Bekwara New Yam Festival: A Rallying Point For Unity —LG Boss

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Barrister Legor Idagbo, the Chairman of Bekwara Local Government Area in Cross River State, has described the annual new yam festival in the area as an event which fosters unity among the people of the area.

Barrister Idagbo stated this while speaking in Abuochiche, the council headquarters over the weekend on the occasion of the 2011 Bekwara New Yam festival which the people call Ipiem Ihehe.

He said the festival is a celebration of the culture and unity of the people of the area which attracts natives of the area from all over the country and in the Diaspora.

“Our people from all walks of life, despite their political differences and ideological leaning gather here annually to celebrate our cultural heritage. In the past, the new yam celebration used to be a one day event but since 2008, we have made it a one week event and this had added a lot of colour and glamour to the festival.”

According to Idagbo, several events like Miss Ipiem Ihihe, (beauty pageant), cultural dancing competition, gala night, and a grand finale which feature hosting of guests and handing of gifts have been added to the celebration.

“The celebration used to be done in our homes in just one day, but we have made it several days so that we can showcase our diverse tourist destinations,” he said

According to him, the festival has since 2008 put Bekwara firmly in the tourism map of the state with hundreds of people trooping into the council area every year to be part of the festival.

“Everywhere you go in Cross River State, people talk about Ipiem Ihihe and ‘proudly Bekwara’. That is to say we are making impact.”

He said the annual festival has brought a lot of benefits to the people through the sale of memorabilia, partnership with Airtel, and boosting the sale of their farm produce during the festival period.

Mrs. Anya Adeba, the Special Adviser on Tourism in the local government council in her speech said the festival promotes the Bekwara cultural heritage has grown in leaps and bounds since 2008.

“Ipeim Ihihe is to promote our rich cultural heritage, project our traditional norms and values and this is interwoven with modernism through the addition of new events,” she said.

She said life being dynamic, the new yam festival has ceased from merely being a gathering of people for the eating of yam crop annually, but a whole lot of activities that spread round the extremes of ones existence thereby embracing beauty, arts, education, and cultural tourism.

—Emma Una/Calabar

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