By NJOKU MacDonald
The Iriji Igbo, New Yam Festival of the Igbo people, is practised throughout Igbo land, West Africa, especially, in Nigeria -Ghana, and even beyond the African continent; where the people celebrate their ancestral roots, showcase Igbo rich cultural heritage, language nuances, cuisine and touch of hospitality.
It’s an annual cultural festival by the Igbo nation held at the end of the rainy season, which symbolises the conclusion of a harvest and the beginning of the next cycle. Of all the Igbo cherished foods, yam has remained the king of all foods thus, it is given a global status as the most widely celebrated crop among the Igbos around the world.
Barley three weeks after the 10th edition of this annual epoch-making event; the 2022 Igbo New Yam Festival in Ghana and 10 Years Anniversary of His Royal Majesty, Eze Dr. Amb. Chukwudi Jude Ihenetu (Eze Ohazurume of Ghana, Global Peace Ambassador) on the royal throne of Obiukwu, Obieziokwu, Obi Igbo in the Republic of Ghana: the sounds, bites, glamour and cherished memories of that colourful ceremony have continued to dominate discuss back home in Nigeria and in the social space among the Igbos living in Ghana; including invited special guests and all in who graced the occasion from far and near.
No doubt, the 10th Edition|2022 Igbo New Yam Festival in Ghana was a huge success by all standard of independent critical analysis, objective assessment and dispassionate opinion-review; a very friendly weather, massive turnout, a hospital and accommodating host country, Ghana: tourists from the Carribean, the United States, United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates, South Africa, Guinea Conakry, Rwanda, Kenya.
Also in the rich attendance list were; members of the Diplomatic Corps; UNESCO Ghana and United Nations’ Country -Directors in Africa, Representatives of the Nigerian Embassy in Ghana; Representatives of His Excellency, Dr. Nana Akufo – Addo, President of the Republic of Ghana; Representatives of the former two presidents of Ghana; their Excellencies, Dr. John Kuffor and Dr.John Mahama, Representatives of Ghana Ministry of Arts, Culture and Tourism, Representative of Imo State Government, Chief (Barr.) Willie Amadi, the business and political class, a galaxy of traditional rulers from the Ijaw Nation, the Yoruba Nationality, the Arewa |Hausa Community, traditional rulers from the ruling Ashanti Kingdom, Ogyeahoho Yaw Gyebi II Omhanhene of Sefwi Anhwiaao Traditional Area, President, National House of Chiefs, Ghana, HRM Nii Teiko Tauru II, Ga Mantse, President, Ga Traditional Council.
The Media Crew also captured powerful traditional rulers like; HRH Dr. Yahaya Abubakar, Etsu Nupe, Chairman , Coordinating Committee National Council of traditional rulers of Nigeria, HRH Dr. Appolus Chu Oneh- Echnchia and Egberewre Okori, Eleme Kingdom, Rivers State, HRM, Eze Dr. CYC Umeakuka (JP), Ezeigbo Akwa Ibom State, President General, Ndigbo Nigeria, Diaspora and Eze Uche Dimgba, Eze Igbo Ikeja, Lagos and Chairman of Ndieze Udo. Others were HRH Eze (Hon.) Uzoma Onunenyi, Chairman of Nwangele Council of Ndieze alongside HRM Eze Dr. Nelson Obasi (Dim II of Dim Na Nume), and HRM Eze Ejiogu Godwin (Eze Kara of Umunakara); yours sincerely, a Nigerian eye witness reporter and publisher of 4th Estate Reporters, was also at the event for live coverage.
The attendance list also paraded notable individuals and groups that have distinguished themselves in the service of God and humanity like; Apostle Chief (Dr.) Sharon Paris, President of Ezeigbo Ghana Foundation, USA, His Eminence, Bishop Mike Awah- Chairman, Association of Igbo Pastors in Ghana, Apostle Lilian Koffi, General Overseer, Lord Garden Ministries, Imo born Ghana -based Billionaire businessman and philanthropist, Chief Dr. Okwu Divine Nwandu (Akunaesiobi Ike of Mbaise and Afor 1 of Ihitteaforukwu), High Chief Christognus Ugochukwu Okoro (Agbara Ahurugbuo Okoko); Onu Muonu Ozo AmaIgbo, Nze Richard Uche Ihenetu, Ideato – Imo born Ghana based Billionaire businessman and philanthropist, Double Chief Emeka Nnokwute, Chief Goodness Okeke, Chairman, Standard Travel and Tour Ltd -Ghana; Governor of AmaIgbo Unity Forum, HE Engr. Cletus Egbosi, President General of AmaIgbo Town Union, Sir. Fyne Madumere, Ghana Queen Mothers Association, Ghana Unity Queen Mother Association, Ghana Noble Queen Mother Association, Ghana- Nigeria Achievers Award Foundation led by Barr. Ndu, Orluzurume Youth Assembly led by Prince Engr. Arthur Madumere, among others.
