OGBUDU AMOGU ADAETERE
1.0 HISTORICAL BACKGROUND OF OGBUDU:
Ogbudu is a war dance. It is played with four instruments only.
Namely: (i) Ekwe (wooden gong)
(ii) Njuju Ogbudu (Big Drum)
(iii) 2 small drums
Ogbudu Amogu Ada-Etere as celebrated today has startling history that can not be swept under the carpet.
Ogbudu instruments originally were in the custody of Umuduruba Kindred in Umuchima village, Ihiagwa but were lost to Umu-Amogu in Umuiheakam kindred. Our oral history has it that Etere, a son of Umuduruba kindred was in possession of the Ogbudu instruments. Etere had no male child but had female children of whom Ada-Etere was one and married to Amogu in Umu-Iheakam kindred. It happened that efforts made by the kits and kin of Etere to persuade him take another wife that will bear him a male child were rebuffed by Etere. Unfortunately Etere fell sick and was on the sick bed for sometime and was not getting any better. At this hopeless situation, Etere’s kits and kin told him that if he (Etere) eventually dies due to his ill-health that nobody from Umuduruba will bury him, rather his remains will be allowed to rotten. True to the threat, his kinsmen turned their back on him. As a last resort, Etere beckoned on his daughterAdaand the husband Amogu to come to his rescue and pleaded with Amogu not to allow the threats of his kinsmen come to pass. Amogu and his wifeAdapromised and vowed to bury Etere if he dies, like a king. To show his appreciation for the suiting promise from his in-law, he decreed that Amogu should take custody of Ogbudu instruments and never to relinquish them to any body and cast a spell of death on any Umuduruba man that will ask for the return of the Ogbudu to Umudurumba. This was how Umuduruba kindred lost the Ogbudu instruments.
2.0 WHO IS AMOGU:
Amogu is the son of Olowu who in turn is one of the sons of Iheakam. Iheakam had another son called Onu. So, Iheakam is the father of Olowu and Onu and Amogu is the son of Olowu. In Umu-Iheakam today we have two large families namely; Umu-Olowu and Umu-Onu. Amogu who was a great warrior during his days also had children from his wives identified as;
(i) Umu Nwuhie
(ii) Umu Ogbagukwu
(iii) Umu Ekeadaocha
(iv) Umu Mgbeke Ojii
(v) Umu Nwehem
(vi) Umu Nshirima
Out of these six families of Amogu, Nkwoada of Umu-Ekeadaocha was the most brave son of Amogu so he was given all the instruments of Ogbudu for safe keep. Till date the Ogbudu instruments are in the custody of Umu-Ekeadocha.
3.0 WHEN OGBUDU IS PLAYED:
The Ogbudu is celebrated once a year at the traditional seventh month (Onwa asaa: Onwa dike guru azi) which coincided with the eight month in the English calendar i.e. September.
In the olden days, traditional Ihiagwa leadership was mostly religious. The hierarchy ranging from the Oha Otamiri eight (8) in numbers down through Nde-Ishi-agbara (Chief Priests of the deities), to Oha-na-Ikoro (Council of Elders) and the family Heads. This hierarchy of leadership was dictating the religious and socio-cultural affairs of Ihiagwa then. So after the celebration of Odu-baraji, that always climax in “Nkwa dance”, people of Ihiagwa and environments will then start to harvest and eat the new yam. After the first seven Oha priests have celebrated their new yam festival on their chosen afor-nta market and the next orie-ukwu market, The Eze-Aro who is the most senior of the other Ohas will celebrate his new yam festival. Then by the next Eke-nta market the Ogbudu will be beaten. By this time of the year, all major farming processes must have been completed as to allow the able bodies men to prepare for war with any identified enemies. In those days, inter communal wars were eminent. The cause of these wars, maybe due to land disputes, stealing of farm products, killings, rapping of women from a community by another community. These inter communal wars will rage on till the Oha Otamiri priests give directives (maa mpii) and all fighting will stop. This directive by Oha Otamiri Priests is obeyed throughout the communities in the old Oratta clan.
4.0 HOW OGBUDU IS PLAYED:
At the appointed market day that the Ogbudu will be celebrated, the playing and dancing is usually very early in the morning but presently apart from the early morning play, it is also played later in the day for the ceremony and funfair aspect of it for all and sundry.
