LEBOKU new yam festival is celebrated to honour the earth goddess and the ancestral spirits of the land in Ugep, one of the five settlements of Yakurr. The three-week festival is usually the culmination of many events: the beginning of the yam harvest, a time to appease the gods and ancestors, a public parade of engaged maidens, a commemoration of events that led to the migration from the Yakurr ancestral home to the present site, and a period of holiday in the Yakurr traditional calendar (mid-August through mid-September).
The Yakurr calendar runs from July to August. During the Leboku, people keep away from intense farming activities and exchange visits with their families. The Leboku is also meant to usher in peace, good health and prosperity
During this period, men, women and children dress gaily, forgetting their economic and poverty status and problems as they share food , drinks and, indeed , everything.
Within this period, yam, the crop that turns into a full-blown tuber a few months after planting, becomes like a deity. It is literally worshipped by both the young and old, urban and rural dwellers. Interestingly, both the local and tourists are now ‘worshipping’ it too.
In traditional communities of the state, the celebration of this tuber is more important than Christmas. This explains why indigenes of such communities both at home and abroad do commune to rejoice over another bountiful harvest. On such occasions, rams, cows, goats, chickens and others animals are slaughtered to prepare soup to swallow fresh lumps of yam fu-fu. All of this is to celebrate the most revered festival, LEBOKU.
This tradition is ancient and has gone on for years than any living indigene of these communities can remember. Leboku festival is a period of love, sharing, exchange of bowls of food, drinks