IRI JI MBAISE: Showcase Of A Food Culture
The rich cultural heritage of Mbaise people of Imo State came alive on Thursday August 15 during the celebration of the new yam festival, popularly known as ‘Iriji’ Mbaise.
From the inspection of the yam barns, to the many cannon shots that heralded the event to the presentation of kola nut and the cutting of the roasted yam for subsequent eating with palm oil, all were rooted in the people’s culture which had been difficult to erase.
Add these to the scintillating and rib-cracking traditional music/dance like the Abigbo, Ekpe, Abigolo, Nkwa Ezeji and others on display, what you had was a unique cultural scene that would remain etched in the memory for an indefinite long period.
According to the organizers, Iriji Mbaise is one of the cultural festivals for which Igbos in general and Mbaise clans were known, adding that it is a time to thank God for a good harvest as well showcase the people’s rich culture and tradition.
The ceremony they said, had become an international event that is witnessed by sons and daughters of Mbaise and their friends at home and abroad, but decried the new development whereby, it had been turned into a political jamboree.
Eze James Nnamdi, Paramount Ruler of Nguru Nweke Autonomous Community, one of the host Ezes, described the 2019 Iri Ji as a carnival which displays rich cultural heritage of Mbaise people like Nkwa Iriji, Abigbo, Ekpe and others. Stressing that any society without culture is doomed, Eze Nnamdi said that was why the traditional rulers of Mbaise and the governor insisted that the culture of the people must be showcased at every Iriji ceremony.
President General of Ezuruezu Mbaise, Barr Cyril Anyanwu said the annual event was devoted to thank God for keeping Mbaise people alive, healthy and giving them bountiful harvest. According to him, it is also an occasion when “we thank and reward those who helped us in our farm work”.
“Our people in dispora also return home this time to help in the development of their various communities”.
The President General showered encomiums on Governor Emeka Ihedioha, an Mbaise son for attending the Iriji festival, describing it as a life time achievement.
Governor Ihedioha had stormed the venue of the ceremony, Mbaise Secondary School, Aboh with a coterie of important personalities, including Enugu State governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi and his Sokoto State counterpart, Aminu Tambuwal.
Governor Ihedioha had earlier in his good will message noted that the Iriji festival is an event that distinguishes Mbaise people from others and captures their uniqueness.
Iriji Mbaise is an annual festival that is celebrated every 15th of August which brings together Mbaise people at home and in the Diaspora.