It was a large turnout of people including youths,women and men, as the Olokoro Community in Umuahia South Local Government Area of Abia State, celebrated their 2022 Iwaji festival.
Iwaji Festival which is a prelude to the Iriji festival,is usually done to usher in the celebration of the Iriji festival proper.
The event which took place at the Olokoro Central School, Olokoro, attracted the presence of traditional rulers from the various communities in Olokoro, political appointees, House of Assembly members, among others.
It was indeed a display of culture and tradition, guests were treated in a sumpteous goat meat pepper soup which they took alongside the new yam.
Interacting with the President General of Olokoro Clan Development Union, Mazi Dike Nzenwa, to ascertain the whole essence of the event, he described the Iwaji festival as a very important culture in Igboland.
According to him, it is an annual ceremony that heralds the Iriji festival proper.
He said before the Iriji festival is celebrated, there is the coming together of traditional rulers of the land,to cut and eat the yam together at a central place, before other communities in the clan,begin to take turns on their various Iriji celebrations.
“This is where Ndi Eze gather to do the authorization for the commencement of the Iriji by various clans.
The President General said the Iwaji festival is very essential,as no one can celebrate the Iriji without the Iwaji properly done.
He expressed satisfaction over the turnout of people to the event, stating that the community decided to celebrate this year’s Iwaji in a grand stlye, introducing new activities into the celebration.
Meanwhile, the President General frowned at the habit of people going to the market to buy yams for the Iriji celebration, saying that it does not fall in the purview of the celebration, which is about giving thanks to God for a successful harvest season.
He, however, enjoined Ndigbo to cultivate the habit of farming,so that the South East can be food sufficient in the case of eventuality.
Also, the Chairman for Culture,Events and Entertainment (OCDU), Prince Ifeanyi Okezie, stated that the Iwaji festival is basically done by traditional rulers to usher in the annual Iriji festival.
The Iriji festival according to him, is simply a time to thank God for His blessings in the past one year.
He said though the situation of the economy and the crisis around the world has in a great extent affected food sufficiency which also had ripple effect on the 2022 Iriji festival,but thanked God that the Olokoro Clan Development Union was able to put up the event,that could be described as the best so far.
The Director General of Ogechi Cares Foundation, Obi Akaegbu, expressed happiness and gratitude to God for being alive to witness the Iwaji festival.
Akaegbu also disclosed that he is extremely happy he has a sellable candidate in the person of Hon Jerry Uzosike,who is aspiring to represent the people of Umuahia South State Constituency in the Abia House of Assembly, expressing optimism he would win the election come 2023.
He said the iriji festival is also a time to talk politics, therefore he is not relenting in using the occasion to canvass vote for Hon Uzosike