AGE GRADES AND AGE SETS NOMENCLATURE AND THEIR IMPORTANCE IN OGBONA IN PARTICULAR AND IN AVHIANWU CLAN IN GENERAL
AGE GRADES AND AGE SETS NOMENCLATURE AND THEIR IMPORTANCE IN OGBONA IN PARTICULAR AND IN AVHIANWU CLAN IN GENERAL
Age stratification of males and females is an important feature of social organization in Avhianwu clan as well as in all Edo speaking groups. The degree of complexity and the importance attached to them vary considerably from one ethnic group to another:
The age groups and age sets are determinant factors as to who is the most elderly man in a village or as to who is qualified to be crowned a village head other conditions are satisfied. The male population is divided into three categories.
(a) The first is the un-initiated adolescents (Ekpe and Iwogo)
(b) Adults (Ogore)
(c) Elders. (Ikpisa)
There is some variation, however, with regard to the degree of formality with which age sets are inaugurated. Whereas among the Ibos, informal inauguration is the rule rather than the exception, formal ceremonies, such as will be discussed in succeeding chapters are a characteristic feature of the age group organization among most of the Edo speaking people.
Children pass through the stages of ‘Ekpe’ and ‘Iwogo’ before being initiated into named age groups which in most communities, are formed every other year. In Avhianwu clan, the males are initiated into age groups every other year while the girls are initiated into womanhood every year. These males and females are ascribed names which in most cases bear the pre-fix ‘ Uma’ and a sentence with some historical back ground e.g. UMA OTSEMOBO (meaning I am in control of the empire) this name was given in 1945 at the end of world war II which the British won and as part of the British Empire, the age group of that year was ascribed the name. It readily recalls to mind the end of the war and its result.
Females initiated between two different male age groups have no names as such they are referred to as Otu Igbo-efo meaning (in between age groups). Those initiated with males are referred to as Otu-Emo meaning (age group of men).
CRITERIA FOR SELECTION INTO AN AGE GROUP SET:
A man’s precedence in the affairs of his village depends on the date of his admission to the association of age group to that of other members. This means that the ‘age group’ age rather than chronological age in years is a principal determinant of social status. Although males born during a period of two consecutive calendar years are supposed to be in the same age group bracket, other factors Viz: custom, parents’ wishes and the size of the adolescent male are sometimes determinant factors. In Avhianwu clan, custom has it that unless there is a male adolescent in Iviocha to be initiated into manhood, no initiation can be effected. Hence now a days such an Iviocha Initiate though chronologically may be the least in years of birth, he becomes the most senior member of the age group. In the past, girls who had no finance or proposed husband were never initiated into womanhood. This meant that girls could remain uninitiated even at the ripe age of between 20 and 25 years generally, initiates were to be between the age of 18 and 20 year for boys and 15 and 16 years for girls. In the past, boys neither paid taxes nor get married in Avhianwu clan, until they have been initiated into age-group.
In the past, any age group member would neither watch his Comrade die nor see his corpse. This also made it difficult for persons of the same age limit to be initiated the same year in a patriarchal family where there were many male adolescents. It is on record that a non-initiate, be he the first born surviving son or not, cannot inherit the father’s property at death. The most important of the rule is that no son or daughter of a proposed Era-Otu shall be initiated into the age group set to which he shall be an age-group father (Era-Otu). This is to perpetrate the fact no one can give birth to one and the same person twice.
From the above, one assumes that initiation into age-group is mainly at the discretion of the patriarchal head of the family, the customary yard stick having been challenged by the happenings of the present age.
