By Ikechukwu Odu – Nsukka
There was celebration galore at Imufu autonomous community in Igbo-Eze North Local Government Area of Enugu State, as the community marked its Omabe festival.
The festival which witnessed the display of the people’s culture, attracted tourists from far and near, even as the sons and daughters of the community returned to identify with and socialise with friends.
In parts of Igbo land, Omabe masquerades have been in existence for several centuries and they are seen as a sacred club for adult males alone as it is a taboo for a woman to come near the masquerade, as some of them are believed to possess some mystical powers.
At Imufu, the festival is celebrated every five years. One of the custodians of the culture, Dr. Fabian Ogbu Nweze said the festival is celebrated to purge the community of evils.
“This Omabe festival has been with us even during the time of our forefathers. Even my father grew up to meet it. It is celebrated every five years in my community. The masquerades purge the community of evils in human and spiritual forms because it comes with fire that is inimical to evil. We were birthed with this tradition.
“We have different masquerades such as Oshagenyi, Eji, Mgbedike, Ajulaka, Agbe Eji, Ajija, Agelle amongst others.
“I brought out Mgbedike and Oshagenyi, which I called ‘Oso Uwa’ during this year’s festival.
“After the festival, the community always witnesses peace and progress. Our businesses and other endeavours get boosts, favours and open doors. It also takes the spirits of evil ones amongst us.
“Generally speaking, it brings good tidings to us. Because of the importance of the festival, our sons and daughters; even those in the Diaspora return home for the festival. It is a major entertainment for the community and environs,” he said.
Another indigene of the community, Jerome Ali, while discussing the festival with South East Voice said, the festival also unifies the community.
Ali explained that it is a medium of beqeautting the culture of the community to the younger generation, adding that this year’s festival which took place at their village square called Ekwagde was unique because of the number of masquerades and human traffic.