Abiriba is a community in South Eastern State in Nigeria . It is an autonomous community with an urban status. Autonomy here implies that it is not under the traditional rulership of any monarch but on its own. It is one of the three communities that make up Ohafia Local Government Area of Abia State. It is a community known for her rich display of cultures,customs and traditions among which is the celebration of EKEMBU/IRI NDI known as new yam festival, which is done on every ninth month of the year (September).
“Ekembu,” which means the 1st Eke (New Year) of the year, is the period for the celebration of New Year in Abiriba and it is celebrated with yam, the king of crops (Eze erimeri). Ekembu is an important day in the lives of the Abiriba people. It is a day of thanksgiving to the Almighty God and their ancestors for keeping them throughout the past year. It is also a day of merry making when the people share the gifts of life bestowed on them
Obina Dance Highlight of Abiriba Iri Ndi (new yam) festival is the annual dance of the maidens from Amanta in Ameke community of Abiriba Kingdom,called Nmaku Eziali maidens.This maidens who are also believed to be Virgins,pure and undefined by any man performs this sacred dance and any maiden who is not a virgin from this clan dare not participate in the dance Athough I cannot categorically tell you the repercussion if such happens.
This is the time that the young girls who are now ripe enough for marriage show off their beautiful figures and dancing prowess to young men from Amanta and other prospective husbands from other communities making up the Abiriba Kingdom. There is usually great excitement heralding this dance especially to the young men who sees it as an opportunity to get their brides,as some of them will tie palm fronds on the legs of their desired brides,which is called # Igbai Omu# in the traditional Abiriba language,signifying that the maiden had been taken and other suitors should steer clear and the young man (men) will now take up the marriage proceedings from there.
As a little girl growing up in those days,I’ve heard so much about the maidens dance and had witnessed it only but once in my life several years ago( yea,am proudly Abiribarian,a proud daughter of Usukpam) because I know you must be wondering now!
The dance starts as early as 6 a.m at the Obina Dance Square in Amanta with the Nmaku Eziali Maidens leading the troupe,looking beautiful in their # okara akpuru ikpakpa# a type of wrapper designed with corn seeds
Civilisation and the embrace of Christianity has changed so many aspects of this dance as in the olden days,the maidens used to dance stark naked showing off their erect and pointed breasts ! Supriseeeeeeed? Though you can still see some of the maidens showing off their breasts while their womanhood is perfectly covered.
The dance is called OBINA NDE AMANTA and this year’s own (2013) was done this morning as you can see on the pictures above.
It is indeed a sweet culture though things have changed.
!”This culture needs repackaging for global consumption in other to ensure sustainability ” Ojebslaw Ojebe Ojebe.
“While I appreciate the dance,I am glad that the nudity aspect of it had been greatly repackaged to suit our modern day trends” Gracious Grace Nmah
Is there any of your community’s historic culture or tradition that you wish to share with us? We are waiting!