Africa

The Igbo tribe of Nigeria, culture and their festivals

The Igbos live mainly in eastern Nigeria. Igbo tribe are native, predominant in the east of Nigeria, with great cultures and different festivals.

Geographically, the Igbos’ homeland is divided into two unequal parts by a River called River Niger. This included the eastern (which are the two more significant parts) and the western part. The Igbo people are one of the prominent tribe in Africa. Within the Igbo culture, the tribe celebrates many different types of festivals

1. Ofala festival

The Ofala festival is an annual ritual practised by the Igbo people of south-east Nigeria. This rich and colourful cultural festival held at the palace of the Oba (traditional ruler). It is a celebration of the authority and legitimacy of the ruler.

It usually on the anniversary of his enthronement to the throne or, in some places, at the New Yam Festival’s culmination, which celebrates the year’s bounty. Ofala is a way for traditional rulers to appreciate the loyalty of their subjects and engage with them. Highlights of the festival include people paying tribute to the king with gifts, cultural dances and local festivals. The Ofala Festival draws locals and visitors from all over the world.

2. New yam festival

The festival New Yam Festival is an integral part of Igbo culture and tradition, and yam regarded as the king of all crops. This festival marks the time of harvest and the beginning of the new planting season, usually between August, September and October. Old yams are eaten or threw before the festival, and fresh yams served on the day of the celebration in different yam dishes.

In some areas, the celebration usually lasts a week or more. It includes prayers offered by the king or the oldest person in the community, masquerade dances and modern events such as fashion shows and beauty pageants.

3. Iwa Akwa Festival

Iwa-Akwa festival is one of the loveliest Igbo festivals celebrated every three years. It mainly celebrated by the people of Ugbo, Mbanos’, Obowos’ Etiti of Enugu state. Although other communities do so, such as Mbaise, Orlu, Abia state, and some other Enugu communities, use different names. It is a beautiful culture that refuses to die despite Christianity’s claims that have wiped out other beautiful cultures. It also attracts many visitors from within and outside Nigeria.

The Iwa-Akwa festival is a ritual in which young men who have come of age are initiated into manhood and allowed to contribute to the community’s socio-cultural and political affairs. They can now sit with their elders at this stage of life, drink, eat, discuss issues affecting the community, and develop solutions.

4. Igu Aro Festival

The festival of Aro, also known as “Igu aro”, is one of the most colourful and famous festivals in Igboland, especially in Umueri. The festival occupies a central place in people’s lives due to its economic importance. These are because the priest’s prophetic words depict what will happen in a given year.

These include the spoken words of the priest in terms of what to expect during the harvest season: whether there will be “Ugani” (famine), Nsogbu (problems), agha (war), Onwu (death) and so on. It is an annual prophecy or prediction of what will happen in the upcoming season.

If the forecast turns out to positively affect people, people tend to work endlessly to reap the fruits of hard labour. But instead, starting from the first moon of the new season, they tend to be cautious during the planting season.

5. Mmanwu Festival

The Igbo tribe of Nigeria, culture and their festivals

Igboland hosts many celebrations and cultural performances, the most famous being the Masquerade Ball and the New Yam Festival.

During festivals, annual celebrations, funerals and other social gatherings, the Masquerade Ball (Mmanwu) is held according to the community’s local calendar. Masquerade balls feature colourful robes and masks made of wood or fabric. Some masquerade appears at only one festival, but most appear at many or all.

The acts are associated with spiritual elements because, according to Igbo beliefs, they represent deities and even dead relatives. The individuality of the masquerade is a well-kept hidden and is performed exclusively by men.

In the past, masquerades maintained peace and order and were used mainly as law enforcement officers. Entire villages would come out to participate in the rituals of the colourful masquerade balls. While entertaining by dancing and displaying other human feats, masquerades would go up to certain personalities and loudly expose any bad habits, crimes or misdemeanours of that person. Since people always take corrections from these exposures, masquerades effectively keep up with the community’s traditional norms and values.

There is an annual masquerade festival called Ogbako Mmanwu (masquerade party), where masquerade parties gather in village squares or open air for entertainment in most Igbo communities. Notable among masquerade festivals is the annual masquerade festival organized by Enugu State in November, including masquerade groups from different parts.

6. Inne Festival

The Igbo tribe of Nigeria, culture and their festivals

This festival, which is more famous among the Igbo people in Delta State, is celebrated in most Western Igbo communities. In Asaba, Delta State’s capital, one of the festival’s communities, is a five-day event in five villages. It is a celebration of war and peace that features war dances, military parades, reenactments of old battles and other related activities that spice up the annual event. Despite its name, this festival also celebrated among the Igbo people in the east, especially in Abia.

7. Ede Aro Festival

The Ede aro Festival of the Abagana people of Anambra State, also known as the Ede festival, is an annual cultural festival celebrated mainly by the Igbo people of Anambra and Enugu states. It is celebrated during the cocoyam harvest. The Ede festival is a very colourful celebration that celebrates cocoyam. Women believe that if the sowing and harvesting of yam reserved for men celebrated, the sowing and harvesting of cocoyam reserved for women should also observe.

8. Ekpe Festival

Ekpe festival is a masquerade festival celebrated mainly by the Igbos of the Nkanu people of Abia state, River state and enugu state. Unlike the Mmanwu festival, which gathers tens of thousands of different masquerade balls, this masquerade festival specifically celebrates the Ekpe masquerade ball. Ekpe Festival is a lively cultural festival that attracts people from within and outside the state.

The Ekpe Festival has been around for thousands of years and involves so many kinds of Ekpe masquerade balls performing different cultural dances.

Here, men and women (old and young) wear their cultural attire, and men must tie a piece of George (wrapper) to make up for the cultural clothing.

Male children who have entered the Ekpe masquerade and are skilled in playing cultural music demonstrate their culture expertise while performing dances at the masquerade. People enjoy the masquerade, the players and other individual dancers, donating to them as the music plays.

The cultural festival’s culmination will be the Ekpe Masquerade using a knife and decapitating a goat in the strike.

Onyinye A.

Onyinye Abasim, from Nigeria. I'm a biochemist, content writer, and an entrepreneur. Email: Onyii@afrinik.com

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