APPOINTMENT OF ERA-OTU (AGE-GROUP FATHER)
It is rotational. It is either the turn of Ivhiunone or Ivhiarua. For the purpose of and others not connected with this narration, Ivhiunone is divided into three (I) Ivhigieghe, comprising Ugieogwa (Iviagbanaku inclusive), Ivioromhia and Iviavia; (ii) Ivbikhinya comprising Iviochia and Ulumhogie; (iii) Ebadi comprising Iviadatsi, Ebadi and Iviegwienabo (Iviegwi). Ivhiarua is divided into two namely Uloma and Ulagwa. Uloma consists of Iviokpo, Iviukasa, including Iruru, Iviapa and Ivhiadoko. Those that belong to Ulagwa are Ivhiokhile and Ivhiavhe. If it is the turn of Ivhiarua, the two sections meet to know who had it in the last round. If it were discovered that Uloma had it, then it would fall to the turn of Ulagwa. Quarters in Ulagwa meet to discuss bearing in mind the quarter/kindred whose turn it is to produce an Era-Otu. Then the kindred is asked to produce a candidate. When a candidate is selected the Odior, the most elderly person in the kindred, delegates and two others to present the nominated candidate to the senior Era-Otu.
The Era-Otu pronounces the word ‘Amiele’ meaning you are accepted. The nominee sends presents ranging from palm-wine, meat, fish and yams. Demands depends upon the demanding propensities of the senior Era-Otus. When the senior Era-Otu is satisfied with the nominee’s presents, he sends for all other existing Era-Otus better known as (Inuotu) and introduces the nominee in absentia. All the members of Inuotu accept his candidature and ask for their presents (prescribed fees which varies but not yet above (200 Naira). When this demand is met the senior Era-Otu fixes a date (always on Ewo day) for the nominee to jubilate round the town.
On this day he dresses in his best soro and agbada, wears beads round the neck with a red cap to match and holds in hand a gong known as Akpogho. Having dressed in these regalia he proceeds to the senior Era-out’s house with a big keg of palm wine. The senior Era-otu sacrifices with the wine, beats the drum seven times and hands over to who so ever is to beat it round the town. Next he shakes the gong seven times and gives to the nominee and pronouncing the words “Umoko” seven times before placing an eagle feather on the nominee’s head, while pronouncing the word. A ‘Abalu ya mhe, lyi lune na’ meaning as performed for me so I perform for you. Members of the nominee’s kindred and his well-wishers sing and dance in his company round the town making calls at every Era-otu’s house and the house of every member of the nominee’s own age group.
His approach is heralded by the beating of a big base drum. While the nominee calls on his age group name, the followers sing in praise of their kindred’s greatness “Egie bo mhe lo gwe mi ro bomhe lu, gwe-gwe!” This first outing serves as a sort of self-interaction to the populace. The celebrant is not expected to fall while performing this ceremony. He collects presents from all people visited e.g. Daudus or Ikhaemhos, village heads, age group members, the Edios and relations. With these presents he is able to defray some of expenses.
Next is the first meeting of all existing In ‘Otus in the nominee’s house. On this day which is usually the day set aside for the hiding of Uni (aru.ni vhe) the nominee is formally introduced to his comrades. This ceremony is significant because it is the first appearance of the nominee as a comrade among the other member of Ini ‘Otu (age group fathers).
DUTIES OF AN ERA-OTU TO HIS AGE GROUP SONS AND DAUGHTERS AND THE DUTIES OF THE AGE GROUP TO ERA-OTU IN AVHIANWU CLAN
The first meeting of the age group in their foster father’s house is the night of killing ‘Uni1. It is the duty of their Era-Otu to provide spacious accommodation with maximum security. This is done to prevent the age-group from molestation which is always the order of the night. He must provide sufficient palm wine and keep vigil with his sons.
During fattening Igera (a period of complete relaxation and merry making for both girls and boys), all foster sons and daughters visit their father who shows them coconut and orange trees from where the age-group by custom collects a-lot of coconut and oranges. In the event of the foster father having no such trees he buys or the age group collects from any in the kindred at the Era-Otu’s expense. While in Igera the Era-Otu pays visits to his sons and daughters who in turn entertain him and make merriment.
During fattening, if one commits a crime against the age-group, such an offender offers a goat which the Era-Otu kills on the 7 day before the Otu disperses. If no one commits a crime, the members hold any goat to ransom and the Era-Otu kills it. An Era-Otu acts as an adjudicator during periods of disagreement amongst age-group members, lie sees that there is no division and he imposes a line on anybody found guilty of planting seed of disunity amongs age-group members.
