From Maduabuchi Nmeribeh, Kano
It was all joy and fanfare for Igbos resident in Kano last Sunday when they gathered in their hundreds at the Palace of Eze Ndigbo in Kano, His Highness, Igwe Dr. Boniface Ibekwe and his cabinet celebrated the 2020 New Yam Festival otherwise known as Iwaji. The colourful occasion which also attracted traditional rulers from other ethnic communities, including Emir of Kano, Alhaji Aminu Ado Bayero who sent a representative, also featured different kinds of cultural dances.
Igbo men and women who came out en mass wore adorable traditional regalia to showcase their rich cultural heritage. Youths were not also left out as they danced and merried, showering praises to their king, Igwe Ibekwe who they described as the only custodian of Igbo tradition in the ancient commercial city, including other four Emirates that made up the entire Kano.
It was, indeed, a home-based outing for Ndigbo. Now Kano as they nourished and wet their appetite with different kinds of traditional and local dishes served by the women wing of the Igbo Community Association (ICA) led by Mrs. Rose Obalim, a renowned food technologist, popularly known as Hajiya Sallad. The ICA women wing also entertained the joyful crowd with scintillating dancing steps as they showed praises to Igwe Ibekwe, Eze Di Oranma IV and his wife (Lolo) for ensuring peace and unity among Igbos resident in Kano.
Different groups also attended the occasion including the popular Peoples Club of Nigeria International and other Igbo-inclined progressive groups.
In his remarks, Igwe Ibekwe sued for peace, insisting that Igbo in Kano remain united under one umbrella. While calling on those opposed of his throne to have a rethink and join the moving train, Ibekwe recalled that recently, a Kano High Court presided over by Justice Farouk Lawan Adamu, in Suit No. K/322/2020, had stopped the festival (Iwaji 2020) which was to hold on September 27, on ground that the organiser, Ikechukwu Oliver Akpudo, is not qualified to perform the ceremony. He, however, clarified that the court did not stop Igbos from celebrating New Yam Festival, but only stopped the organizers at that time on the grounds that they were not eligible to organise such a sacred festival which is the sole responsibility of himself as the only recognized traditional ruler and custodian of Igbo tradition in Kano.
Igwe Ibekwe who also goes by the title Ide 1 of Igbo land performed the cutting and eating of roasted yam with palm oil. Igwe Ibekwe who is also the President-General of Eze Ndigbo in the diaspora, also broke and shared Kola nut and prayed for the peace and unity of all the people living in Kano state and Nigeria in general.
Igwe Ibekwe said the occasion was marked to thank God for this year’s bumper harvest and seek better yield in the coming season, pointing out that, “but above all, the occasion seeks to bring all Igbo sons and daughters together in unity, and as well reunite us (Igbos) with other ethnic groups in Kano state.” He, however, commended Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje for ensuring peace and unity among ethnic communities resident in Kano.
Other rituals that marked the event included cultural music and dance as well as presentation of a white Ram to the king by the President-General of ICA, Chief Donatus Nwugo, as a symbol of peace, good luck and long life. Chief Nwugo also introduced the new leadership of ICA which emerged a fortnight ago to Igwe Ibekwe, after which he prayed for them and urged them to lead Ndigbo in truth, peace, transparency and unity. Igbo leaders, representing Imo, Enugu, Anambra, Ebony and Abia, were introduced to the Igwe for recognition and blessings.
The event brought together leaders of other ethnic groups in Kano, including the chiefs of Yoruba, Edo and the Emir of Kano, His Royal Highness Aminu Ado Bayero, who sent a representative, Alh. Jibrin Said. Representative of Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje and all the traditional rulers at the festival sued for peace, unity and harmony. Representative of the Emir of Kano said the Igbos living in Kano, for their long stay in the ancient city, have become indigenes. He urged them to continue to live in peace and harmony with other tribes in the state while carrying out their legitimate businesses.
Igwe Ibekwe said the occasion was marked to thank God for this year’s bumper harvest and seek better yield in the coming season.
“But above all, the occasion seeks to bring all Igbo sons and daughters together in unity, and as well reunite us (Igbos) with other ethnic groups in Kano state,” Ibekwe said.