By Richard Akintade, Osogbo
The Arole Oduduwa and Ooni of Ife, Ooni Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi Ojaja II, gave an insight about the history and mystery behind the annual Yam Festival in the Kingdom of Ife.
In a personal statement, and made available to The Conclave in Osogbo, by his Director of Media and Public Affairs, Otunba Moses Olafare, explained that Yoruba people should embrace their cultural heritage and preserve it for the coming generations.
The statement read, “Yam was discovered by Òrúnmìlà in the first dynasty of Ilè-Ifè, the cradle of the Yorùbá race, when he was a king, according to history as bequeathed to us by our ancestors. He was regarded as “Oba Je Isu, Je Epo” (The King that eats yam and palm oil). As one of the best sources of carbohydrates for human nourishment, Òrúnmìlà handed the hallmark of the preservation of yam and its fertility to Odùduwà in what was both a profound insight and an important historical expansion. It was fascinating to celebrate the New Yam Festival yesterday with the descendants of Odùduwà while offering prayers of gratitude to Elédùmarè for the blessings of nature and the significance of yams to human survival.
“According to historical development and construction extraction, Oreluere planted the first yam at Ita Olopo in Ifè. It was then passed down to the second and current third dynasties of Ifè, where Ooni Adeyeye Ojaja II, the 51st Ooni of the third dynasty, is handed down with the emblem of sustaining the long-standing celebration of the festival of the yam and its fertility. The Yam Belt, which spans tropical Africa, continues to be one of the biggest events on the planet, with origins in Ilè-Ifè and a worldwide following.
“The fact that Nigeria is currently the world’s largest producer of yams—producing between 70 and 76 percent of the crop—must be underscored. However, the value of our country’s yam exports to the world during the past 60 years has been extremely low. It’s a compelling moral burden for our leaders to urgently develop a practical strategic plan to expand our yam value chains adopting the most robust preservation schemes and engage global markets for the purpose of creating a shared prosperity for all of our devoted farmers.
“From the House of Odùduwà, may this year’s Yam Festival festivities bring you all fertility, abundance, and blessings of prosperity,” the statement read.