• Ebonyi festival of food, unity

    Ebonyi festival of food unity - nigeria newspapers online
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    From Magnus Eze, Abakaliki


    Ebonyi festival of food unity - nigeria newspapers onlineEbonyi festival of food unity - nigeria newspapers online

    •Ikwo women dancing round arena


    Aji-Ereke cultural festival which is used to usher in farming season in Ikwo, especially Amagu community, Ikwo Local Government Area of Ebonyi State, has turned out to be the most popular celebration in the area.


    Ebonyi festival of food unity - nigeria newspapers onlineEbonyi festival of food unity - nigeria newspapers online

    •Senator Eze (left) with Eze and wife

    The festival, which lasts eight days, with a grand finale attracts friends, in-laws, relatives, neighbours and well-wishers. The event has also become a unifying factor in the area and also upped the preservation of cultural heritage of the people.

    Shortly after its celebration, the people will start cultivating their crops. It is usually celebrated between March and May every year. During the celebration, the people exchange gifts while women cook different local delicacies, package them in earthen pots and bring them together for consumption among themselves.

    Ebonyi festival of food unity - nigeria newspapers onlineEbonyi festival of food unity - nigeria newspapers online

    •Masqeurade display

    The women also bring gallons of palm wine, which they also drink together

    The festival affords most of them the opportunity to show that their husbands take good care of them as they wear their best clothes and look good while old women tie only wrappers on their waists and leave their breasts naked, without bra.


    Ebonyi festival of food unity - nigeria newspapers onlineEbonyi festival of food unity - nigeria newspapers online

    •Ogah (middle) dancing with elderly women

    The women usually appear in this form during the celebration, dancing round the festival ground while men play the drums for them.  Different masquerades add colour to the celebration; some of them put up spectacular performances at the venue. Men and youths are usually there, chanting songs for the masquerades and following them round the arena.

    This year’s festival was very unique and was celebrated with pomp and pageantry. It attracted people from all walks of life. Politicians from the state and beyond graced the occasion. In fact, the venue of the event was filled to the brim.

    The traditional ruler of Amagu community, Dominic Aloh, threw some light into what the event was all about. 

    He said: “This thing we are doing today as Aji Ereke is a thing that started from time immemorial. It came before our grandfathers and great grandfathers. So, we are trying to revive it and we thank our representatives in the National Assembly for deeming it necessary to revive it.  We are going to revive it and it is going to be an annual event.

    “Every year, we will do it to show people that we still recognize our culture, we will not allow it to die. In Ikwo, Aji is a feast that goes round the entire communities.

    “We have about 15 different communities in Ikwo and we in Amagu where we are doing this today, we have 25 villages and each of these 25 villages used to have this in their different village squares. But today, we are connecting them together here to have the grand finale to show people that this is our culture because our culture is our heritage and we don’t want it to die.

    “It is the beginning after all the struggles and everything; harvesting, gathering all to the farms. This is the time we are beginning to send the crops back to the ground again. As soon as we finish this festival, we start cultivation and we plant our yams, cocoyams, our cassava, our groundnuts, our maize, everything. We use this festival to celebrate the beginning of the farming season.”

    Governor Francis Nwifuru, who was represented by his deputy, Patricia Obila, at the event, described it as a celebration of the identity of the community and the state.

    He said: “We are here because the cultural heritage of this community is intact. We are here to celebrate the identity of this state and this community. Every community should celebrate the identity of this state and its community. Anyone that does not know where he comes from will not know where he is going to.

    “We are here to thank our gods and to bless our land so that by the time we plant our crops, we will reap bountifully. By the time I came here, I saw the beauty of the land, I saw the beauty of the people and every good thing in this land.

    “This is to show that our brother, Hon. Chinedu Ogah, I do not know how to quantify him. If we can have two or three of his kind, this country will have a good look. You have started this one week ago and today is the grand finale,” he said.

    Similarly, the senator representing Ebonyi Central, Ken Eze, urged other communities in the state to emulate Amagu Ikwo people, stressing that any people that missed its culture misses it all.

    “The display here is pure and original. It shows who we are and I commend Amagu Ikwo people for sustaining and improving on it. From what we have seen today, there is a remarkable improvement this year. So, I am calling on other communities to emulate them even as I know that it would get better next year,” Eze enthused.

    For the member representing Ikwo/Ezza South Federal Constituency and House Committee Chairman on Reformatory Institutions, Ogah, everything possible would be done to sustain the cultural festival.

    He recalled that for almost 15 years, the community was at war with its neighbours of Cross River State.

    He appreciated the governor for his peaceful disposition noting that the continued observance of the festival in subsequent years would deepen unity in the community.

    Ogah said: “This eight-day event ends today. At the end of the eight days, we gather in one place and celebrate it as a carnival. We have done that in various villages. We are celebrating this because we have a governor that has made us have peace.

    “For almost 15 years, we were at war with our neighbouring state here, Cross River. But since our dear governor came on board, Chief Francis Ogbonna Nwifuru, we have never heard any gun shot at the boundary.

    “He appointed of our sons as commissioners for border peace, attorney general and culture and tourism.

    “We are celebrating this culture because apart from Izzi clan, it is Amagu that our governor has the highest votes. The festival today is celebration of unity. Here we eat together, we drink together and dance together. There is no demarcation and that is how our culture is.

    “When I was elected, I made it as part of my projects that every year, I will be voting money for us to marking this cultural festival.

    “By next year, I am going to vote one hundred million for the event. By next year, we are going to involve the international community in the programme because the governor has shown us the way and we have to bring peace to his government. We have to give him support. We want the 20 wards in Ikwo to continue to give him support.”

    Principal Secretary to Ebonyi State Governor and Chairman of the occasion, Chief Mathias Adum, decried the erosion of Nigeria’s culture and commended Ogah for reawakening the spirit of the people towards cultural revival.

    Adum said: “For him to remember that culture is the root of our existence is very crucial.  The foreign culture has eroded our cultural milieu.

    “Culture binds and unites us together. With what we’ve seen here, Ogah is reminding us that we should go back to our roots. In the area of youth empowerment, he is leading. He is full of robust energy and he is using it in a positive way.”

    Goodwill messages came from far and near, including the people of Mgbom N’Achara Autonomous Community, Okposi, in Ohaozara local government area of the state.

    Led by the President General of their development union, Philip Ude Eze, a lawyer, they said that they came to identify with Ikwo people particularly Ogah who has continued to reach out to every segment of the society through effective representation in the National Assembly.

    Eze also told the crowd that for them, it was like a homecoming since some parts of Okposi traced their origin to Ikwo Nnoyo.

    He assured that Okposi people would always cherish their affinity with Ikwo whom he said were their forebears.   

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