Ikare celebrates new yam with pomp
By Jimoh Ahmed
The chant of ‘Igbodo poo, poooke, mo riwo mi de ku, mo riwo mi de jiyan paki, mo riwo mi de jiyan koko’, literarily meaning, I have seen the new yam and will no longer die, I will no longer eat pounded cassava and cocoa yam was chorused as the people chanted and danced round the town in wide jubilation. It was an occasion to behold as the indigenes of Ikare Akoko joined by other residents and well wishers from far and near celebrated the annual new yam festival last Thursday in the ancient town.
Every June 20 of the year is the day set aside by the people of Ikare Akoko to celebrate the arrival of the new year but this year’s edition was spectacular as indigenes at home and in diaspora joined in the merriment.
The signs that the festival tagged Egbodo Day in local parlance is around began to manifest day proceeding the celebration as new tubers of yam were seen at strategic places in the town while both old and young, male and female struggled to outdo one another in preparation for the day.
The women were seen putting on elegant hairstyles while men were also not left out as they besieged the market to either buy one thing or the other to commemorate the day.
When the day finally came, sound of pestles and mortars took over everywhere as all households were busy preparing the delicacy of the day; pounded yam.
The streets were taken over by shouts of ‘poooke by the people who trooped to the streets celebrating the day.
They were visibly happy as they danced round the town while traditional musicians gave them tonic needed to enjoy the day by dishing out sonorous songs.
It has been a wonderful festival where religious affiliation plays virtually no role. It is a festival that unites the city. Indigenes of the town, both home and abroad came home to impact the city with developmental programs. People trooped in, in thousands. Music and cultural displays and felicitations took place.
The non indigenes such as the Ndigbo, the Hausa,the Igala , the Ebira as well as the Fulani added glamour to the festival with their cultural displays round the city.
The climax of the day was the final celebration which was held at Okela.
The people gathered in their large number to felicitate with their royal father in a good mood as they came with assorted meals to celebrate the day.
Highlight of the celebration at the palace ground was the display by the Ikare cultural troupe and the farmer of the year contest.
Speaking at this occasion, His Royal Majesty, Oba Akadiri Saliu Momoh (IV) charged youths to go into farming as there are opportunities of making it big in the agricultural sector.
He urged the youth to embrace the opportunities presented by the agricultural polices of the state government.
He commended the State Governor, Arakunrin Odunayo Oluwarotimi Akeredolu for putting in place polices aimed at making the state great in agriculture again.
The monarch particularly praised the policy which aimed at making youths self employed through agriculture.
Happy with the turn out of people at this year’s celebration, Olukare called on them to give peace a chance and shun all acts capable of truncating the peace of the town.
He called on the people, especially those who are well to do to come home and help in the development of the town.
“I am appealing to all of you to join hands in the development of Ikare. We have no other place we can call our own. Let those of us who are blessed by God come home and establish factories and businesses.
“We should not leave everything to government. Government cannot do it alone. With our collective effort, we will make Ikare a great town “
Speaking on the importance of the festival, Oba Akadiri Momoh said it is a festival designed to thank God for a bountiful harvest.
According to him, “it is not fetish and not a religious celebration as both muslims and christians participate.”
“It is a festival to thank God for giving us a good harvest. It is an occasion we come together to thank God for giving us the benefit of eating out of what we have planted last year. It is simply the festival of harvest.
Over the years it has become a rallying point for the development of Ikare as a town. As you can see all indigenes of Ikare Akoko from all over the globe come home to celebrate and most importantly to chart a course for the development of the town.
“It is also an opportunity for a reunion with your loved ones both family and friends. For somebody who has been out of this place for years, the new yam festival provides the opportunity to see each other again. It is nothing fetish”.
Oba Akadiri disclosed that with the celebration of the festival, all sons and daughters of Ikare can now eat the new yam.
Earlier in the day the people, in groups, have besieged the present Olukare palace to pay homage to their royal father. Decked in various aso ebi to celebrate the day, groups, clubs and societies came in celebration mood and danced before the Olukare who gave them royal blessings.
It was a colourful event as traditional musicians were at hand to entertain the mammoth crowd at the palace ground.
The celebration was also felt in every household as they set out canopies in their frontage. They rejoiced as they wine and dine, especially as they eat big mountain of pounded yam with their favourite black soup.
The 2019 edition of the new yam festival has come and gone but it would remain evergreen in the memories of the people of Ikare.