THE OGBONA CULTURAL DANCES AND TROUPES BY BERNARD KASIM IKHANE
IVHIA-IBANA OR IYABANA OR IBANA
Ivhia-Ibana is an esoteric and mystic guild of initiates who dwell in the realm of the spirits and visit our world from midnight to the free hour of the morning, to administer justice by announcing enacted laws by the elders and leaders of our society. They also pronounce curses and mete out punishments to offenders of the laws of the land. They are considered as the representatives of our ancestors who live in the underworld.
They are known all over Avhianwu, Weppa Wanno, and Ekperi. Apart from Ibana, they are also known as IKUAWA. The name could be called as Ivhia-Ibana or Iyabana. Their shrine (EBO) is located in Okula, deep in the heart of
the jungle. They also have a representational abode located beside the village market. It has a conical shape made of zinc from top to almost the ground. They also possess a mobile house, also of a conical shape, shaped with flowering clothes in which they travel around the village in the early mornings to dispense justice before retiring to their underworld.
Ivhia-Ibana, being a mystic band of nocturnal spirits, speak in muffled mysterious voices. Their language, called Igha, is highly encrypted and unearthly, and requires an interpreter to convey messages to the uninitiated.
The night that they are performing, no woman or child is allowed to come outside of their house or see them.
The Ivhia-Ibana guild of nocturnal spirits was said to have been imported from the tribes of the Igala, in present day Kogi State via Anegbette in Etsako Central LGA, Edo State at about 1878 AD. The pioneers, Ogbhumhie from Ivhiobore, and Akhughie Odimhalo brought the dance from Anegbette to Ogbona. Ogbhumhie was the first supreme leader (Ogadigbe). He was succeeded by Amedu Aghemheso, Ifaorumhe Okhoghiemhe, Akhughie Odumhalo and presently, Akhughie Ilemho. And the present patron (Eri-Ibana) is Chief Joseph Eboitse Oshiotse.
- a) They enforce laws on behalf of the Okphe-Ukpi and the elders of the land.
- b) They pronounce curses on law breakers by camping around the offender’s abode for whole nights.
- c) They provide entertainment during festive and funeral rites when invited.
The infamous episode involving IDAYE and the Ivhia-Ibana remains indelible in our memory till date. Against the express prohibition against plucking of mangoes from trees, Idaye, in defiance of the law plucked mangoes on his way to his farm. The Ivhia-Ibana, in carrying out their penalty, besieged his compound for seven nights and defecated around his entire abode in addition to raining curses on him till he paid the fine that was imposed on him.
One of the Iyabana issues was with Eramha Apemhe Asekomhe. Iyabana came to his house sing and abuse him. He told his wife of the Iyabana that was abusing him. That led to several more nights of stake out and abuse by Iyabana.
Another case was involving T.Y. Abu who called police for Iyabana, accusing them of eating all the meat in his soup. He went ahead to describe the chicken he used to cook the soup. Basel Alabi then Ogadigbe of Iyabana and John Ikhane were arrested and taken to the police station in Fugar. Jacob Orbih was mandated to go and bail them. T.Y. Abu insisted that Iyabana must pay for his pot of soup
AGBI CULTURAL DANCE TROUPE BY BERNARD KASIM IKHANE
Agbi dance is a highly energetic and aesthetic display of dancing artistry. It involves the rhythmic stamping, hopping and springing of the feet, alternately, to achieve a reverberating movement of the entire body while flaying the hands freely in the air using horse tail.
It is an all-female dance troupe. The drums are beaten by the men folks. The drums are bass-tuned and they are played with dexterity by the men player to achieve precision and the tempo is time-paced with equal levels of crescendo and diminuendo. The sonorous music emanating from the drumming and the dance steps of the troupe are always a thing of beauty to behold. Most of the songs that accompany the dancing and drumming are, in most cases, laced with satires and innuendoes to achieve their peak performance and their didactic value.
The Agbi dance is native to Weppa-Wano and Avhianwu Clans as, according to Jacob Orbih, “They grew up to meet the dance”. Thus, it’s not known for certain from whence or where it originated from.
Among the drummers (men) where:
Richard Asekomhe, Amalu Emamhe, Akpemheiye, Ifaorumhe, Jacob Orbih, John Anasaki Odogbo, Osiregbemhe Ivhador, Kadiri Ikoko, Yakubu Enamhegbai, Omolua Akhughie, etc.
