across.
What I saw today at the market square of kanyata in Enugu left me in awe. People having fun at performing amazing things in the name of tradition and culture.
They go the extra mile to do sacrificial things for their beliefs and you can’t help but fall in love with this. This is what I saw today, people were jubilating, dancing and cheering at the event. With much curiosity, I asked an eyewitness what was happening? He told me, ‘ it’s our New Yam Festival celebration’ And I was perplexed, wondering what was so special about yam that needs to be celebrated. Is that how all crops are being celebrated?.
With much enthusiasm, the eyewitness explained further:
He said ‘New Yam Festival is a common tradition in African, especially Nigeria to be precise. New yam festival is majorly observed among the Igbo and Yoruba. For the Igbo’s, it is a big festival because of the historical story attached to it. History has it that ‘Iwa Iji’ which means new yam eating, has various names which describe the new yam festival according to different dialects in Igbo land. Some of these names include: Onwa Aasa, Orurueshi and so on. This festival stands as the most respected and colorful of its kind in Ndi Igbo, where Igbo indigenes at home and Diaspora come together to share the festive spirit.
Yam is seen as the chief and queen of all crops in Igbo land, as a result, it is an offence to place heavy substance or sit on it. More importantly, the new yam festival is greatly esteemed maybe because of the myth attached to it. This popular myth revolves around a period when there was a famine in the land. As a result, the village priest proposed to the king that he should sacrifice his son to put an end to the famine. The king did as instructed. The king sacrificed his son, Ohajoku and buried him near the palace. Few days later, the king discovered that his son’s body had turned to yams. The yams were then shared to all the villagers to eat and from then, famine seize from the land. Since then, Ohajoku has been regarded as the Igbo god of yam, and the new yam festival is held in his honour’’
With this, the event absolutely transformed into something of great importance to me, and I stayed back to have my fill and even tasted from the yams that were roasted for the crowd to eat. I hope this festival become a tourist attraction of some sort in the near future.
By Owoeye Julianah Titilope