Age Groups have also some customary obligations towards their Era-Otu. During “Aduikukwa” New Year, they send presents “Isomele” to their Era-Otu in a group. Such a day is always a day of reunion and a day of great merry making. Apart from the presents to their Era-Otu, the Era-Otu buys drinks at his expense which keep his sons about four hours at his residence.
When sick the age-group members go in a group to see him and watch over him. If he eventually dies, they wash and dress him, buy a white cloth, gun powder and drinks. In group they sing some of the following tunes beating two one sided drums called ‘Agha’ some of the songs are “Eloesomhi mheleye, Eloesomi so in ha cc\ meaning: we are not in good mood today, etc. All the songs depict deep feelings for a lost father. They run round the town cutting down tree branches, carrying fresh leaves, destroying many things at random. There is always actual pillage and willful destruction of livestock, houses, sitting materials, cooking utensils etc. They cut down a tree by name ‘Ukhu’ or ‘Ukhue’ and carve out a canoe like coffin called ‘Uko’. The children of the deceased Era-Otu present a goat and a fowl which the most senior member of the age group offers as a sacrifice to the carved out ‘Uko’ by chopping off the head of the two animals with a very sharp cutlass. It is when this is done that the body is finally buried and the ‘Uko1 placed by the side of the grave.
During the second burial ceremony which may lake place after about a year or two the age group members tax themselves and raise money for the purchase of gun powder, which they shoot while running round the town. They disturb any dancing group and it is common for a dancing group that hates disturbance to bribe them off to keep peace. On reaching the market they seize any ‘thread netting1 (aga) they lay hands on and while holding it, they run round the market and bring it to the dugout canoe-like coffin ‘Uko’.
On the 2ml day, Ekhue they dress the ‘Uko’ with the net, good clothes, red cap and an eagle feather disguising it as their age-group father. They carry this ‘Uko’ singing war like songs – Enegbudu – ya he, meaning: we are the courageous and almighty people, any person who challenges should come near. With this they run round destroying things just as was done on the day of first burial. With the supposed corpse, they visit other Era-Otu,
Elderly men-Edio, collecting presents in form of money. In the event of the age-group reaching the residence of a member of (heir Era-Otu age-group, they don’t enter the house hut wait far off to collect presents. At dusk they hand over the ‘Uko’ to corpse hearers ‘Ikhagha’ and disperse.
AGE GROUP INITIATION – TIME, STAGES, OFFICE/OFFICERS
The exact time of initiation into age-group sets differ from clan to clan. In Weppa-Wanno clans, it takes place in January/February; and in Auchi clan it takes place mostly during the big Salah. In Avhianwu clan it spreads over a period of five months, June-November.
The intended scope of (his essay and the laborious attempts would not allow a narrative on how each of the three clans mentioned above organize and initiate members into age group. I will however attempt to give in some details what obtains in Avhianwu clan. And summarize in a little way the similarities and: difference between age-group organization in these clans.
For the purpose of this age-group initiation ceremonies, it will be appropriate to give to the reader an idea that four villages in Avhianwu. Viz: Iraokhor, Ogbona, Ivhiarua and Ivhinone. Left Afashio or Akiugba in Avhianwu clan. The villages are divided into sub-administrative units comprising one or more groups of families pertained descent. The nucleus of each family unit is “Adi”. Each of the villages is divided broadly into two and each sector further divided into sub units.
Age group initiation ceremony runs through many stages which I intend to run through briefly putting on record the most salient points.
