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Izombe Cultural Heritage – Okorosha Festival (Pictures)

Image of Izombe Okorocha Festival Parade
Credit: AdaptsNews.com





Izombe Okorosha Festival is an annual festival done to mark the beginning of every farming season in the beautiful community of Izombe, Imo State, Nigeria.
The festival allows the indigens of the community to thank and appreciate the gods of their land for their lives, that of their loved ones, and the bountiful farm produce of the previous year.

The community of Izombe is made of twenty-one villages and on the D-day of this festival, all the twenty-one villagers attend the festival with their own unique masquerades and cultural costumes. Each of the twenty-one villages is allowed to do a dance parade around the market square. After that, everyone is free to go home and celebrate with their loved ones.

The dance parade around the village market square is done with local Igbo musical instruments like ogene, ekwe etc. While making use of these musical instruments, the vibrant young men among the dancing crowd sing splendid cultural songs to spice up the atmosphere.

A good number of these cultural songs are aimed towards correcting the ills of the society and at same time expressing loyalty and love of the people for the cultural heritage of their ancestors.

Amid COVID-19 pandemic, Izombe Okorosha Festival was still celebrated on a grand style this year. Although, the pandemic equally had its negative effects on the festival because the ban on ‘internaltional travel’ stopped the well to do sons and daughters of Izombe living in the diaspora from witnessing the festival this year.

Six Highlights Of Okorosha Festival in  Izombe, Imo State, Nigeria


Okorosha Festival in Izombe is done annually in the community to celebrate the beginning of a new farming season, while enjoying the produce of the previous season. The festival is also known as the Festival of Peace.

Just like every other festival in Igbo land has procedures and how it is being done. Below are interesting highlights and procedures regarding how the Okorosha Festival is being done and celebrated;



1. Ito Nkwa: Exactly four (4) days after a neighboring community known as Mgbele must have celebrated her own owu festival, Aborshi (a village amongst the 21 villages in Izombe) will observe what is known as Ito Nkwa (untying the musical drum). After that, on the preceding Orie market day, at exactly 8PM, the osere will bring out his Oji and strike it eight(8) times on the ground and make certain enchantments (invocations), for instance; owu anyi, owu oma, ome n'afo. Immediately after the osere is done during his invocations, drummers will start beating the drums while singing ancient cultural songs to add melody to the dance inducing drum sounds.

The drummers will continue until they are done beating eight (8) different tunes and afterwards, they summarize with ‘Oda’ which is usually the longest tune. While the drummers do the drumming, the people of the community dance in accordance with somuch air of happiness, singing along to spice up the whole night. The people also enjoy themselves with well cooked peppery fish soup, prepared by their wives.

This indicates the beginning of Izombe Okorosha Festival and marks the end of Ito Nkwa(untying the musical drum). After this is done, fighting and quarreling becomes highly prohibited in the entire community of Izombe, anyone caught fighting would be fined heavily by the Ndi Ise Owu (Heads of Owu/Okorosha Festival)

2. Ikpashi Akpati Owu: Three days preceding the Owu day, Ndi Ise Owu (Owu custodians) gather at the shrine of the strongest Oracle in the village, this oracle is known as echele. They gather their to inspect and check if all the materials needed for the Owu/Okorosha festival is ready. Some of the major things they do during the Ikpashi Akpati Owu stage are below;

a. Budgeting and drafting out expanses that would be made during the Owu/Okorosha Festival.

b. Making arrangements for the food and other edibles that would be needed on the final day of the festival.

c. Careful inspection of the necessary musical instruments.

3. Igba Nkwa: Sixteen days after the Ito Nkwa has been done, Igba Nkwa would be the next stage in line. This would be done on the early hours of Orie market day (which is accurately 16days after Ito Nkwa). The Ofo-uzo (seer) of the Owu heralds the day and then goes on to visit the title holders in their ranking from the head to the least, Osere, Ugbo, Ada, Oku asaa. The Ofo-uzo is usually accompanied by soloist and instrumentalists who sing and dance the ancient Owu cultural songs.

Around 9-10am in the morning, the Igba Nkwa ceremony begins in full at Amakohia village down to the boundaries of Ndioko. By now, all the masquerades expected to participate during the Igba Nkwa must have been completely dressed and masked. They are then led into the center of the village square amid the circle of instrumentalists and soloist. They dance joyfully and in a short time, little children and interested adults gather to watch them perform their dance. When they are done with the dancing, some high ranking masquerades are then selected by the elders to go greet the immediate titled ancestors of their land who died after the previous Owu/Okorosha Festival. They do this greeting on their grave by dancing and bidding them good-bye for the very last time. When they must have completed the greeting rituals, they are allowed to go home and prepare for the next phase.



4. Okorosha Masquerades: Exactly eight market days after the Owu dance and ritual, follows the first Okorosha Masquerade outing in the whole community of Izombe. Over 5-10 masquerades are seen standing at major junctions in the community, and collecting money from passerbys. The sometimes flog ladies for dressing indecently.

The names of these Okorosha masquerades are as follows;


a. Ayo

b. Omu

c. Otaokpukpu

d. Njighogho

e. Nwa-udo

f. Ishioboli


5. Iwa-Oji : Eight preceding days to what would be the final outing and end of Okorosha Festival in Izombe, Imo State, a ritual known as Ikwa-oji is done by Eziama village ( one of the 21 villages in Izombe) and celebrated by Amakpu village. In the course of Iwa-Oji ceremony, sacrifices and rituals are performed to the gods of the land. After the sacrifices, the ‘mgba nnemeka’ is held on afor-ukwu, at Amakpu village square. The implication is that, eight days after the Iwa-Oji, the Okorosha Festival shall end.



6. Okorosha Outing Grand Finale: On this final day, Okorosha masquerades become less cruel, they dance around singing melodious songs in celebration of the cultural heritage of their ancestors. Everyone of the 21 villages are allowed by the elders to display their own masquerades at the center of Izombe market square (Ogba Afor Izombe). The last village usually allowed to dance at the market square is Ndioko village. When each village is done dancing, singing ancient songs of joy to their ancestors, and displaying theit Okorosha masquerades, they return back to there various domains with gun shots and shouts of celebration, they go home to eat and drink to their satisfaction. This is considered the end of Okorosha festival for that year.

Below are pictures of the masquerades (Okorosha), although some of them look scary. Lol.


Image of Izombe Okorocha Festival Parade
Credit: AdaptsNews.com

Image of Izombe Okorocha Festival Parade
Credit: AdaptsNews.com

Image of Izombe Okorocha Festival Parade
Credit: AdaptsNews.com

Image of Izombe Okorocha Festival Parade
Credit: AdaptsNews.com

Image of Izombe Okorocha Festival Parade
Credit: AdaptsNews.com

Image of Izombe Okorocha Festival Parade
Credit: AdaptsNews.com

Image of Izombe Okorocha Festival Parade
Credit: AdaptsNews.com



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