TOP NIGERIAN MONARCH ARRIVES IN CAPE TOWN AHEAD OF ‘2014 NEW YAM FESTIVAL’
September 02, 2014 | Uhuruspirit
His Royal Highness Igwe Chijioke F. Nwankwo (Osuofia II na Nawfia) relaxes after his arrival in Cape Town ahead of the 2014 New Yam Festival. Photo: Uhuruspirit
The imminent 2014 New Yam Festival in Cape Town has received a big boost with the arrival of His Royal Highness Igwe Chijioke F. Nwankwo (Osuofia II na Nawfia).
Igwe Nwankwo will be one of the special guests of honour during the event that will take place on Sunday, September 7. The festival will also feature the coronation of ‘Isi-Igbo South Africa’. Another top monarch who is being expected from Nigeria, His Royal Majesty Eze Nri Enweleana II Obidiegwu Onyesoh, MFR, is yet to arrive.
As a leading monarch in Nigeria, Igwe Nwankwo is in charge of security in the “South-South South-East Traditional Leaders’ Forum” that was recently established by Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan.
He was received after his arrival on Tuesday at the Cape Town International Airport by a delegation from Umunri Welfare Association South Africa – the organizers of the 2014 New Yam Festival.
Igwe Nwankwo poses for a photo with the delegation from Umunri Welfare Association that received him at the Cape Town International Airport on Tuesday. Photo: Uhuruspirit
The delegation was led by Mr. Austine Val Okafor, the chairman of Umunri Welfare Association. Others in his entourage included: Chief Peter Chukwurah (Ozo Chukwuneme of Enugwu-Agidi), Ichie Obinna Obiorah (Onowu Umunri), Chief Ifeanyi Muo (Isi-Obu Umunri) and Chief Charles Eze (Ide Umunri), among others.
Umunri Welfare Association South Africa is a cultural organization founded in 2006 by a group of people who trace their ancestry to the ancient Nri Kingdom. As one of the oldest kingdoms in pre-colonial Africa, Nri goes as far back as the 9th century and actually existed between 948—1911, when it held sway over much of what is today known as South Eastern Nigeria - and even beyond - as a religious and political sphere. It is seen as the cradle of Igbo civilization and culture. The Nri Kingdom was administered by a priest-king called “Eze Nri” who wielded no military power over his subjects, and was famous for its humanistic values, which were uncommon at the time. As a result, the kingdom served as a safe haven for millions of refugees who were rejected in their communities and also a place where slaves were set free from bondage. Nri expanded through converts gaining neighboring communities' allegiance, not by force. The kingdom, which had posed a major obstacle to the imperialist ambitions of the British colonialists, was dismantled by the British after they arrived in that part of Africa. And today its descendants are coming together to revive those humanistic tenets that made it famous.
“We can’t allow our culture to go into extinction, because our culture is part of our identity,” a man who identifies with the defunct kingdom once observed during a discussion with Uhuruspirit.
Apart from their work in helping to provide support and assistance to the under-privileged and poor around the Western Cape Province of South Africa, Umunri Welfare Association has also made the annual celebration of the New Yam Festival fashionable in the country.
The New Yam Festival is a traditional festival that is popular around West Africa (especially Nigeria and Ghana), where yam is the staple food. While in the past it was more of an occasion to give thanks to God after bountiful harvests at the end of the planting season, these days the festival is also used to champion the value of hard-work and the cause of food security through agriculture. Since 2010, Umunri Welfare Association has hosted the event in Cape Town.
Speaking to Uhuruspirit at the end of the reception for Igwe Nwankwo on Tuesday, Mr. Austine Val Okafor expressed his gratitude to God for the safe arrival of the monarch, who is also a grand patron of Umunri Welfare Association.
“I wish to thank Chi-Ukwu (God) that our vibrant royal father Igwe Osuofia has made it safely to South Africa for our festival. Having worked so hard for the success of our 2014 New Yam Festival, I feel greatly relieved with his arrival,” he said.
Meanwhile, Uhuruspirit has learnt from a reliable source that Sunday’s event will draw various South African traditional leaders.
Igwe Nwankwo poses for a photo with the delegation from Umunri Welfare Association after arriving at the hotel where he will be based during his stay. Photo: Uhuruspirit
A South African hotel hostess is seen welcoming Igwe Nwankwo after his arrival on Tuesday. Photo: Uhuruspirit