1st stage – Umhomhe. (June/ -July) Umhomhe is the name given to a dance organized and staged by a group of both adolescent boys and girls. The dance is accompanied by songs taught to the adolescent by renowned composers called (IKAMOTSE). The songs may be in form of insults, abuses on those who transgress the norms of the community or in praise of people in the community who satisfy the norms of the society, Vices as stealing, adultery, laziness, self-induced poverty and drunkenness are abhorred and those who indulge in those vices are tamed or re-educated to their responsibilities in the community by being brought up for public ridicule. The whole process is a two-edged affair, or is a weapon cutting both ways. Those without-standing qualities are also praised and exalted in public places. This dance starts on the very day the elders make sacrifice to a mountain called “Okhui-Ozibo” on the last big “Ewo” in the month of June, or the first in the month of July. The significance of this dance is that it brings all the different villages adolescents together. Ivhiarua and Ivhinone adolescents come to Ogbona .while Iraokhor and Ogbona go to Fugar in exchange.
The songs serve too us traditional history. They reflect a cyclic evolution of town-clan. Through the composed songs, some youths hitherto ignorant of some aspects of the history of the clan are introduced to the norms and values of the society as past happenings/events are reviewed and revealed.
This ceremony takes place on different days in different villages but it is cither on Ewo or Ekhue day. It involves the selection of the new initiates (Otu) from the non-initiates (Ekpe and Iwogo), while no fees is paid by initiates in Ivhinone and Ivhiarua a fee between 2d and 4d (now INS) is paid to elders by all the initiates and the elders alike are made aware of those initiates that arc abroad. All initiates start wearing baggy capes from this date. Failures to wear at subsequent meetings are fined and disciplined. After selections, the initiates shake hand with one another a sign comradeship. (Girls who come out publicly to shake hands with their male counterparts arc there (hen known to be women initiates. (Girls pay no fee).
Offices fall to the turn of sub-units in villages and the elders of each sub-unit ascribe persons to the offices. Each village has its own set of officials although when and where they meet, they know their order of seniority.
Offices are ascribed by the unit’s elders on the eve of shaking the earth-(U/.ighi-Oto). They are: The main four Big Brooms. (Itsatso) four Gongs (Ho) corresponding to the brooms and two Messengers (Ikeminare).
THE 15 ROOMS
The holder of the 1st of these brooms is the most senior member of the Age group and automatically is the President or Chairman at all gatherings of the Age group. Next is the Vice President or Vice chairman (Agba- Edio). He also has 2nd broom. There are also two other brooms in order of importance. The Big Cong (Ulonokhua)
The holder is usually from the same section as the holder of the big broom. In position he is the 5 in rank but senior to other gong holders. The remaining three gong holders as in the case of the big gong holders come from the sections corresponding to the section of origin of the three other broom holders. The main idea here is that of an Age-group set (males) only S seniority position are predetermined. The president and his vice who choose them into positions determine order of seniority of other members.
THE MESSENGERS (IKEMINARE)
These arc two per village and chosen from particular lineage groups of the village. If lucky, they can combine the office of a gong holder to this. They also act as treasurers to their age set. At meetings they act as speakers. In consultation with other member, they pronounce judgement over any erring member.
THE STAFF (ADANO)
Anyone who fails to hold any of the offices enumerated above is a floor member of the set and falls within the group of Staff holders. They are whose position of seniority the President and his vice determine.
KILLING OF UNI- (AGBU-UNI)
Uni is a small creature squirrel-like with big eyes and tail, it is recognized as the owner of the forest hence it plays a significant part in this ceremony. It is usually the duty of the senior member of the age group from Ivhiokhile Quarters in Ivhiarua village and those of Ivhiotsia Quarters in Ivhinone village to get at this creature and present it to their age-group father on the morning of the selection. (Ewoh-day) in the past, they run round the town with the creature with premeditated minds to crush any rebellion on their way. It was a common place for organized groups to waylay them and snatch the creature from them. Where they were dispossessed of the creature they paid ransom fees to regain possession. Members of Inu-otu gather to hide the Uni (Aruni vhe) in the age group father’s house and fix a day for pounding and sharing of Ukhumhi – (lluagho)
The ceremony starts in the evening after selection. Under the pretense that they are going to kill Uni, the new initiates, the adolescents and previously or already initiated persons move to a place called “Iniwato” to pitch a battle. The adolescents and previously initiated persons fight against the new initiates. Those new initiates who were very vocal during Umhomhe dance or who have been hostile to others or younger ones are dealt with severely. In the past this battle that involved the use of whips, sticks and other dangerous weapons ended with many casualties.
