Cpt. Anyikwa (Ikenga Amawbia) 2nd left dancing to the drums of Ikenga Age Grade after the installation at Okpaligwe's Palace, Amawbia, Sept. 30, 2017.
By Mike Nnamah
The annual New Yam Festival of Amawbia Community in Awka South Local Government was observed on Saturday 30th September, 2017. The events marking the ceremony kick-started at the palace of HRH; Igwe Michael Ositadimma Okoye, the Okpaligwe 1 of Amawbia, who advised his subjects to always include yam planting among the crops cultivated each year because of the importance attached to the crop in Igbo land. Igwe Okoye who personally ate the yam, after cutting the roasted yams, there after declared the eating of new yams open to all and sundry.
He reiterated that, the traditional ruler, in Amawbia custom, is the first person to eat the new yam before others. This tradition, otherwise referred to as Ili-ji Amawbia has no other person to perform the rites except the traditional ruler of Amawbia.
He thanked God for his grace and mercy for them to observe the 2017 Ili-ji Amawbia, even as he expressed his gratitude for a bountiful harvest.
Igwe Okoye used the occasion of Ili-ji Amawbia to honour one of his illustrious sons, as the Ikenga-Amawbia a title which was the first to be bestowed on any one in Amawbia.
In his acceptance speech after the award, the highly elated Cpt. Francis Ndubueze Anyikwa, thanked the Okpaligwe for the honour done him, noting that he least expected the award. Cpt. Anyikwa, a retired Sea Captain had transversed the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Oceans and even was moving oil vessels from Kuwait during the Gulf war, is an Nze titled man known as EWENE-TE-OBU. He has to his credit and records, a number of local and international honourary awards, which include CMO AMBASSADOR of Awka Diocese. As a philanthropist of no mean repute, he has empowered a lot of poor individuals and widows, built a classic school in Amawbia, known as Francis-Leon Integrated International Academy.
Speaking to Fides, he stated that the motive behind the establishment of the school was to give back to society what he experienced during his adventures as a Sea-Captain.
Children, he said, need to be given proper educational background for them to develop their potentials, for in Africa a lot of talents are being wasted due to lack of adequate opportunities.
The events later in the day shifted to the Eziokpaligwe Square, where all the villages, age grades and invited guests gathered for the grand finale.
In his opening speech to declare the ceremony open, the acting President-General, Engr. Chris Nwoye, who doubled as the chairman of the occasion, welcomed all present and asserted that God has done a lot for them during the year, even as he thanked all villages and age grades that attended the ceremony.
He pointed out that Ili-ji Amawbia is a yearly event even as he prayed that the year would bring them good fortunes, and any thing one spent in support of the ceremony would be replenished a double-fold.
The ceremony, according to the acting President-General; should be observed low-key because of the death of their President-General Pharm. (Sir) Anene Maduka, and called for a minute silence in his honour.
Also speaking, the newly installed “Ikenga Amawbia” Cpt. Francis Ndubueze Anyikwa, who represented Okpaligwe at the occasion; expressed his happiness for being present for the first time during Ili-ji Amawbia, but promised to always be part of the ceremony yearly.
Earlier in his welcome speech, the chairman of the organizing committee; Ozo Felix Nzeamalu who noted that Ili-ji Amawbia is an annual event, called on all Amawbia people to always be part of the event to the glory of God and humanity. He expressed his gratitude to all that came from far and near to witness and grace the occasion.