It was all cheers and fanfare as the Elite Fitness Club, Lagos, held its new yam festival recently, in line with the popular Igbo culture of New Yam Festival celebration. The cultural event, which was held at the mini sports stadium of the Trade Fair Complex, Lagos, had in attendance, numerous members of the Elite Fitness club, in company of their families, friends, and associates. Speaking during the ceremony, the club’s President, Chief Amobi Ikeh, MD of Sweethome Appliances, said “New Yam (iri ji) Festival, as we all know, is a tradition that is as old as Igbo Race. It is a time used by men to showcase their industry, valour and fruitfulness”. Chief Ikeh, who insisted that this tradition is a very important part of Igbo history and must not be allowed to die, added, “Since most of us no longer reside in our villages, we deemed it proper to showcase this tradition to our families, friends, and especially our children who have not been exposed to the ‘Iri Ji’ rites considering that most of them have lived their whole lives outside of Igbo land”
The event had in attendance various traditional rulers like Igwe Amuwo Odofin, and other respected title-holders. It was also a platform to connect and create useful business relationships, for which the Igbo man is reputed, as top business moguls and captains of industries stormed the event and wasted no time in connecting with each other.
A high point of the occasion was during the cutting of the new yam, in line with tradition. For this rite, the clubs president, Chief Amobi Ike, was joined by its Vice President, Chief Ifeanyichukwu Azike, the grand patron, Chief (Sir), Augustine Okolie, other executives of the club, patrons, traditional rulers, and other men of industry and valour. Prayers were said, and fruitfulness declared for the next farming season.
The event was even made more colourful and exciting, especially for the children and women, as various calibers of masquerades and dance groups took over the arena to entertain the guests. Masquerades such as the iconic Izaga and dance groups like the Igede from Enugu state did justice to brighten the event. It was equally a time to feast, as there were more than enough to eat and drink, as an indication of fruitfulness. Overall, as the club’s secretary, Dr. Kingsley Nebo, said, “it was a celebration of success, which Elite Fitness Club has become known with”.