Monday, September 15, 2008

Witnessing the Ancient Igogo Festival in Owo










I was ecstatic with my big sister-Rachel told me that as a Princess, she had to visit her town-Owo (close to Akure) on the same dates as my trip to Akure to attend the very special ancient IGOGO festival. The festival pays homage to the Queen of Owo who as the story goes merged with the forest after being chased away by the other jealous wives of the King of Owo. This is an annual festival in Owo which lasts a total of 17 days featuring a number of ceremonies including the blessing and release of new yams. During the period of celebration, drumming is banned in Owo and instead, metal gongs (Agogo) are used. This was where the name 'IGOGO' was coined. The Olowo (King), who during the festival usually dresses in Coral Beaded Crown, plaits his hair like a woman with Olowo's dressing. The Olowo leads his people including the Chief Priest and the male youths to dance round the whole town.

I witnessed a ceremony along with the people of Owo in the Oba (King) Market where the young males pay respect to the elderly and dance to an ancient song which translates to (if you dont pay your debt, the debt will hang over your neck!). We then walked to the Oba's Palace, where I saw in close view the procession of the King and the chiefs. The song is quite mesmerizing and I realised I still remembered its tune even after 2 days:) There were others parts to the festival which women cannot witness including sacrificing a ram (a human sacrifice in ancient times) in the forest. The person in the middle of the photo in beads is the KING!

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