Robust cultural festivities and celebration usually associated with the annual ‘Afiaolu’ New yam festival in the Nnewi community of Anambra state may have faded with modernity, as this year festival, which began on Wednesday witnessed poor participation by indigenes of the community.
The event, usually characterized by colourful displays by various groups of masquerades and traditional dance troupes, witnessed very few members of the commercial city and groups interested in participating in the festivities.
Visits to various parts of the community revealed that most of the residents were going about their normal businesses, while others chose to spend the day worshiping in their churches, as indigenes expressed fears about threat to their culture.
At Umunem Otolo Nnewi, PREMIUM TIMES observed that only a handful of masquerades were on the road, as most of the people in the community went about their businesses, unconcerned with the festival.
A resident of the area who gave his name simply as Emeka said he had better things to attend to than participate in the celebration of the New Yam festival.
“I have a wife and three kids to cater for. If I spend the whole day wearing or following the masquerades about, what will I give to my wife and children in the evening,” he said.
At Eke Amobi area of Otolo, even fewer masquerades were seen parading the streets, as many people in the area were either going about their trading at the Eke Amobi market or attending to other businesses.
A woman in the area that gave her name as Mrs. Nneka justified her lack of interest in the new yam festival with a religious explanation, pointing out that as a born-again Christian, it was sinful to participate in the ‘Afiolu’ festival, as it would be considered a big sin by her congregation.
At Okpunegbu Umudim community, an elderly man, who gave his name as Pa Chinedu, lamented the poor attitude of the present generation of community people towards the ‘Afiolu’ festival, warning that if care was not taken, with such attitude the Igbo culture would soon extinct.
“The children of nowadays don’t value their culture,” Pa Chinedu noted. “If care is not taken, they will kill the Igbo culture.”
At the Nkwo Nnewi market, people were busy attending to their customers, while scores of heavy-duty vehicles were offloading goods and other merchandise into warehouses.
A trader, who gave his name as Simon, described ‘Afiolu’ as job for the jobless, saying no serious minded person with a meaningful job would sacrifice his time for the festival.
At Ndi Ojukwu Uruagu, several youth were in celebratory mood drinking and making merry.
One of the youth, who gave his name as Emeka Chelsea, said as long as he is alive, ‘Afiaolu festival’ would always be celebrated, saying the festival provides him the opportunity to enjoy bottles of beer and chicken throughout the period of the festival.
Only a masquerade was seen at Edoji community, which bore no signs of ‘Afiolu festival’, even as one resident, who refused to give his name, said that the church had since taken the place of the festival, which he said would soon become history.
At Amuko area of Nnewichi, Pa Nonso lamented the decline of people’s interest in the festival, saying every year the people’s interest in the festival continued to wane with growing influence of the various churches in the area.
“As I am talking to you now some churches fixed their programmes on the day of the festival,” Nonso said, describing the development as unfair to their culture.
The 2013 Afiaolu Nnewi festival commenced on August 28 and ended on Saturday August 31st .
Nnewi is widely known as a busy commercial city and the city claim to have one of the largest automobile markets in the world.
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