Yakurr people call for undiluted celebration of their new yam festival

August 12, 2011 13:28



Ugep (Cross River State), Aug. 12, 2011 (NAN) The yearly New Yam (Leboku) Festival in Yakurr Local Government Area of Cross River has allegedly being debased by the state government.

Mr Ubi Itam, the Chairman of Yakurr Local Government Council, made the allegation in Ugep, headquarters of the local government area on Thursday at a news conference.

Itam said, ``We want to be given the opportunity to dress in our traditional attire and dance our traditional dance so that the culture will not die.

``The Cross River Government's undue interference has ripped the festival of its true cultural content.

``The festival, which is supposed to be a historic event inherited from our forefathers, has been bastardised.

``The importation of Western culture into the festival is also responsible for the debasement of the festival.

``We borrow a lot of things that are misplacing the interest and purpose of the Leboku Festival.''

The council chairman urged the Cross River Tourism Bureau, organisers of the festival, to allow the people of Yakurr to showcase their rich cultural potential, ``rather than interfering and ripping Leboku of its original content.

He said, ``You don’t allow us to dance our traditional dance and that is not what we want.

``We want to be allowed to do our thing our own way, if not we will end up doing different things that do not depict the culture and purpose of the Leboku Festival.

``Leboku should be given the opportunity to portray itself. It is not just an event for event sake, after the event what are the benefits to the people.''

Item, however, commended the organisers and sponsors of the festival for giving it an international recognition and promised to partner with them to make it a success.

Earlier, Mr Gabe Onah, the Special Adviser on Tourism Development in the state, had assured the people of Yakurr of government’s support and promised to take the festival to greater heights.

He said that the yearly festival had received international recognition and that the government would ensure that it was sustained.

``We will continue to promote the rich cultural content of the festival and I want to assure you that government will continue to partner with communities to promote our culture.''

Onah later told newsmen that the festival was a month long celebration and that the government only wanted to raise its standard.

``We are not interfering with the traditional Leboku. We are just working toward raising it to international standard.''

He added that the Ugep International New Yam Festival, the Leboku 2011, started in July with a visit to farm roads to accept palm wine and sundry gifts.

Onah said the opening of the festival activities, including a male and female wrestling, as well as a football match, took place on Aug. 4.

A church service to usher in a peaceful festival took place on Aug. 7, while traditional supplication and appeasement and the Miss Leboku Beauty Peageant and Mr Leboku contests are billed for Aug. 19.

The event's programme also indicated that farmers would return with new yams, while new yams would be exhibited at the town square to select the best harvesters on Aug. 21.

The breaking of wood by the traditional ruler, Obol Lopon and midnight fire ceremonies would be performed on Aug. 21, with the grand finale billed for Aug. 24. (NAN)




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