Posted on 10:32 PM by ANAM PEOPLE'S WEBSITE and filed under , , ,

Igbo folklore is of the opinion that Yam was a gift from Chukwu – God Almighty to Eze Nri as reward for his solving the riddle of the Igbo market days. Yam, variously regarded as the king of crops or the symbol of wealth in Igbo cosmology occupies an enviable place in Igbo socio-cultural as well as economic life. Thus in the Anambra River basin areas, the highest title a man can aspire to take is Oba – Yam king. Indeed, so central is yam to Igbo socio-cultural life that almost all Igbo communities celebrate the new yam festival.

In Anam, the new yam festival is called Otite and it is usually celebrated in the month of August every year. It is during the Otite that Anamites thank their Gods for granting them a bountiful harvest. Otite is usually fixed by the ruling age grade in Anam – Okpokolo and it is they who meet to examine the Igbo lunar calendar so as to ensure that Otite holds on the sacred market day of Eke. 

Every titled man is expected to sacrifice to his Ikenga – Guardian spirit for protection during the farming season as well as solicit for the help of his ancestors. Children who have started their own homesteads are expected to send gifts of yam, fish, cloths and other items to their parents during the Otite.

Until the Otite is celebrated, no titled man may eat new yam. It is instructive to note that most “upland” Igbos that celebrate the new yam festival usually buy such yams from Anam hence Anam remains the undisputed yam farmers and indeed, the food basket of Anambra State. It is therefore during Otite that the Gods and ancestors are called upon to taste the yam before mere mortals may start eating. This is called 'Ilo-Muo' and it is a most sacred obligation which every titled farmer owes to the Gods and ancestors.

The irony of the whole situation is that even though Anam continues to feed Anambra State, there is virtual absence of Government presence in Anambra West LGA hence almost every year, farmers experience yam glut. As the goose that lays the golden egg for Anambra State, it is most surprising that issues of its development have always been reduced to routine Nigerian politics of double-speak. Even though Gov. Peter Obi has done what others before him could not do by starting a road project in Anam, we dare say that judging from the economic importance of Anambra West to the State, it deserves more.   

The Author, Dr Alex Asigbo. is a Senior Lecturer at Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka. He is a prolific writer and playwright, and has written several published and unpublished books including "Fate of an Orphan and Obidike the Last-Warrior"Reign of Pascal Amusu,Contemporary African Plays,Once Upon A School and others.
ÁLVARO GÓMEZ CASTRO said... October 9, 2011 at 9:54 PM

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