ALL SET FOR NEW YAM FESTIVAL AS EZE NRI ARRIVES IN CAPE TOWN
September 07, 2014 | Uhuruspirit
His Royal Majesty Eze Nri Enweleana II Obidiegwu Onyesoh, MFR (5th from right) received by a delegation from Umunri Welfare Association South Africa after his arrival at the Cape Town International Airport on Saturday. Photo: Uhuruspirit
With the arrival on Saturday of His Royal Majesty Eze Nri Enweleana II Obidiegwu Onyesoh, MFR in Cape Town, the 5th Annual New Yam Festival by Umunri Welfare Association South Africa appears ready to come alive.
Eze Nri will attend the festival on Sunday as one of the special guests of honour. The other special guest of honour, His Royal Highness Igwe Chijioke F. Nwankwo (Osuofia II of Nawfia & Umunri) is already on the ground having arrived in the country since last Tuesday. This year’s New Yam Festival will also feature the coronation of ‘Isi-Igbo South Africa.’ And according to the organizers, many top African Traditional leaders in South Africa, including His Royal Majesty Nkosi Zwelonke Mpendulo Sicau, King of the Xhosa tribe, have confirmed their attendance.
As a leading and widely respected monarch in Nigeria, Eze Nri is the custodian of the defunct Nri Kingdom which existed since 948 until it was dismantled in 1911 after the arrival of the British colonialists in the country. Nri Kingdom was notable 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. It is seen as the cradle of Igbo civilization and culture. Since Nigerian independence in 1960, those who claim direct descendants to the ancient kingdom have been working to revive its noble tenets of charity, peace, justice and fairness.
In 2006, descendants of Nri, known as ‘Umu-Nri’ came together and launched the Umunri Welfare Association South Africa. Since then, they have been focusing on humanitarian work in the Western Cape Province of the country. In 2010, they hosted the New Yam Festival in South Africa for the first time, and have held the event every year since then.
The New Yam Festival is a traditional feast that is popular around West Africa (especially Nigeria and Ghana), where yam is the staple food. It is the biggest and the most important festival in the calendar of people of Igbo origin. 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.
Speaking to Uhuruspirit on Saturday while receiving Eze Nri at the Cape Town International Airport, the chairman of Umunri Welfare Association, Mazi Austine Val Okafor, who led a delegation from the organization, confirmed that everything was ready for Sunday’s event.
“With the safe arrival of Eze Nri to Cape Town, I want to say that we are looking forward to a magnificently successful outing on Sunday,” he said.
Other dignitaries that were present during the reception were,Mr. Nonso Obiorah (Vice Chairman), Chief Peter Chukwurah (Ozo Chukwuneme of Enugwu-Agidi), Ichie Obinna Obiorah (Onowu Umunri), and Chief Charles Eze (Ide Umunri), among others.
Meanwhile, Onowu Ndigbo in South Africa, who is also the founder of Ohaneze Ndigbo in South Africa, Ichie (Sir) Jonas Udeji also arrived in Cape Town on Saturday for the festival. Many guests are expected from different provinces of South Africa, and neighbouring countries like Swaziland, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Malawi.
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