Why New Yam Festival In Ugbolu Kingdom is unique

OBI Iweanya Anthony

Ugbolu community is in Oshimili North Local government area, Delta State. It is a town being and situated along Asaba-Illah road Ugbolu town has a rich cultural heritage that is been transcended from generation to generation unadulterated. Considering their religious affiliations, most of them do not conceal their love for their rituals and custom. They are known for their respect to the elderly and titled holders, as a result of its significance in the community The new yam festival in Ugbolu kingdom is unique because,

  • most villagers show concern for cultures and tradition
  • it has procedures that have been kept and followed since its inception
  • there has not been any form or alteration by modern cultures

Even in a time like this, when respect for the elderly and love for culture is steadily slipping away, they are unquestionably connected to cultures that kept them together as human beings. And the new yam festival is one of those cultures.

Before I continue. I want to say a huge thank you to HRM. OBI IWEANYA NWOKOLO ANTHONY JP. The current  Obi of Ugbolu Kingdom, he took his time to explain to me all I wanted to know about this festival and his people, for which I am very grateful.

The new yam festival is always ushered in with  IKA NZE, which usually takes place on the first eke [first day in the local Igbo calendar] in September. This is because it is thought that the yam planted at the riverside must have been fully mature for harvesting.


The Ika Nze assembly consists of the OBIs and the Red Cap Chiefs eg Nkpalor. On that day of Ika Nze, the members of the title assembly gatherers in the place of the oldest man in the community, they called him the most senior Diokpa. [Diokpa is the name given to an elderly man]. The oldest person in the community now is   Ogbueshi Christopher Amonu Okonkwo who hails from Umuadiagbo Quarters as Diokpa. He is said to be about 94 years.  Because of his position in the community, he enjoys a number of privileges. This explains the fact that there is still a place also for older people in the Ugbolu community, they utilize wisdom followed by old age.

On that Ika Nze day, the Diokpa will announce the day for the new yam festival, but the red cap chief and the Obi will not eat the new yam from the downriver but wait for the day after, the Obi [king] waits till September 12 to celebrate his own Ika Nze, they call it Ika Nze ndi Eze.


On Ika Nze ndi Eze day, organized by the traditional ruler himself. As early as 4 am someone rushes to the palace to bring the ushe down, ushe is a Hollow, cylindrical-shaped wooden gong that makes a sound when beaten. the person who brings the ushe down is entailed to a rib from the he-goat that will be killed on that day, I have been made to realize that during this period, a lot of people are vying for this, not only for entitlement alone but for the fun part of it.

All the title holders assemble at the palace, the king will kill a he-goat in his ukoni [a special place where the king eats from]. The following day, the queen cooks with the remaining part of the meat, they make meals like roasted yam [nri okpi nku] pumpkin and yam [ikwolu] after the preparation, and they bring it out where everybody has to eats from. 

All the tittle holders in the community gathered in the palace, and the king will kill a he-goat in his ukoni [a special place where the king eats]. He raises it up to thank God for the gift of life and bountiful harvest, he also calls on his ancestors who have been indulging in the same ritual before him to be part of the ceremony.

 The next day, the queen and other women cook with the remaining part of the meat, they make meals like roasted yam [nri okpi nku] pumpkin and yam [ikwolu] after the preparation, they bring it out where everyone has to feed.

It’s a celebration for everyone in the kingdom, after which the Obi will start eating yam both from the riverside and uphill. The reason for this celebration is to thank God for the abundant harvest they have planted and the harvest has been plentiful, their crops have not been destroyed.


The next event that follows will be ika nde ndi ikorobia, known as Nwa Mbele, which is the most exciting part of the festival, particularly for young people, a day when they are completely involved in the festivities. A day when young men who have been initiated into the masquerade cult follow the masquerade that dances to entertain people. below is a picture of masquerade own by Ugbolu community

why new yam festival


After Ika nze ndi ikorobia comes Igo chi, on igo chi day, the Obi [king] marks this very day to thank God again for the success of the festival so far. This day is celebrated in a special way because people associate with their age-grades. Age grades come together to celebrate, drink, and wine, after which ushe will be taken up and never brought down until the next new yam festival. This marks the conclusion of the festival and the start of a new journey. After performing on that very day, the masquerade will seize to appear again.

Culture makes us human, wishing you all the best this festive season

follow chocoNaija on Youtube to watch videos of this festival.

2 thoughts on “Why New Yam Festival In Ugbolu Kingdom is unique

  1. Thanks for this write up. But there is a point of correction concerning the title of OBI IWEANYA NWOKOLO ANTHONY JP. He is not His Royal Majesty (HRM); he is rather High Chief (HC). His title is not hereditary as it ends with him.

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