As Ubulu Celebrates New Yam Festival.



The Iwa-ji festival of Ubulu Kingdom is the “omelife” that ushers in the consumption of new yam. Among all the agricultural products produced in the predominantly agrarian society of Ubulu kingdom, yam is the most prominent, most valued, and is regarded as the symbol of male. In fact, in the ancient traditional society, a woman is forbidden from cultivating a yam farm. The worth of a man was even measured by the length of his yam barn.
In view of all this glamour attached to yam, and the joy of surviving the “unwu” (famine) that follows the period between cultivation and harvest of yam, Iwa-Ji remains a remarkable festival among natives of Ubulu.
Usually, the first yam planted is the first to be harvested. The sage Ubulu farmers begin by planting “oli, alafulu, asukwulu, mbo” etc., but the one mostly used during Iwa-Ji is oli because it contains less water.

 Ji-Oli 

The calendar of most Ubulu cultural festivals is known to all the natives, such that even in war times, the festival is still celebrated. Research has revealed that the festivals have never been skipped for one season since Ubulu was founded over 800yrs ago. Omelife Iwa-Ji Ubulu is celebrated on the first uka-Eke (Sunday that coincides with an Eke Market day) after the fejọkwu Udo is celebrated. This is usually between the eighth and ninth moon. The new yam is not eaten with red oil, and it is usually blessed before eating. “Eli’m Ashọ yali ashọ” (I will not eat and die in the same year). This is the usual line of prayer before the new yam is tasted. The new yam is not eaten with red oil but with a sauce prepared mostly with eggplant called "anunu ngwe". 


Also, Iwa-Ji must be celebrated before Ine to validate the saying “e li’m ọgede je ekwensu” (May I not eat plantain to Ine). The Obi and his council of Chiefs hold big celebration in honour of the new yam during the Iwa-Ji Ubulu.
Beginning from the post colonial era, Iwa-Ji follows this order;  Iwa-Ji ndi Ụka, Ịwa Ji Ubulu, Iwa-ji ndi Oli Nzele, and recently Iwa-Ji Onishe. 
As Ubulu people celebrate Iwa-Ji today Ụka-Eke, 23rd September 2018, we say akinne ashoine ooooo!  Ụtọmi n’awele ooo!
                                           
By: Onwordi Ngozi Fortune. 


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