Emomorhe Festival

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Last update June 1, 2020

Like the Itakpo festival of Ososo, Emornorhe is celebrated in Enwan clan, Akoko-Edo, to elevate citizens from Umadheghe to Okhitoya age- group the group of the elders. Besides, the festival affords opportunity to Enwan community to pay homage to Ogua who is believed to protect them.

It is celebrated between March and April every 40 years. It lasts for a total of four weeks. Only males who have attained the ages of from 55 to 100 years are qualified to be initiated into the ‘Okhitoya’ or elders group. As this is the last and highest ladder in age groupings in Enwan clan, initiates are regarded as elders and can be conferred with titles. A total of up to 200 persons are initiated during the festival, depending on the number of those who have attained the required age.

Prior to the initiation ceremony, the celebrants undergo ritual purifications for four weeks. They are first sent to a place called Eguahi where they remain for the remaining two weeks. This is done in fulfillment of the ritual custom and also to cleanse off any evil spirits that may still hang around any of the Okhitoya to-be.

During the purification period the would-be Okhitoyas are properly cared for by their relatives and the Umadheghe the next age group to be initiated into Okhitoya age group. They ensure that the rites of the shrines of Eguahi and Ogua are properly observed, kept and followed

At the end of the purification period, all those to be initiated are instructed by representatives of the elders of the community on what is expected of them as would-be elders of the community. They, then, get gaily dressed as masqueraders. They wear beads and hold their royal scimitar ‘Ashe’ (sword of office) and are led in a procession into the town. They are received at Ekpari by various dancing groups.

The Okhitoyas followed by their relatives and other well-wishers, dance in a procession to Ezeri-Ogua shrines, where the remaining part of the initiation ceremony is done.

On arrival at Ezeri-Ogua shrine, all the celebrants are presented to the spectators one after the other. They dance to the tune of ‘Agba’, a drum for the celebration. Women are, however, not allowed to dance to the tune of this drum nor touch any of the ‘Emomorhe’ masqueraders on this occasion unless such an Okhitoya is a father to the woman.
As they dance to the beating of the Agba drum, they are given names and now allowed to hold Ikute, senior staff. Each of them becomes qualified as an elder in Enwan clan. One of the newly initiated elders is authorized to kill a dog on behalf of the others. When this is done, people are then free to disperse from the shrine to continue with the celebration of the ‘Emomorhe’ festival in their various homes.

After the departure of the newly installed elders from Ezeri-Ogua shrine, women of the clan dance Ikperema dance. It is during this time that young bachelors who want to get married choose their future wives. The peak period of the festival is when the ‘Emomorhe’ celebrants, accompanied by their relatives and well-wishers, show themselves up to the spectators in order to be recognized before the dance at Ezeri-Ogua shrine.

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