The struggle continues until the initiates find their way to their Age-Group father’s house for protection. A weakling who fails to go on this expedition are usually fined heavily. In their Age-Group father’s house, they remain drinking, dancing and singing all the night while at intervals; they hold the creature (Uni) and run around the town.
Early in the morning, a young child is brought and lured to say USAGBE (Unity). If this is said, they would then be free to move away and free from molestation of the older Age-group and adolescent members. From this date to the date of shaking the earth, they visit age-group members’ house drinking wine in male’s houses and collecting money from girl’s tattered caps or huts. Females wear nicely woven calico loin cloth called Igbogane and leave their heads bare. It is very common to see all male initiates holding brooms, which is turned into weapons of war or defiance during the sharing exercise. Males mask their faces with charcoal to hide identity. They pay a prescribed fee of 6d each.
When all initiates arc gathered, the senior Era-Otu and the New Era-Otu advance towards the medicine and cutting, the senior Era-Otu sings ‘Iluagho1. The mortar containing the medicine is then thrown open to the initiates. A struggle ensures as relations of initiates try to cut for the initiates especially girls who can’t withstand the struggle. If convinced that all initiates have all be anointed with the medicine, the senior Era-Otu tunes a second time and in full “lluagho Aghozaza za Agho*.
The Initiates take over and in a single file they race round the town (Akhievho) an exercise I think is designed to test stamina. During the race, no one is expected to fall. The race ends in Akinokhua Adelebe’s backyard where the members divide themselves into seven groups and take oath of loyalty, and allegiance to members. They rehearse past norms, rules and regulations and decide on those to waive or retain in view of past experiences.
Some of such rules and regulations may be “will not marry our daughters1′. This has never changed. We will not divorce a member’s wife – (open to debate).
We will neither sec ourselves at death (open to debate nor shall we participate in any form during the funeral rites). We shall only visit and express sympathy to the bereaved after seven days from date of death. Children of our age-group are our children. We shall treat them with equality. We shall not sue ourselves in any court of law. All disputes shall be settled under the chairmanship of the Age-Croup father. We shall release comrade if met in chains.
These statements are usually answers to questions put to the age-group members by a selected elderly person. At the end of this questions arid answers exercise, members disperse. On this Ewo day or early next Ekhue, all Initiates shave completely their hairs which symbolizes a departure from the adolescent age to a new adulthood.
EXHIBITION OF MATERIAL WEALTH AND NAMING OF THE AGE GROUP
Customarily, every age group is given a name. This is usually on the Big Ewo (Ewo Nokhua) succeeding lluagho day. Male and female initiates alike wear different types of dress and parade round the town and change to new ones at intervals.
Girls are dressed in both male and female customs by the parents of their fiancées. All types of English dress, suites, knickers, trousers and Nigeria dresses such as baggy trousers popularly known and called Sokoto, Ibadan are matched with voluminous, gown. In these dress initiates of both sexes from Iraokhor and Ogbona move to Fugar to attend the naming ceremony after consultation with the gods and are joined by their comrades from Ivhiarua and Ivhinone.
They move about jerking their respective families. They receive presents from admirers.
Meanwhile, all the Inuotu, the senior Ukpi holder (Okphe-Ukpi nokhua) plus his other three village heads and the Daudus get seated at the Age-group fathers’ house. They sound the drum inherited from Edo (Benin) Ukpi.
All the Otus, dressed in full regalia, sit in order of seniority. Before this time the Otu and senior Ukpi holder must have agreed unanimously on an appropriate name for the Initiates. The most senior member of the Age-group father’s steps forward to pronounce the name which is then echoed round in great applause and with joy each village age-group files out. In lines they with their new name thus:
SOLO: Udumha, ona udu evho
CHORUS: Udumha K’h Edo, Udumha
Ona udu evho. Udu mha kh’s Edo.
