Obudu New Yam Festival: The People, Their Tradition BY UKEMITEH ISHI

In Breaking News, Columnists, entertainment and lifestyle, Opinion

By CrossRiverWatch Admin

Obudu is one of the eighteen Local Government Areas in Cross River State located in the northern flank of the state.

Obudu is bounded on the north by Tsar Local Government of Benue State, on the east by neighboring Obanliku local government area which was formally part of Obudu and on the south and west by her sister local government areas of Boki and Bekwarra.

Obudu comprises five tribes by name Bette, Utugwang, Alege, Ukpe and Ubang with strongly staged cultural affinity and speak slightly variant language.

The people of Obudu are peace loving people and are next to none in (terms of) hospitality.

Obudu people are a hardworking breed involved in activities such as hunting, fishing, palm wine tapping and agriculture which is the main stay of the Obudu economy.

With agriculture as the major activity, the people cultivate yam, cassava, rice, oil palm, groundnut, cocoa, cocoyam and vegetables.

However, yam is adorned as the chief crop and special recognition is accorded it.

This accounts for why traditionally, Men are rated according to the size of their yam farm as well as the size and number of yam tubers they can boast of.

Little wonder a particular day is set aside to celebrate its popular Obudu New Yam Festival traditional known as Bipam Bifife; annually celebrated on the first Saturday of September in commemoration of the arrival of the new Yam revered as the primus inter pares of crops.

These yearly celebration was handed down by our ancestors from time immemorial and have undergone some refinement but still preserving its cultural character, and is proven to be the most widely celebrated festival in Obudu land which draws the attention of all and sundry owing to its traditional roots and the importance of the crop.

The celebration is occasioned by abundance of pounded yam with different variety of native soups.

As a sign of womanhood, it is usually a thing of pride for married women to prepare melon cake known as “Bikem” in Bette language for consumption, accompanied by the drinking of palm wine made sufficiently available by the men.

There is also different groups and types of traditional dances such as Ikpatem’ana, Angyor’isom, Ijegè amongst others performed for the entertainment of the spectators drawn from within and outside Cross River State.

One of the unique features of this year’s celebration is the cultural dance competition to be staged in the Obudu township stadium which by all ramifications will be an intriguing event and is expected to attract a vast array of participants and guests, together with the face of culture pageantry contest which seek to identify the beauty queen possessing the most ingredients of Obudu culture.

With the state government pressing hard towards tourism development, Obudu New Yam Festival offers a platform which when fully utilized is capable of showcasing and boasting the effort of the state and federal government in tourism development.

At the dawn of the year’s celebration, I wish the peace loving people of Obudu a bountiful harvest and memorable New Yam Festival.

Ukemiteh Ishi is an undergraduate of the University of Calabar

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