The Igbo Union in Finland, the umbrella body of all the Igbo-speaking people of Nigeria resident in Finland, celebrated their annual new yam festival “Emume Iwa Ji” on Saturday 25th, August 2018.
The union which is a registered Non-Governmental Cultural Organization comprises of Nzuko Umunna Ndi-Igbo in Finland (Imo & Abia), Enugu Progressive Union in Finland and the Anambra State Association, Finland.
In Nigeria, the annual cultural festival by the Igbo people held at the end of the rainy season in early August symbolizes the conclusion of a harvest and the beginning of the next farming season. The celebration is a very culturally based occasion, tying individual Igbo communities together as essentially agrarian and dependent on yam.
This year’s festival was attended by a large number of Ndigbo from all parts of Finland. The opening prayer was done by the chairman of the occasion, HRH Prince Idiagboff, who also spoke extensively on the agricultural growth and exploits in the eastern part of Nigeria, especially in the area of yam production. The “iri ji”( New yam eating) festival, which was filled with pomp and pageantry, was anchored by veteran journalist, Chief Ike Chime.
The incumbent chairman of the Igbo Union in Finland, Chief Barrister Simon Ekpa, in his speech, emphasized the importance of culture in nation-building. He said, “Culture is the total way of life. Through culture, we are governed by norms and customs, which are the pillars of any society.”
According to the Igbo Union chairman, this year’s festival is targeted at promoting multiculturalism within Finnish society. He also sent a strong message to the Federal Government of Nigeria over the killings and continuous marginalization of Ndigbo in Nigeria. In conclusion, he urged Igbo governors and leaders to speak up against the marginalization of the Igbos and the genocide that is being perpetrated by the present government.
The climax of the event was the cultural dance display by various member associations that make up the Igbo Union in Finland. Also, the traditional chiefs and elders danced majestically to the Igbo cultural music, while the ladies added the icing on the cake with their glamorous dancing steps.