Group advocates for peace, equity in Ebonyi as Izhi people celebrate Ojiji festival

By James Nwakpa

A cross section of people from Izhi Nnodo extraction have advocated for equity, peace and unity in Ebonyi State as the people celebrate this year's new yam (Ojiji) festival.

In their messages, some of the opinion moulders and highly placed persons in Izhi Nnodo Clan, including the former Minister of State for Health, Engr. Fidelis Nwankwo and Hon. Boniface Ophoke, who highlighted the significance of the moment, said that Ojiji festival is an annual event and one of the most widely celebrated festivities by sons and daughters of Izhi Nnodo Ekumenyi who place high premium on the people's cultural heritage.

The duo with the Former Minister of Power and Steel, Chief Godwin Ogbaga and the Executive Chairman of Ebonyi Local Government, Chief Mrs Chinyere Nwogbaga, who expressed gratitude to God Almighty for been part of this year's celebration, noted that Izhi people can henceforth enjoy new yam whenever they wish as the culture demands that nobody should taste new yam no matter how pressed until this cultural rite is performed in the land.

In their part, some of the royal fathers of the clan, including the traditional ruler of Anmegu community, His Royal Highness, Eze Fidelis Nwonumara and his counterpart in Nkaleke Echara autonomous community, His Royal Highness Eze Sunday Oketa, noted that Ojiji festival does not conflict with the Christian tradition, as the festival does not encourage any kind of fetish practices as insinuated by some persons, stressing that Ojiji is a moment of big feast when the in-laws, friends, relatives and well wishers are presented with tubers of yam and other gift items as a mark of honour, love and mutual relationship among the people.

The traditional rulers used the opportunity to condemn unwarranted crises and mindless killing of people in some parts of the state, and also preached the gospel of love, unity and tolerance among Ebonyi people and residents of Ebonyi State, stressing that people should use this period to develop the spirit of oneness and peaceful coexistence.

Also speaking, the traditional ruler of Ndiebor Ishieke, His Royal Highness Eze Patrick Alo, said that the essence of Ojiji is to thank the creator for keeping them from the time of scanty to the period of plenty when men are expected to go to their farms and harvest new yams for their families and beloved ones.

Eze Patrick Alo, who stressed the need for equity, thanked the State Governor, Engr. David Nweze Umahi for his laudable achievements especially in road construction, and also called the attention of the governor to look into the affairs of the traditional rulers and to provide him with his staff of office which has not been given to him since 2018 when he was installed as the Eze of Ndiebor Ishieke Community.

Others who spoke with the press, including the Chairman, Ebonyi State Traditional Medicine Board, Chief Augustine Ekechi, and the former Coordinator Effium Development Centre, Hon. Emeka Abara, both of whom after paying a homage to the traditional ruler of Nkeleke Echara, HRH Eze Sunday Oketa, extended their goodwill messages to all the sons and daughters of Izhi, both at home and in diaspora, and admonished the people to hold their culture tenaciously by propagating their rich cultural heritage from generation to generation, while wishing them a bountiful harvest.

Edited by Victor Nwegede and Favour Nwaobashi.

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