By Amuche Agbo, Abakaliki
Some notable stakeholders from Izhi clan have described Ojiji Izhi Festival as a culture that can never be forgotten, as it was inherited from their forefathers and called on the younger generation not to allow it to go into extinction.
They stated these while addressing newsmen on the significants of the celebration in Abakaliki, the State Capital.
Speaking, the former Minister of State for Health, Chief Fidelis Nwankwo, said the importance of the festival cannot be overemphasized, and described it as a very unique culture and tradition of Izhi clan.
Explaining it’s uniqueness, the former State Minister said that no Izhi man irrespective of social status is obliged to eat new yam in Izhi land unless the new yam festival which is called “Ojiji Izhi” is celebrated and called all the through sons and daughters of the clan to embrace it so as to promote their culture.
Chief Nwankwo who noted that Ojiji new yam festival didn’t conflict with any religion nor sacrifice or ritual performances during the period of the celebration, admonished the people of Izhi Nnodo and Ikwo Noyo clan to use the festive period to make peace as they are one indivisible entity.
He commended the proactive step of Ebonyi State Governor Engr. David Umahi for his fathering role in ensuring that peace and tranquility reigned in the State.
Also speaking, the Executive Chairman of Ebonyi Local Government Area Hon. Chinyere Nwogbaga, the former Member of Anambra State House of Assembly Chief Boniface Ofoke and president general of Oha Izhi Ezeogo Sunday Oketa thanked God for keeping them alive to witness this year Ojiji festival and extolled Governor Umahi for his effort in promoting peoples culture in the State.
They added that Ojiji festival is not fetish, stressing that the period is used to promote unity, peace harmony among members of the clan and beyond.
On his part, the chairman of Izhi traditional rulers council who is the traditional ruler of Amegu Autonomous Community, Ezeogo, Fidelis Nwonumara and his counterpart of Ndiebor Ishieke Community, Ezeogo Patrick Alo observed that the celebration of the festival marks beginning of another year according to Izhi calendar, adding that the festival climax with the distribution of new yam to their in-laws, friends and well wishers.
The Monarchs, however, cautioned youths against cultism, armed robbery,indecent dressing among others, as it is not in line with Izhi traditional belief.
Meanwhile, the former chairman of Ebonyi State traditional medicine practioners Chief Augustine Ekechi said the celebration of the festival has contributed to the unity of Izhi clan and called them to celebrate with the fear of God while he prayed for bountiful harvest of the year.