HomeFeaturesAnambra Monarch Proclaims 1025th Igbo New Year

Anambra Monarch Proclaims 1025th Igbo New Year

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Over the weekend, in his palace situated in Anaocha Local Government Area of Anambra State, His Majesty, Ezenri Obidiegwu Onyesoh, declared the commencement of the 1025th Igbo new year, known as Iguaro, emphasizing its significance as the origin of the Igbo people.

Through the regent, Prince Ikenna Okechukwu Onyeso, the monarch conveyed the proclamation, tracing the lineage of the Igbo people back to the biblical figure 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 highlighted the significant contributions of EzeNri (monarch) to Ndịgbo culture, particularly the establishment of market days – Eke, Orie, Afor, and Nkwo – with their roots in Nri customs. Furthermore, he explained how EzeNri pioneered commerce in Igbo society, initially through barter and later through the adoption of cowry shells as currency, a practice eventually substituted by colonial monetary units.

He offered further details on EzeNri’s contributions, explaining how the monarch introduced key crops like yam and cocoyam into the agricultural traditions of the Igbo community, in accordance with the time-honored principle of unwavering reverence for 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’’.

He elaborated on EzeNri’s legacy, highlighting the establishment of the revered Ozo title, facilitated by Nri priests who extended their influence to various Igbo communities to administer initiation rites. Furthermore, EzeNri introduced the age-grade system, emphasized the sanctity of human life, promoted governance guided by non-violence, fostered traditional worship rooted in original spirituality, and implemented the lunar calendar to regulate Igbo socio-cultural affairs.

The declaration of the Igbo lunar calendar, known as Iguaro Ndigbo, is exclusively entrusted to EzeNri, who serves as the guardian of Igbo culture and tradition and the custodian of the sacred Ofo Ndigbo in the ancestral homeland of Nri. The Iguaro calendar operates on a 13-month lunar cycle.

He highlighted the correlation between Iguaro Igbo and the Chinese New Year, which both commence in February and are observed by diverse cultures across Asia and Israel, employing the moon as a celestial timekeeper to regulate their calendars and mark auspicious occasions.

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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.

Also contributing, the leader of the women wing, Umuada Nri, who was a former Chief Magistrate, 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.

As he heralded the advent of the 1025th Igbo new year, the monarch offered up heartfelt prayers for peace, well-being, prosperity, and successful agricultural yields, extending these supplications to encompass the entire Igbo community and the nation of Nigeria as a whole.

His words, “Iguaro precedes Ofala festival, Igbo should have their Iguaro done in one day for unity. Let’s come together and share the Iguaro at Nri, the progenitor of Igbo people,” he pleaded.

Chief Peter N.C. Umeadi, a distinguished member of the community and former APGA presidential aspirant in the 2023 general elections, stressed the imperative of consolidating the observances of Iguaro, Ofala, and the new yam festivals into a single day, advocating for this convergence as a catalyst for promoting unity and solidarity among the Igbo populace.

To support his assertion regarding Nri’s status as the progenitor of the Igbo race, he reminisced about historical instances when the Oba of Benin paid tribute to the Nri kingdom, citing this as evidence of Nri’s enduring influence and significance.

“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,” 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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