Ubiquitous in Igboland is the celebration of the crowning achievement of the toil and labor of the past planting season with the ceremonial harvest of the most important natural produce in Igboland, the king of all crops: the yam. This festival, known in English simply as the “New Yam Festival” but in various Igbo dialects as “Ahiajioku”, “Iri Ji”, “Ikeji”, “Iwa Ji”, “Ivejioku” and etc., takes place between the months of July and September, varying depending on the community.
Archetypically, the festival would run for several market days as a tribute to the yam deity, Njoku, for securing the year’s good harvest. The intricacies of the festival vary from community to community, but typically ceremonial rites are performed by elders and aristocrats and the first batch of the year’s harvest is presented to the community, roasted, and eaten, signalling the beginning of the harvest season, as it is considered a taboo to consume yam before the official rites are performed. The general spirit of merriment is also bolstered by performances by local masquerade and music groups in addition to intra-communal dance competitions, wrestling matches, and other forms of entertainment.#igbohistory