The lead women singers were:
Comfort Omiawa, Celena Idanwekhai, Imayoni Idogho, Victoria Abu, etc.
Others, mainly dancers are:
Ikharelu, Ogimhi Asekomhe, Orakhi Okhipo, Aishetu Enamhegbai (who was the last women leader).
- One big drum.
- One small drum
- A two-in-one Ikhede (smaller drums)
- Aze (maracas)
- Ulu (Gong).
- Itsavhe (ankle jingles)
- Ikaba (small bells), thrown over the shoulders/waist by the women.
OCCASIONS THAT CALL FOR THEIR PERFORMANCE
It is a dance for all seasons, especially, during burial ceremonies, marriages and other social events.
The Ogbona Agbi troupe takes pride in that fact that they groomed the Ayogwiri, Jattu and Iyora troupes. The coronation events that led to the enthroning of Chief Oboarekpe as the Clan Head of Avhianwu Clan after a hard-fought legal battle saw the troupe perform from dusk to dawn, non-stop, for the first time.
REVIVAL OF THE DANCE
From a reliable source, they have started making costumes in an attempt to revive it.
In the ‘80s, Mr. Joseph Emorughu Asapokhai (of Blessed Memory) was a dependable patron & promoter of the Agbi No. 1 Dance Group of Ogbona. He regularly hosted the group in Warri during family and community celebrations. They performed a number of times at the Shell Staff Club in Warri and at Warri Club. Perhaps their last visit to Warri, was when Papa brought them to perform at a marriage ceremony in Warri for his friend, Chief P. Okolo (from Ugbenor). Their rendition of the ‘hit’ marriage track 🎼*Ire ‘mesomi ya ughe oyor yor yor..*🎼 was fantastic and left the crowd of guests ecstatic.
IGIELEGHE OR OKAKAGBE DANCE BY BERNARD KASIM IKHANE
Igieleghe OR Okakagbe dance is a mixed-grilled acrobatic dance lanced with calisthenics and fast-paced rhythmic dance steps by energetic female dancers. It constitutes a set of female dancers and a set of males who play the instruments. The lead female dancer controls the pace and rhythm of the dance with a whistle. The dance is highly electrifying and captivating. Presently, the dance is moribund.
The dance originated from Esan (Ishan) land and was brought to Ogbona by Ikhane Igbodegie from Azukhala in Ekperi Clan.
PROMINENT MEMBERS OF THE TROUPE
Among the males were Ikhane Igbodegie who introduced the dance and he in turn invited Orbih Jacob, Ikhane Yakubu, Utu Igbadumhe, Sunday Dunia, Esuana Ebode, among others, as pioneer members.
Prominent female members were Ayebutu Ogbamhudu, Amiosino Ikhane, Amina Ikhane, Emesomhi Ikhane, Ilamosi Ogah, Utu James, Emesomhi James, Afishetu Aigba, etc.
The instruments consist of:
1. Three cylindrical shaped drums covered at both ends.
2. Two gongs (ULO)
3. ANKLE JINGLES (ITSAVHE) made from cherry seeds.
4. Bells (Ikaba) strung over the shoulder.
5. Whistle, blown by the lead female dancer to control the dance steps and rhythm.
The drums were played by Utu Igbadumhe, Jacob Orbih and Sunday Dunia, while the gongs were played by Ogbamhudu Barnabas and Ozibe Matthew.
OCCASIONS THAT CALL FOR THEIR PERFORMANCE
1) Festive periods
3) Marriage/social ceremonies.
In 1964 and 1966, the troupe won first positions to represent Bendel (Edo) State in Ibadan and Lagos, respectively, where they came second on both occasions but did not qualify to represent Nigeria in Dakar, Senegal.
The troupe also went as far as representing Bendel State in Kanji, Niger State.
Johnson Imonikhe Odior Great memories…..The second pix of the female dancer in the air is my mum – Florence Aishenetu Aigba (Odior) , we use to have that pix in our family album. I remember vividly my paternal grandma used to call her “Iketsavhe”, that is “I don’t need ankle jingles”…The blood still flows in her children mostly ME (Laugh). Thanks uncle Gilbert Odior for sharing these memories…..
