Igbo Culture Resonates As Nri Monarch Celebrates 2022 New Yam Festival
From Mokwugwo Solomon, Awka
On Saturday, September 24, 2022, history repeated itself as people from all walks of life gathered in the palace of the traditional ruler of Nri kingdom, HRM Eze Obidiegwu Onyesoh, Nrinwelana II, for the commemoration of the annual Ilo-Mmuo or Onwasato (New Yam Festival).
The 2022 edition of the festival was exceptional as it was the first time custodians of culture, and leaders of thoughts in the community were coming together to mark the event as one people, under the rulership of the Regent of the Kingdom, Prince Ikenna Onyesoh (Idebuteaku Na Nri).
The event was heralded by 21 gun salute, at about 2:30pm, followed by the arrival of His Majesty, Eze Nri, represented by the Regent, Prince Ikenna Onyesoh, and other guests of honour, amid music and dance by the Igba Eze royal drum.
The Regent was welcomed into the arena with cheers and jubilation by age grades and other associations, representatives of Umunri and Nri in diaspora; as well as sons and daughters of Nri, who were already seated in the arena.
In an address from Ikponze Nri, delivered by Prince Ikenna Onyesoh, he described the New Yam Festival as a thanksgiving to God for blessing the people with bumper harvest, in keeping with the tradition and culture as bequetted by the creator of the universe.
According to him, New Yam Festival falls within the 8th moon (that is September) in the Roman calendar, which is culturally referred to as Ilo-Mmuo, which means giving back to God.
“During annual Igu Aro, Eze Nri distributes yam seedlings to Ndigbo, which they take back home to plant. After the eight month, the first harvest of the yam will be brought back to the Eze Nri palace for first fruit harvest of thanksgiving to God; as contained in Odinana Nri (Nri native laws),” he said.
He further emphasized that the festival is not idol worshipping, but a path of channelling sacrifice of thanksgiving to God for bountiful harvest.
He also used the opportunity to urge Anambra people to join hands with Governor Charles Soludo, as he works hard to rebuild the state for a better tomorrow.
The monarch later performed the New Yam eating ritual; signalling that the people were free henceforth to harvest and eat their crops, especially the yam.
The event, graced by dignitaries from all walks of life, also featured cultural displays and other side attractions.