Anambra monarch proclaims 1025th Igbo new year ...as APGA presidential candidate advocates one day Iguaro celebration

By Phil Okose, Onitsha

The traditonal ruler of Nri, Anaocha Local Government Area, Anambra State,  His Majesty, Ezenri Obidiegwu Onyesoh,, weekend in his palace, proclaimed the 1025th Igbo new year, (Iguaro), of the Igbo nation as the progenitor of the Igbo race.

Making the proclamation through the regent, Prince Ikenna Okechukwu Onyeso, the monarch traced the history of the Igbo race to the Biblical Eric.

His words, "Before the advent of the white-man, Nriifikwuanim , the first son of Eri, who took after his father, became a high priest among his people. He left Eriaka, his homestead now assimilated in Aguleri, in search of a better living place promised to him by Chukwuokike, (God), just as he did to Abraham. He settled at the present Nri kingdom and started doing what Eri did at Egypt.

 He stated that EzeNri (monarch), instilled litany of legacies on Ndịgbo which include, market days, Eke, Orie, Afor and Nkwo with their originating shrines in Nri, adding that the act of trading was introduced in Igbo land by EzeNri through the exchange of goods and later cowry as a medium of exchange which the colonialists later replaced with pounds, shillings and pence.

 He disclosed further that EzeNri introduced yam, cocoyam and other crops as food in Igbo agricultural cycle in keeping with the custom and tradition of total obedience to Chukwuokikeabiama. 

"EzeNri in his capacity as the high priest of Sungod, sacrificed his son, yam sprouted from his grave and matured. EzeNri was then directed to feed Ndigbo with it. This act was ritualized in ifejioku cult which protects the yam. This is referred to as “Nri Myth of Origin’’.

 According to him EzeNri instituted Ozo title with Nri priests going to different Igbo communities under Nri influence and performing the initiation and rituals of Ozo title and also introduced age grade system, protection of human sanctity, government of non-violence, traditional worship through the original spirituality and finally lunar calendar which regulates the Igbo annual socio-cultural life.

 The proclamation of Igbo lunar calendar, (Iguaro Ndigbo), is sole prerogative of EzeNri being the custodian of Igbo culture and tradition and the keeper of Ofo Ndigbo in Igbo ancestral homeland, Nri and Iguaro is based on 13 lunar month.

 He stated that Iguaro Igbo, (New Year) Starts in February, same as Chinese, Asia, Israel, among others and the cultures use moon to determine their seasons and time. 

He added that, "During the proclamation of Igbo New Year, EzeNri ushers in the beginning of Igbo planting season. On this day EzeNri distributes yam seedlings baked with anti pest to Ndigbo for planting. Iguaro is not idol worship but and aged long revered Igbo culture under the custody of EzeNri which is used to thank God for the past year and asking for his divine protection and bumper harvest and good health in the New Year.

"The yam seedlings distributed on Iguaro day, if planted will be ready for harvesting within the eight month -Onwaasato of the lunar year. By then all will converge again at the EzeNri palace for first fruit harvest that is thanking God for bumper harvest and giving back to Chukwuokike the first fruit from the farm. This is known as Onwaasato or New Yam festival in Odinani Nri.

During the proclamation of the 1025th Igbo new year, the monarch prayed God for peace, good health, prosperity, bumper harvest for Ndigbo and Nigerians 

Contributing, a Chieftain of the community and All Progressive Grand Alliance, APGA presidential candidate in the 2023 general election, Hon. Justice Peter N.C. Umeadi,  (rtd), stressed the need for Igbo to join  Ezenri to celebrate Iguaro festival in one day at Nri during the yearly Iguaro of Ezenri, to help foster unity and oneness.

His words, "Iguaro should be done in one day at Nri by all Igbo during the yearly Iguaro of Ezenri, for unity of the Igbo race. Let's come together and share the Iguaro at Nri, the progenitor of Igbo people," he pleaded.

To buttress his claim that Nri is the progenitor of Igbo race he recalled that in years past the Oba of Benin paid homage to Nri kingdom.

Also contributing, the leader of the women wing, Umuada Nri, His Honour, Nkechi Doris Ezeani, expressed satisfaction that Igbo, especially Nri, still see Igbo culture and tradition as rich heritage that can not go into extinction.

"It is an old age tradition and Nri is the head of the Igbo race. We stand by our culture and tradition. In this occasion you can see the Umuada Nri, Nze na ozor, among others. So with Nri Igbo culture can't go into extinction.m," she assured.

On the role of women towards community development she affirmed that these days women were no longer Oriaku, odoziaku but bread winners of their different families.

Hear her, "Women are pulling their weight these days, we are now the bread winners in most families."

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