IKPELUEMHE DANCE TROUPE OF OGBONA
AIMHI (Egwu Ekwulobia) BY BERNARD KASIM IKHANE
IKPELUEMHE dance troupe, otherwise known as Amhi (Egwu Ekwulobia- corrupted in Etsako language as “Ebokobia”) is the foremost dance troupe in Ogbona. It originated from the town Ekwulobia in Anambra State. It came into Ogbona as far back as 1945 from Ekwulobia.
It is made up of male dancers and, sometimes female dancers whose performance heralded the male troupe. It started with children, but by 1949, adults were introduced as prime dancers and drummers. The troupe centre was situated in Okhaimera Ikhiagwa house in Ivhiorevho quarters for years till 2014, when it moved to Ivhiochie under the leadership of Chief Moses Ogboalo.
ASPECTS/CATEGORIES OF MASQUERADES
Amhi is a conglomeration of several masquerades each with its unique display of dance steps, costumes and patterns of drumming. We have the solo dancers and the band dancers sets of troupes.
THE SOLO DANCERS:
Idu: – It wears a very massive headgear with horns and protruding teeth. It is very fearful and moves with the air of great pride. Its costume is made of fluffy raffia palms with hues of bright colours which makes it appear larger than life. In fact, Idu epitomizes fear and pride.
Ojeika: – Ojeika is a fast-moving masquerade that epitomizes madness and fury. It moves quickly and casts fears on onlookers. It is usually controlled by a handler who reins it in with a rope tied to its waist to restrain it from committing havoc. It carries fires on its crown with smoke bellowing upwards as it strides along.
Okpeneke: – This is a gentle masquerade with an eagle beak mounted on its headgear. It dances with grace.
Egwu-Hausa (Hausa Masquerade): – It got its name from the height with rests on prop sticks on which it strides and dances. Mostly clothed in red attire, it is a sight to behold whenever it appears as it towers above most houses that we grew up to meet as children. It can gallop and dance to heavy beats of drumming and clapping.
Other solo masquerades are Afulele, Eji beneji (Oghughu) the one that is pregnant with twins.
THE DANCE TROUPE
There is the female set and the male set.
THE FEMALE SET (AIMHI EMOSI): – This is an all-female dance troupe that heralds the male set. It comprises of between 8 to 12 girls of different age brackets. They dance with horse whips and are dressed in colourful pleated skirts and breast tubes. Prominent among these dancers are: Etiya Okhamhera, Uwayo Arolo, Ayebutu Ogbamhudu, Emesomhi Ikhane, Amina Ikhane etc. (Please fill in the names if you can recall).
The female dance troupe dances with grace, measured tempo and in grand style laced with mild callisthenic displays.
THE MALE SET (AIMHI EMOH)
ODOGWU: – The male set comprises of the mother of the masquerades called Odogwu. It carries in its head a heavy gear with toy babies of different colours and shapes. It has a new born baby (Amhi nikeke or Avhia mhi) that accompanies her when she appears. She usually does a mock drama of breastfeeding or feeding the baby masquerade. It is always exciting watching this drama.
OTUGO AND HIS ACCOMPANY BROTHERS AND SISTERS: This is the lead dancer among the five to seven band dancers. They comprise of some with male features and some with female features marked with either the presence or absence of breasts on the costume worn by the masquerades. The Otugo does the preamble dance round the square first and others follow in their respective orders. After the preamble by each masquerade, they then queue to do the several main dance steps. Their dances are so synchronized and harmonically controlled by the flutist.
PROMINENT MALE DANCERS
Moses Ibadele, Ikhai Okhimamhe, Otoaye, Egebe, Okeke Ilenuma, Okpo Imhonopi (baby masquerade), etc.
- Odu (metal pot)
- Olu (Big & small gongs)
- Drums: –
- Obigba (Big open-ended drum)
- smaller drums each with a uniquely defined tune.
- Agidigbo (played with two sticks)
- Uke or Ukpuke (Flute)
Musa Otoaye, Akpeokhai George, Igechi, Ikhane Anthony (the quintessential flutist), Bello Omwunuma, Adomhokhai, Francis Ilegah, Shaibu Ako, Adebisi, Okharu Oshomogbo etc.