Meaning: – “My heart is stronger than that of any other tribe
Chorus: Our hearts are Edos” With this song they go around the town (Akhievho) with Iraokhor age-group members leading. They gather at Aki Nokhua and get divided into seven groups as on the day of sharing medicine.
They again rehearse their vows and disperse. Those from Ogbona and Iraokhor race home to give the good news to their counter parts who were not able to get to Fugar. All those Initiates who stayed at Ogbona, arc expected to see the Iraokhor group who stayed at Ogbona, are not expected to see Iraokhor group so they go into hiding (ill the Ogbona group returns from Fugar.
THE SLOW MOVEMENT ROUND THE TOWN AND MERRY MAKING (Mhe okolo; me oko bin)
Having returned from Fugar, the Age-group members of both sexes in Ogbona dress gorgeously in the morning of the next day (Ekhue) and assemble at their president’s house. From there they move to the market square and in a single file trek meandering forward and backward, in a chameleon’s style round the town1 with the following songs, in two verse.
Solo Mhe Okolo
Chorus Mhe Okolo bia
– Mhe Okolo, Mhe Okolo bia
Solo Egbemhe Okpisa
Chorus Mhe Okolo bia etc.
Solo -Ogai ikhe ze
Chorus Mhe Okolo bia
Solo – Izo Otsuemhi
Chorus Mhe Okolo bia
Solo Ige gbe Evhio
Chorus Mhe Okolo bia
2nd Stage Solo – Ga ga da
Chorus – Gaga ga da.
The first verse meaning: I, am adult I, am an adult I now contribute yams I now pay tax I now contribute maize I no longer kill rabbit etc.
This ceremony which takes place only at Ogbona is very significant for two reasons
The movement round the town punctuated at intervals with backward paces when the second verse is sung, signifies that an adult walks/moves with care and with backward glances.
The meaning of the first verse is self-explanatory but for the avoidance of doubt I explain the historical significance. It was and is still the practice in Avhianwu clan that new Initiate are the additions every other year to every village tax assessment list. It was the practice for all initiated adults to contribute yams and maize to visitors to town as a mark of hospitality for which the Africans are well known. On the other hand, it is the practice that homage is paid in words and in kind to the eldest of sub-units or village.
It has been a development of late for these young initiates together at the Market Square after the morning ceremony to receive gifts from relations, fiancés and fiancées. This ceremony is a form of reception marked with dances and booming of den guns. It inculcates into the adolescents the virtue of goodness and kindness because it serves as a miniature judgment for the Initiates. Those that have led good lives side by side with their neighbours receive the great honour in cash and in words while those that have been arrogant, proud and wicked receive less applause and gifts.
So, one could gather that apart from the significant historical importance of this ceremony moral and corresponding goodwill have played a magnificent role in the peaceful life of the village, This age old custom amplifies the modern trend of thought of goodwill, loyalty to government, subscription of one’s quota (in terms of tax) to the upliftment of governmental development plans.
FATTENING IN AN ENCLOSURE (IGERA)
The period of fattening usually last for seven days. The initiates construct a sort of enclosure with wrappers and remain secluded from the general public and abstain from all forms of physical exertion. They remain there from dawn till dusk eating rice, pounded yam, foo-foo, and beans in fact nourishing foods. It is all singing, eating and no work. Their songs sound sentimental. The following is one.
Ukhekho no lo mha ye e e e
Ka gho mha gho o
kabu no se o gho
“My faraway fiancée/fiancée
Come and see me
As I majestically tune some songs
As if I were the king of chimpanzees
Slinking the morning note”
The youth move round in the evening along farm paths collecting farm products from farmers. They also enter gardens to pluck oranges, coco-nuts, pears, and plantains. Messengers may hand over a single plantain to a co-female initiate. This means that the female initiate is expected to bring a basin full of fried plantain the next morning. Whatever foodstuff is handed over to a female initiate presupposes what is expected from her the next morning, flic practice of singing and eating which is a sort of picnic continues for a period of seven days. It is on the seventh day the final ritual is make with a big she goat and kola-nut.
