Directorate of Igbo Village and Centre for African Civilization (IVACAC), Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka successfully held successful ‘Iri Ji UNIZIK Festival’.
The historic event took place at the frontage of the Faculty of Arts complex and attracted dignitaries and custodian of the rich Igbo Culture and Tradition.
Delivering his address, the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Charles Esimone, FAS, stated that in the native Igbo society, yam was regarded as the king of crops, a symbol of muscularity and a measure of a man’s wealth, as revealed by the size of his barn which is the gold of agriculture in our clime.
Esimone opined that the yam festival was thus to celebrate the prominent position of yam in the pristine agrarian communities of the Igbo People.
Also, Prof. Joseph Adinma described the New Yam Festival in Igbo land as the king of all festivals which requires thanksgiving to God for a successful farming season.
Prof. Adinma who chaired the occasion pointed out that yams in Igbo land are not only used for food, commerce and sacrifice but also play a symbolic role in healing process.
On his part, the Special Guest of Honour and Gubernatorial candidate for the Zenith Labour Party, High Chief Dr. Obiora Okonkwo commended the IVACAC for preserving and fostering Igboness through its programmes and activities. Chief Okonkwo said that the cultural values of Ndi Igbo is being eroded as a result of westernization.
He stated that the relationship between town and gown will ensure that the cultural norms and values are maintained and transcended from generation to generation.
Contributing, the Director of IVACAC and a member of the 9th UNIZIK Governing Council, Very Rev. Fr. Prof. Bonachristus Umeogu emphasized that the cultivation of yams in Igbo world begins in ‘Onwa Olu’ which comes between the ending of March and the last weeks of April while they are usually harvested in ‘Onwa Ifejioku’, after which some are staked and others used for the New Yam Festival.
Fr. Umeogu stated that Yams are medicinal as the potassium and sodium content of yams like ‘Ji Ona and Ji Anunu’ regulate blood pressure in the human body, while the Vitamin C content increases the well being of the human hair and the skin.
The occasion climaxed with the visitation to the proposed site of the Igbo Village, cutting of the roasted yams, traditional music dances and cultural displays.