The Chief Host, His Royal Majesty, Eze Dr. Amb. Chukwudi Ihenetu (Ezeigbo Ghana) alongside his Amazon of a wife, Her Royal Majesty, Ugoeze Liberty Ihenetu, radiated like the morning stars as he seized the opportunity the medium had created to thank God for the favour of nature, rich Igbo culture and a bountiful harvest. He also appreciated in no small measures the elders-in-council of Obi Ndigbo in Ghana and the Eze Udos, whose show of love, tireless efforts, dedication, unflinching commitment, avowed support and strong solidarity played strategic roles in ensuring a hit -free and successful historical 10 Edition|2022 Igbo New Yam Festival in Ghana and his colourful 10 years anniversary on the royal throne, Sunday, 19th September, 2022.
Appearing in his full Glamour, splendor and royal regale, His Royal Majesty, Eze Dr. Ihenetu, during his public address posited thus:
“Today is a very remarkable day for Nidgbo in Ghana as we celebrate our New Yam festival. It’s a day of thanksgiving for all Igbos around the world; a day of remembrance of the legacy our ancestors left behind”.
“We have come again to celebrate; we have come again to ask God to let us see the year 2023 and more celebrations. We have come again to thank the gods of the land in Ghana as well as people from all walks of life who come to celebrate with us. As we eat the yam, so we pray that God Almighty will bless all of us.”
“We are using the opportunity this great occasion has provided to thank our host nation – Ghana, to preach peace, unity and strong economic tie between Ghana and Nigeria. We are thanking our host nation – Ghana, for their hospitality as we appeal to Ndigbo in Ghana and those coming tomorrow and next generation to respect the tradition of Ndigbo and also the laws of our host nation-Ghana.”
On why the Igbos celebrate yam over other crops? HRM Eze Ihenetu maintained that it was one lasting legacy and cultural heritage bestowed on Ndigbo by their ancestors and it’s being handed over from one generation to another.
However, looking forward to hosting the largest black nation and the rest of the world in subsequent editions in Ghana, a rather visionary, pragmatic and proactive traditional ruler, Eze Dr. Amb. Chukwudi Ihenetu, has rolled out a broad people-based developmental agenda for inclusive leadership, which aims at bringing back home Black Americans, who lost their ancestral roots and traced same to African continent. In the same vein, build an Igbo Community, which serves as a catalyst for uniting Ndigbo and bringing them much closer home while putting up economic empowernmemt schemes for a number of them who have no sources of livelihood in a foreign land.
The highpoint of the event was the cutting of the New Yam by the Monarchy of Ezeigbo Ghana and conferment of chieftaince titles on deserved Igbo sons and daughters as well as other patriotic Nigerians in recognition of their immense contributions towards the promotion of Igbo culture and their service to God and humanity through philanthropy.
On the spotlight also was the presentation of chieftaincy titles and awards of dedicated services to fatherland and humanity.
Popular Nigerian A-list Nollywood movie star, Jim Iyke, was conferred with the chieftaincy title of Ohamadike l of Igboland, Mac-Collins Chidibe, Veteran Nollywood movie producer and director was also honoured; while Ghanaian screen goddess and gospel minister, Empress Gift, was given an award of excellence in recognition of her contribution in redefining the music industry and healings many souls through her songs.
The event witnessed dignatries from all walks of life, who thronged to EFUA Sutherland Children’s Park opposite the luxurious Kempinski Hotel, Accra, venue of the New Yam festival, as traditional Igbo dancers, Igba Ndieze, masquerades of different sizes, Bongo Live Band and other cultural dancers from Yoruba, Itsekiri, Ijaw, etc, took turns to pay homage to His Royal Majesty, Eze Dr. Amb. Chukwudi Ihenetu – Eze Ohazurume of Ghana; who is assiduously working hard to put the image and culture of the Igbo race in the centre stage of global attention through the annual celebration of Igbo New Yam festival in Ghana.
The Igbo New Yam festival turned carnival has become a highly captivating art event and display of cultural glamour. The colorful ceremony is a visual festivity for community members to mark end of the cultivating season.
Outside and beyond celebrating this annual epoch-making event by His Royal Majesty, Eze Dr. Amb. Chukwudi Jude Ihenetu, the Igbo New Yam Festival also generates great venues into the coffers of the host country, Republic of Ghana, as it experiences a lot of cash inflows through tourism, revenue generation and improved economy through increased consumer price index, gross domestic product, net business formations and share prices.
Prior to the event, almost all the airlines travelling to Ghana were booked, luxury hotels booked by guests as the transportation sector experienced a leap frog demand rate in patronage and those into clothing and costumes businesses were highly patronised by tourists from all walks of life who visited Ghana for the main reason of celebrating Igbo Day|New Yam Festival as organised by His Royal Majesty, Eze Dr. Amb. Chukwudi Jude Ihenetu (Ezeigbo Ghana).
Therefore, as an eye witness reporter from Nigeria that had covered this event in Ghana for the second time, may I strongly and dispassionately recommend this great true patriot; a ditribalized Nigerian, an advocate of social welfarism, a philanthropist of note, and worthy Ambassador of Peace, His Royal Majesty, Eze Dr. Amb. Chukwudi Jude Ihenetu, for a national merit award both by the Nigerian Government and the host nation, Republic of Ghana, in recognition of his immeasurable contribution towards promoting African culture as well as peace, unity, love and economic posterity within the Economic Community of West African States and across the black continent.
Njoku MacDonald Obinna, an eye witness reporter from Nigeria, writes in from East Legon, Accra-Ghana.
He is a Media Consultant, PR-Expert and Publisher of 4th Estate Reporters.