Traditional ruler of Akpu in Orumba South Local Government Area of Anambra State, M. N. Okoli, has recommended unified annual new yam festival in Anambra State.
Igwe Okoli made the recommendation while speaking to National Light at his Palace in Umuokpalla Village on Sunday, during the 2019 Otite or new yam festival of Akpu. He said that it will boost the culture and tourism potentials of Anambra State, while going a very long way in sustaining the cultural rediscovery of the state under the Gov. Willie Obiano-led administration, adding that it will redound at better inter-community co-operation and brotherly co-existence.
According to the monarch, the festival has grown to become an integral tradition of Akpu as obtainable in most communities in Igbo land, but continuing its celebration along clannish biases may retard this age-long custom in no distant time.
“All over the world, people are doing everything in their power to foster greater co-operation to bring about bigger collective good that will naturally create harmony. Customary practices are given wider leverages to see how neighbouring towns can bond together on many things as one harmonious global community. You see this happening in many places but China stands apart in this new wave of cultural re-awakening. That’s why China marks out one week every year for cultural festivals that cut across most communities, during which they exchange visits from town to town in a sort of exposition. This makes it easy for introduction of news ideas and stepping down of old ones that have out grown their usefulness. I recommend this Chinese model to Anambra State, so you have one week for celebration of new yam festivals to allow towns learn from others, where it is necessary, for cultural growth,” he said.
He equally commended agricultural policies of Anambra State since 2014, which has once again made farming attractive and lucrative to many people in his community, including the youths.
The monarch also used the occasion to laud Gov. Obiano’s rural development policies, singling out the community-choose-your-project initiative for special commendation.
Throwing more light on the benefits of the flagship programme in most towns, Igwe Okoli explained that Akpu used its own N20 million to construct bridge along a river that connects the town with one of their neighbouring communities. He however called for Gov. Obiano’s intervention in the community to help them build another bridge along Akpu-Ufuma-Umuikpa Road to enable farmers in the area transport crops to urban markets where they are needed.
Speaking earlier at the event, Palace Secretary of Akpu Kingdom, Nze Mike Udensi stated that Otite Festival has evolved into an integral custom in Akpu. Well away from its pagan origin of the past when their ancestors used the occasion to offer their first yam fruits to Ihejioku.
According to Udensi, with the growth of Christianity in Akpu, the festival has been shorn of all idolatrous semblances, adding that with a charismatic, God-fearing monarch like Igwe Okoli on the throne, the town is on the way to greater glory in all field of endeavor.
Also in a chat, President-General of Akpu Development Union (APU), Chief Daniel Okoli felicitated with their traditional ruler and the entire community for marking the second Otite Festival under Igwe Okoli’s reign, adding that the town will continue to support Gov Obiano’s administration.