- Okhaimera Ikhiagwa (Ivhiorevho)
- Osikhuemhe (Okotor)
- Idode (Ivhiochie)
- Okhumhale Ekaevhe (Ivhido)
- Chief Moses Ogboalo (Ivhiochie)
All seasons and as per request for burials or social ceremonies or free entertainment during festive periods.
The most Iconic moment was when the troupe went to perform for Bruno Oshiokpekhai from Afashio during his mother’s burial. It is on record that was when dollars rained on the troupes for the first and only time. They were invited for the ceremony, courtesy of Saliu Eleta, Bruno’s friend.
PRESERVATION OF THE DANCE
The troupe is requesting about N120,000 (One Hundred and Twenty Thousand Naira only) to re-kit the masquerades and purchase instruments. It is still very much active though.
Evang Godwin Asekomhe This reminds me of my childhood days in the village when I and a host of my childhood and primary school friends formed Children Ebokobia Dance Troupe. Late Pa Oshiomhogho was our patron. Nathaniel Onwude Oshiomhogho, Sunday Ako, late Boniface Okozi and a host of others were members. I was playing a dual role in the troupe. I was playing the flute as well as masqueraded as Ojeika. Sunday Ako was masqueraded as Idu, while Nathaniel Oshiomhogho was masqueraded as Odogu. It was quite exciting and lively. Our masquerade uniforms were sewed by late Oghie Ako. We used to perform once in a year. It was one of the ways youths of our time generate fund to meet the troupe’s need as well as our school needs. In Etsako Kingdom, masquerade troupes are purely for entertainment. They are not violent except Ojeika that carries cane to threaten people just to scare them. You voluntarily join without monetary involvement. No initiation of any sort. Whereas in Yoruba, Igbo and Calabar kingdoms, masquerade is a cult and involves initiation that involves ritual and sacrifices. Nobody wears masquerade uniform without being officially initiated. In Yoruba tribe, membership of masquerade is restricted to family or kindred and is hereditary from generation to generation. If your family or kindred is not a traditional masquerade carrier you dare not attempt to wear masquerade uniform. These masquerades come out on special traditional festivals. Masquerades don’t come out without performing some rituals and sacrifice. There are some that come out at night and some by day. Some must not be seen by women nor strangers. In Ibadan for example Ololu Masquerade come out once in a year during Oke – Ibadan festival. It comes out in broad daylight and must not be seen by women. The devotees carry cane not just to embarrass and scare people but actually flog anybody they come across or come across them. A similar violent action is in vogue in Igbo and Calabar tribes. Not only are they violent but embarrass and extort money from commuters. Not so in Etsako and Avhianwu Clan Masquerades. Our masquerades depend absolutely on what they paid to hire them to entertain people at parties and money sprayed on them when performing. Membership is not restricted to family nor kindred. In the deem past, masquerade members practiced not in the community in full view of people but in specially prepared place in the bush called Okula, later with the advent of civilization, Okula was moved to the community in a secluded backyard of the leader shielded and shaded with raffia palms. The only secrecy of masquerade is that personalities that carry masquerades are not disclosed to general public. Peradventure, you may know but must not disclose it. Masquerade in Avhianwu clan, like any other traditional African Society, are seen and regarded as spirits of the ancestors.
ILO DANCE BY BERNARD KASIM IKHANE
Ilo dance is one of the commonest forms of dances in Ogbona. It can be traced back to time immemorial and no one is certain as to how and when it came to be. The masquerade is accompanied by a small boy who carries a wooden box and sits on it throughout the duration of the performance. No one knows exactly the content of the box, but it is often said that the spirit and prowess of the masquerade resides in the box.
The masquerade’s attire is made of white cotton material with stripes either of red or purple or pink. It carries a white fluffy turf on its head and around its waist is tied a colourful drape of strips made from raffia palm.
The Ilo dance is a very energetic type of dance. The dancers are flit-footed and acrobatic. It involves complex and intricate dance steps and back-flip and over-head somersaults, qualities that differentiate one expert from the other.
Each of the then known four quarters of Ogbona; Ivhiorevho, Ivhido, Ivhiochie and Okoto boasted of one of theirs. While some are known for their flit-footedness others are marked by their aesthetic callisthenic displays. It is in the later-case that the Ivhiorevho Ilo ranked heads and shoulders above all others. His acrobatic artistry was of a hyperbolic and panoramic reputation.
