The Igbo people, situated in the South-Eastern geo-political zone of Nigeria, are said to be the most cosmopolitan, bubbling, upwardly mobile and hardworking people in Nigeria.
One of the remarkable qualities of the Igbo People is their respect, love and affection towards their culture and traditions. Their respect dates as far back as the pre-colonial times, and defaulters are usually dealt with. The Mmanwu festival is a culture, Igbos have preserved from antiquity.
Do you want to see the elegance, beauty, prestige and respect accorded to the Mmanwu festival, and then you need to visit any of these States:
- Anambra, and
Each of these states has Mmanwu festivals that are peculiar to them. ‘Mmanwu’ literally means masquerade. So, the Mmanwu festival means a celebration of masquerades. These masquerades are seen as the ‘re-incarnation of the spirit of the dead’. This implies that the spirit of the dead is said to be manifesting or invoked in a masquerade.
Masquerades vary in sizes and shapes. Each of them representing dead ancestor or kindred. On the festival day, all the masquerades will gather in the village square or designated place to entertain people. The mask is being worn exclusively by the initiates of the masquerade cult.
Some of the colorful and utterly destructive or aggressive masquerades are believed to be having charms or overtaken by the spirit, and obviously some people fear getting close to them- because some of their actions may be erratic and the audience are encouraged to be cautious of this truism. Some of them possess whips.
Types of Masquerades
There are multiple types of masquerades such as:
- Ojionu ( Water Spirit masquerade)
- Agaba Mkpamkpanu
- Enyi Mmanwu ( elephant)
- Mmanwu Ugo ( Eagle)
- Mmanwu Ube ( tortoise), and
- Ijele (Outstanding) due to its resplendent attire, stature, and elegance.
It is a taboo for women and non-initiates to witness the clothing of the masquerades. The best and most appropriate time to witness the Mmanwu festival of Igbo nation is during the festive seasons when the sons and daughters of the native return home from their base in different parts of the world.
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