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stories and histories *BRIEF HISTORY OF THE ORIGIN OF JOHA NEW YAM FESTIVAL*

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Adeyemi Olajide » *BRIEF HISTORY OF THE ORIGIN OF JOHA NEW YAM FESTIVAL*

~Extract from History and Anthropology of Effium~
Written by Barr. P.M. Awada (now in print)

'JOHA' does not mean "ji oha" (public yam or yam for the public) as we may be tempted to believe based on the Igbo Language translation.
2. Uffiom people were originally hunters. It was hunters that actually discovered yam and later christened it as the king of crops that ought to be celebrated.
3. The celebration of yam needed to be done with plenty of meat or games caught by the hunters.
4. Unfortunately, the period of maturity of yam fell during the peak of rainy season. The forests were thick with shrubs, grasses and trees, and near impenetrable. Hunting of games was difficult. The hunters therefore opted for aquatic meat like fishes. Again the rivers were filled with water to their banks and difficult to fish in especially as the people were not fishermen.
5. There was this tree called 'oha' the juice from whose leaves could cause drowsiness in fishes and other aquatic lives but harmless to humans.
6. So, the hunters decided to pluck and gather enough of 'oha' leaves, smashed them and put the smashed leaves with juice into flowing streams or rivers. Anywhere the river or stream flowed with the oha leaves, the poison of the latter drowse fishes.
7. The hunters would follow along the river banks where the OHA leaves were administered to pick the drowsy fishes. These are smoked and used for the yam celebration.
8. As time went on, the yam celebration or feast became known as "eji ye oha", the word "eji" meaning "festival" or "feast", "ye" is "of" while "oha" is the tree. It was this noun phase "eji ye oha" that was later shortened and metamorphosed to "Joha" or "Ji-oha" as we now know it."
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