afikpo village

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Okumkpa masquerade play, Amorie village, Afikpo Village, Nigeria. 1950s

Okumpka, the most elaborate masquerade found at Afikpo Village-Group, is the most popular and well attended Afikpo masked ritual. It consists of a series of skits, songs, and dances presented by masked players in the main common of a village during an afternoon or evening. The play is closely associated with the village secret society; all players are society members, and all wear wooden masks to conceal their identity

Edda-style igri player in the njenji parade at Ezi Nwachi compound, Ndibe village, Afikpo Village-Group, Igboland, Nigeria. Photo by Simon Ottenberg, 1960.

Afikpo man wearing okpu ngwo raffia hat, Mgbom village, Afikpo Village-Group, Nigeria.

Tom Ibe, my field assistant wearing okpu ngwo (hat-raffia). Diviners (dibia) use it when carrying sacred objects for swearing an oath somewhere, but anyone can do so when it rains. Ancient hat form rarely seen nowadays. Note that it was used in Afikpo Yam Priest’s compound the day of first cooking of new yams.

Simon Ottenberg, 1960.

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Muslim festival, Anohia Village, Afikpo Igbo Village-Group, Nigeria.

Unmarried female Muslim dancers, Anohia Village, Afikpo, at one of their festivals. Most of this village converted to Islam in the late 1950s when a village son returned as a Muslim, an Alhaji, after being to Senegal, Mecca and elsewhere, converting many of the inhabitants of the village. The dance movements were fairly typical of Afikpo but the songs were in praise of Allah and the dress differs.

I have no information on what became of the Moslem community following the outbreak of the Nigerian-Biafran civil war.

Simon Ottenberg (1971). A Moslem Igbo Village. Cahiers d'Études Africaines, Vol. 11, Cahier 42 (1971), pp. 231-260

Boys’ Ajaba dressing house of Ezi Nwachi compound, Ndibe village, Afikpo Village-Group, Igboland, 1960.

Ajaba is a roofless dressing house found in each common in villages belonging to the Itim subgroup of Afikpo. The house is used for changing into costumes for public plays and dances of the village secret society.

Simon Ottenberg (1971). Leadership and Authority in an African Society; the Afikpo Village-Group. University of Washington Press

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Okumpa masquerade, Afikpo, Eastern Igboland, 1959-60

Okumkpa performance at Mgbom Village square. Players first coming out as a group into the village square. The leader has an older Okumkpa leader’s mask though he is not a main leader. He is called egwale, and is one of two men who sits down with the masked performers just near or in back of the musicians, who sit in front, and helps lead the singing by the seated masqueraders. Still coming out. Nearly 100 masqueraders. [Notes 1960.]

Okumpka, the most elaborate masquerade found at Afikpo Village-Group, is the most popular and well attended Afikpo masked ritual. It consists of a series of skits, songs, and dances presented by masked players in the main common of a village during of an afternoon or evening. The play is closely associated with the village secret society; all players are society members, and all wear wooden masks and costumes.

Simon Ottenberg (1975). Masked rituals of Afikpo, the context of an African art; Seattle. University of Washington Press.

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Otero masquerade for the uninitiated boys at Ezi Ume, Mgbom Village and Ezi Nwachi compound, Ndibe Village, Afikpo Village-Group, eastern Igboland, 1960

There are two classes of masquerades in which direct physical action plays an important role. One of these includes masks and costumes used for social control. The other is a sport contest. Otero, the second form of the masked costumes, is seen during the dry season on nonfarming days, aho and eke, and on feast days, such as Mbe and during the Njenji parade.The uninitiated boys’ otero is somewhat similar to the secret society form, except that instead of a red hat and a net mask he wears a raffia headdress that completely covers the head and face.

Simon Ottenberg (1975). Masked rituals of Afikpo, the context of an African art; Seattle: University of Washington Press.

Logholo masquerader wearing mba mask, Mgbom village, Afikpo Village-Group

There are a number of masked and costumed figures, called by the general term of logholo, who play about in the commons of their villages and are chased by uninitiated boys. The costume of the most common form of logholo consists of a light-yellow raffia cover from the shoulders to below the knees. A wooden mask goes with the costume, the acali and the mba being the two most common forms. Logholo is played in most Afikpo villages on eke (market) day, but in the Itim subgroup of Mgbom, Amuro, Anohia Nkalo, Anohia, and kpogrikpo, it is performed on orie days. There are four variant forms of the initiates’ logholo, okwo,obuke, ikpo, and antankwiri.

Simon Ottenberg (1975). Masked rituals of Afikpo, the context of an African art; Seattle. University of Washington Press

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Igbo women at pot firing field, Mgbom village, Afikpo Village-Group. “Women firing pots the traditional way, piling them together, covering them with dry long grass and lighting this. Mgbom village. These are good-sized waterpots. Some of them will be used locally, others will be shipped by canoe down the Cross River from Ndibe Beach for sale, generally to Calabar. Women are scantily dress for the firing. Bringing the dried material for burning to the firing area, which is in back of one of Mgbom Village compound.” — Simon Ottenberg, December 1951-March 1953

Ukie, the compound priest, performing a ceremony for a newborn child, Mgbom Village, Afikpo Village-Group, Nigeria.

Four-day, after the birth, coming out ceremony for my field assistant, Tom Ibe’s new son, which he named Simon after me. Mgbom Village. The backside of the Nsi Omume (nsi Omumu, Nsi Omomo) shrine. The priest, Ukie placing foo foo food in a special calabash called ogba, to place in the shrine. The priest wears only a loin cloth, common from some priests at sacrifices at Afikpo.

Simon Ottenberg, 1960.

Oteghita net mask players in the njenji parade, Mgbom village, Afikpo Village-Group, eastern Igbo

Otegheta masqueraders who are all of the age grade directing the event, who are taking the title, and the praise singer masquerader who is not. They are getting ready to go to Amuro Village just north of Mgbom village. Note the decorated black top hats, characteristic of Otegheta. Top hats were commonly worn by chiefs and big men along the Nigerian coast who were involved in slave, palm kernels, palm oil and other trade with Europeans on their ships.

Simon Ottenberg, field notes September 1959-December 1960

Okumpka, the most elaborate masquerade found at Afikpo Village-Group, is the most popular and well attended Afikpo masked ritual. It consists of a series of skits, songs, and dances presented by masked players in the main common of a village during of an afternoon or evening. The play is closely associated with the village secret society; all players are society members, and all wear wooden masks and costumes.

Simon Ottenberg, 1975: Masked Rituals of Afikpo, the Context of an African Art; Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1975].