By Chris Nwedo
Saturday, September 23, 2023 was remarkable as Nteje indigenes in Germany gathered to celebrate New Yam Festival, Iwa Ji. Nteje is a town in Oyi Local Government Area of Anambra State.
This was the first time Nteje traditional Iwa Ji was vigorously planned and cheerfully celebrated in Deutschland. The venue of the festival was Neuschwansteinstraße 23a, 86163 Augsburg.
It was a great event with seemingly endless side attractions. It is the tradition of Ndi Nteje each year to appreciate and demonstrate gratitude to God Almighty for the protection and blessing of the town and the people. This collective gratitude is expressed through the Iwa Ji Celebrations.
Recall that on September 3, 2023 Nteje Development Union, Home Branch, literarily declared the celebration open for all branches of the union across the globe. The Iwa Ji in Nteje remains the mother of all other celebrations in all branches of the Union. It involved elaborate preparations and festivities that culminated in series meetings targeting stability and development of the town.
During the events, the President General Nteje Development Union (NDU), Dr. Nnamdi Ilodiuba noted that Iwa Ji “celebration calls for collective prayers, and thanksgiving to Chukwu Okike Abiama who bestowed Nteje a bountiful harvest and yet, a great rainfall for the next farming season”.
He advised Nteje people to ‘love and share with each other, as well as appreciate the work and contributions of others in the greater interest of the town.
NDU President General said, “today as we pay homage to God Almighty who provided great harvest to Ndi Nteje, may we also thank our ancestors by paying homage to our elders, and to those who have in many ways contributed to the development of Nteje”.
To NDU members in Germany on the occasion of their Iwa Ji, Dr. Ilodiuba sent his warmest greetings and congratulated them for the exemplary initiative. And prayed God Almighty to grant the Nteje Community their hearts’ desires as they celebrate. He also prayed that the next year’s harvest be more bountiful.
In his opening speech that declared the Iwa Ji festivities open, the Chairman NDU Germany Branch Mr. John Ezechukwu, (Onoli Udaegbe Ndi Nso) thanked the members for the support given him as he attributed the success of the event to the sacrifices of the dedicated members.
He appreciated the Iwa Ji committee Chairman for the commitment without which the occasion could have failed. He further stressed oneness of Ndi Nteje in Germany.
Earlier, the day and the occasion were committed into the hands of God by the Patron, Ichie Mike Okonkwo (Ototo Nwa) who prayed God for protection of all those gathered for the historic occasion and for safe return to their various cities as he asked God for the grace of happy celebration.
He thanked God Almighty for love and for good things of life he has bestowed the community in Germany.
The Iwa Ji was an outstanding success as there was none so far to compare with it.
The motley crowds of visitors were entertained with music, dance styles and abundant food and drink.
In a chat with Stadt newspaper, the NDU branch Chairman said, ‘‘this year’s event was special in many ways: first, the attendance was very high. Secondly, it was action-packed with several interesting activities. Moreover, many dignitaries graced the occasion. The activities went very smoothly and everybody was pleased and joyful. Our promise is that next year’s event will be greater”.
Stressing on why he considered the Iwa Ji this year a success, Udaegbe said the event “attracted people from all parts of Germany, Italy, France, Nigerians as well as non-Nigerians. The festival was completely hitch free. This is not a surprise to me because so much energy and time were invested in the planning and execution. It was indeed an extremely successful outing”.
He expressed gratitude to all the people who supported the occasion to make it a success. “First, we thank the President General of Nteje Development Union, Dr. Nnamdi Ilodiuba for his wonderful prayers. And our Patron, Chief Tony Nwankwo (Ichie Chinyelugo). Our thanks also go to Chief Mike Roberts Okonkwo, our father and elder. We also thank the NDU executive and all the members of the NDU Germany branch. Everyone contributed his or her best. We have just had the best Iwa-Ji festival ever”.
On how the yearly Iwa Ji festivity contributed to the stability and development of Nteje, Udaegbe said “development is about the people. The event is intended to be a unifying factor for all Nteje people in Germany. This unity will naturally lead to peace. With unity and peace under our belt, we will achieve every conceivable level of development. The people in the diaspora are in constant relation and communication with the people at home in Nteje. So, this development will naturally flow down to Nteje”.
The Chairman again reassured that “next year’s event will even be better. I advise the people in diaspora never to forget their roots.
To Ndi Nteje in diaspora, Udaegbe reminded them to always remember that “Home is Home and should promote our traditions and customs wherever they found themselves”.
He encouraged Nteje people in Deutschland and all in Diaspora “to develop sincere love for another and be their brothers’ keepers. Let everyone register himself or herself due to the corresponding NDU branch and participate actively in building it up. We should all be worthy ambassadors of Nteje in our different countries of residence”.