There is a cultural group known as Ekpo (masquerades), located in the south-south region of Nigeria (Akwa Ibom). These sects are always arrayed with flashy colors, different masks shapes, and drummers often accompany them.
Ekpo cultural festival usually takes place between October and December. The festival is characterized by singing, dancing, and machete fight. During Ekpo festivity period, women and children are not permitted to stay close to the masquerades. Even some men are restricted to go close to Akai Ekpo (masquerades forest), except those that are initiated into the Ekpo masquerade cult.
Today, I was privileged to witness the masquerades performing rites of passage for their fallen colleague. Procession through the streets, libation, incantation, and dancing are the activities that make up the rites of passage.
It is believed by the Ekpo folks that libation must be poured followed by some incantations, to afford the deceased safe passage into the ancestral world. These rites of passage are for a floor member of the Ekpo society.
In the case of the Obong Ekpo (chief of the masquerades), offering sacrifices to the gods is the one distinguishing factor that differentiates between the Obong Ekpo (chief of the masquerades) and the floor member.
Ekpo rites of passage is just a scratch of the diverse African rich cultural heritage.
By Ubong E A Zeal
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