Tuesday 28 February 2017

Voodoo In Benin Republic

Republic of Benin, West Africa has celebrated the 23rd Voodoo festival 2016. The festival means a lot to the people, a religion approved by the government with more than 60% of the population devoted to it.

Media reports indicate that since 1997, followers have gathered at Ouidah, a town in Benin to be blessed by the city's Voodoo chief who sacrifices a goat as an offering to the spirits on the day.
During the celebration, tourists watch devotees in animal skins chanting and dancing to drumbeats and share a glass or two of Gin with the locals.

The highlights are but of course the voodoo dolls found in tents adorned with flags that represent various sects. But there's a lot more than pierced dolls, the celebration witnesses horse race on the beach and the intriguing world of occult in full swing.
It would be recalled that in 1996 the government of Benin decreed that Voodoo was an official religion practiced by over 10 million residents in the country.

For most Beninese, Voodoo is an integral part of everyday life. Ouidah is the spiritual capital of Voodoo and was once a major slave trading post of the west African country.

On January 10 every year, the festival takes place on the beach. Thousand of believers gather in Ouidah, the historical centre of the religion to receive blessings from the Voodoo chief. The ceremony is one of Benin's most colourful and spectacular cultural events.


Sharo Cultural Festival

In Nigeria, when you think of slave trade and the colonisation of Africa, one picture readily comes to mind for those who are not privileged to witness the period. This picture is portrayed in the award winning movie casted in Gambia, 'The Roots'. One of the fascinating aspects of this movie is the rite of passage for the adolescent to attain manhood. This movie, based on a true story tale depicts the Kinte family with their son Kunta Kinte who at the age of 15 joined other adolescents to perform a tribal "coming of manhood", rite of passage to become Mandinka warriors. In the same vein the Fulani people of West Africa characterised with culturally diverse and dispersed people practice the Sharo/Shadi festival. This festival is the most important festival to the Fulfulde speaking nomads to test the bravery of their adolescents.

Sharo cultural festival as a major event in the Fulani settlements attracts people from all works of life to witness the bravery spectacle exhibited by the young and energetic Fulanis. Despite the festival has over the years being eroded with the introduction of Islam, the Jafun Fulani in Nigeria still hold this age long festival in high esteem. The festival is held twice in a year, during the dry-season guinea corn harvest and the Muslim festival of Id-el-Kabir. Thus, the Sharo festival would have just been concluded few days back.

Usually held in a market place for a week, the festival displays the test of endurance and elicit the strength and perseverance of young males to withstand the pain emanating from severe flogging. This public flogging is of vital importance to the nomadic Fulani, and all kinds of customs and ceremonies are rooted in it. As prelude to this festival, various kinds of entertainment are available which include the maidens dance, performances by minstrels, and all kinds of tricksters.

Sharo, literally meaning flogging meeting, is a kind of sport to the nomadic fulanis. The festival is a test of bravery in which young men lash each other to the point of utmost endurance. The core of the Sharo festival begins with bare-chested contestants, usually unmarried men, approaching the centre ring, escorted by entourage of amazingly beautiful girls. The thunderous cheers of the crowd and drumming engulf the scene of the event coupled with great expectation from the family of the contestant. Following this, the challenger generally of the same age with the contestant comes to the centre of the stage bare-chested as well wielding a mind blowing strong, supple cane about a half inch thick, brandishing it with the sole aim of scaring his opponent.

After the show of intense competition between the competitor and the challenger with the excitement at its highest pitch, the flogging begins. The challenger flogs his opponent without an ounce of sympathy. The victim stoically withstands the flogging sometimes drawing blood, without wincing or showing pain. Just like every other contemporary games, the Sharo festival also has its own referees who are saddled with the responsibility to ensure that the blows are rightly struck and there is fair flogging of the opponent.

Surrounded by family members, friends and well wishers, the opponent is motivated with their support and their readiness to offer gifts and other bounties for him if he was able to withstand the pain till the end of the proceedings.
It is worthy of note that sometimes the opponents chant some incantations, use charm or pain resistant drug to fortify them in the course of the flogging. All of these do not matter in the festival as the only paramount interest of observers is the ability of the victim to withstand the pain without any show of pain but to ask for more of the whips.

Mostly, the severe floggings leave some indelible scars on the victim despite the fact that the Fulani have herbal medicines that heal the wounds fairly quickly. These scars are later displayed as a mark of bravery and sign for the successful transition to manhood.
At the end of the rite of passage marked by Sharo, the brave and enduring once young boy who is now a man is allowed to marry his choice from the spinsters in the clan. With the adherence of Islamic religion, he can marry up to four wives provided he has the ability to cater for them all.

Despite the fact that the Fulani is a nomadic tribe that moves around in the search for pastorals for their herds, they are no less cultured than any other major tribe in Africa.
Their socialisation process is gender specific where the females join their mothers in the kitchen and take care of chores at home. The male on the other hand rear cattle and protect the family. The Fulani culture over the years has been diffused with Islamic tradition leaving them with little practices that survived the cultural mix. One of such predominant practice is the Sharo festival owing to its importance to the Fulfulde speaking people. Little wonder, why today the one unique thing people only remember the Fulani culture with is the Sharo festival that has been preserved for centuries.

–Source: wikipedia

Monday 27 February 2017

Top 10 Exciting Traditional Festivals In Edo State

Edo state has a very rich tradition of festivals and masquerades through which the people either appease the various gods and goddesses, purification of both the land and individual celebrant,initiate men or women into age-grades or as a traditional get-together. More than one hundred major festivals are celebrated in the state between September and March every year. Those celebrations offer opportunities for re-unions of members of the family and friends, it also offers opportunities to visitors to see and feel the rich cultural heritage of the state. More than one hundred major festivals are celebrated in the state between January and December every year.

Some of the festival celebrated in Benin/Edo State include:

1. Igue and Ewere Festivals (Benins Clan):

Igue and Ewere festivals which are perhaps the most colourful and crowd- pulling festivals in among the Benins are combination of various festivals. They are reminiscent of the past events in Benin history. Each of the events is connected with past Obas around whom Benin customs and traditions are woven. The Igue festival is celebrated annually by every reigning Oba and all Benin citizens at home and abroad to mark the end of the Bini year and to usher in a new one with renewed hope for peace and prosperity. The ancient Igue festival is akin to the white man's New Year ceremony. Before the innovations introduced by Oba Akenzua II Igue was normally celebrated during the month of September to climax a series of ceremonies, including Ugiododua, Ikpoleki, Rhor, Ugioro, Ugi' gun or Isiokuo and Ihiekhu.

Cows, goats, fowls and other beasts are prodigiously slaughtered to propitiate the spirits of the departed Obas and the various gods of the people. Before the European era, the number of human beings slaughtered during this period of the year approximated in quantitative terms to that of the lesser animals. In those days, most of the ceremonies were held at night, a situation which made the lives of the ordinary citizens most insecure.

