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New Yam Festival in Afikpo

The New Yam Festival is one of the top festivals in Afikpo. The festival begins with a series of activities weeks before the final ceremonial day.

A man harvesting new yams in Afikpo

A man harvesting new yams in Afikpo

First, a large council of elders meets in a solemn conference called Ngidi-Ngidi to decide the date of the festival. Then other activities in preparation for the festival follow in a sequence dictated by centuries-old traditional practices and timelines handed down from generation to generation.

Weeks later, on the eve of the festival day a ceremony called Ichu Aho takes place between late night and the early morning hours preceding the festival day. During Ichu Aho, youths enact a symbolic ritual of chasing away the old year away with lit torches and other flammable materials. This symbolic chasing away of the old year is done in order to clear the way for the new year to emerge.

Newly harvested yams for sale in Eke Market, Afikpo

Newly harvested yams for sale in Eke Market, Afikpo

As the first day of the year (the festival day) dawns, the locals (some of them just returning from the Ich Aho ceremony) offer prayers for the new year and prepare for the feasting that will take place throughout the day. Most households will expect to entertain immediate and extended family members, neighbors and visitors from out of town. The traditional New Yam Festival dish is pounded yam and “ohe sarara” (a white colored soup made with chunks of ground egusi seeds and assorted meat).

The rest of the day is spent exchanging visits, gifts (especially for children who visit uncles and cousins) eating, drinking and catching up with folks. Some family groups and town associations also use the occasion to host annual meetings and fund raisers for various projects.

One comment

  1. Juliet nkem /

    When is the date of the festival?

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  1. Top 10 Reasons to Visit | Afikpo Online - […] and memorable cultural festivals in West Africa, come to Afikpo. Popular festivals include the New Yam Festival and Ebu…

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