(a) Two small drums
(b) Agbadi (The biggest and lead drum that sets the tune).
The drums form the centre piece of the music. They are bass-based with thunderous reverberations.
- Two gongs (Uloh)
The Ilo masquerades have their stage names and not known by their personal names, hence you have Ikenigbas, the Ogeyemhes, and the Ogiayos. They are not supposed to be identifiable by those outside the circle, however some prominent performers were still identified
- Atsada Egbhatse
- Egbu Ateghie
- Abuke Amalu
- Inusa Okhipo
- Osiregbemhe Eleta (Ozigono)
Some of the prominent drummers are: Uworati Anabor, Azenobo Anakhu, Gimoh Eleta, Igichie Obiaza, Alasa Obiazia, Enilama Okhumholor, Okpapi, Osiregbemhe Ivhador etc.
Some of the dancers have performed in Badagry (Lagos State) for competitions. On one occasion they came out tops.
IZI DANCE BY BERNARD KASIM IKHANE
It is an all-female dance troupe which started to gain ground in Ogbona around the year 1949. It was introduced to the women folks by Madam Titi Enegwea. It is a slow-paced and easy-going dance with timed-rhythm.
Madam Titi Enegwea, Madam Margaret Asekomhe, Christiana Anabor and their patron is Iyevhobu, while Osiregbemhe is the current acting patron.
- Ighede (Twin cylindrical-shaped drums)
- Uloh (Small gong)
- Azeh (Maracas)
- Osiregbemhe (Ikor’s father). He played the Ighede
- Vincent Asekomhe
PERIODS OF PERFORMANCE
Though not as popular as it used to be, they still perform during burial ceremonies or any other social occasion they are invited.
In 1973, they travelled to Kaduna for a competition where they won first position after winning in the qualifying rounds in Auchi and Benin City.
IGIOGE OR IJIOGE DANCE BY BERNARD KASIM IKHANE
The dance was introduced in the early 1970s. It is mainly a dance for the female folks while the male folks play the drums. It used to be a popular dance. However, it has not been performed of recent. The last time it was performed is about 8years ago.
- Two drums – Ube and Abebe (Talking drum)
- One Gong (Uloh)
- Two Maracas (Azeh)
- Traditional attire
PEOPLE ASSOCIATED WITH THE DANCE
Oba Uruamhi, Erua Aluoghor, Paul Eshiemomoh etc.
UKEH DANCE BY BERNARD KASIM IKHANE
Ukeh dance can be traced to ancient Ogbona. It is a dance that has been passed down from age group to age group. It is often taught to newly initiated boys and girls. Ukeh dance is peculiar to the Ogbona people and each quarter exhibits varied and unique peculiarities in the modes and styles of dance steps and attires.
- Uloh (gong)
- Azeh (Maracas)
PROMINENT PERSONS ASSOCIATED WITH THE DANCE
Elina Musa, Thomas Anavheokhai, Emamhe Johnbull, Erua Aluoghor, Pius Agbogu etc.
PERIODS OF PERFORMANCE
They perform at all times, all seasons and during any social event if invited.
ATSAMHUKHOKHO DANCE BY BERNARD KASIM IKHANE
Atsamhukhokho dance is a dance that is mainly done during the celebration of Avhianwu traditional new year (Aduikukwa). The dance is still very popular; however, both the dance steps and costume have been modified.
PIONEERS OF THE DANCE
Elanor (Uwhamhi), Orakhi Okhipo, Okozi Omoege, Aigbogun (Leader)
PROMINENT PEOPLE ASSOCIATED WITH THE DANCE
Orakhi Okhipo, Aigbodesi Akalika, Ikhapola Orbih, Okenne (Izaghidi’s mother), Ebaokpotso Eleta, Oghogho Enegwea, Abamu Aigba.
- Uloh (gong)
- Azeh (Maracas)
- Igbogoneh (calico cloth)
- Itsavhe (ankle jingles)
Enaikhamhenor Thomas, Isabiti Ighomina, Aikenosi Idedeghu, Asekomhe Queen, Asekomhe Rose, Okozi Angela, Asekomhe Theresa.
It is known to have performed mystic dances to usher in rain if there is a drought. They also perform for individuals and groups upon request. They were recently invited by Chief Dan Osi Orbih to perform for him.