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Written by ANEKE JANE CHIOMA, 10years, River Estate, Nigeria

Today, I will be talking about my culture but firstly, let’s define, what is culture? Culture can simply be defined as people’s beliefs and their way of life. Every tribe has a way of living and their beliefs. Today, I will be talking about my own tribe and culture.

Here in Nigeria, we own three major tribes which are; Hausa, Igbo, and Yoruba. I will be talking about my maternal home culture; i.e. the ‘Umuakah’ culture. It is part of the Igbo tribe. The Igbos are well known for their hard work and this is one of the reasons why I love my tribe.

Some time ago, I spent my weekend there. Luckily, it was around the time of the festival called ‘‘Owu’’. It was a dancing festival. When I was told of this culture and festival, I couldn’t wait to have an experience of it and of course, that day came. 

It was the first week of May and I was told that the festival will be held at that month. I had a great experience. I found out that my culture is an awesome one. I will like to put these experiences into documentaries.

Well, firstly, the ‘Owu’’ dancing festival is an annual event celebrated among the Igbos of my community. It is a complete two-month event around May and June. But before the ‘Owu’’ dancing festival, we have certain norms which we must follow. These norms are;

• Once a male child is born, he is taken by the elders along with his parents to the market square where the male child will be initiated.

• No female child is expected to perform anything at the festival. They just watch the males dance and cheer them up by clapping their hands.

• All females married outside the community are expected to come back home to celebrate with their families with a particular meal which we call ‘‘Ukwa’’ which is made out of ‘‘Corn and Ugba’’. ‘‘Ukwa’’ in English is called breadfruit. 

 All these are the norms guiding the Owu dancing festival. The dancing festival is a great moment for the community because we come together to celebrate not minding our religion or differences. It is celebrated in the market square where we gather and have some fun with our relations.

While the festival is going on, the males go to a hidden place and put on a mask made and carved out of wood which covers their face and gives them another identity which seems scary because of its paintings. Sometimes, I wonder how those paintings were made! I love this art so much because of the different colours used in the paintings. The remaining parts of their body are covered with an outfit made out of wool, which makes them look huge when worn on the body. After putting on these outfits, the males come out of their hiding place and make a loud shout for everyone to be alert. Once the masquerades are out, they begin their job by chasing girls with long mighty canes in their hands. This is just for fun. I enjoyed seeing them chase people about. The celebration is done on the first week of May but the other weeks are just bare except for the masquerade performances which they perform every day for the duration of two months.

I have mentioned our food earlier, which we call ‘Ukwa’. Ukwa is a food that is white in colour and is similar to beans. It is made and prepared with corn and ‘ugba’. It is prepared with corn because May and June are the seasons for corn. ‘Ugba’ in English is called oil bean. These are the foods we eat during the festival. We also have palm wine drinks. It is a flavour extracted from palm trees. I love and enjoy eating this meal.

I couldn’t stay for the complete two-month festival because I had to go to the city where I live. It was a pity that I couldn’t stay to experience more of it, but, I at least enjoyed my stay at Umuakah. I love my tribe and culture because it promotes peace and unity amongst us. 

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