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Country 5 New Yam Festival - Iri ji Mbaise .

Iri ji mbaise ,new yam festival

Mbaise, a region of people located in Imo State Southeastern Nigeria and set in the heart of Igboland with several towns, cities and villages.The name  “Mbaise” was derived from the  five cities that make up the region namely:AgbajaAhiaraEkwereazuEzi na Ihite and Oke Uvuru. The areas of Mbaise (the three Local Government Areas) are about 404 km²: Aboh Mbaise (185 km²), Ahiazu Mbaise (111 km²), Ezinihitte Mbaise (108 km²).
In the area of religion, the people are firmly rooted with about 85% of them as Catholics while the remaining 15% are Protestants and other religions. As lovers of the African culture and tradition, the Mbaise people hold their culture in high esteem as can be seen in their disposition in celebrating the Iri ji Mbaise (the annual new yam festival) for propitiating the yam god Ajoku (Ahianjoku) with the Nkwotile dance (rump dance) common among the Mbaise Villages.
This dance has been modified over the years to ekpe, mmanwu (masquerade), ikoro, ekereavu, abigbo to mgba (wrestling). Other music and dances include: “A gbachaa E kuru Nwa”, Alija, Edere, Egwu Onu Nwa, Ekwirikwe Mgba, Ese, Nkelenke, Nkwa Ike, Nkwa Udu, Ogbongelenge, Uko etc, in addition to other festivals which attract both locals and foreign tourists – the Iwa Akwa, “Oji-Mbaise” (Kolanut festival) to the area.
The people are not also left out of the socio political life which an average Nigerian is known for with such socio-political tiles as: Eze (king), Nze, Okenze, Ozo, Duru, Durunze, Ezeji (Yam Lord) and more.
Some famous Eze and chiefs in Mbaise include, Eze Ambrose Waturuocha Eze Udo IV of Nguru Nwekeoha, Late Eze F. U. Anyanwu (Igwe Akajiaku of Ekwerazu and Odozi Obodo I of Mpam, founder FUASON Industries Ltd), Late Eze R. O. Ekenna (Obizie of Obizi), Late Eze Onyeahialam (Eze of Obodo Ujichi autonomous community in Ihenweorie), Chief P. E Madu of Amuzi, Eze Donatus O. Eke (Eze of Akabor in Ihenweorie), Eze Cyril Akagbulem Unamka, Eze Nwabueze Ugorji , Eze Emma Madumere ii of Ezigaragu autonomous community , Enyiogugu .
                                Iri JI MBAISE,eze mbaise Remembering the notable warrant chiefs that governed the land during the colonial rule are Chief Waturuocha of Nguru (The first paramount chief in Mbaise), chief Koko Njoku Ariaha of Obodo Ujichi, Chief Unamka of Amuzi and others.
Mbaise (country 5) boasts of a population in excess of 1 million people plus with Subsistence farming  accounting for a major part of the occupation of the people and dishing out cash and food crops such as Yams, cassava, palm fruits, vegetables and fruits to contribute to the daily needs of Nigerians.
However, Today, since the end of the Biafra(Nigerian civil war) on the 15th of  January 1970, the quest for improved standard of living, academic excellence and the crave for enterprise have helped an unprecedented boost in the fortunes of Ndi Mbaise as the region now boasts of legions of doctors, lawyers, public administrators, educators, artists, engineers, journalists, scientists and entrepreneurs contributing to the socio-political and economic growth of Nigeria. Notable among them are such figures as Nigerian Screen goddesses and internationally acclaimed figure, Genevieve Nnanji.
It is also worthy of mention here that Mbaise also has one of the highest concentrations of Catholic priest in the world. Ndi-Mbaise are avid travelers and adventurers with a large flux to the Americas, Europe and Asia in search of new ideas to bring home.
Today, the Mbaise people celebrate the Iri Ji Festival in fulfill God’s law to his people of Israel to celebrate three Festivals a year to Him. Celebrate the harvest Festival when you begin to harvest your crops. (Exo 23; 16, Deu 16; 9, Lev 23,15-21, 2nd Chro 8,12-13. The festival of the new yam has metamorphosed into thanksgiving celebration as against what obtained in the past by the people of old where Ahiajoku is the acclaimed god of farm crops especially yam. During the celebration, prayers and libation would flow in praise and thanksgiving to god of yam.
Before the advent of Christianity, early inhabitants of the Mbaise Nation, “our great grandparents” had Ahiajoku shrine in every household where food and drinks were offered to the Ahiajoku god. Fowls, Goats, Sheep were used as sacrifice. They had the notion of mini gods and one supreme God, the Almighty and Creator of all things
This God, the Mbaise man calls “CHUKWU ABIAMI OR EKE KERE UWA”. With time Christians and people realized that the one God that created man also created every other thing in the Universe. All Honor, Praise, Worship and Adoration be to Him alone. The Ahiajoku ceremony faded away and has been replaced with Christian Festival of the “FIRST FRUIT OF HARVEST” EX 23; 16.
On the 15th of August every year, Mbaise people all over the world must celebrate this thanksgiving event individually or collectively with friends and well wishers. They come together to celebrate their achievements and accomplishments over the year with special thanksgiving to God. A ceremony officially marking the eating of new yam.  Unlike many other people, the Mbaise person cultivates and farm in other communities outside his town. The real Mbaise man or woman is hospitable and kind.
yam, mbaise new yam festival.
                                               
He is strong and can withstand hardship. He plays host to unknown visitors. You will find him in almost all parts of the world including areas with harsh climatic conditions and difficult terrain. He hates cheating and will always stand out bold to claim his right. There is a famous axiom that the fifth person in any Igbo gathering is an Mbaise person or that person knows an Mbaise person as a friend or in-law.
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