August, September and October are three special months in the Igbo cultural calendar. Each year, thousands of Igbo sons and daughters troop out enmasse to celebrate the annual New Yam Festival. This age long festival, which is as old as the Igbo culture itself, is usually held between August and October with the date determined by each community.
The aim of the New Yam Festival is to officially present the newly harvested yams to God and the ancestors of the land. The festival is also an avenue to thank God for sustaining the life of the farmers, the indigenes of the land and the farm product (yam) through a successful planting season.
The festival, also referred to as ‘Emume iri ji ohuru’ or ‘Iwa ji’ or ‘Ife ji oku’ is a unifying factor within various communities in Igbo land. It begins with the breaking of kolanuts by the traditional ruler of the community and later the slicing and consumption of roasted yam tubers with palm oil. The condiments usually used to cook the tubers of yam for a New Yam Festival are usually Fresh Palm Oil, Salt, Utazi, Pepper, Onions and Crayfish, among others. Two special delicacies usually prepared on that ceremonial day include: Boiled White Yam (with its tubers) coupled with its red oily sauce; and Yam Porridge (Ji-awayi).