From Aloysius Attah, Onitsha
Everything about Igwe Peter Uyanwa, the traditional ruler of Ukwulu, Dunukofia Local Government, Anambra State, is top-notch. His activities since ascending the throne are usually signposted by panache, pomp and pageantry.
That was again the case recently as the monarch rolled out drums with sons and daughters of the town to mark this year’s New Yam Festival. Large number of guests, friends and well-wishers thronged the palace arcade to witness the cultural fiesta.
Traditional rulers were also present to felicitate with their colleague. Not quite long after the formalities, the ushie royal dance boomed. The Igwe and his entourage filed into the arena in a royal splendour, to kick-start the event proper.
Igwe Uyanwa said his kingdom remained committed in following the precepts, customs and traditions of their people. Presenting the kolanut, he thanked God for seven years on the throne and still counting.
He prayed for the community for life and progress. He also prayed for the childless and the needy for God to meet all at the point of their needs.
The monarch also prayed for Governor Chukwuma Soludo to succeed: “The governor has shown determination and commitment to transform the state.”
When it got to the cutting of the New Yam, the Igwe said it symbolises new dawn and that old things have passed away. He described Ukwulu as a peace-loving community.
He appealed to some disgruntled elements in the community who were bent on fomenting trouble to rethink and join forces in attracting development to the place.
He alleged that drug peddlers, land grabbers and those involved in other criminal activities were the ones fighting the efforts of his kingdom towards advancing the prospects the area.
Uyanwa, who is former chairman, Anambra Central Traditional Rulers Council, said he remains passionate about the holistic development of his kingdom: “I appealed to the governor to consider the appointment of sons and daughters of Ukwulu community into sensitive positions in his administration.
“This community has produced capable personalities in various fields of human endeavours who have the required qualities to work with the governor.
“Construction of major roads in Ukwulu by government will help farmers in evacuating farm produce to the cities. I urge the governor to extend his road project and other development programmes to Ukwulu.”
He recalled that the community gave Soludo bulk votes last year: “It was only in Ukwulu that a woman rejected N5,000 bribe for vote offered to her by political marauders to vote against her conscience.”
Soludo assured the traditional ruler and the people of Ukwulu of his determination to ensure a holistic approach in confronting myriads of challenges facing the state. Represented by his deputy, Dr. Onyeka Ibezim, he noted: “The cultural heritage and cherished values of the Igbo should always be promoted and preserved.”
Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Matters, Chief Collins Nwabunwanne, described Igwe Uyanwa as a highly respected traditional ruler: “The celebration of New Yam in this part of the world remains an old culture and tradition bequeathed to Ndigbo by their forefathers.”
Senator representing Anambra Central, Uche Ekwunife, prayed that “God will grant the Igwe the strength, good health and continued vision to lead Ukwulu the right way at all times.”
Head, Mass Communications Department, Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University, Igbariam, Prof Angela Nwamuo, said they were at the event to show solidarity to Igwe Uyanwa, describing yam as a symbol of Igbo culture: “No one can perform a ceremony in Igbo land without yam as the king of all crops.”
Traditional ruler of Amanuke, Awka North Local Government, Igwe Alphonsus Ezebilo, affirmed that the celebration of the New Yam Festival by Igwe Uyawna would usher in “a lot of good things in Ukwulu community.”
During a holy mass that preceded the event, Rev. Fr. Greg Eke in his homily, stated that new yam represents life in Igbo land “as God is the ultimate source of life. The celebration of new yam is a moment of thanksgiving to God by people for their bumper harvest.”
Vice-Chancellor, Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University, Prof. Greg Nwakoby, represented by his deputy, Prof. Mathias Aghanti, priests and parishioners of St. Aloysius Chaplaincy and Saint Theresa Catholic Church, Ukwulu, also paid homage to the Igwe.