Igede agba

It’s a new yam festival of the Igede people.

The first occurence of the Igede Agba festival was on the day of Ihigile market, which was the 3rd September 1957.

It’s celebrated on every first Ihigile market day of every September of the year.

The Ihigile might take place on any day between 1st and 5th of the Month.

Many people viewed Igede Agba as a festival set aside for the worship of idols, ‘akpang’, ‘achukwu’ etc.

Others say it is evil. Some even say since yam, (the chief crop among the Igede people) has been attached to it, it is no longer pure for Christians to celebrate.

The festival which was originally called ‘Igede Day’ (as used in Igede Agba song by Befelow Yukay), was formed by the defunct Igede Youth Association (IYA).

The formation was done under the leadership of the foremost Igede leaders like Amb. Ogah Okwoche, Pa. Eje Iyanya, Chief Ikande Idikwu, HRH A.A Okpabi and others.

Igede Youths Association (IYA) was the then renowned Igede youth body that saw the need to have such celebration among their people.

This group introduced the Igede Day to thank God for a good harvest and the beginning of the planting season.

This is because the major preoccupation of the Igede people is the cultivation of food crops such as yams, cassava, groundnut/peanut, millet, rice and yam; being their chief crop.

The size of an Igede man’s yam farm is a manifestation of his wealth and a widely acclaimed farmer in Igede is called an ‘Ogreji’.

It is agreed that nobody eats the chief crop, yam, until it’s the day to celebrate ‘Igede Day’.

Every hamlet clears and cleans their environment in readiness for the celebration.

When the first Ihigile market comes, all of them bring out their yams and celebration starts.

The head of the house (aidepwa) provides as many as possible yams, live goat, fowls etc and give to the woman of the house (inepwa) and she distributes to the rests of the wives (in extended families).

Cooking starts immediately. The men sit round exchanging pleasantries and banters as they sip palm wine (imwu) and millet beer (oburukutu) while all the women gather in the kitchen and do theirs there.

There is also an order in which the food is served. The elders and all the male children sit around a dinning table (epwedii) while all the female children join their mother.

After the merriment, the eldest tells them stories, folktales and histories. They will all move to the village square in the evening, where masquerades (ikwumwu) and different drummers display their skills and the people celebrate..

During Igede Agba, the people’s activities include eating of pounded yam, cultural music, dancing, visiting of relations and other forms of cultural displays. The occasion also witnesses the drinking of pamlm wine (imwu), locally brewed drinks from millet and guinea corn called Apio, Oburukutu, Ogbete, Ogene, and others with different alcoholic content.

Not eating yam or not bringing it home until a certain time is what sone do in respect of apan deity.

One of the major gods (akpang) still holds a position and a say before Igede Agba festival can commence.

That majority of Igede people are now Christians and no longer want to have anything to do with akpang deity.

Akpang worshippers still undergo the rites of Igede Agba festival.

Christians go for morning service with first fruit (tubers of yam) on Igede Agba day, just as akpang worshippers do some 10 to 5 days to and on Igede Agba day.