In line with Governor Chukwuma Soludo’s agenda for reviving and promoting the Igbo cultural heritage, Anambra State held the largest and most colourful new yam (Iri Ji) festival on Saturday at the Alex Ekwueme Square, Awka.
Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Nnaemeka Achebe who doubles as the Chairman of Anambra Traditional Rulers Council, was the father of the day.
Anaocha Council area which harvested the biggest yam among all the other local government areas, won the prize money.
This, the governor rewarded an Anaocha farmer, Mr Chigozie Anene from Akwaeze who produced the biggest yam with the Anambra State ‘king of yam’ (Eze Ji) award 2023 and gifted him one million naira with different farming tools.
Speaking on the occasion, Governor Soludo advocated joint celebration of new yam amongst Ndị Igbo of Eastern region extraction.
The Governor said celebrating the Iri Ji Festival in unison will show the world that the Igbo has a wonderful culture, pointing out that it was the first time every local government in the state came together to celebrate.
He assured that the festival would be mainstreamed to be celebrated in coming the years, expressing optimism that next year would be greater.
“Our culture is not just dance display but a totality of who we are, how we dress, how we talk, in terms of our core values. Our culture is an embodiment of who we are. It is a celebration of our hardwork”; the Governor said.
Soludo used the occasion to highlight his administration’s commitment to promoting Igbo culture and values, pointing out that his administration will also continue to mainstream compassion and carrying each other along, leaving nobody behind.
“This is evident in our education, health, youth development and palliatives given to cushion the effects of fuel Subsidy,” he said.
The Governor also thanked all the state and local government cultural troupes for their colorful display of cultural procession, and assured that next year there would be prizes for the best local government with the best cultural procession performance.
Earlier, the Commissioner for Entertainment, Culture and Tourism, Mr. Donatus Onyenji, recalled that Governor Soludo charged Ndigbo in his manifesto to rediscover their core values and culture, pointing out that the 2023 Anambra Iri Ji Festival is part of the programme to continue to promote and sustain the rich Igbo culture and tradition.
On his part, the Chairman of Anambra State Traditional Rulers’ Council, Igwe Alfred Nnaemeka Achebe, while applauding Governor Soludo and his wife, explained that the Anambra Traditional Rulers Council is in partnership with the South East Traditional Rulers Council and some groups of Archbishops to continue to promote the core principles and values of Igbo culture and tradition.
There was a display of cultural procession from representatives of all twenty-one local government areas in Anambra State.
Wife of the Governor, Mrs. Nonye Soludo, the Speaker Anambra State House of Assembly, Rt Hon Somtochukwu Udeze, Secretary to the State Government, Prof. Solo Chukwulobelu, Principal Secretary to the Governor, Mr. J.P.C. Anetoh, Chief Protocol officer, Hon. Chinedu Nwoye ( Glamour) and Members of Anambra State Executive Council, Members of Anambra State House of Assembly, Transition Committee Chairmen, Traditional Rulers, President-Generals, among others, attended the event.