January 1 not Ndigbo’s New Year Day – Group insists

A group under the agies of Ejirimarandibuigbo Cultural Association in Anambra State has ended its 4-day cultural festival tagged “Ogugu Aro Ndigbo 2024” to reveal February 22, 2024 as the New Year day for Ndigbo all over the world.

The festival meant for the revival of Igbo cultural heritage and to re-redirect Ndigbo to their roots attracted many prominent sons and daughters of Igbo extraction and the locals who gathered at Aro Square Mmanoma, Nneyi Umueri with His Majesty, Nnazoba Kingsley (Ajeh XXIII Umueri Okebo) who performed the traditional functions at the event.

Addressing the audience, the coordinator of the cultural association, Mazi Anyanwu Akpaoke disclosed that the reasons for the cultural event was to let the Igbo all over the world know that January 1 was never and could never be the beginning of the year for the Igbo.

February 22, he revealed, was the beginning of the year in Igbo calendar which he said began before the arrival of the white men as colonial masters.

He noted that the white men came with their gospel of Christianity to brainwash their subjects including the Igbo who he said consequently abandoned their cultural heritage and their own religion to embrace foreign teachings.

“Igbo had been counting their days, weeks, months and years before the white man came with his gospel.

“February 22 is beginning of the year in Igbo calendar. We should go back to our roots, we should go back to our cultural heritage. We should go back to our calendar to count 28 market days which make one month. We want to ensure that every Igbo person goes back to their roots, using the Igbo calendar.

“We place the months of those feasts to make sure that Ndigbo observe them accordingly. The aim is to promote our culture and tradition.

“What we’re talking about today is Ogugu Aro. Igbo have lost their identity. They have gone astray. Many people treat with disdain things about culture and tradition in Igboland. They have embraced the white man’s culture instead of promoting their own. What is happening in Igboland today regarding the abandonment of our roots is not acceptable. Christianity had been used to brainwash our people, “he said.

He also noted that Igbo language was going into extinction as a result of what he described as cultural invasion of the white men. He advocated that every feast observed in ancient Igbo calendar like Ifejioku and the rest of them had to be restored without further delay.

He explained that after counting the Aro by the royal father, Ajeh XXIII Umueri Okebo that farmers, having experienced the first rainfall were at liberty to begin their planting season in accordance with the Igbo cultural heritage.

He disclosed that many committed abomination in Igboland without atonement of the land as customs demanded. He noted that these were some of the things that held people down in Igbo society as they refused to appease the gods of the land.

Youths, women and men groups made the cultural revival event colourful as they came in turn with traditional dance troupes and gift items including ram to pay homage to His Majesty for his blessings.

The New Year proper preceded the Ovala festival as part of the major events.

The Ajeh had released his prophesies on the entire Igbo race for the year which the elders who were interviewed said would always come to pass.

There were enough to eat and drink as well as gift of money which kept the attendants in a joyous mood.

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