[dropcap custom_class=”normal”] The Igbos in South-Eastern Nigeria are widely known as people who cherish their culture and traditions. This appreciation dates as far back as precolonial Nigeria when various cultural injunctions are strictly adhered to while defaulters are severely dealt with. [/dropcap]
However, Jovago.com, Africa’s No 1 Hotel Booking Portal noticed that there have been modifications over the years as civilization set in. Hence, to ensure that this valued culture are preserved, various cultural celebrations have been introduced. One of those many celebrations is Mmanwu Festival.
Do you want to see the best of Masquerade display? A visit to any of these states Abia,Imo, Enugu and Anambra state will be appropriate. The first Mmanwu festival was held in 1986 at the Nnamdi Azikiwe stadium. These states have Masquerades that are peculiar to them. Mmanwu simply means masquerade. The Mmanwu festival is a celebration of masquerades. These masquerades are believed to be a re-incarnation of the spirit of the dead. In other words, the spirit of the dead is invoked into a masquerade.
These MASQUERADES vary in shapes and sizes as each one represent each dead kindred or ancestor. `On the day of the festival all the masquerades gather in the town or village square to entertain the people. Only the initiated and members of the masquerade cult are allowed to wear the mask (the spirit of the dead is usually embedded in the mask). Therefore, not just anybody can adorn this sacred mask. Sons and daughters who hail from the town line the streets to watch the colourful and utterly aggressive masquerades believed to have been overtaken by a spirit. Thus, the use of charms to suppress the adverse effect of the spirit is a key feature of the festival. Based on this, actions of some these masquerades maybe erratic and visitors have to be cautious of this fact. Some of them even carry whips.
There are different types of Masquerades, from Ojionu (water spirit masquerade depicted by water creatures to Agaba, Mkpamkpanu, Enyi mmanwu (elephant), Mmanwu Ugo (Eagle), Mmanwu Ube (tortoise) and Ijele which is always outstanding because of its resplendent attire.
For Women, their roles are often restricted as it is a taboo for them to witness clothing of the Masquerades. They have their own cult.
Meanwhile, the best time to check out the festival is during the festive period when sons and daughters of Igbo origin return home from various parts of the world.
Have you experienced this festival or any other one? Please do tell us by dropping your comments in the comment box.