THE traditional ruler of Umueri, His Royal Majesty Igwe Sir Ben Izuchukwu Emeka has said that the community would shun certain cultural practices as it celebrates this year’s New Yam festival.
According to him, the celebrations which would hold on September 21, would be done along the doctrines of Christianity and devoid of esoteric traditional inclinations.
He explained that an event like the new yam festival, which should be used to thank the Almighty God for his blessings and bountiful harvest has been misconstrued by the people, who use the occasion to offer thanksgiving, prayers and supplications to objects he considered as small gods inferior to the ultimate supreme being.
“It is God Almighty, who provided the rain and sunshine for the crops to germinate and grow into maturity to provide food for the people who had toiled in the planting to cultivate the crops,” he said.
At the Office of Traditional Rulers at the Government House, Awka over the weekend, Igwe Emeka noted that preparations were ongoing and that the New Yam festival would commence with a church service at the palace after which other activities will follow at the Igwe’s palace.
According to him, there would be no conferment of chieftancy titles during the New Yam festival but such traditional titles would be conferred on deserving individuals on the day of the subsequent Ofala celebration.
Igwe Umueri, who disclosed that activities lined up for the festival include traditional wrestling tournament, dances and others, noted that the significance of New Yam ceremony cannot be overemphasized as it is a highly respected cultural activity that is part and parcel of the Igbo people.
He said, “the New Yam festival, as far as am concerned, is a period that we, the Igbo use to thank God for a bumper harvest. We thank God for giving us rain and sunshine, without which the yam, which we are celebrating would not have germinated and eventually harvested.
“It is a period of thanksgiving to God but those who are doing in a traditional way will now ascribe the glory to their gods instead of God Almighty. But for me, I will give thanks to God,” he said.