THE UZEH FESTIVAL IN ISHEAGU, ANIOCHA SOUTH LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA OF DELTA STATE
This study examines or evaluates the Uzeh cultural festival, which is a cultural heritage of Isheagu kingdom, located in Anioeha South Local Government Area of Delta State. ·Uzeh- is an annual event celebrated every August of each year. By tradition, it is normally celebrated a month before the village new yam festival. The festival is celebrated in memory of one of the founding fathers and a great hunter.
The festival is nine days long activity but the ninth day is the major day of the festival, which features traditional dance from each of the six villages that make up the community namely; Ogbeonishe, Umueze, Ogbetiti, Umuoma, Umuenelichi and Isikiti. By cultural implication, the following chiefs namely the Obi (King) Eze-Igbu society and the Owoto, who perform the final sacrifice at the Ishuani shrine, play major role during the festival than every other chief in Isheagu.
The research work, adopts primary and secondary sources, the primary sources include oral interview of notable personalities in Isheagu, where the research on Uzeh festival was conducted. Eight traditional chiefs were interviewed. Two online articles were used including a newspaper/magazine.
The study examines the origin of the festival, preparation and how it is celebrated. It also examines the roles played by the traditional institution. The origin of the town ·Isheagu- and the political institution was equally looked into.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
CHAPTER ONE: General Introduction
Background of the Study
Statement of Problem
Significance of study
Objective of study
Scope of study
Note and Reference
CHAPTBR TWO: The Evolution and Development of Isheagu Town
Isheagu Town Myths of Origin
Social Organization of Isheagu
Notes and References
The advent of the Uzeh Festival
Preparation of the Uzeh Festival
Celebration of the Uzeh Festival
Notes and References
CHAPTER FOUR: THE IMPACT OF UZBH FESTIVAL ON ISHBAGU
Notes and References
Isheagu is one of the towns that make up the Aniocha South Local Government Area of Delta State. It is also one of the many communities that make up the Aniocha region. Other towns in the Local Government Area include Nsukwa, Umute, Ogwashi-Uku, Ewulu, Adonte, Uku-Oba and Aba-Uno etc.
Isheagu is made up of six villages namely, Ogbeonishe, Umueze, Isikiti, Ogbetiti, Umuoma and Umuenelichi. Isheagu covers an area of 41.60 Square Kilometers with a population of about 680,000 peoples.
Like many traditional societies, culture in Isheagu is knowledge -based and includes all that are passed from the ancestors to the future generations. During the process of cultural transmission from one generation to another, it is possible some aspects of the culture are altered overtime thus paving the way for the addition of new traits.
Broadly speaking, the Isheagu culture encompasses the totality of knowledge, values, beliefs, arts, morals, laws and all tangible and intangible things acquired by men as a member of the society and transmitted from generation to generation. Uzeh Festival is carried with much fanfare, a reflection of the deep interest and respect the people have in their tradition.
BACKGROURD TO THE STUDY
A close observation of a people's daily activities particularly those that deal with the culture of the people show a wide range of different cultural traits around the people. This is also true with the people of Isheagu. Indeed, the manifestation of culture in any society like Isheagu includes the people's concrete accomplishment of meeting daily needs through material and materialization culture. The material culture includes tools or physical objects such as axe, hoe etc. While non-material culture revolves around knowledge about the nature and the rules that guide personal or group interaction in the society," Additionally, the role of geography and history in the development of culture of a society cannot be overemphasized. This is because the environment where people live is a great influence on their life. Similarly, the historical experiences of people also play a role in the development of such people. Thus a combination of the environmental and historical factors play important roles in determining the cultural development of a people.
They are practically survival strategies through group philosophies, oral traditions, aesthetic norms and modes of organizations. A culture could also manifest in the form of traditional festivals and their accompanying paraphernalia (music, dancing, dressing or traditional industries which include different local manufacturing method and their products).
The Uzeh Festival serves to remind the Isheagu people of the heroic achievement of one of their hunters who killed a monster that terrorized the entire community in the dateless past. It is most popular traditional festival that the Sons and daughters of lsheagu look forward to every year.
STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
Culture is a worldwide phenomenon. Culture is the identity of any nation, society, community or town. The Uzeh Festival is one of the most important events in Isheagu and to remind the people of the historic feat of one of their hunters. The festival is celebrated with singing, dancing and merrymaking.
Like in many communities in Nigeria, the Uzeh Festival is also facing strong criticisms from Christians in Isheagu. Critics of the Uzeh Festival see celebrants of the Festival as pagans whose salvation lie not in Uzeh but in God Almighty Although the Christian adherents want the Uzeh and indeed all cultures in Isheagu abolished, majority of the community's population argue that the retention of the people's culture including the Uzeh Festival helps in preserving the people's cultural heritage for the benefit of future generations of the community.
This work is justified by the fact that even the Christians who want the festival banned are also part of the huge population that grace the festival annually.
This research would seek for answers to the following questions:
1. How did the Uzeh Festival begin?
2. What are the main features of the Uzeh Festival
3. What are the effects of Uzeh festival on the life of the Isheagu people?
4. To what extent has Christianity affected the celebration of the Uzeh Festival?
5. What is the status of Uzeh Festival in contemporary time?
SIGNIFICANCE OF STUDY
This study represents an attempt at documenting the Uzeh Festival as an aspect of the social history of Isheagu Community in Aniocha Local Government Area of Delta State. This work also serves as a reference material to readers and students of history interested in the study of the Uzeh Festival.
OBJECTIVE OF STUDY
The major objective of this essay is to put the Uzeh Festival in a documented form. This will enable the present and future generations of the Isheagu Community to understand the significance of the festival to their community. At the present, there is little or no literature on the festival. This essay thus seeks to fill the gap that exists in the social life of the people of Isheagu. Secondly, this essay will show the role of Uzeh Festival in the economic, socio-political, and spiritual development of the Isheagu Community. The specific objective of the project include an examination of the ways and means by which the festival is celebrated.
SCOPE OF STUDY
This work is limited to the Uzeh Festival. Moreover, mention is made of the geographical location, evolution, and the socio-economic political and social organizations of Isheagu to gain a broad knowledge of the study.
The study is largely based on primary data collection. Oral interviews are held with Isheagu indigenes with deep knowledge of the Uzeh Festival. The interviews are complemented with information sourced from some documented materials on the festivals.
Data Analysis: The data analysis is both descriptive and analytical given the nature of data involved.
Culture as a concept is a very contentious one. There is no single definition of culture. To some, culture denotes accumulated resources of group of people which could be non-material and material, For survival purpose it becomes necessary to translate and transmit culture component.
However, Kroeber in his work notes that culture is a mass of learned and transmitted motor reaction, habits, techniques, ideas and values and the behavior that it may induce. In his evolutionary approach, Whites argues that man's ability to be cultural is the meaning he attaches to the mundane world and that explains why man is different from other materials.
The Collins English Dictionary defines culture as the total invented ideas, beliefs, values and knowledge which constitutes the shared bases of social culture. In other words, culture is the totality of activities and ideas of a group of people with shared traditions which are transmitted and re informed by measures of a group. Culture depicts the people and their way of life.
The above definition suggests that culture cannot be defined in terms of one person but a group. It is in fact inconceivable to have a human being with his own culture. In the view of the social scientist, for example, culture refers to a totality of people's way of life. It is indeed, the distinctive way of life of a people, their complete design for living.
In a broad sense, culture refers to the gamut of the knowledge, beliefs customs, traditions and skills that are available to the mass of a society. According to him, culture is the complex which includes knowledge, beliefs, acts, moral, customs, tools, and any other capabilities acquired by man as a member of a society and which are learned and passed from one generation to another Taylor in his book titled "Primitive Culture" notes further that culture complexes are passed from one generation to another and are also learned by all members in daily interactions.
