Igbo Kwenu! Kwenu Kwezue nuooo!
You will always hear this chant in a loud voice during celebrations or festivities, an Igbo man’s way of greeting in a large communal gathering, in acknowledgement of their unity and kinship. Speaking about festivities, the Igbos are known to celebrate in colours. Women adorned in george, coral beads, waist beads and “uli” to show their natural beauty and essence and men attired in “isi agu” threaded lion head fabric. Dancers gyrating to the sounds from the village drums and the “oghene”. The cheers from villagers and well-wishers accompanied by the harmonious call of the “Opi” and acrobatic display of the atilogwu dancers brought to life every festival in the Igbo land. The rich cultural display leaves you standing on your feet, dancing to the magic of sounds amidst great food (Okpa, Abacha, Akidi etc) dipped in palm oil and fresh palm wine.
Through GIGM’s journey in the Igbo lands, we have enjoyed the tastes of their food and wealth of cultures. Today, we will be taking you through the colourful and exquisite richness of Enugu State “coal city” and its cultural festivals.
There are lovely festivals that celebrate the culture and heritage of the Enugu people. Some of the popular festivals are the Odo Festival, Mmanwu (Masquerade) Festival and “iri-ji keji” the New Yam Festival. These festivals symbolize the interaction between the people and their ancestors. In the olden days, masquerades doubled as a symbol of law and cultural entertainment.
1.“iri-ji keji” THE NEW YAM FESTIVAL
Iri-iji meaning “eating yam” is celebrated between August and November. The festival is done to show gratitude to the gods of the land for his assurance all through the cultivating year till the harvest time. The new yam is the evidence of a good life with accomplishments, it marks the end of harvest and the beginning of the next farming cycle. During the festival sons and daughters of the community come together and reaffirm the bond of brotherhood, sometimes, trading yams that they gathered and other farming items like goats, chicken etc.
2. MMANWU FESTIVAL
Mmanwu simply means masquerade. The Mmanwu festival is a celebration of masquerades. These masquerades are believed to be a reincarnation of the spirit of the dead. In other words, the spirit of the dead is invoked into a masquerade hence why these masquerades are said to be sacred. Mmanwu adorned in elaborate colourful attires are of different sizes and shapes, from Ojionu (water spirit masquerade depicted by water creatures to Agaba, Mkpamkpanu, Enyi–mmanwu (elephant), Mmanwu Ugo (Eagle), Mmanwu Ube (tortoise) and Ijele which is always outstanding because of its resplendent attire.
3. THE ODO FESTIVAL
This festival in done once in 2 years. In Enugu ngwo the famous amongst all is “Ezata” it’s normally beautified with different types of hollandaise and other beautiful wrappers. The night before the festival begins, a meal of yam and native chicken will be prepared and everyone both rich and poor will eat from the same pot, with no preferential treatment. After the daytime parade with colourful odos in the evening, an ancestral drum called “Mgbereke” will be beaten to herald the coming of “Ezata”, then the dancing “obuozougwu” will commence. After the festival “ODO” will be taken to a place called “OGBA”, there it will stay till the next festival in 2 years.
Enthralling tales of history and culture we must say. There is so much more, but we would love for you to experience them yourself. Like also taking a tour visit to the acclaimed Awhum waterfall and Ozalla lake and shrine.
Enugu has also given us some great talents in the likes of A-Class music artists like Flavor & Phyno and legendary actors Nkem Owoh (Osuofia), John Okafor (Mr Ibu) even the critically acclaimed actor Chiwetel Ejiofor who starred in Chimamanda Adichie’s (also from Enugu) Half of a Yellow Sun and 12 years a Slave, among others is of Enugu descent.
The appeal to Enugu state is endless!
We urge you to experience these adventures of the coal city in all of its glory and feel for yourself the rush of excitement and awe-inspiring vibe we get when we tell the stories of Enugu.
Have you experienced any of the festivals or sights in Enugu State?
If yes, share your experience with us.
If No, book a trip to Enugu state today via the GIGM app, you can even opt for our pick-up service and you will be picked up from your chosen bus stop to our Enugu terminal.
You can also experience the culture and people of Enugu state with your friends, just hire a bus with GIGM and enjoy comfort while you travel.
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We can’t wait to start exploring with you.