Ajọnkwụ Masquerade of Ovim, Isuikwuatọ

Ajọnkwụ Masquerade of Ovim, Isuikwuatọ

Ajọnkwụ Masquerade of Ovim, Isuikwuatọ

By / Life Styles / Friday, 25 October 2019 16:19

     Cultural elements excitingly unify a given community. Such is how Ajonkwu Masquerade unifies Ovim people of Isuikwuatọ in Abia State Nigeria.

The  most typical elements  in Ovum's Ajonkwu festival are  guns (Egbe), Shield (Ọpia) and Sword (Ọta). Without these, the Masquerade is regarded  as fake and generally referred as 'nduru ajonkwu'. The real Ajonkwu masquerade is called Oke Ekpe and is distinctive for its brisk and majesty in performance and fearless attributes against anybody that dares it. A proper   'oke ekpe', wears the mask-head facing the sky, dignified with two eagle feathers ('abara ugo abuo'). A proper  Oke Ekpe is titled killer without repercussion ( 'Ogbuo abughi ochu), Fearless Warrior with two Eagle feathers ( Dike uge labu'). These important attributes  qualify  an Ajonkwu to the highest traditional recognition  to any 'Ikoro' in Imenyi.


Legend has it that that: ".....it was the Amuzu kindred of 'Amaeke uhu n'ohia' village that first displayed Ajonkwu in ovum. By this time all Ovum lived together around or near Nkwo Ovum. Since, for obvious economic reasons Umudinja section was already living farther, the Amuzu and Amaeke elu sectors performed the ajonkwu show together. One of the relics of Amuzu and ajonkwu, known now as 'mgba aja Amaeke', is still preserved by Amaeke elu as a historic gate-way into Amaeke's original habitation.


       Other Ovim villages and large sections of villages like Amune, Ugwunta, Umuanya/Amakwu, admired the vibrancy of Ajonkwu show and instituted it as one of their own traditional festivals. Even the youths of Umudinja and Ajaisa, Agbo Obayi [under Umungwara] had developed standard ajonkwus before their elders discouraged it for reason of cutting down on traditional festivals' expenses. It was also because of this cost that Ovum scheduled the remaining four ajonkwus to hold bi-annually for each village, and only the two oldest [or earliest] ones are recognized for Ovun's calender day of 'Uziahoede',  -[the dusk of which day is tradionally marked by the performance of 'eze lee le [or ezeoke ndudu]', after a thrilling ajonkwu show has closed the day like a hot relay race to an athletics meet].
The two oldest ajonkwus were Amaeke [when Amuzu was still with them at their original abode] and Amune. They performed on alternate years for the uziahoede.
Because Amuzu once again re-established Ajonkwu at this their new location there has been clashes between a three tradtional earliests -Amaeke elu, Amune and Amuzu- for uziahoede reckoning.


        Naturally the necessity for expansion and greener pasture made Amuzu move to near 'ovune and ide' rivers. They re-established ajonkwu and re-built a more magnificent war museum in place of the 'agbala aku' they had left behind for Amaeke elu.This museum depicts a personage known as 'Ekwuruibe' who must have been one of their warrior-sons worthy to be paralleled with an 'oke ekpe.
 
       There could have been no Ajonkwu for Amiyi Ahaba if [a son of Amuzu that was] a grand son of Amiyi had not accidentally shot dead an ajonkwu Amuzu.
{It was believed that he did not know that possibly one more bullet still remained in the gun powder he reused from his hunting expedition to ajonkwu show....}
He ran to Amiyi for refuge. But as per tradition, -"whereas Ajonkwu can kill [ogbuo abughi ochu] but the skull of whoever kills an Ajonkwu must adorn its funeral"! So, over time, in fact years, when Amiyi and even the man himself were off-guard and relaxed, he was cornered by Amuzu's intelligent outfit, and his skull settled the ultimate prize !.
It was to mark their agony for their wasted guard over their grandson that Amiyi started Ajonkwu, first as a solemn memorial !

 

**[There is the legend that Amiyi also used to present "Nne ajonkwu" too. Who has heard how and why they stopped it?].

 

      As has been said above, Ajonkwu on uziahoede day merrily marks the Ovum last calendar year day of any year.
One can sense a transitional aberration here as the series of omume umudinja brings Ovum's Omume Ọkochi (Festivity in Harmatan Season) to a close and paradoxically serves as opening [festival] of a new year.


Oba is the first calendar year festival, on the first 'nkwonta' market day of a year already 4 days old from the first nkwoukwu day after uziahoede.
Distinctly marking the importance of procedure and orderliness in Ovum culture, Amaeke village [the youngest son from ovum's sernior wife, Eke] is charged by Ovum with the rite of Oba, -[the main importance of which is to offer sacrifices of thanks to God for a passing year, and supplications for continuing reproductive fruitfulness in humans, livestock, and agriculture]. 'Amaeke uhu na ohia' passed this responsibility in turn to their youngest section, umudinja, who then charged their umuahonjoku kindred to lead the rest of umudinja in the performance of this rites for Ovum. The sacrifices section of Oba is performed and witnessed by the traditional elders/leaders [oha na uke Ovum], while the general masses partake of and witness the open show that attracts multitudes of spectators from far and wide. It conveys its message in overt erotic simulations and chants about sexual techniques necessary for fecundity ......!".   {Ya buru m ugha unu juakwa onye ndioteekwe onwa ....   Dr. Chinyere Ndubuisi,  Over !.}}

 

[NB: How did Amiyi stop nne ajonkwu aspect ?] By Acho Ukwu.   



 

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