From the above definitions, the following conclusions on culture could be made. First is the reference culture as a material component which rudimentary tools like axe, cutlass, hoe etc., to sophisticated equipment’s like computers, jet planes, telephones etc. and non- material aspect comprising cognitive contents like knowledge about nature and its sustaining belief system as well as the normative patterns or right and wrong behaviours.
The second is the historical determination of culture accumulation. For the simple fact that culture is passed from one generation to another, it is possible that certain elements of it are altered overtime while new ones are added. Hence over a time, it is possible for social structures to become more complex because of human innovation and diffusion from other areas.
The third aspect hinges on the effect of geography on the cultural development of a society. Important in this perspective of culture is that the material components of culture which are naturally influenced by the environment of a group of people. Despite the contribution of the Uzeh Festival to the socio-economic and political development of Isheagu, there is little or no written material on the festival. Information relating to the festival is treated either as a footnote or part of the general study of the Anioma Nation. Even at that, some works on Anioma Nation hardly contain information on Isheagu not to talk of the Uzeh Festival. For example, Enueme Joshua's work entitled the Origin and making of Anioma, has little or no information on Isheagu Community. In the work, the au thor looks at the origin and transformation of the Anioma nation as well as clamour for the indigenes for a separate state. Similarly, Nwabua Ben U.N's article entitled -The Making of Anioma, examines Isheagu as part of the general study on Anioma, in the work, Nwabua examines the evolutions and social history of Isheagu. Additionally the author examines the various angle remarks on the origin of Isheagu and the emergence of its villages. This work lacks details as only half a page is devoted by this author to the study. Anioma: A social history of the western Igbo people-s is invaluable: under study the social history of Igbos with specific reference to the Anioma nation, its entire composition and dialects. He argues that the various sources of origins of the communities that make up Anioma has made the classification of Anioma as an Igbo tribe difficult. In this work, the author already lists Isheagu as one of the communities in Anioma with Igbo ancestory.
There are some controversies in this work. The most noticeable is that aspect that deals with the categorization of the communities as belonging to either the Igbos or the Edos based on this some of origin from the perceptive of Ndigbo, all the communities in Anioma are of Igbo origin. Even the title of the work is also deceptive. In nowhere in the book is the social history of the Anioma people mentioned in the work not to talk of the Uzeh Festival of Isheagu.
The work Inculturation as Dialogue: Igbo culture and the message of Christ by Udeani Chibueze look at the impact of Christianity on the culture and traditions of the Igbos. The author argues that the new wave of Pentecostal evangelism currently sweeping the length and breadth of Igbo has tended to remove the people away from their forbearers. This work, like others reviewed above pays little or no attention to Isheagu nor the Uzeh Festival. Nevertheless, the aspect of the work that deals with Igbo culture and tradition before the coming of Christianity is very comprehensive and considerable.
NOTE AND REFERENCE
1. U.N. Nwabua Ben -The Making of Anioma Lagos Anioma Pathfinda, May 2011, P44-45.
2. Ibid P46
3. Oyefolu A. Taye -Culture Festival in Lagos- in A. Rasheed (ed) The Evolution and Development of Lagos State.A publication of Centre for Lagos Studies (CEFOLAS), Adeniran Ogunsanya College of Education, Otto Ijanikin, (A-triad publishers and printers, 2003) P123
4. Ibid P123
5. G.J.A. Ojo, Yoruba Culture (England, University of Ibadan Press, 1966) Chapter Seven.
6. N. Richard "Christianity Versus Traditional lifestyle- Lagos, Anioma Pathfinda, Opcit, P9.
7. Quoted in J .B. Beati, Other cultures, London, Rousledge and Kegan, 1982, P129.
8. Quoted Oyefolu A. Taye Ope cit P123
9. J. Enueme, -The Origin and Making of Anioma" Lagos, Anioma Pathfmda, May 2011, 15
11. Ohadike D. Anioma: A Social History of Western Igbo, Macmillan Publisher, Lagos 1994.
12. Chibueze U. "Inculturatien as Dialogue: Igbo Culture and the Message of Christ! 12/06/2012 (From http://books.goggle.com.)