Cultural Aura Feels Air As Ojoto People In Lagos Mark Second ‘Diaspora’ New Yam Festival 

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Ojoto people under the aegis of Ojoto Development Town Union (ODTU) Lagos branch on Sunday, August 13, celebrated annual new yam festival in Okota, Lagos.

This is the second time the group is celebrating the new yam festivalsecond time the group is celebrating the new yam festival in Lagos, having started it in 2022.

The event had in attendance indigenes of Ojoto 11residing in Lagos including prominent traditional title holders from the town.

Ojoto is a town in Idemili South Local Government Area of Anambra State.

The new yam festival also called Iri ji ohuu or Iwa ji in Igbo language, is an annual traditional feast celebrated in Southeast region of Nigeria towards the end of rainy season between August and December to mark the end of the planting season and the beginning of harvest. As obtained in the agrarian era, during the new yam festival Igbo people thank God for protecting them during planting and harvesting season and as they welcome new yam (which has significance in the social-cultural life of the Igbo people) in their homes, it is also a time for praying for a plentiful crop in the next planting season and by extension, other economic and social endeavours.

Cultural Aura Feels Air As Ojoto People In Lagos Mark Second ‘Diaspora’ New Yam Festival 

The event started with a prayer by the ODTU members, who prayed for good health, God’s blessings and protection in their business endeavours and peace and unity in their homeland and the country in general.

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In line with the new yam festival rite, chairman of ODTU, Mr Alexander Okwudili Agwuna, with a piece of kola nut, thanked God for granting them life to see the new harvest year. He gave supplication to their ancestors for success, peace and unity in the land.

Thereafter, the ODTU chairman together with other traditional title holders from the town, collectively performed the ceremonial cutting of roasted yam signifying the commencement of consumption of new yam by the people in the land. In a communal manner reminiscent of the community lifestyle of people in Igbo society of the agrarian era, the people gathered at the event, ate the roasted yam with oil sauce.

In a chat with Prime Business Africa, Mr Agwuna expressed satisfaction with the turn up of their members in the group’s activities.

He said the event is a festival of first fruits and though they could not visit their homeland to join in the celebration, felt there was a need to celebrate it in Lagos in solidarity with those at home.

According to him, “The success of last year new yam festival being the first we celebrated here in Lagos gave our people joy and made them vow that they would make this year’s own more groovy. You can see how they are celebrating it and dining with one another as brothers.”

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He said they will continue to sustain the festival as a way of not only uniting ODTU members in Lagos, but also projecting their cultural values to enable younger ones imbibe them.

While thanking the people of Ojoto in Lagos for their active participation in the affairs of the association, Mr Agwuna appealed to them to step up their commitment, especially with regard to legacy projects of the group, particularly their multipurpose civic centre being constructed at Amuwo Odofin area of Lagos.

Also, speaking to Prime Business Africa, another indigene of the town, Sir, Basil Okafor, (Eze onochie na Ojoto), said they chose to celebrate the new yam festival in Lagos where they reside since they can’t travel home for it.

Chief Okafor noted that the gesture shows the level of value they attach to the tradition bequeathed to them by their forefathers.

“New yam festival is a tradition that also has link with some biblical events. In the bible, there is what they call first fruit. That first fruit is like reaping the yield of one’s farm. So, in Igbo culture, it is still the same thing,” Chief Okafor maintained.

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