Ekweremadu, Okechukwu call for sustenance of Igbo tradition
By Millicent Onaga, Enugu
A former Deputy Senate President of Nigeria, Senator Ike Ekweremadu has commended the entire people of Ugbo, in Awgu Local Government area for upholding their cultural heritage known as Aju Festival.
Senator Ike Ekweremadu who was the Special Guest of Honor at the festival acknowledged the sanctity of culture and it’s significant in keeping cultural norms, and value system.
Ekweremadu said Ugbo as a community is as good as his home, and he is so connected to whatever that is happening in Ugbo.
In his words, “we shall continue to show why we are Igbo. The tradition of Igbo people will never die”.
Ekweremadu also advised the boys who have formed an age grade of their own in the Aju festival to be good ambassadors of their community adding that once they get to the cities, they should share their experiences at home with their friends.
Also the Member, Representing, Awgu, Oji-River and Aninri Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, Right Honorable Toby Okechukwu who hails from the community, informed journalists that the festival has been there for ages.
Toby Okechukwu said he grew up to meet the festival like many. He described it as a cultural legacy that their people inherited from their ancestors.
Okechukwu further explained that Aju festival was a kind of pronouncement or declaration that a boy has grown to from adolescence to adulthood.
He added that the festival helps in nurturing the youths, exposing them to the norms and value systems of their people as well as to make them to know the geographic map of their community.
Also speaking, other prominent sons of Ugbo such as; the Chairman of Ohaneze Ndi Igbo, Enugu State Chapter, Chief Alex Ogbonna and Barrister Eze O. Eze stated that their people value Aju festival so much that their sons and daughters always expect to participate and attend the ceremony which holds every three years.
“Aju is simply an age grade ceremony. And, it is used to settle a boy, announcing that he can now marry and form a family. Our people use it to know when someone is an adult. In those days, your father will give you a share of a yam ban and farm; as well, with a lot of gifts from family and friends which you can use to settle down”, he informed.
They added that no one is forced to perform in the ceremony as a young boy because some people use their religion or faith as an excuse to avoid getting involved in the festival.
For them, there are no diabolical aspects of the festival. But participating in Aju makes one a complete man. It means that as a member of an age grade, you will now pay taxes or community levies.
They also revealed that those who do not participate in Aju are not equally isolated once they pay their community levies or fees.
Some of those who participated in the Aju festival like Kenechukwu Okafor said having their own age grade is like a dream come through, disclosing that the name of the new age grade in Ugbo is Ifechukwu Age Grade.
They stated that the festival enabled them to meet some of their age mates for the first time, and get connected to the village, especially some of them who live in the cities and abroad.
According to our correspondent, about 400 boys from Ngene Ugbo, Ugbonabo and Ugbo-Okpala participated in the Aju Festival this year, August 7th, 2021.