From Jeff Amechi Agbodo, Onitsha

Ufuma Community in Orumba North Local Government Area of Anambra State recently celebrated its new yam festival where its traditional ruler, Igwe Chika Uchime, Diji 111, conferred chieftaincy titles on illustrious sons and daughter.

The community, a descendant of Uvume, one of the tree sons of Diji, son of Egbe, son of Ngada and son of Oluchuo, now known as Ufuma had three sons: Ehirimobu, Nebo and Okpunomanata, which is the three quarters of Umuhi, Umunebonato and Okpuno.

They take shares in their order of birth.

The traditional ruler of the community, Igwe Uchime, in his first outing after the new yam was eaten, danced round the field to greet and acknowledge cheers from his subjects for surviving in the New Year.

The event attracted various cultural dances and different types of masquerades- the big, the small, the dreaded and the friendly- as they danced round the arena and finally come to pay homage and respect to the monarch who would give them a tuber of yam and a cock in appreciation.

Igwe Uchime, while addressing his subjects said that the most important traditional festival in the Ufuma was Otute, the ‘Otuto Chukwu kere Ihesinajioku’ which was celebrated for 32 days in a year.

“This is a yearly period of thanksgiving as initiated by our foremost ancestor, Ihejioku later called Diji, who discl osed by chance that yam roasted by fire was no more irritating to the palates. No native except Diji of Ufuma celebrates yam in Ufuma publicly by inviting friends and well wishers by tradition. Respective families traditionally invite their Umuada, Umuagaba and in-laws,” he said.

He noted that Egwu Otute Uvume was the outing ceremony of the Diji of Ufuma during Otute period.

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He, however, urged the people of the community to always remember home.

“We have very brilliant kids that can’t get into higher education for lack of money. We are looking forward to a society where there will be opportunities for young people to develop their potentials fully. It is only by joint efforts that we can achieve this. I intend to start a process to get successful Ufuma people to invest in our young minds to build the dynamic society of our collective wish,” Igwe Uchime said.

He said that some illustrious sons and a daughter of the community were selected for honour due to their contributions to the community, state, Nigeria and humanity in general.

President General of Ufuma Development Union (UDU), Sir Basil Onwunze in his speech presented by the Vice President, Chief Okozie Umeaba thanked the traditional ruler for maintaining peace and tranquility in the community.

He lamented that some people in one community have allowed myopic views and selfish interest to becloud their sense of judgment, saying that scarce resources that could have been invested with its attendant multiplier effects were being invested in other people elsewhere through court process.

“Most of us are not telling our friends and children the truth on topical issues concerning the community; rather we prefer to behave like the biblical Esau. We sell our conscience for a glass of wine, knowing full well the adverse effect it will have on our Ufuma people, we just don’t give a hoot. I thank people like Chief Oliver Okeke of Josan Agro-Allied Industry, Ufuma and few other people like him for being exceptions to this trend,” Onwunze said.

According to him, “are we cultivating the same atmosphere in the community today for our children as our fathers lovingly and knowingly did for us? Do we really love our children? Do we really care for their real happiness and comfort whenever they step into the great town of Ufuma? They may not live outside the country forever and there is never any place as good as one’s ancestral home. The only alternative is to deny your roots and to tell your children lies. We can still retract our steps now or we will miss the vital point for very a long time to come.”

Those honoured  were the Rector of Federal Polytechnic, Oko, Prof. Godwin Onu; Chief Anselem  Chukwudi Offor; Chief Ejikeme Obed Enemuo; Chief Oliver Okeke;, Chief Daniel Nwankwo; Chief Geoffery Nwafor Arupuoaku; Chief Dr. Rose Nkechi Okonkwo; Chief Anthony Osita Orah and Chief Samuel Obiora Okoliuka.