2. Eho Festival (Benins Clan):

Like Igue and Ewere festivals Eho is one of the popularly cherished festivals celebrated in Edoland it is an annual festival celebrated in mid-September. It dates back to pre-historical period and is occasions for paying homage to ancestors in every family unit; a period for cementing the unity of all brethren in the family fold and an occasion in which gifts are sent to fathers-in law.
Besides paying homage, the Binis believe that all who die hold meeting and appoint a time for answering prayer and soliciting for their children on earth before a more Supreme Being who they call Osa. This is why Eho festival is celebrated at various homes within a given period which lasts from nine days to two weeks.

On the advent of new moon in September, Chief Iyase, the leader of Eghaeybo None (state ministers) tells the Oba that it is time for Eho festival. On the Oba's consents, he goes to prepare, Chief Iyase is always the first among the state ministers to celebrate it while Chief Ihaza is the first to celebrate it among the Eghaevbo-nogbe (palace ministers) it is after these two that other chiefs and commoners can celebrate.
Commoners sacrifice cocks, the chief's cows during the celebration. But kola-nuts cocoa-nuts and assorted types of wines are lavishly used irrespective of the celebrant's status in life. The rich and the well-to-do- also invite old women to their homes to sing traditional songs.

3. Ebomisi Festival (Benins Clan)

Ebomisi a contracted form of Obo- imwen-isi (the herbalist has no permanent station) Is celebrated annually between February and March in commemoration of a famous herbalist and magician.

The festival is celebrated for five days at various dates in the villages forming Ugo clan in Akugbe District of Benin. These are Ugoneki, Ugonoba, Ugo-Emoson, Okuekpen Okogo and Ugbayon.

Ebomisi hailed from Uwan on the Benin /Ifon road and was farming at a place later named after him. The town is today called Ugbogiobo (the chief herbalist's farm).

The date for the commencement of the festivals is fixed at a meeting of the elders including the high priest of Ebomisi after consulting oracle and necessary preparations made. Most of the festival is celebrated at the shrine and masquerades, usually seven in number, visit the village occasionally to dance and pray for peace, good health and prosperity among the entire sons and daughters of Ugo at home and abroad. It is only during these visits to town that women dance and take part in the ceremony.

All sons and daughters of Ugo visit home at the time of this festival to receive blessings from Ebomisi- the men from the shrine and women from the masquerades. Beside festivity which takes place in April at Ugoneki. This is called Isosun.

4. Ohonomoimen Festival Of Iuleha (Owans/Oras clan)

Ohonmoimen in the local language means 'it is all well for me'. As the name implies Ohonmoimen festival is celebrated annually between January and March by Iuleha clan in Owan to mark the end of a fruitful year and the beginning of another. It offers opportunity for expressing gratitude to God, through ancestral gods and the gods of harvest for all the good things of the past. Prayers are also offer for protection and fruitful harvest in the coming year.

The rituals associated with Ohomoimen festival are carried out it three place know as sacred forests in the clan. These are OSEZE forest near okhijo village where the elders meet and appoint a time for the festival; OHIOJO forest and OSI forest where the images, drums and other appurtenances of the masqueraders are kept. The forest is out of bounds both for women and males not yet initiated.

Citizen within a particular age group are initiated every five years and these watch the forests during the festival. On announcement that a date has been fixed for the sacred forests harvest palm-nuts and from these nuts palm oil is made for the ceremonial lamps. The forest are also cleared and kept clean.

A curfew is imposed in the clan on the eve of the festival to allow the celebrants to convey materials to the sacred forests. That also stands as the last time people in the clan are allowed to climb palm tree and sing song other than festival songs. No light is to be seen outside during the curfew except when a pregnant woman is under labour when this does happen the family pays a fine of a she-goat.

5. Adu Ikukun Festival (Afemais/ Ivbiosakon Clan)

In Etsako there are several traditional festival which the people celebrate annually or biennially to commemorate certain historical events of cultural importance. Some of them are celebrated to mark the beginning and the end of the local seasons.

The Adu-Ikukun festival is celebrated by the people of Avianwu clan of Etsako. The clan consists of Fugar. Irakhor, Ogbona, Iviarun and Ivinone villages and to them the festival is of great significance. It is celebrated during the months of February and March to signify the start of the year.

As soon as the festival occasion draws near the various villages in Avianwu begin to organize 'clean up campaigns'. The English translation of Adu-Ikukua is to (throw away dirty) hence a clean- up campaign of all the surrounding in the area is organized.

6. Ukpe Festival (Esan/Ishan Clan)

As the name implies Ukpe (year) is celebrated in June by all the villages comprising Ewohiwi to mark the end of one year and the beginning of another. Homage is paid to ancestors to express gratitude to them for protecting the people throughout the year.

The festival is for a four day duration and held separately by the various village-firstly by Idumuagbor and lastly by Ikeken. The celebration features entertainment, service at the ancestral shrines, exchange of gift and traditional dancing.
The festival ends on a market day when everybody appears gorgeously and dances to the market- place in Ewohimi.

7. Ighele Festival (Esan/Ishan Clan)

Ighele festival is one of the most important festivals in Ishanland . It is celebrated annually in Ewu in the month of June and is significant to the inhabitant of Ewu because of the belief that Ighele brings peace and prosperity. Beside this idea, the festival appeases the ancestors of Ewa.

About a week to the festival the area which encloses the shrine is cleared and well decorated in the traditional norm of Ighele. The festival begins with gorgeous dressing. Young girls and adults appear in their best. The wearing of gold trinkets is commonplace and those who can afford coral beads also put them on, this young girl in company of the adult women dance round the town.

8. Oto Uromi Festival (Esan/Ishan Clan)

As the name implies, Oto-Uromi (Uromi land) is celebrated for a day in July or early August to appease the land of Uromi so as to produce good harvest. It is always held on an Uromi market day, always fived by the Onojie of Uromi acting on the advice of the elders and chiefs. An interval of 15 days is always given between the announcement and the date of celebration to allow for preparation.

It is a customary law that nobody goes to the farm on the day of celebration. Although the entire people of Uromi are involved in it, people from Umuwazi village called Egbele-Iwienbolo and Ikekiala, play a great role.

The ceremony is performed by Iwienbola people on a chosen spot where four sticks of chalk, four kola-nuts, some cowries, ripe pumpkin and a dog are used in appeasing the soil.

9. Ivbamen Or Ororuen Festival Of Ozalla (Owans/Oras clan)

Like other festival celebrated in various parts of Edo state. Ivbamen is celebrated annually for a week in April or May by Ozalla clan in Owan to initiate young men between 28 and 30 years of age into manhood. It also marks the end of one year and the beginning of another. The festival is as old as Ozalla clan itself. Each celebrant participates in it for three consecutive times so that by the time a man of 28 reaches 30, he must have completed the full turn. No young man is allowed to participate in the festival less than twice and if any celebrant dies after performing the ceremony only once, for instance, it is regarded as bad luck for the person.

The date of ceremony is announced five market days earlier by the clan head with the co-operation of the chief priest of river Orhuen. The celebrants then start physical training to enable them run the eight-mile distance from the town to river Orhuen. They also make public announcements about their intention to participate in the festival and promise to bring to the elders information about any obstruction that comes their way.

10. Oriminyan Festival of Oguta- Evbiame (Owans/Oras clan)

Oriminyan is celebrated at Ogute-Evbiame in Emai Clan for three months (January- March), and in some parts of Ora and Iuleha. Although the festival is celebrated annually, a new age group is initiated every fourth year. It is celebrated to ensure peace and plenty in the town. The main features are masquerade dance in the evening at the centre of the town and merriment every five days and young men participate in the events. The masquerades wear marks and image and people regard them as heavenly spirits and not man-made.

The uninitiated is not allowed to come out at night on the first day of the festival when the masquerades parade the town and make awful sound. Women are also forbidden from seeing the enclave where the masquerades are clothed. Dances are held every five days- the market day during the three- month period. When an age group of 25 to 30 years is admitted into the village society as reaching maturity the women of that age group join the men in public festivities. It is usually an expensive undertaking.

Wednesday 22 February 2017

Badagry : A Feast of Coconuts

It is beyond the imagination what Badagry, the ancient port city in Lagos State, will look like without coconut trees, coconut seed, coconut oil, coconut mats, etc. From its coconut fringed beaches to its centuries old households, everywhere is coconut.

It is therefore no surprise that the indigenes of Badagry–the Egun–have decided to institute an annual festival to celebrate this multi-purpose tree that has continued to be the mainstay of their economy.
The weekend beginning August 14, through August 16, was slated to host the maiden edition of "Coconut Festival".

Tagged "Agunke Festival 2009", and coordinated by "Gunuvi Heritage Entertainment'', the festival, according to Egun elders, is also a conscious effort to create a cultural identity for them.
Observers agree with Egun elders that the coconut has indeed been a major factor in Badagry's economic growth as it is found in large quantity in the area.

Records indicate that it has a plantation that stretches more than 200,000 hectares while thousands of people eke out a living via its many dimensions.
From Kweme Ashipa – also known as Seme Border Town – through Boglo, Aivoji, Sakpo, Gbaji, Badagry beaches stretch to several islands including Yovoyan, Gberefun, Topo, Akarakuma and Epe at the border with Ojo local government.

All these vast areas of land have coconut trees on them, whether cultivated or growing wild, and form the major attraction to tourists – local and international.
"The crop has more than one hundred economic uses and that is a lot to be proud of," says Chief Muyideen Adelabu, a trader in Badagry.

Importance of Gani Cultural Festival

Brief history of Kutigi

Kutigi is the administrative headquarter of Lavun Local Government Area of Niger State. It is a quiet but fast growing town. The people speak Nupe as their major language but non Nupe indigenes settle in the town for business and farming activities.

Though it is under the domain of Etsu Nupe, the town still enjoys the rulership of traditional chiefs who are accountable to the Etsu Nupe. The occupation of the people includes farming, fishing, and trading.

Historically, the people of kutigi originated from Kukawa which is in the present Borno State. As nomadic farmers in search of good pasture for their animals, they left Kukawa under the leadership of Maina Abubakar the Zanna of Kukawa during the reign of Mai Ali Ibn Haj Dunama of Ngazargamu (1750-1791). Maina Abubakar and his group arrived at the present day Kutigi during the reign of Etsu Mu'azu of Jima (1759-1969.

Oral evidence stated that when the migrants arrived at the present day Kutigi, they met a hunter Ndayasa and his wife Nnadakun. Their arrival was reported to the Etsu Mu'azu at Jima who later sent a messenger, Gabi Saidu, to Maina Abubakar to know their mission. He told the messenger that he and his people intended to stay in Kutigi for a while as nomads. He sent some gifts (mats, dates and potash) to Etsu Mu'azu of Jima.

The Etsu in return, granted Maina Abubakar and his people permission to stay at Kutigi in peace. It is worthy to note that some few years before Maina Abubakar's arrival in Kutugi; Estu Jibrilu who ruled between 1746 and 1759 was banished from Jima to Kutigi where he died.

The Kukawa migrants who founded the present Kutigi established their own system of administration under Islamic culture. They are popularly known as Benu by the Nupes because of their notable Kanuri tribal marks. In addition, Zanna the chieftaincy title of the head of the migrants was adopted as Zanuwa by the Nupes.

The Kanuri Dynasty of the Kukawa migrants established in Kutigi was initially independent of Jima and the Fulani Dynasty of Bida. The independence was evidenced by the then practice whereby a new Zanuwa (Zanna) was turbaned at Kukawa in Borno State because it is the source of the title. Adama Kolo who succeeded Maina Abubakar travelled to Kukawa to be turbaned as the next Zanna of Kutigi during the reign of Mohammed Gana.
This was the usual practice until Suleiman who was to be turbaned as Zanna died accidentally on his journey to Kukawa for turbaning ceremony. 
When the message of his death got to Shehu Umaru of Kukawa, he sent a letter to the head of Fulani dynastly at Bida authorizing him to turban successive Zanna of Kutigi. This development solved the problem of the long distance between kutigi and Kukawa in far away Borno State and the hazardous nature of the journey to lives.

Under this new development, Mohammed Ndakpata was the first Zanuwa of Kutigi to be turbaned by Etsu Masaba (1841-1847) in Bida.
Subsequently, other successive Zanuwas were turbaned by the present Etsu of Bida till date.

Historically, it is important to note that the Kutigi people, descendant of Kanuri dynasty, were in existence before the establishment of the Fulani dynasty in Bida. Note that Usman Zaki the first ruler of Fulani dynasty in Bida was enthroned in 1832-1841 while Maina Abubabkar and his people arrived in Kutigi at about 1750 A-D.
Fortunately, the relationship between the Fulani dynasty in Bida and the Kanuri dynasty in Kutigi has been on a mutual respect and understanding not that of a master and a servant relationship.

Festivals are periodic celebrations to mark significant events in the life of a community. They are performed to transmit ideas, aspirations, and philosophy of a community. They serve as factors of interaction, cohesion, and mobilization in a society. During the celebration of such festivals, certain objects and symbols are used for rituals. Most of these cultural materials are the flora and fauna of the community.

Gani Cultural Festival in Kutigi

Gani Cultural Festival is an annual festival which is celebrated by the indigenes of Kutigi and its environs in the Islamic month of Rabiul Awwal to mark the birth of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (SAW). It attracts people from all parts of the country and even beyond during its celebration. It originated from the Kanuris. This is to say that the festival is as old as Kutigi itself. This year's Gani festival which was celebrated from February 2-4, 2015, marks the six hundred and seventy three (673), Kutigi Annual Gani Cultural Festival. It is usually celebrated within three days. It starts on the eve of Kutigi's market day.

The first day which is the eve of the celebration starts with drummers in small group of youths dancing to the palace of Ezanuwa (village head) to confirm the commencement of the festival. Immediately after the confirmation by the village head, the cultural night (eve) starts with different traditional musicians displaying their talents with joy which fills the atmosphere throughout the period of the festival.

The second day is an eventful day. It starts from 2pm till sunset. On this day, all mature youths take flags made of scarves donated by the girls in Kutigi town and move around the town with drummers, singers, and dancers adding flavor to the event. In fact, this is the most exciting day in Kutigi as far as the youths are concerned. This day's event is a signal to all the guests and people of Kutigi that Gani Festival commences on that day. This musical parade including horse riders ends at a place called Tako Tsowako which is close to Toro River. Here, they install their flags.

After the above event, the horse riders (Babadoko dancers) ride to the Kutigi township stadium, venue of the occasion. Here, all the dignitaries from far and near including the sons and daughters of the soil are hosted and entertained with different cultural dancers and mouth watery dishes. First, the Ndakogboya Emidawu masquerade group step on stage to perform a cleansing rite of purifying the community of all evils. This is followed by the entrance of the Zanna and his royal council into the stadium which marks the beginning of the traditional event. After this, various cultural troupes display one after the other. 

Among these are:
Takar dance group, Lavun cultural Troupe, Zannabi dance group, Ntakogi (forestry) group, Majin Lubasa (onion growers) group, hunters group etc. In addition, all the females ripe for marriage parade themselves in colourful uniform. At this point, most bachelors identify and choose their suitable suitors. The Gugu Eyagi Masquerade group all dressed in female attires also perform to the admiration of all. On this day, the Kutigi people always put on their best. 

The married men wear kaftan with or without Agbada and a piece of two-yard wrapper on their necks to signify the importance of their wives in every area of their lives. This day does not end without a Qur'anic recitation in honour of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) who is the central focus of this festival. The second day events are crowned up with prayers of blessings for the land and all present at the occasion by elders of Kutigi.

The third day marks the end of the festival. It is marked with local wrestling on the Gani field. The Zanna sits among his elders and other members of the community. The Ndako Gani (prince of Gani) is always present to watch and enjoy the wrestling entertainment. On the other hand, the Sagi of Gani (Princess of Gani) is always busy on that day with other women preparing food for the guests. The whole event ends at sunset.

This annual festival is very important in the lives of the Kutigi people because it fosters unity among them, it serves as an avenue to settle disputes among aggrieved families, it provides an opportunity for bachelors to identify and choose their suitors, including the fact that it entertains all and sundry.

Mrs. Omua, is the Principal Ethnographer, National Museum, Minna

•culled from www.newsline.org.ng

Tuesday 21 February 2017

Kangoro Afan National Festival

The Kagoro Afan National Festival, famous among the natives as 'Chika Aelio', is one of the most glamorous cultural festivals in Kaduna State and perhaps Northern Nigeria as a whole. This festival is celebrated every first day of January by the Kagoro people of the Southern Kaduna sub-region of Northern Nigeria. Afan means mountain or hill and the festival's original intent was to mark the end of the annual grains harvest and the onset of the hunting expeditions. The hills are of great significance to the Kagoro people as they share a common belief that they protected them from their adversaries in the olden days.

The festival takes place at the Chief's palace, by the foot of the hills beginning with a cultural procession of all the units in the chiefdom and spectacular cultural displays. After sanctifying the hills, a hunting campaign takes place early in the morning of the succeeding day. The hunters climbing to a place named Jiyo (trouble) which they surround and set on alight (an act referred to as 'burning the bush') before beginning their expedition.

The festival has now been merged with the New Year celebration and the hunters now dress in traditional hunting attires symbolizing the return from the first hunting campaign of the year.

It usually features memorable activities like colourful carnivals amidst exquisite cools pings, flora and fauna of the surroundings of Katagwan's footprints on the serene Kagoro hills, traditional delicacies, dances and showy performances. Lately, due to the popularity of the festival, it has taken an international dimension with the sons and daughters of Gworok Land coming together to brainstorm on pressing issues bordering their land and to showcase their rich cultural heritage as tourists, local and international, gather to witness this amazing celebration.

To add colour to the event, cultural troupes from different places such as the
Mangil dancers of Plateau State and
other such groups in and around Kagoro also participate in this event, giving it a multi-cultural appearance. In addition to the aforementioned, it also serves as a platform to pay commendation to the proud sons and daughters of its land. The Chief of Kagoro presents trophies to the districts and distinguished persons to show gratitude for their contribution for the betterment of the land. The celebration reaches its climax with varying displays of cultural dance steps by Kagoro youths. In gain, a novelty football match usually takes place.

Anyone can savor these awing festivals in Kagoro as the brilliant opening of all these events will surely encourage you to observe the celebration to the very end. Nothing can crush the true pleasure of giving thanks to the Almighty while still in company of friends and relations.


The Lake is located along Awka road in Agulu, Aniocha Local Government Area of the state. A potential tourist site, it is home to an estimated three hundred crocodiles and water turtles. Fishing is not allowed on the lake and the crocodiles, being sacred animals to the people, cannot be killed. Legend says that these crocodiles were instrumental in delivering the town from enemy soldiers during the Nigerian civil war. It is believed that these sacred crocodiles and turtles transformed themselves into beautiful ladies and lured the soldiers unawares into the lake where they disappeared without trace. At noon the crocodiles and the turtles appear at the banks of the lake to take in sunlight. 

Anambra state which is one of the states that has traditional attractions such as scared streams, lake, with potentials for investment and tourism development of which Agulu Lake is one. Agulu Lake is not a common lake; it traditionally inclined, and it has cultural landmarks and is believed to be possessed by evil spirits. The lake is used for different spiritual rites performance for traditional worshippers and the water serves as a major source of medicine for different ailments.

Interestingly, the traditional lake is also the source of Idemili River which serves different communities of Anambra. The Lake is characterized by sacred and cultural landmarks of attraction which is gradually being devastated by natural and human factors of flooding, soil and gully erosion as well as landslides effects due to poorly consolidated geological formations, weathering and pollution.


Finally, Agulu Lake offers tourist on excursion, boat rides and entertainment. The traditional native doctors utilize the water for different medicaments; it is being sold in bottles during the market day where people purchase it for various purposes. The lake also promotes the community economy through the fund generated from tourist and different treatment medications. Also the lake is believe to cure the "Ogbanjes" which are people been possessed by evil spirits.

Monday 20 February 2017

The Nwafor Festival

The Nwafor festival is celebrated by the Ogidi people in Anambra state. It is performed after the cultivation of yam to mark the beginning of a resting period after cultivation. It also a time to pray for a productive farming season. 
The festival takes a period of 11 days, it usually starts from the first Friday (Afor) in the month of July and for the next 10 days .The festival is named Nwafor because it starts with a Friday which is "Afor " in Igbo Land resulting in the name "Nwafor".

In preparation for the festival the people in the community sanitize their environment to enable the free flow of the event and in readiness to welcome all the indigenes of Ogidi returning home for the festival. A few days to the festival, on Thursday precisely, The "Orie" (harmless masquerades) performs the traditional dance around the community. The festival proper is on Sunday, this is when the people  of Ogidi gather at the community hall to say prayers thanking the gods for a successful cultivation period and also pray for a large Harvest of the New Yam.
The Nwafor festival is believed to unite the people of Ogidi ,home and abroad as they all make the trip home to attend .It is also economically beneficial to the community as there is increase in trade.

Bizzare : Village Where Periwinkles are gods

Most people of the coastal areas of the Niger Delta Region hardly prepare a meal without periwinkles, the delicious species of small edible sea snails. Periwinkles are harvested from the seabed and are such a veritable source of income.

Expectedly, these molluscs of various species enjoy immense acceptance among the Nembe people of Nembe Local Government Area and the ancient town of Twon Brass and Okpoama in Brass Local Government Area of Bayelsa State.

Interestingly, unlike other people of the region who also cherish periwinkles, Nembe people who occupy the Atlantic fringe of the East Senatorial District of Bayelsa State are forbidden from selling their prized periwinkles on the pain of death. Though periwinkles are nutritious sea food that are found in abundance in Nembe territories especially in the mangrove swamp, it is a taboo for the people to trade in periwinkles as the consequence is fatal.

While the trade in periwinkles is a thriving business among some ethnic nationalities, the Nembe people can gather as many as they can but they must not be turned into a means of livelihood. According to a source, whoever is caught selling or making a living from the sale of periwinkles among the Nembe people would be dealt with in accordance with the tradition of the land.

While Western civilization and the coming of the missionaries into the country adversely affected most African tradition, the people of Nembe still hold this aspect of their rich cultural heritage dear to their heart. "It is forbidden for a Nembe indigene to sell periwinkles. You can gather as much as possible from the sea, but you must not sell them. You can only give them to your neighbours or visitors free of charge," said Tari, an indigene of Nembe.


According to a respected Nembe chief, Nengi James-Eriworio, the origin of the taboo on trade in periwinkles in Nembe dates back to time immemorial. It is believed that their ancestors made a vow not to trade in the commodity in whatever form because of its abundance in the area.

The sea food is not only a source of protein for the people of Nembe, it's shells are also used for building construction. According to another source, "we use the shell as granite when doing construction.
Periwinkles shell are very strong and reliable in construction."

Chief James-Eriworio corroborated: 

"The periwinkle is what God has given to us as a free sea food for consumption and usage before we were born. Here in Nembe, you will see that most of the structures of the ancient Nembe City were built with periwinkles.

"Before we were born, our forefathers had made a vow that the periwinkle will not be used as a trading commodity. Since then it has been a taboo for any person of Nembe descent to trade in periwinkles, especially to sell them. "When we find ourselves in the urban centres outside Nembe territories and we are in need of periwinkles, we exchange them instead of buying them because in our tradition, we are not supposed to buy them," Chief James-Eriworio said.

Though the sanction on trading in the commodity is only placed on Nembe descendants, the people do not welcome intruders who may try to take advantage of the situation. "We give out the periwinkles as a gift to our visitors. If we see any non-indigene picking periwinkles for commercial purpose, we will not be happy and we do not allow it," he said.


On the consequences of trading in periwinkles, Chief James-Eriworio narrated that no Nembe indigene has engaged in it and live to tell the story. "I have seen the reaction and consequence on a Nembe woman who traded in periwinkles in Kaduna and Lagos. This is no folk tale; I am a living witness. The woman was trading in the commodity and some Nembe people approached her and rebuked her.

"Soon she fell terribly ill and all efforts to cure her were abortive. And immediately she stepped her feet on Nembe soil, she was transformed into periwinkle – that is, her whole body was mysteriously covered with periwinkles and she was screaming. "She was kept in isolation before she eventually died horribly. This is not what I heard. I witnessed it live. No Nembe man toys with it, no matter your religion," he declared.


Fondly referred to as isem in the Niger Delta, periwinkle is also revered in Nembe land where a festival is marked annually to underscore the importance of periwinkle to the people. The festival called Isem-Olali, which translates to Periwinkle Festival is one of the oldest and most renowned festivals among the Nembe people.

Explaining the significance of the festival, Chief James-Eriworio said, "The Isem-Olali is one of the renowned ancient festivals of Nembe people. The festival is an opportunity to invoke the
isem (periwinkle) to be more abundantly seen in our mangrove and since we don't trade in it, the gods of the periwinkle will be pleased to multiply abundantly.

"One special feature of the periwinkle festival is that all the delicacies that are made that day are prepared with periwinkles and perhaps crayfish. It is a day we enjoy the periwinkles so much. These are the things that keep the Nembe people going."

Sunday 19 February 2017


Nembe is one of the major communities in Bayelsa state Nigeria. Nembe people cut across Nembe local Government Area and the ancient town of Town Brass and Okpoama in Brass Local Government Area of the state.

Ebiegberi Joe Alagoa, in "The land and People of Bayelsa state", said the towns of town Brass and Okpoama have traditions of early settlements by Ijaw-speaking people from the dispersal centre of Obiama.

The community was later divided into six wards, with a number of outlying settlements, the most significant of which were Olodiama, Oboloma, and Onyoma while the second segment of development witnessed the coming of Itsekiri migrants.

The migrants arrived with their 'god' called Ogidiga and a sared sword, Ada and settled at a place called Oromabiri. The "god" according to Alagoa, assisted in unifying all the components of the communities of the state through religious ties and sanctions.

Nembe people can be found in the coastal areas of the state and they are predominantly fisherman, traders and farmers. Apart from their common religion, they also speak a common language known as Nembe. Since every tribe across the globe has its dos and don't, Nembe people are of no exception.

Inspite of the enmity that God has put between the snake and the man, sequel to what happened in the Garden of Eden, killing of snakes is forbidden in Nembe Kingdom, as any attempts to do so often attracts severe penalty.

The people of Nembe relate freely with Pythons without getting hurt or harmed by the snake species. Even the young ones are a breast of the historic linkage between the Nembe people and the python. A youth leader from the area, Mr  Nengi James, in his account, stated that it is Ogidiga the god, which was named after its priest, that metamorphosed into python.

The god is so dear to the people of the area, having assisted in unifying all components communities of the state through religious ties and sanctions that they have now outlawed the killing of pythons n the area, having assisted in unifying all the component communities of the state through religious ties and sanctions that they have now outlawed the killing of pythons in the area.

Nembe kingdom is surrounded by mangrove forest and this is the common place to find the python in their different sizes. Most people said that whoever attempts to kill the python would incur the wrath of not only the people in the community but the god (Ogidiga) as well.

Outlawing the killing of the python is a means of revering the god that has contributed immensely to the growth of the area. Aside the killing of the python, the sale of periwinkles is also forbidden in the area. you can gather as much as you can, but it must not be turned into a means of livelihood.

Unlike in other communities in the state, whoever is caught selling or making a living from the sale of perinwinkles in the area would be dealt with in accordance with the tradition of the land.

Another culture that differentiates the people of Nembe kingdom from their neighbours is the adoption of matrilineal family style.
In this area, female children have equal rights with their male counterpart. This system is also being practiced in neighbouring West African country, Ghana.

Unlike in most parts of the world, where it is traditionally believed that male children are heir apparent, it is not so in Nembe Kingdom.
Traditionally, they are of the opinion that women should have more control over the children than men. This is why Nembe people can go to their maternal families and contest for any position, title or property.

While the coming of the missionaries into the country had adversely affected most African tradition, it is not so in Nembe Kingdom. They still hold their culture very close to their chest. This is not peculiar to Nembe people.

All communities in Bayelsa state so much cherish their culture and traditions that they are ready to defend them with their might. They pride their tradition and customs above others, with the belief that such cultural values should be progressively preserved.

In the Nembe marriage tradition, whoever marries from the area is not allowed any right over the corpse of his wife, as they have a saying that "the bone must get back to his owner". The husband only has right over his wife when she is alive. As soon as she dies, Nembe tradition demands that her final resting place is her father's compound.

The burial tradition is well celebrated, not only in Nembe Kingdom, but the entire states as a whole. Both families take active part in the burial ceremony.
That is why it is allowed that the wake keeping must take place both at the husband's compound and deceased family's compound.

The wake keeping, according to the tradition, is the real burial ceremony unlike what obtains in the western part of Nigeria. It is an all-night affair. During the burial, a vest is printed; a banner is placed at a strategic position while the celebrants are entertained with Owugiri dance.

Saturday 18 February 2017

Experience the Best Musical Performances at the Reggea Sumfest

The island of Jamaica is busy all through the year in hosting and arranging events of different themes and types. Most of the events are organized every year and the purpose of each event is different from the other. From the sports enthusiast to the foodie and the music lover, the Jamaican events take every care to appeal to the unique taste and requirement of every visitor. Therefore, apart from the beauty of Jamaica it is these events that are a reason for visiting this island at any time of the year.

It is said that the Reggae Sumfest is the largest concert that is organized in Jamaica. It was first organized in the year 1993 and now is organized each year in Montego Bay. This event mainly attracts the youth and local and international artists from all across the world.

This year the event was organized from 16th July to 18th July. The three nights of the Sumfest call for some of the greatest musical celebrations. The first night was that of the Dancehall Explosion where literally an explosion of musical extravaganza took place. From Lady Saw to Spice, Popcaan and Capleton and many more artists exploded the stage with their power packed performances.

One of the main attractions of the second night of the Reggae Sumfest was the performance of the rapper Common which was followed by the performances of several other renowned artists. The last day of the Sumfest was marked by the presence and powerful performance of the queen of music, Jennifer Hudson. The performance of Bennie Man on this night will also be remembered due to his presentation of unforgettable numbers from past and present.

With every passing year, the popularity of Reggae is only increasing. And today, it is a reason for many people all across globe to have taken an interest in music. It is rightly said that there are many ways in which you can enjoy music and one of the best ways is by attending the Reggae Sumfest.

Therefore, if you are planning to be a part of the event next year, start making your plans now!

Madagascar Holidays and Festivals

Pop culture is seen in vibrant Madagascar holidays and festivals throughout the year all over the country, with many events attracting a significant number of tourists. The celebrations are based on a variety of traditions ranging from holy days to cultural rituals and national holidays, with the Santabari festival and Donia Music Festival two of the favorites.

New Year's Day

The Malagasy people celebrate New Year's Day along with the rest of the world from midnight on December 31 through January 1. Family visits, eating out and street parties mark the occasion.

Alahamadi Be

Alahamadi Be is Madagascar's traditional New Year's Day, which takes place in March and lasts for two days. Crowds hit the street in celebration, homes are decorated in lights and friends and family visit to wish eachother well. Traditional music and dance plays a part in the festivities.

Martyrs' Day

Also held in March on the 29th, Martyrs' Day commemorates the 1947 rebellion against French colonial rule which eventually led to Madagascar's independence after thousands of lives had been lost. The day is a public holiday in which the dead are memorialized for their sacrifices.


The most important Christian festival of the year, Easter falls either in March or April, and is marked by religious services at Madagascar's many churches and cathedrals.

Santabary Festival

The Santabary Festival is ancient in origin, and takes place in late April/early May to give thanks for the year's first rice harvest. Eating, drinking, traditional music and dance are all part of the celebrations, and local customs vary across the country.

Labour Day

Labour Day, held on May 1, is a national holiday, with city folks taking the time to visit the countryside and beaches for picnics and a day of relaxation.

Independence Day

Independence Day in Madagascar is June 26, a national holiday which commemorates the country's final shaking of colonial rule. It's celebrated all across the archipelago with feasting, drinking, music, and dance.

Feria Oramena

The carnival atmosphere of Feria Oramena held in June focuses on Madagascar's favorite seafood, lobsters. Shows, exhibitions and lots of fish dishes are enjoyed by all.


The Fisemana festival, held by the Antakarana people, is a purification ritual taking place every June. The customs go back centuries and are performed by local soothsayers.


This traditional event, known as the turning of the bones, is a three-month family-oriented ritual beginning in June in Madagascar. The bodies of recently-passed family members and ancestors are taken from the crypt, re-dressed in silk shrouds and reburied.


This much-loved July event is a traditional form of entertainment in Madagascar, first seen in the 18th century. Competing players perform a five-themed spectacle of oratory, dance, music, drinking and eating contests amid much merriment.

Donia Music Festival

Held in September at the Hell-Ville Stadium on Nosy Be Island, the Donia Music Festival is a combination of Malagasy music, sport and cultural events. The festivities last for a full week and draw in over 40,000 spectators.


October's Maddajazzcar is a massive, two-week long celebration of jazz held in venues all over the capital. International musicians, singers and thousands of visitors attend the events.

Christmas Day

The second major Christian festival in Madagascar, Christmas is a time of church services, Yuletide parties and family festivities across the country.

culled from www.iexplore.com

Friday 17 February 2017

Yewa : The Land, The People and Their Culture

The Yewa clan is a multi-ethnic, multicultural diverse sub ethnic group of Yoruba people located in Ogun State, South west region of Nigeria with an estimated population figure of 1.8 million people spread across the present day five local governments of Yewa South, Yewa North, Imeko Afon, Ipokia and some communities in the present Ado-Odo Ota and Abeokuta North local governments areas of Ogun State. The Origin of the people is linked to the cradle history of Yorubaland of the popular Ile-Ife and Oyo traditions.

According to early history as enunciated by the accounts of Samuel Johnson, Anthony Asiwaju and Kola Afolayan, the early Yewa settlers were great warriors, hunters and princes who were said to have migrated from Ketu, Ile ife and Oyo in the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries . Another migration also took place in the 18th and 19th centuries as a result of Dahomey and Egba invasions of some Northern Yewa towns. These migrations of different groups largely resulted in settlements of independent kingdoms and chiefdoms of diverse ethnic and sub-ethnic groups that constitute the various Yewa towns and villages.

The Yewa people in the contemporary history, are predominantly farmers and traders largely found in the western part of Ogun State, Nigeria. It borders Lagos to the South, Oyo State in the North while its close location to the international Border of Nigeria and Republic of Benin in its Eastern border has considerable effect on international commercial activities. It must be mentioned that the area was a major slave trade route to the coast which made it subject of external attacks by slave merchants in their bids to force open the slave routes to the sea.

Essentially, the Yewa people as a multi-ethnic language community consists the Sabe, the Ije (Ohori), Ifonyin,Eyo, Egbado, Ketu, Anago and the Egun speaking languages. On the Northen part of Yewaland are Ketu towns of Ijaka, Ijoun, Owode ketu, Igan-Alade, Egua, Tata, Ilara, Imeko, Idofa etc. In the South are the Yewa other towns of the Ketu and Ije (Ohori),Oja-odan, Obele, Pobe, Ibeku, Iselu while further south are the Ifonyin, Ikolaje, Ihunbo, Ilase, and Ifonyintedo.

Located in the Eastern part are communities' refered to as "Egbado". These includes Ilaro, Ibara, Ilewo, Imasayi,Imala, Ilobi, Ibese, Isaga, Iboro, Joga, Ayetoro, Idofoyi, Tibo, Keesan, Oke-odan, Igan-Okoto, Sawonjo Erinja, Igbogila, Ajilete among others. South of the Egbado are the Anago, Eyo and Egun people who settled in Ipokia, Agosasa, Ijofin, Maun, Tube, Ibatefin etc. It's people also includes the Egbado and Awori towns Ado odo, Igbesa,Ikogbo, Agbara, Alapoti etc.

Like other communities across the globe despites its multicultural orientation, the Yewa community has a relatively good history of peaceful co-existence among its people and neighbors, perhaps because of its well coordinated community relations and high respect for native authority residual in the Obaship Institution and native authority which plays significant roles in native administration, native laws, peace and security including societal norm and values. A typical Yewa man is a symbol of a quintessential personality and a good example of Omoluwabi.

The Yewa Traditional Council otherwisely referred to as "Council of Obas" is a veritable Institution in this respect. The complimentary roles the Council is playing in conflict management and resolution has great impact in enduring peace and peaceful co-existence in the Community. The Council is headed by the Olu of Ilaro, who since 1993 became the President and Paramount ruler of Yewa land following a consensus agreement among the crown- heads of Yewa towns and Communities.

The various sub ethnic groups that is today known as Yewa were administratively grouped under the Egbado Division of the then known Abeokuta province. In 1995, following a report of research conducted by the "Yewa think tank", (a group of prominent educated elites and leaders of thoughts) it was unanimously resolved that the people formerly referred to as Egbado be forthwith known and called YEWA . The change according to Anthony Asiwaju was "motivated by the need to tackle an identity problem of correcting a double misnomer that had applied to the wider multi-ethnic and the particular sub groups formerly labeled as "EGBADO" and more significantly for self determination of the entire people who not only share cultural but also geographical affinity over the Yewa River to explore new ground for Unity and Progress"

Significantly, the Yewa people are notable for their very rich cultural heritage. Its popular type of music includes bolojo, agasa, ajangbode, ponse etc while the people are traditional worshipers of Egungun, Gelede and oro cults.

Dapo Oke, the Ajiroba of Imasayi in Yewa North of Ogun State, writes from Ijebu Ode.

•Culled from www.nigerianecho.com

7 Health Benefits Of Locust Bean (Iru)

Locust bean, commonly referred to as iru by Yorubas, 'ogiri', 'dawa dawa' by Igbos, is a local seasoning or condiment used in soups and stews. A very popular soup ingredient, globally, it is referred to as African locust bean with the botanical name as Parkia biglobosa.

It can be found in a wide range of environments in Africa and is primarily grown for its pods that contain both a sweet pulp and valuable seeds.
The yellow pulp, which contains the seeds, is naturally sweet "and is processed into a valuable carbohydrate food known as sikomu and daddawa among the Yoruba and Hausa people respectively.

The most valuable parts of the locust bean are high in lipid (29%), protein (35%), carbohydrate (16%), and is a good source of fat and calcium for rural dwellers.

The seed is first cooked to remove the seed coat and then fermented to produce the desired result. When it is fermented, the Yoruba have a way of getting two types from it, the mashed type and the loose or free type, and they are used for different types of soups, but for the same purpose.

1. The fermented locust bean seed is used in controlling diabetes and cholesterol level.

2. It helps to promote good sight and aids digestion.

3. It is used for treating stroke and hypertension.

4. The water and alcoholic extracts of fermented locust bean is used to reduce blood sugar.

5. It is used in the management of bacterial infections.

6. The locust bean contains tannins, which is often recommended for the treatment of diarrhoea.

7. It is a potential benefit for enhancing weight loss.

The crushed bark of the locust bean tree has also been revealed to help in wound healing and serves as one of the ingredients used in treating leprosy. The decoction of the bark is also used as bath for fever and as a hot mouth wash to steam and relieve toothache in Cote d'Ivoire.

•Culled from www.naij.com

Thursday 16 February 2017

Swange Dance from Benue State

Nigeria is a country with so many different cultures and diverse languages. One of them is the Tiv people from Benue state (the food basket of the Nation) located in the middle belt area of Nigeria. Benue state is named after the River Benue. The Tiv people are from the middle-belt region of Nigeria. They constitute approximately 2.5% of Nigeria's total population, and over 6 million individuals throughout Nigeria and Cameroon. The Tiv are one of the largest ethnic groups in Nigeria and they are the dominant ethnic group in Benue state. Tiv language is spoken by about 6 million people in Nigeria, and a few speakers in Cameroon. The Tiv people are very friendly, cheerful and hospitable. They are famous for their rich cultural heritage, one of which is the Swange dance.

Swange is the name given to the traditional dance of the Tiv-speaking people of Benue state. It originated from Benue state, among the Tiv, Igala and Idoma people, an area located around the River Niger. The dance is characterized by rhythmic contortion in slow mode & vibrant display, typical of African dance forms. It has wonderful beat and beautiful rhythm. It is heavily percussion- based, aided by a traditional horn (Al-Gaita), which blows in an unbroken succession for as long as the drumming, singing and dancing continue.

Swange is a very popular Tiv music/dance which is played all over Tiv land and wherever they reside in large numbers. It is a contemporary, popular and urban recreational social dance that exhibits bodily movement akin to oriental dances. It is a dance with fast, slow, rhythmic and undulating movements, expressing youth and vigor which makes some refer to it as the 'boneless dance'. It is danced in unison by both men and women. The dance uses the circle formation familiar in village dances and adapts traditional musical themes to highlife rhythms played on a combination of Tiv and Hausa instruments. The climax of an evening of Swange dance is provided by a solo dancer who improvises freely, using movements from many Tiv dance styles.

Swange dance is performed at various types of social and religious functions for the enjoyment of the old and the young. The dance is very popular and it is done in most festivals and other social events around the country. The dance particularly exhibits fluidity in body movement, a mimicry of the flow of the River Niger. The dance has been made more popular with the emergence of the musical duo, Zulezoo whose popular debut song 'Kerewa" featured Swange in its musical video. Zulezoo warmed the dance style into the hearts of many. The swange dance has brought fame to both the state and the nation.

Wednesday 15 February 2017

Ogbomoso : Myth Of The 324-Year-Old Tortoise

In the palace of the Soun of Ogbomoso can be found a 324 year old giant male tortoise that has witnessed the installation of 17 Souns. The ancient town of Ogbomoso and second largest city in Oyo state, has continued to attract tourists from all over the world because of Alagba, the legendary giant male tortoise that has lived and witnessed the installation and coronation of 17 Soun's of Ogbomosoland who have reigned in the town since its inception.

Popularly called Alagba as a sign of respect because of their claim that it is the oldest living animal in the world, the tortoise has been acclaimed to be 324 years old by the people of Ogbomosoland.

In deference to its age, it is called Alagba, which means 'the elderly one' in Yoruba. In Ogbomoso, where the legendary tortoise lumbers about in the palatial grounds of the palace, it is almost a sacrilege to refer to Alagba as an ordinary tortoise.

Since Alagba is believed to be older than everyone in Ogbomoso, its true age relies heavily on oral history. Its present age was arrived at by calculations done from the period the Soun who brought it to the palace reigned.

Mr Ajani Sunday Toyin, secretary to the present Soun of Ogbomoso, said Alagba, was brought to the palace by His Royal Highness, Oba Ikumoyede Ajao, the third Soun to the founder of Ogbomoso, who is believed to have reigned between 1770 to 1791.

Oba Ikumoyede, according to the present Soun of Ogbomoso's, Khakaki, Mr Adeniyi Alagbe (the Oba's praise singer) and Mr Abdullahi Bello, who used to carry the umbrella that shields the Oba from the sun, is a hunter who got the tortoise and brought it to the palace before he became the ruler of the town. Since it was customary in those days to transfer the property and all palace belongings to the new monarch, Alagba has remained in the palace after the king's death till date.

Alagba is said to be guarded by the Soun of Ogbomoso himself, and three other able men, which include Mr Adeniyi Alagbe, Mr Abdulahi Bello and Baba Iyabo, who carry out the Oba's instructions to take care of Alagba. They say the animal eats three times a day like human beings and that its meals are prepared together with people's food in the palace. "He usually eats food of three to four people whenever it is eating and finishes one and half bucket of water (approximately 38 litres of water) which he takes once in every three months, " Mr Bello said.

The animal is said to eat everything that human beings eat, but likes pawpaw, particularly. It is said to detest heat and plays a lot in the rainy season, moves around in the palace and sleeps under a shaded flower in the palace. His weight is put at over 100kg since its weight is equivalent to two bags of cement, and it requires many hefty men to lift it up.

"No matter how heavy a person is, Alagba will carry him or her on its back and be moving about, but the incumbent Oba, who cares so much about the well-being of Alagba, stopped people from climbing on its back as the animal got older," Mr Alagbe said.

Suleiman Abdullahi, Alagba's photographer, said Alagba used to be caged and chained in the past for protection. This later affected its legs and made them perforate its shell, and connect the chain to it, and tied him down so that the tortoise won't be stolen.

"The animal has attracted lots of tourists from all over the world and majority of them even wished to take the tortoise away, if they were permitted," he said.

He further stated that Alagba was sick three years ago and required surgery on its neck, while its doctors put its survival chances at 50 per cent. But later, it recovered, despite Soun's rejection of the surgery. Also in 2008 during the dry season, he fell sick again for many weeks , which made him reject food and refuse to play .When Kabiyesi's attention was called to it, he was treated and started eating and playing after the treatment.

Just like some items in traditional palaces that exist for mystical purposes, Sunday, the Oba's secretary, said Alagba's existence in the palace has no such inclination. Alagba according to him, is just a special creature by God and an aged animal that is well taken care of by the Kabiyesi .He reiterated that there are veterinary doctors who attend to it, give drugs that they put in his drinking water and its food, adding that it would have died if it was still in the bush.

Moreover, all sorts of myths have been woven around Alagba. Some say it hears what people say but cannot speak, Alagbe says. "It recognises kabiyesi's voice. If kabiyesi calls it Alagba, it will be shaking its head in agreement, while some people stay near Alagba to offer prayers for longevity."

A source at the palace told Sunday Trust that for a long time since its existence, Alagba was the only being that the king's wives usually run to for refuge to avoid the king's anger. The king usually pays him a visit whenever he is coming back from an outing or strolling around the palace.

Whatever might have been anybody's offence to the king, the kabiyesi overlooks it if such person runs to Alagba for protection.

The tortoise refused to respond when one of the guardian took our reporter to Alagba for introduction, because she called him Ijapa (Yoruba name for tortoise) when she got there. It responded when called Alagba twice and was told he has a visitor. The ancient one slowly opened one of its eyes and brought out its neck full of age, spots and thick rough warts, and started moving round the palace.

Slowly, it retreated into its thick shell and went back to sleep, its thoughts as mysterious as its age.

Debunking claims by some people of celebrating Alagba's birthday some years back, another source at the palace said there has never been any celebration in his name, and that no importance is attached to him because of the conviction that people may want to start worshipping him if such is done. "Kabiyesi only makes reference to him whenever there is celebration in the palace in recognition of past Obas, but no occasion has been organised in respect of the tortoise," he said.

Contemplating on how Alagba's age can be determined, apart from the use of oral history, Mr Adegbola of Ibadan Agbodi zoological garden, said looking at the body cells and carapace (shell) of tortoise can help to determine its true age. He claimed not to be expert in that area, but grew to understand that, having worked in the zoo for over 20 years now. He however claimed that it is possible because he has seen tortoises that live long , but not as long as Alagba, adding that the new one in their garden is now 38 years old.

He was however doubtful of the possibility of any expert in the country undertaking a venture to determine Alagba's true age, since it would be of no economic value to them.

Sunday Trust gathered from Mrs Olajumoke A. Morenikeji, a Zoologist at the University of Ibadan and Director of the institution's zoological garden, who said it is possible for Alagba to have lived that long, having seen one who lived long before . It is oral evidence and there is no scientific evidence to support it.

She stated that tortoises generally live longer than other animals, as the one they had at the garden died after living for over 125 years.
According to mirrornews@mgn.co.uk on the internet, tortoises generally live longer and give reasons for their longevity.

The site gave the reason why tortoises are able to live so long as having a lot to do with how they are built and how they live. They are protected by a strong hard shell and they are good at avoiding predators. They also live and move slowly, which means they use up less energy than lots of other creatures. If a tortoise is unable to find enough food, they can survive for longer on less, more easily than animals that burn through their energy really quickly.

The site also added that Addwaitya, the giant tortoise, is reckoned to have been 255 when it died at an Indian zoo in 2006, making him the oldest animal in the world.

Jonathan, the tortoise, is believed to be 176-years-old and was photographed during the Boer war around 1900, and its life has spanned eight British monarchs from George IV to Elizabeth II and 50 prime ministers. It was taken on the South Atlantic island of St Helena, where Jonathan still lives today, along with five other tortoises David, Speedy, Emma, Fredricka and Myrtle, in a plantation.

The previous oldest tortoise was widely thought to be Harriet, a giant Galapagos land tortoise, that died in 2005 aged 175 in Australia. Despite its old age, locals say it still has the energy to regularly mate with the three younger females.
In March 2006, it was reported that an Aldabra tortoise at the Calcutta zoo died and was estimated to be 250 years old.

A Madagascar radiated tortoise was said to have lived in captivity to at least 188 years. Similarly, a 176-year-old giant tortoise from an Australian Zoo died in June, 2006. Typically, the Galapagos tortoise lives 150 years. Other varieties regularly live to be 100.
But now Alagba is seen to be the oldest living animal in the world, having gone through the history of other long living animals.

Some of the visitors at the palace who came to see Alagba advised that he should be taken to museum to generate revenue for government, as such kind of creature is rare to come by these days.

There are also insinuations that some people are planning to steal the animal, which someone said is the reason behind the security around the tortoise.

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