By Usman Salame
Understanding The Ote-Ibegwu Festival Of Egume People Of Igala Land
Cultural practices are fading away with every generation born for reasons that are personal to everyone. For some persons and communities, since the advent of Christian and Muslim religion In Africa Nigeria
The indigenous culture and way of life of Africans has been fading away, that many now believe that most African Nigeria indigenous cultures are against the belief of their faith, for others
They had a change of mind since the advent of the white man’s religion was introduced, but the people of Egume, a town in Dekina Local Government Area of Kogi State, West Africa Nigeria, have decided to preserve theirs, Which brought us to this Understanding The Ote-Ibegwu Festival Of Egume People Of Igala Land
There are several festivals in the town of Egume and one of them is the Ote-Ibegwu Festival which we’ll be discussing very shortly in this article.
Egume is a town in the eastern part of Kogi State, under Dekina Local Government, which location falls in between Anyigba—a very popular hub of the state—and Ankpa Local Government. The land is blessed with fertile lands for agriculture and livestock farming.
Although the majority of the people of Egume are peasant farmers as civilization has begun to kick in, some of them have diversified to other means of livelihood even though agriculture remains the mainstay.
The Ote-Ibegwu festival of the Egume people of Igala land is usually celebrated once a year. It is a festival that involves every household going to the burial point of their ancestors or forefathers and appeasing them with the blood of a goat and a cock and the spilling of a locally a brewed drink called Oburukutu on the spot where their ancestors were buried.
The significance of this is to appease the ancestors to cleanse the village of all filth and bring them peace, blessings, and protection against sicknesses and diseases.
Many of the villagers look forward to being part of this festival every year, and as soon as a date is being agreed on, preparation kicks into top gear.
On this day, every household is mandated to prepare only beneseed soup and pounded yam with the meat of the goat and cock used for the sacrifice earlier on.
Throughout the village, no one prepares a different meal outside the above. Although, the consequences are not clearly stated but every household is advised to follow the norm.
Then, the roaming of masquerades within the neighborhood where the festival is taking place is another aspect of the festival.
The significance of the masquerades is to symbolize the visit of the ancestors they are appeasing.
It is believed that every household has their ancestors among the roaming masquerades but do not know which one is theirs since their faces are all covered with raffia materials usually called ‘Abo’.
The villagers treat every masquerade very well by giving them money and other things, thereafter the ancestors (masquerades), give their blessings to every household they visit.
Among the various masquerades that would roam that day is Ukpoku. This masquerade is a small masquerade known for its feisty and fiery behavior
The Ukpoku normally chases little children and women about with a raffia cane, especially when little children taunt him and call him all sorts of playful
Derogatory names just so it would chase them; it’s their way of having fun on this day, so they have it to the full because it is once every year. And the end of the festive, both the people, the children, and masquerade are all happy and fulfilled
Though the festival usually lasts for 3 or 4days, the rite is not done on other days aside from the first; only the masquerades are allowed to roam for the rest of the days left since the significant sacrifice has been carried out on the first day of the festival.
After the fourth day, the villagers look forward to the next year’s Ote-Ibegwu.
Hope you now have a better understanding of the Ote-Ibegwu festival Of Egume people Of Igala Land, with thanks for reading, Usman Salame, reporting from AfriNOTES, Africa Multpurpose portal for Africa global tiers