THE KILLING OF A GOAT AND THE BREAKING OF KOLA
The ceremony lakes place on the seventh day. Previously, any person who offends the initiates provided the goat, or the initiates get hold of any she goat that come their way. Nowadays, the Age-group father provides in the event of no erring person during the initiates stay in the enclosure.
The oldest man slaughters the goat. Before he cuts the throat he repeats…. “As from this day you are reckoned with as virile men and women of our land, you are now full-fledged members of the society, subject to the payment of taxes etc. He breaks the kola and the young initiates disperse to their respective homes to prepare for the next age.
This initiation ceremony into womanhood does not end with fattening in an enclosure as with men but extends to Ogbhe feast and ends with it.
Ceremonies are many and varied. The significance of this feast is that it marks a period when all marriageable girls and who have finances were given out in marriage.
On the actual festive day, all the girls are led in a procession to the Ogbhe Shrine. The Ogbhe priest signs the girls with white chalk on her forehead and back. She is given a white piece to take home. As the priest signs the girls he prays that her marriage with the husband be fruitful. In the past, girls went to the Ogbhe shrine naked completely. The idea is to prove to the world that girl’s attendance at the shrine are pure, standing as at birth before the shrine.
No girl that has not been signed with chalk customarily at this shrine is expected to be put in a family way. If such happens, the pride of such a girl and the members of the family flicker to disrepute. Women who lead these girls to the Ogbhe Shrine plays some note on the gong, they strike the gong saying the following: “Who does not know my girl, come and see her. Don’t go home to tell lies. Angelina the princess is passing. I have full salt and not half; etc.
All are directed at singing the praise of the girl. To say that she is well behaved well-mannered and to crown it all that she is a virgin.
In the evening, members from quarters of fiancés of these girls, dance to their girl’s houses to ask for the release of these girls for marriage. After the fulfillment of all financial obligations the girl’s one after the other arc handed over to their respective husbands. Girls know their age-group because they are usually married out the same day. But this idea changed when in 1945 soldiers inundated the clan with money demanding their wives at random. Girls can now be given out at any time negotiation between the two families are completed. Age-group is now reckoned for this purpose from one New Year (Aduikukwa) to another. All girls who are given out in marriage within one year (native reckoning) form one age-group for girls.
It is perhaps pertinent, at this stage to say something about the order of seniority in women age-groups sets. Unlike the men age-group sets, seniority is not predetermined. It depends purely on luck. The first woman to get a surviving child becomes the senior. In any gathering of the age set, she acts as president. The unfortunate one without a child becomes last but not the least on the seniority list.
The feast of Ogbhe takes place between the months of November and December hence age-group initiation ceremonies is deemed completed after this feast.
TRADITIONS AND CUSTOMS
The clan is known for its belief in and respect for traditions and customs. Each of the lunar months has a corresponding native feast. Some of the feasts are movable while other are immovable. Below is a table showing some of the feasts and the months in which they are celebrated.
JANUARY – FEBRUARY UKI UKPE
FEBRUARY – MARCH UKI ADUKUKWA (NEW YEAR)
MARCH – APRIL UKIAVA UKPE
APRIL – MAY OKIALAI UKPE
MAY – JUNE UKI UTU
JUNE – JULY UKI OKHUI OZIBO
JULY – AUGUST UKI ESI
AUGUST – SEPTEMBER UKI OGHIE
SEPTEMBER – OCTOBER UKI AGHIE
OCTOBER – NOVEMBER UKI OGBHE
NOVEMBER – DECEMBER UKI UGHUE
DECEMBER – JANUARY UKI ATALIMI
Paper presented by SIR P. S. ELETA at the Is Seminar organized by OGBONA COMMUNITY as part of OGBONA DAY CELEBRATION, – 29″‘ and 30″‘ March 2002