BRIEF HISTORY OF NEW YAM FESTIVAL AND SIGNIFICANCE OF THE FESTIVAL
The New Yam Festival as it’s name appear is celebration of Yam crop, Which is attributed to the moral respect and value bestowed to the staple crop. Yam farming is age long major pre-occupation of people in most tropical African region from west African Countries, Majorly in Nigerian and Ghana. Yams have brown tough skins and the flesh can vary in colour, including anything from white to yellow to purple, depending on the variety. The yam assume the first crop to be harvested, and are the most important crop of the region, as the Yam crops are eaten routinely in such quantities that it constitutes a dominant portion of a standard diet of people from West African. In other to express gratitude to their God for a bountiful harvest at the end of every farming season, and pray for another bountiful season ahead, the yam crop is being celebrated.
The New Yam Festival also called “Iri-ji” in Igbo Language, is one of the most important cultural events being celebrated by Igbos from South Eastern Nigeria, where the yam crop is a major staple food. As yam is hold in a very high esteem in Igbo Land, it is an Igbo wide festival celebrated by all Igbo’s both home and in diaspora.
The significance of the festival depicts the prominence of yam in social-cultural life of Igbo people. It marks the conclusion of a working circle and the beginning of new farming season. The celebration is an annual event that has been passed down from generation to generation of “Ndi” Igbo, ( people from South east Nigeria) not only at home but in every part of the world where the Igbo people dwell. It is another way to appreciate first yam harvest of the year’s and it’s consumption.
The festival depicts the Igbo race as a religious people, who annually acknowledge their duty to return gratitude to their Ancestors for their kindness, and to God and all benevolent spirits for seeing them through tough times in the planting window. Most time at the commencement of the festival, the yams are offered to gods and ancestors first before distributing them to the villagers. The ritual is performed either by the oldest man in the community or by the king or eminent title holder. After the prayer of thanksgiving to God, they eat the first yam because It is believed that their position bestows the privilege of being intermediaries between their communities and the gods of the land. The rituals are meant to express the gratitude of the community to the gods for making the harvest possible.
Preparation of yam meal take many different method, In Africa, yam is pounded into a very stiff paste called fufu, eaten by hand in pinches from the serving tray, rolled into balls and dipped into a soup.
Yams can also, be used in the same way as potatoes. Serve mashed yams with plenty of butter and seasoning as an accompaniment to meat stews or other vegetable dishes. It can be used to make yam chips or bake yams in their skins.
In Igbo land, where the members of Igbo Union Cork Ireland indigenously came from, the yam is regarded as the king of all crops. Therefore, it became a world-wide event as it is celebrated by Igbo’s all over the world. For the Igbo people, this celebration is a time of reflection. The Iri ji Festival reminds us never to grow lazy. It charges every Igbo man and Woman to contribute their quarter in the economy of any society where they find themselves. It reminds us of the tenacity, patience and hope that characterized the lives of our forefathers, as they tilled the soil and planted yam with crude implements and yet expected a bountiful harvest.
For example, in the City of Cork Ireland, the ceremony have previously been held in 2007, 2008 and 20015. They were success as it drew people from all walks of life around the city of Cork.
We once again we wish to announce the forthcoming fourth edition of the ceremony in Cork Ireland, coming on September 22nd 2018.