All roads leading to the Mansion of Obi Mohammed Nduka Elunor were jammed parked with “State of the Art” Cars as Friends and well wishers stormed his Ogwa to celebrate his New yam festival in Grand Style.
Beaming with smiles with the youths dancing all over the premises and members of his community Ezeumunne Agunaugboma jubilating and screaming igwe! Obi igwe! Obi igwe! Obi Igwe!
Obi Mohammed stormed the premises in a white regalia decourated with cultural beads and a red cap in a procession along side other notable Chiefs of his community to greet the marmount crowd and the chief priests reigning cash on him as encomions and singing his praises to the amusement of his people.
He said, Asaba culture is not only good but should also be promoted in all parts of the world.
This was part of his views as he speaks on the uniqueness of the ceremony to mark the new yam festival in his iyagba community amidst pomp and Pagentry.
Since his installation as an Obi (the strength of iyagba people and a committed leader), Elunor has often marked his own ceremony amid funfare with so much love showered on him from the people of his community.
Iwaji Festival was a day set aside for the Obi to celebrate after the Asagba of Asaba, had marked his own new yam festival.
Despite the fact that all the Obi was celebrating at the same day, Obi Mohammed Nduka Elunor ceremony was the best in the capital city as it turned to a carnival with masquerades and musicians playing in every part of his residents as the ceremony turned to a carnival like celebration.
Foods and expensive wines were surplus at the mercy of his guest as his country home swarmed with friends, well-wishers, traditional rulers and politicians, who came from far and near to celebrate with him and also pay homage. The presence of the members of Arewa Community and the Delta State members of the Fulani’s were not left aside.
Stepping out for the event after the sounding of the big bell to announce his presence amid thunderous ovation, Obi Elunor, went round the various canopies to exchange greetings with the various groups and individuals before he settled down for the business of the day.
At the breaking of kolanuts, prayers were offered in gratitude to God for life, the safety, progress and welfare of Ndi-Asaba and all men of goodwill.
The cutting of the new yam and the symbolic feeding of his guest from the dish of roasted yam with fresh palm oil followed immediately.
Speaking as the ceremony progressed, Obi Mohammed Nduka called on Asaba people across the globe to be proud of their cultural heritage and join hands for its promotion as well as the development of Asaba land.
He maintained that, “Since our culture is our identity, we must always preserve and improve on it, irrespective of how educated or religious we think we are, because, if we allow our culture to die a natural death, then we shall be wallowing in the desert like sheep without shepherd.” speaking as a man of the people he said, I am a man of truth. As a devoted moslem I will continue to speak the truth to my people. We all contributed to most of the transformation in Asaba and we must protect our land and live in unity.
Giving more insight on the significance of the iwaji festival in the Ezeumunne Agunaugboma community and Asaba as a whole, Obi Elunor explained that new yam festival was called Iwaji Festival in Asaba because it is a time of harvest, a time to bring the mind of all together, forgive enemies, remove all forms of violence in the land and regenerate things for the next planting season.
“Every human being has an identity and once you have an identity it means you have a culture. For me, I am an Asaba man, an Igbo man, and a Nigerian and all of these are what I call our various categories and I make sure that, at every time in my life, I try to identify with my own identity and consciousness.
“As an Asab man, I’m proud to be an Ahaba and I want to accentuate all that is good about the Ahaba people and show all that is positive about the impact of the people. In all our interactions with the rest of the country, I feel a certain generational burden to re-interpret Asaba to the world and to interpret Ahaba to Nigerians because there is a lot of misconceptions about who we are and why we are the way we are, but understanding our history and our culture will enable people appreciate the Asabq people better in Nigeria,” he said.
He also harped on the need to see the new yam festival as a great tourism potential and the need for government to make some adjustments.
His words: “I think that the whole idea of culture and tourism is something that we are taking for granted in the South-East. I think that Delta State can actually restructure the new yam festival and synchronise it as something that happens simultaneously within the period of one month so that people who visit Asabq during this period will know that they will see masquerades and new yam festival at least for four weekends, beginning from September all through October.
“The state government should work towards establishing that event as a significant portion of our culture. So you know that if you are in Asaba this time, it will be a time to celebrate and visit various towns. Visiting home must not be during burials only or Christmas. When the new yam festival is synchronised, we will have a whole month of celebration in the state. Tourism is a critical factor to every society and the society itself needs to improve to offer something valuable to the tourists.”
Talking about yam and the whole philosophy behind the new yam festival in Anioma culture, Obi Mohammed Nduka pointed out that yam was at the centre of the Igbo economy.
According to him, “the Igbo economy was at one time defined by yam, so every man that is strong is known by the size of his barn.
“Yam has always been a defining ingredient between the rich and the poor, the hard-working and the strong. Yam is so essential in the quality of Igbo life, it was what made the Igbo people industrious very early, because to plant yam, you need to plant at the right time. You need to dig, and put a stick to manage the tendrils to grow well. When it’s time for harvesting, you need to be patient. You have to harvest it gently in order to bring it out from the ground. Any attempt at being fast, lazy or doing it haphazardly would lead to breaking the yam.
“So the process of yam farming by its nature makes the Igbo people have a natural instinct for industriousness
In the same way, yam has always been a defining crop for the Igbo. It is our estimation of wealth, and in today’s world, yam still symbolizes our hard work, our industry and our attitude to agriculture.”
Some of the traditional rulers that graced the occasion also join the Obi in dancing and jubilating as he offers thanks giving and moments of joy with family friends