The 2021 annual iriji Mbaise festival billed for 15th of August 2021 has started causing ripples even as it is three weeks ahead.
Information revealed that the Government appointees in Mbaise land are set to battle other stakeholders over the shape it would take as they have resolved that the Iriji festival must take place at a central ground as it as it use to be, while the Royal fathers and Ezuruezu Mbaise believed to be the custodians of the culture think otherwise. According to what this newspaper gathered, while the Ezuruezu and Ndieze are citing health challenges and security issues, appointees of the state government want an elaborate event as has been the practice in the past.
Ezuruezu Mbaie group explained that gathering large crowd of people at this period of covid-19 pandemic to celebrate Iriji Mbaise might lead to health harzard and insecurity coupled with the unprecedented number of Mbaise people that have passed on this year.
The Royal fathers under the platform of Mbaise council of traditional rulers led by Eze Leo-Nwokocha, it was further learnt have decided that the Iriji Mbaise ceremony for 2021 will be a lowkey event.
One of the monarchs disclosed that the Iriji will be restricted to homesteads, age grades, villages and communities without the traditional funfare associate with elaborate celebration.
August 15th of every year is always sacrosanct for the people of Mbaise, on this date, Mbaise people usually thank God almighty for bumper harvest and take their first fruit for blessing.
This celebration involved Mbaise people home and abroad. During the celebration, the Eze people(yam kings) are always at the centre stage to receive visitors like Governor’s, President and other politicians who came as guest of honour to observe the Iriji festival with this announcement made by Ezuruezu Mbaise visitors may not come again.
In the past, there use to be display of traditional and cultural dance, to entertain visitors as well as to show case Mbaise socio cultural heritage of Igboland and that of Mbaise in particular.