The New Yam Festival: Nutrition and Importance for the Anam People [AUG 7]

7 Aug

Barthlomew Chukuemeka Okonkwo is a Chife Foundation Fellow who is currently studying medicine and surgery at Ebonyi State University in Nigeria. He has been assisting the Foundation interns this summer with community health surveys. Below he writes about the annual Anam New Yam Festival that will take place this weekend.

Anam Yam Trader

The new yam festival is a very significant cultural symbol of the Igbo society, and the Anam community is not an exception. Sunday, August 7th is the new yam festival of the Anam community and is characterized by various unique and heart-felt events: the official eating of the new yam for the first time of the new harvest and visits by in-laws, friends, colleagues, fans of Anam cultural heritage, and well-wishers from far and near. To this effect, everybody is looking forward to this year’s new yam festival of the Anam community and I myself am too.

The Other Side of the New Yam Festival:

Nutrition is an important aspect of living that can be indicated in the occasion of the new yam festival of the Anam community. During this period, chickens, goats, and cows are killed and used to make the native NSALA soup. This diet is rich in proteins and carbohydrates, which all Anam people eat joyously. The above mentioned nutrients are the basic composition of foods eaten all year-round by the Anam people such as expectant mothers, infants, nursing mothers, children, and the elderly. But this is not adequate nutrition for them because eating carbohydrates and proteins alone is not enough. Good nutrition for these sensitive groups should take into consideration their specific nutritional needs, and can be supplemented with minerals and vitamins found in the local tropical diversity of fruits and vegetables.

Emeka administering the health survey

It is my conjecture that fulling the nutritional needs of the special categories of people mentioned above (mothers, infants, children, elderly) is a viable tool for further stimulating growth and development of Anam people and their economy. For instance, good nutrition for young women develops strong expectant mothers that could go through the gestation period and deliver healthy babies without congenital malformations. Their babies will be more likely to be well-developed and able to develop, grow strong bodies and minds that can participate in Anam’s community as adults. This also prevents the delivery of underdeveloped infants and helps avoid a situation in which a family must spend their scarce resources and funds on their sick child instead of investing in their farms and educating their children. Better farms and well-educated youths will help create a thriving Anam community. Hence the Anam New City Healthcare Initiative we have been developing will be a welcome program as a pertinent tool to create viable African communities for self-sufficient African cities.

Post by: Barthlomew Chukuemeka Okonkwo

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