By Nick Chibunna
The Anglican Bishop of Ikeduru, Rt. Rev. Emmanuel Maduwike, was among the dignitaries that witnessed the 2017 New Yam Festival of the Ikeduru, tagged Iri-ji Ikeduru, and hosted by Abazu Autonomous Community in the Ikeduru Local Government Area of Imo State.
Activities began as the Bishop prayed and committed the event into God’s hands.
Welcoming guests, the chairman of Ndi-Eze Ikeduru, HRH Eze Festus Osuji described Iri-ji Ikeduru as an age long literature and has since remained a symbol of love and good neighbourliness as well as a home-coming event for sons and daughters of Ikeduru.
He also said that the people use the occasion to thank God for bountiful harvest.
The royal father, however, lamented the deplorable state of roads in Ikeduru and appealed to Gov. Rochas Okorocha of Imo State for assistance as many communities have been cut off from their kit and kin in Ikeduru
Chairman of the occasion, Chief Dr. Uzoma Obiyo said the annual outing was the pivot on which the unity of the people revolved and called for its sustenance as people without culture do not have identity.
According to him, God is at the centre of the Iri-ji Ikeduru.
In his welcome address, the host traditional ruler of Abazu, Eze (Dr) Oliver Njoku JP, thanked Ndi Eze Ikeduru for granting his community the hosting right.
He said that the event reminds the people that they are one and from the same father and described the people as peace loving.
The event featured cultural dances, wrestling, Iwa-ji, proverbs competition, speeches among others.
Speaking to journalists after the event, the chairman of the 2017 Iri-ji Ikeduru Central Planning Committee, HRH Eze Levi Iheanyichukwu Ezeala described the event as unique and a vialable tool for community development, which “renews our oneness as offspring of one father”.
On the insinuations that cultural iri-ji has fetish undertone, the traditional ruler who is also the Ike-Nwa-Ike of Nneise debunked the claims, adding that it was only fetish to those who worship other gods. He said that the event was a thanksgiving service to God Almighty for His mercy and loving kindness, adding that the event was declared open after a prayer by a priest of higher rank.
Dignitaries who graced the occasion included, Chief Dr Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, Senator Samuel Anyanwu, Senator Osita Izunaso, Hon. Dr. Teddy Uche Oguwuike, Bishop Emmanuel Maduwike of the Anglican Diocese of Ikeduru who prayed and committed the event into the hands of God before the official opening, and a host of others.