By Ephraim Oseji
IGUE Festival is one of the ways the people of the great Benin Kingdom and the paramount king Oba Eradiawa annually appease their ancestors for their protection through out the year.
This heroic and age-long festival is usually done during the end of every year. It attracts foreigners, sons and daughters within Nigeria and in diaspora.
The Festival, according to the Secretary of Benin Traditional Council (BTC) Irabor Frank said Igue is one of the festivals in ‘Ugie’ which encompasses all the festivals celebrated in the yearly Benin Calendar.
The palace scribe also hinted that all the festivals have their significance and dates of celebration which include Otue Ugierhoba where all chiefs go to the palace to pay homage to the Oba, Igue Edohia, the day all Benin sons and daughters, irrespective of religious affiliations perform their worship and thank their God by appeasing the ancestors as well as celebration of the outgoing year.
While the Ugie Ewere is to express good wishes and blessings to all homes where a special kind leaves gotten from the forest is given to all while the sticks is used to sweep the compound early morning signifying that we are sweeping away our sorrows, pains and misfortunes as we approach a new year” he said.
As of the issue of rituals Irabor reasoned that the Igue Festivals is part of Benin tradition where sacrifice must be made in one form or another as done in other religion “to thank or appease your God, you make sacrifice of using olive oil to anoint or bless members, same way we slaughter animals in the public before we eat it. I can subscribe to it as rituals of interior motives when it is done in secrecy but when done in the open, it is legitimate like the one our Oba does.”
The BTC secretary explained that during the festival, special prayers are for the peace in the country, the home state, all government officials as well as progress in the land were offered by chiefs or priests in the land.
The Oba spokesman said the Ugie festival which is the parent body of all festivals in the Benin Kingdom are combination of different events by different Obas of the Benin Empire.
He specifically narrated that all the kingdoms, chiefdoms and dukedoms which made up the empire usually present gifts of different kinds to the Oba during Otue Ugierhoba, meaning paying of homage to the Oba is now restricted to the Benin Chiefs”.
The Benin Traditional council Secretary further said the Igue Festival was celebrated in other lands which made the defunct Benin Empire but with the ever invasive Western culture and educated elites, the festival is observed in few parts of Nigeria and some Western nation where the Oba usually sends representatives to monitor and supervise the rituals.