[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Nothing depicts a people’s way of life explicitly like the celebration of a cultural festival. Within the time frame of the celebrations, vital components that form the worldview of the people are usually put on display via various cultural acts like energetic dancing, loud music and drumming. These celebrations are often amplified with colorful costumes, culinary delights and lots to drink.[/vc_column_text][vc_custom_heading text=”Ikeji Festival: Origin(s)” font_container=”tag:h1|font_size:18|text_align:center|color:%23000000|line_height:4″ google_fonts=”font_family:Merriweather%3A300%2C300italic%2Cregular%2Citalic%2C700%2C700italic%2C900%2C900italic|font_style:400%20regular%3A400%3Anormal”][vc_column_text]The origin of the Ikeji Festival of Arondizuogu has as many as four versions and it is difficult to ascertain or verify the genuine one. In the first, a certain warrior named Dikeji from Arochukwu conquered a place and subjected the vanquished ruler to pay him tributes. After sometime, the tributes stopped coming and Dikeji went back in anger and beheaded the ruler. He took the head to Arochukwu where the event was celebrated in Ujalli as Ikeji Ugwo.[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”25527″ img_size=”600×400″ alignment=”center”][vc_column_text]In the second version, Izuogu who is the founder of Arondizuogu is said to have gone to Arochukwu on a business trip and was kidnapped, because he failed to travel with his omu protective charm. Fortunately for Izuogu, he was freed by three masked figures believe to have come from Abam. Izuogu’s regaining of his freedom led to a celebration which was initially known as Ike jim Aga.[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”25529″ img_size=”600×400″ alignment=”center”][vc_column_text]A third version is connected to the slave trade. The Aros never feared being captured as slaves as long as they had their omu with them. However, if they do get captured without their omu, they only had to say “Aka ike jim” which means strong hands are holding me and the slave merchant will release them, so as not to incur the wrath of the famous long juju of Arochukwu. The festival is believed to have begun as a commemoration of the Aros killed during the slave trade.[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”25530″ img_size=”600×400″ alignment=”center”][vc_column_text]The fourth version links the festival to the New Yam festival which is common among the Igbos. Yam is central to the Ikeji festival and only men plant yams in traditional Arondizuogu society. Some of names and titles are derived from yam. For example: Okparaji (son of yam), Ezeji (King yam) or Ugorji (eagle yam).[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”25531″ img_size=”600×400″ alignment=”center”][vc_column_text]The Celebration…
Ikeji Festival is an annual celebration which takes place either in March or April, often coinciding with Easter festivities. It is a four-day affair that serves as time of thanksgiving, felicitations and propitiations as the festival marks both the end of the planting season and the beginning of harvest. Masquerades are seen all around amidst fanfare, music and dancing.
Each of the four days have specific activities. In the Igbo calendar, a week is made up of four days. On the first day which is Eke, the best of farm produce and livestock are brought to the Eke market where they are sold off at cheap prices. Slaughtering of livestock and feasting takes place on the second day, called Orie.
Afor is the third day and the feasting continues while the little masquerades come out to display along with various dance groups. The grand finale takes place on the fourth day, Nkwo as the festival comes to an end. It witnesses the most spectacular extravaganza as the big masquerade, Nnekwu Nmanwu makes its appearance dancing with regal steps to the sounds of Nkwa Egwu.[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”25532″ img_size=”600×400″ alignment=”center”][vc_single_image image=”25528″ img_size=”600×400″ alignment=”center”][vc_column_text]All roads lead to Nkwo-Achi the central venue of the activities. While the dancing goes on, there are magical displays defying science or nature by the various groups, while the efficacies of charms are tested on each other. The main juju contest involves the loosening of a ram tied to a post by a piece of string which the ram ordinarily could easily break away from, but it is unable to.
People are challenged to untie the ram, however it takes only the one with the most powerful charm to accomplish the task, because others use magic and charm to attack him so he is unsuccessful. However, the person who eventually unties the ram is declared winner of the contest and he takes the ram home as his prize.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]Wow!! What a cultural celebration. Have you attended an Ikeji festival in the past? Drop your comments below and tell us all about it.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]For additional information, please see: