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Igue Culture

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By Ambrose Ekhosuehi {Last update 25/09/2017}

Igue Culture is associated with certain focal point of a person to celebrate the successful completion of one year and the beginning of another year.

The main futures are to dismiss evil spirits and to invoke the spirits of good fortune and favour in human endeavour.

In Igue prayers, songs and musical instruments serve the living communion of the believers with divine reality and as such the central core of worship.

The elements are the outer signs which resolve the divinities into the elemental power in the worship of elemental spirits.

Igue culture is a feast of anointing the Head, and the shoulders-Hands with white chalk, coconut milk, praying and sharing of kolanuts and the coconut copra, then the slain of the animal or fowl victim.

The origin of the feast might be traced to the scripture decree on the book of Exodus 12 who spoke “This month is to be first month of the year for you; each man must choose either a Lamb or a young goat for his household.

If the family is too small to eat a whole animal, he and his next door neighbour may share an animal, in proportion to the number of people and the amount that each person can eat. The people are to take some of the blood and put it on the door posts and above the doors of the houses in which the animals are to be eaten.”

Igue Culture is an Agape feast. It is very Unique to the ancient festivals as most religious feasts and festivals derived heavily from the scripture.

In Igue, the blessing of human head is a composite grouping by which the head of a family draws together his wife, wives, children and relatives under a jural authority of the head of the family to bless the Head not merely for Himself but for all his dependants and in return for their services to him.

The Head of the family and the household group built around it, has the moral Obligation to care for their material and spiritual welfare. He makes regular offerings and bless his head to be able to pilot the affairs of the family and for the family to prosper.

The white chalk has a distinct meaning in Edo Culture on the formation of the earth, so on the blessing of the head, a circle is drawn on the ground with four parallel lines reflecting the four peregal cardinals of five to include the Oghene in the ruling sphere.

The white chalk is the symbol of joy, peace, rejoicing and is used to anoint, rub the body as a sign of victory won, passing from one year to another year. Generally the white chalk is the symbol of joy, of purity, of love of rejoicing, in the anointing and blessing of the Head, also in healing, in chieftaincy, age group initiations and in favourable prayers.

The kola-nut is an embedment of prayers as it stimulates the human body, it gives lives as a divine tree of life.
The coconut-kokodia, was introduced into Great Benin in about 1485AD by a Roman Catholic Missionary John Affonso D’ Aveiro. At Igue, the coconut juice is a large amount of a clear sweet water use as drink, while the copra is sliced for the reception.

The Head-Uhunmwun, symbolizes life and behavior in this world; the capacity to organize one’s actions in such a way to survive and prosper.

The characteristic rite of Igue is that of blessing the Head. First, thanking the head for survival and prosperity. Then asking the Head for further favours because, almost every happening, good or bad, lies ultimately the action of human beings, though the immediate cause may have some supernatural enchantments.

The real significance is that the Head is regarded as the controller of all consciousness - Uhunmwun ra Obo na.

The Head Leads person through life. It is the seat of Sence faculties; such as will character, thinking, judgment, seeing, hearing, and speaking.

The head of a family is linked by close jural ties to other similar units through kinship between the respective family heads.

The family is a group based on a nexus of conjugal and Kingship bounds. The nuclear or polygamous compound family, consists of a man and his wife or wives and children, constitutes a basic unit of economic co-operation and social solidarity.

The Benin people bless Heads and pray continuously, annually and contingently with offerings and thanksgiving for survival and well-beings because the human Head represents the purposive sentient aspect of the human personality. The Head of a family blesses his head not merely for himself, but for all his children, wives, relations and dependants; for their relationship is one of mutual interdependence.

Igue is associated with social dances, well-to-do people often engage group of professional dancers and musicians to entertain guests with social dances during the celebration of Igue festival. Further, the King, Dukes, Chiefs usually engage dance groups — troupes to give performances in honour of prominent visitors.
An early account of a social dance performed by Benin Women to the accompaniment of Ukoise — gourd rattles is given by Adams, who visited Benin in the beginning of the nineteenth century’

According to him, “there are in Benin a number of itinerant dancing-women, (Igb’Ugho, Ewuwuagba etc) who were sent to amuse, me, and whose performance before the house constantly attracted a crowd of persons of both sexes. The ladies danced in fandango style by holding in their hands gourd rattles-Ukoise with which they kept time admirably. Holes at the top received the forefingers of their right hands, with which the gourds were shaken, and occasionally struck against the palms of their left hands beating responses to the tunes sung by the dancers”.

In Igue culture too, Bull roarer a free aero-phone is used to ward off evils. The sound is said to represent the voice of the spirit-Erinmwin-Idu; whirling to keep away those not involved in the ceremonies and was said to represent the voices of the royal ancestors. Bull-roarer is symbol in action without accompanying verbal signs. It creates tensed unity among conflicting interests and acts as a safety valve.

It expresses values which cannot be put into words between ideas and life.

In Igue Culture, Sire is an element to cast away evil spirits, and at dawn, children and youths pick firewood touches in their hands chanting their intention to drive away Ubi-the evil desires.

When they reach the outskirts they throw away the touches of fire. In the olden days it was forbidden for anyone to travel on the day of Ubi-Ede Ubi.

They then collect stalks of Ewere leaves and dance back home, using the Ewere Stalks as clappers. They present the leaves to their parents and other people as billet for the New Year, while eating, drinking and dancing agog the Igue

Culture. Paramout Chiefs, the Ihogbe present bouquets of Ewere leaves to Omo N’ Oba N’ Edo, Uku Akolokpolo, Oba of Benin in Colourful and beautiful manner.

Isele Ogbe, Ogbe a vbe dia ru.
Oba gbato Okpee, Isee!
Ambrose .0. Ekhosuehi

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