On this appointed day, the Umu-Ekeadaocha who are the custodians of the instruments, made of leather and wood will appoint some able bodied men amongst their family to prepare the instruments for use. This preparation starts as early as 4.30a.m. The people appointed will expose the instruments to a little heat by the fireplace at the Obiri-Nde-Ichie. During this exercise, the oldest man in the family will, as custom demands, entertain those engaged with Oji (kolanuts), Ugba (Oil bean salad) and nmii oku (hot drink).
Between 5a.m. and 5.30a.m., Ogbudu will be sounded first at the frontage of Umu-Ekeadaocha compound specifically at Ukwu-Afufa Michael (i.e. under the orange tree belonging to Mr. Michael) At this point; the Ogbudu is played four sessions. Then the drummers and dancers will move to the boundary between Umu-Iheakam kindred and Umuelem village and play another round, then the group will move to the boundary between Umu-Onu family and Eke-Ama market where another round of four session will be played. After playing at this spot, the group will move back to the starting point and play again for another four sessions before resting the drums for the ceremonial session later in the day. Here again the oldest man from Umu-Ekeadaocha will give another round of refreshment to the group. It is worthy of note that while the dances are going on at the different points, the women form Umu-Iheakam will also gather at the main arena i.e. the starting point, and never moved around with the group but rather at the end of every session, they loudly applaud with the traditional “Oro-Onu”. But one significant thing the women do at the end of the early morning session, is to decree as forbidden, any woman who will steal from another woman’s farm.
5.0 WHO DANCES TO THE OGBUDU
Abinitio, Ogbudu is not a dance for everybody. Ogbudu is used to celebrate prowess so it is meant for men of valour and achievement. Those who have achieved significant feats in life either as warriors, great hunters, academics etc. The oldest man in Umu-Iheakam dances first to the Ogbudu before any other person. For the 2010 celebration of Ogbudu, it was Pa Bertram Nzewuihe that took the stage first before other people.
6.0 HIRING OF THE OGBUDU
Interestingly, due to popular acclaim of the Ogbudu as dance for achievers community Rulers and the affluent around Oratta clan seek for the Ogbudu to be played at their ceremonies of note. Hiring of the Ogbudu is only allowed within the period of the inter-communal wars. Any person or group seeking to have the Ogbudu played during their ceremony or celebration of achievement will bring to Umu-Amogu; one(1) cock, four (4) tubers of yam, One(1) bottle of hot drink (mmii oku) eight (8) pieces of kolanut (ojii Igbo) and any agreed amount of money. Umu-Amogu will then go and play for them. The cash to be paid is not static rather it is determined by Umu-Amogu probably due to distance or family ties. But today, this practice is now history as nobody comes to hire the Ogbudu again.
7.0 CUSTODY OF OGBUDU INSTRUMENTS
The Ogbudu instruments are till date, kept in the custody of the oldest living man in Umu-Ekeadaocha family of Umu-Olowu, Umuiheakam kindred. Presently, the instruments are in the custody of Elder Jonas B. C. Okpe. Assuming he passes on to eternity, his children will after the mourning period of one(1) year summon members of their larger family to the Obiri-Nde-Ichie. The children of the deceased eldest man will entertain members of their larger family in accordance with tradition and thereafter transfer all instruments of the Obgudu to the next living oldest man for keeps. This is how the Ogbudu is preserved. It is worthy of note that no fetish rituals are performed.
Ogbudu, from all available oral records, is a celebration of our prowess in different spheres of life and should not be allowed to die because sooner or later, some misguided people will relate the ceremony with fetish practices in order to scare Christian among us away from a healthy tradition. I strongly advocate that this celebration should not be allowed to fizzle out and more especially the energy provoking war songs as rendered by Elder Daniel Okoro (Duudu) at the 2010 celebration of Ogbudu. If we recall, our other cultural dances like “Ogbom-nwangelenge”, Nwokorobo, Alija, Avu-Udu, Ojionu, Akakata, Agaba etc have fizzled out. These dances are used to celebrate Christmas and Easter festivities and are to a large extent sources of relaxation during these periods.
On the contrary, most of these dances I mentioned above, that are extinct from Ihiagwa culture some are still very much alive in some neighbouring communities in the old Oratta clan.
I strongly opine that any culture that has fetish undertone that can not be modernized should be dropped while those that can be modernized should be modernized in line with present realities. People of Ihiagwa, arise and preserve your culture.
Let me heartily appreciate Elder Daniel Okoro and Mr. Festus Ajas Mella-Onu for their useful information on Ogbudu celebration.
Ezinwa Sam. N. Ajoku KSC, Secretary