Every society, whether developed or underdeveloped has it\’s culture , the foremost anthropologist, F.B Taylor defines culture as that complex whole include \”knowledge, Belief, Art, Moral, Law , Custom and any other capacities and habits acquired by man as a member of the society
Umuezie Nguru Autonomous Community in Aboh Mbaise Local Government Area like any other Igbo Society has her own culture. It must be noted that Umuzie Nguru cultural history us characterized by festivals of which Ihe Ebiri otherwise known as Age Grade festival is one if them. There are other cultural festivals enjoyed by the people of Umuezie Community such as Igbu Eghu Ukwu (Festival of couples that have born ten children ) , Iri Ji (New Yam Farming Season) and many others
Ihe Ebiri festival for which we have gathered here today is a festival if Age Grade System in Igbo Land being celebrated by Umuezie Nguru Autonomous Community under the host and sponsorship of Ugwumba Age Grade in conjunction with her member Enyioha Chris Emeziem Anyanwu.
May we emphasis that the ihe- Ebiri Festival in Umuezie can be sponsored or hosted only by any son of the soil who must be married with children. It is usually done under an Age Grade to which that son of the soil is a registered member. Age Grade system of Ihe-Ebiri festival in Umuezie is carried out under the management of a body known as \”Ebiri Asato\”
In Umuezie Autonomous Community, it is a norm that every born son of the soil must belong to an Age Grade, grouped, according to or based on two or three years age bracket one one\’s birth
One could be a nominal member of an age group if he is born within the year bracket of that Aged Group but is not registered as a member of that Age Grade. A full fledged member of an age Grade must be one who is registered and perform the activities of the Age Grade. In this premise, Umuezie Nguru Community accords recognition to any son through Age Grade he belongs as a registered member, and by inference sees or likened any son of the soil who is not registered member of any age Grade as \”Efulefu\”, courtesy of the great Novelist late Chinua Achebe
IHE EBIRI CULTURAL FESTIVAL In Umuezie Nguru
Ihe-Ebiri festival is as old as the origin of Umuezie Nguru; unfortunately the festival has not received the grace of adequate documentation and enlightenment it so deserves. That is why Ugwumba Age Grade in conjunction with her member, the chief host, Enyioha Chris Emeziem Anyanwu as sponsors of Ihe-Eberi Umuezie today, the 28th December 2019 have taken the bull by its horns by coming out today to give Ihe-Ebiri Festival of Umuezie a different and special outlook it so deserves.
Ugwumba Age Grade in conjunction with her Chief host Enyioha Chris Emeziem Anyanwu want to use this festival today to corroborate P.B Horten in his book \” Concept and Theories in Sociology of Education \” to drive home their very good intentions for Umuezie Nguru Autonomous community and her people thus: \”That the individual receives culture as part of a social heritage and in turn reshape and introduce changes which became part of the heritage of succeeding generation\”. We also belief and agree with the great Historian, prof Afigbo that \” Culture does not grow like a plant nor can it be destroyed by earthquake; culture is made and or preserved, changed or destroyed by man. It lives and dies with the attention man pays to it and the role it is allowed to play \”
Furthermore, the views of Ugwumba Age Grade about Ihe-Ebiri Festival are in agreement with those of the 19th Century writer; Bultasa Gracia, in his book: \”The Art of wordly wisdom\” as quoted by Prof Aloy Ejiogy during his opening address at the first Ozuruimo cultural festival on 28th August, 1989 thus \”Man is born a Barbarian, an only raise himself above the beast by culture. Considering Bultasar Gracias immortal statement and philosophy about culture, one cannot but appreciate the essence and importance our ancestral fathers and initiators of Ihe-Ebiri festival considered in the introduction and institutionization of cultural festivals such as Ihe-Ebiri festival (Age Grade festival) in Umuezie Nguru Community many centuries ago
Culture in Umuezie is our society\’s system of emphasizing our common heritage. Ihe-Ebiri festival as our common heritage is part of the aim total of the complex social heritage of Umuezie Nguru Autonomous Community which is created and transmitted from one generation to the other. Prof Ogbu U. KANU said it all in his book, \”The History of Igbo People who are the Igbo?\” He affirms that culture like the Ihe-Ebiri festival we are celebrating today acts as an anchor, and provides the society (like Umuezie community) the inherited Transmissible code of conduct and prevent the changing society from drifting, as bothe part are function of the total system of idea, value, knowledge, philosophy, law, moral and belief system which constitute the contents of life of Umuezie Nguru society
Similarly, Ugwumba age Grade feels that education of the young as embodies in the Ihe-Ebiri festival can be based in the Africa proverbs as quoted by Rev Fr Onwubiko thus; \”the child who carries an elders bag gas a very good chance of being a wise man in his life. He follows his father to meeting and places and listens to the wise words the elders speaks. The result is that he knows at an early age those idioms and proverbs with which we fool the foolish and baffle the stranger and also the custom of the land.
In the olden days of pounded yam for the celebration of Ihe-Ebiri Festival was prominent. These recent times cassava fufu has taken over. Other items in use include melon (egusi) used for soup making and which is also grounded and moulded into what we call \” Usu\” which is a perfect delicacy for the consumption of oil bean salad (Ugba) which is also prominent in the celebration. We also have \”akidi\” (the Local beans) Palm wine, meat, kola nuts, alligator pepper etc. These form items in use for the celebration of Ihe-Ebiri Festival as you witness today.
We the members of Ugwumba age Grade and our host member Enyioha Emeziem Anyanwu and of course Umuzie. Nguru Autonomous community under our traditional ruler, HRH EZE CHARLES IROEGBU EZIE, I welcome you all for coming to grace this epoch making event, we urge you all to feel free and enjoy with us for the soil you have matches in in Umuezie is blessed. Having out of your crowded engagements come to be with us at this yuletide season, We pray that the Almighty God we worship will lead you home safely at the end of this event.
Thank you and God Bless
Enyioha Chris Emeziem Anyanwu