The Egwu-Udo (The Masquerade) And The Ouwuo Dance In Nigeria

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In Nigeria, there are different kinds of culture, dance, tradition etc, according to the different numerous tribes that make up the country. One of the most interesting cultural activities can be found in Umuaka, a town located Between Orlu town and Owerri city in Imo State. The Igbo tribes of Nigeria are very generous people when it comes to social and cultural activities. In Umuaka a social-culture activity that one cannot afford to miss is the Ouwuo which feature many different masquerade dances. One of the masquerades that are more attractive and interesting to watch is the Egwu-Udo.

Umuka is a town In Imo State known for their retained ancestral culture and traditional way of life. In Umuaka Culture is their number one priority as it boosts the historical background. They appreciate their culture and festivals to the bream.

The name Egwu-Udo means wool-dance “Egwu (dance) – Udo (wool)”, and just as it’s name comprises the outfit, the masquerade’s costume which is overall colourful knitted wool to cover the dancer with opening on the belly were it can be worn through, is designed with comfort ability to the dancers’.

For a dancer to be stunning, he has to design his outfit colourfully blended. Some dancers also tie colourful Ogodo (wrapper) on their waist to make their outfit outstanding. Some often tie a small bell on their costume which makes a jingle noise as they pass by. This attracts and calls the peoples’ attention that a masquerade is passing by.

The dance comprises fast-slow steps and then steady war-like movement, sometimes the dancer makes some lingering steps and pause, and then continues again. The dancer makes a whistle sound ”auuu-le-le-uuuuuuhu” as he performs or passes by. People more especially teenagers could follow an Egwu-Udo to a very long distant notwithstanding the weather. There are usually scheduled days for the ouwuo dance which most of them normally holds at market squares, school compounds and some Oghu leaders’ compounds (Ezhi Ndi-isi ouwuo) where the Egwu-Udo and other masquerades perform their dancing.

The Oghu festival usually kick-off by June and ends in July just before the preparation of the August meeting which commences in the month of August. During the commencing period of the Oghu teenagers willing to join or participate in any ouwuo dance or advised by their parents to do so, will be initiated. The initiation process implies being a male indigene, provide cola nuts, palm wine grind and baked melon with some ugba pottage presented to the ouwuo leaders (Ndi-isi ouwuo).

On days that there is no scheduled dance, the Egwu-Udo is free to wander about anywhere in the community.

Today the festival being one of the legendary social-festival in Umuaka and neighbouring towns is performed anywhere in the world where there are Umuaka indigenous that cannot afford to travel home for the festival.

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