Ovoko is a town in Igbo-eze south local Government of Enugu state, south East Nigeria.
Agriculture is the main economic activity of Ovoko people and yam is the food they respects most. They celebrate “Uke ovoko” which mean the now yam festival.
Chief Osmond Ikechukwu popularly known as “Odogwu Eze Omeogo na Nsukka ” , divulged that the new yam festival is one of the most outstanding cultural tradition that has been celebrated since the time of the forefathers in Ovoko and amongst the Igbo people of Nigeria and it continues from generation to generation.
Eze Omeogo went further to reveal that the new yam festival provides a heritage of dance, feasting and as well marks the end of one agricultural season with a harvest to express gratitude and thanksgiving to God and the ancestors of the land for preserving the life of indigenes, famers and for the abundant harvest.
The new yam festival day is also a symbolic of enjoyment after cultivation season and many people from far and wide comes to witness the gesture.
The preparation for the new yam festival starts a night before the ceremony and it is done to keep the ancestors at alert about the festival.
During the festival, some yams are being roasted as a symbol of abundance of it’s produce and dishes with palm oil for everyone to eat together.
Then there will be a cultural dance by the mascurades, men and women in the market square.
A competition known as “Ozoebule” is set among the different mascurades representing each village and the winner goes home with a big ram.
New yam festival is not being celebrated at the same time in all the Igbo land and every town or village has a different name for the festival, like the “Uke” of Ovoko in Enugu state, “Ahianjoku” of Bende and Etiti in Abia state, “Otite” of Achi and Inyi in Enugu state, “Okike of Orba in Enugu state, “Onwa asato” of Enugwu ukwu and Oka in Anambra state, and many others.
As culture is defined as the arts, customs, lifestyles, backgrounds and habits that characterize a particular society or nation,
Chief Osmond Ikechukwu Ugwuoke gave a piece of advice to our people both home and abroad to leave other people’s culture and traditions and come back to the track because Igbo culture is never a taboo or sin. He made it clear that anybody who worships God traditionally with pure heart and mind never lack and also, he/she live long on earth because Igbo culture is life
Nwachineke Onyeke Chekwube reporter Obinwannem Enugu writer/ September 11, 2021.