Igwe Okorie of Imeoha Nkerefi kingdom celebrates New Yam Festival, confers Chieftaincy title on Mike Ogbuekwe, other illustrious sons of the land
The people of Imeoha Nkereofi Kingdom, Nkanu East Local Government of Enugu State, led by His Royal Majesty, Igwe Luke Ogbu Ogbuta Okorie, the Ezeanyanecheoha I of Imeoha Nkerefi, celebrated the traditional New Yam Festival on October 21, 2022, with pomp.
The once-a-year New Yam Festival, a significant cultural and spiritual event among the Igbo-speaking people of Nigeria, allows people and the entire community to offer thanks to God for bountiful harvests while praying for better yield in the subsequent planting season.
The good people of Imeoha Nkerefi were not left out of this age-long Igbo tradition as the sons and daughters of the community returned home from near and far to observe the 2022 New Yam festival which was conducted according to tradition by his HRM. Igwe Luke Ogbu Ogbuta Okorie, the first traditional ruler of the Imeoha Autonomous Community.
While Igwe Okorie, crowned the traditional Chief head of Imeoha Nkerefi (one of the four autonomous communities in Nkerefi) on December 29, 2002, is an accomplished businessman and the Chief Executive Officer of Ogbuta Investment Company Limited, a major manufacturer of adhesive glue and tapes which are marketed across the African continent, the corporate doyen has proven to be a worthy custodian of culture as he pulled all the stops to ensure that the community had a befitting New Yam celebration.
Customarily, the festival commenced with prayers of thanksgiving with the monarch leading the people in the prayer of thanksgiving to God for his blessings of abundance and fruitfulness in Nkerefi land.
Igwe Luke Ogbu Ogbuta Okorie went ahead to speak on the importance of the celebration, noting that the New Yam Festival is a unifying cultural practice among the Igbo and one of the heritage that distinguishes them from other nations.
“Therefore, with this importance, the New Yam festival must be celebrated to preserve our rich cultural heritage and identity,” he said.
The festival featured performances of traditional music and dances such as Igede and Abia reserved for iconic events.
Dignitaries who graced the occasion include the Igwe’s wife, Her Royal Majesty Ugoeze, Shu Fang Chen Okorie, Nneoha I of Imeoha Nkerefi. Other dignitaries were the special guest of honour and patron of the Enugu State Traditional Rulers Council, HRH Igwe Abel Nwobodo, Elders in-Council of Imeoha Nkerefi Autonomous Community, high chiefs and village heads who all danced to the Igede drums according to tradition.
After the villages that constitute the Imeoha Nkerefi Kingdom presented their harvest of yams to the Igwe, the rite of Iwa Ji was performed and all members of the kingdom were officially invited to eat the newly-harvested yams, signalling the official commencement of the eating of new yams in their various homesteads as demanded by culture.
The highlight of the festival was the conferment of Chieftaincy titles on 24 illustrious sons and daughters of the Nkerefi Kingdom who distinguished themselves in various fields and had contributed immensely to community development as well as helped in creating opportunities for the people.
Recipients of the Chieftaincy titles include Elder GOC Ajah, former Secretary to the Enugu State Government, and Hon. Engr. Mike Ogbuekwe, Special Adviser on Agriculture to the Governor of Enugu State, who was conferred the traditional title of “Mmiri Oma na Nkerefi,” amongst others.