IGODO FESTIVAL (By Chukwuebuka Harrison)
Mazi Orakwa’s Compound *************** ************ ************ It was early hours in the morning. The skies were just beginning to illuminate the atmosphere. The air this morning smelt of nothing and it was cold as it had rained all through the night. The chirping sound of birds with different tones and rhythms filled the atmosphere. Emuka was lying on his bambo bed which was dyed bright red and black, beautifully patterned. A two moulded platform were positioned opposite to his bed, on one of them was a calabash filled with water. The walls of his hut were beautifully designed too with paintings which has no interpretations but are aesthetically gratifying. The floor was finely polished with clay. “Emuka!!” a thunderous voice raised and filled the whole compounds. It was Emuka’s father, Mazi Orakwe. He is very stout, muscles propping out, his chest covered with hairs and one would think he dyed his chest black. A very brave, handsome and hardworking man, he his a kind of man that enjoys observing every nuances of their tradition. His voice flickered through Emuka’s hut. Emuka quickly jumped off his bed, dressed as quickly as possible and made his way outside. “Are your mates not awake helping their families in home chores? And here u are still romancing your bed, as if it will give you the food you will eat today”, mazi orakwe scolded him. “Take this cloths and costumes, wash them thoroughly as you know, it has been long I used it”, mazi orakwe ordered his son, as he offered him the items. I want to go now for a meeting with the elders. It was a season for IGODO festival. A festival that is hosted every two years to herald the return of the masquerade. The elders of every villages in the town must contrive a meeting to discuss on how they can efficiently run their own show, because it is more like a competition amongst the villages. Emuka was washing the clothes and the costume his father had given him in the early hours of the morning before he headed for a meeting scheduled with the other elders, when his friend Ikemefuna strode towards him. His face was gloomy, he had been like this since he woke up. “Ikem!, as he fondly calls him, what is wrong, why is your face looking as if you just had a bit of bitter cola” Emuka asked him, looking so worried and has left what he was doing to focus on his friend. “My brother, honestly I do not know, I just woke up feeling tired” Ikem answered him. Ikem was just as lazy as his friend Emuka. He had left his house to dodge all the home chores that was due to him, decided to visit his friend where he was sure that he must be fed with a delicious food as usual. Emuka’s mother, Obidiya, was in the kitchen preparing an egwusi soup, garnishing the food with the meat of the grasscutter Mazi Orakwa had brought home a day earlier. Obidiya was a very beautiful women, very kind, taller than an average woman in the community, with an oval face, that contained a brightly fixed eyes. Her nose was pointed and assumed the shape of oyibo’s nose. To crown it all, she is very hardworking and obedient wife. “Ewo! Odi oku”, she screamed in a seemingly low tone as she tried to put down her pot of soup, she said this in her native language which is loosely translated to, “it is very hot”. She reach for an abandoned cloth that was on the floor, with which she put her pot of soup down. She quickly put on fire another pot, which is slightly bigger than the one she used in making her soup. She sat down, picked up a knife that she had washed earlier and began peeling two huge tubers of yam mazi orakwa had brought from his barn. With a soft voice, she called out to her son, “Emuka!”. After sometime, Emuka was yet to answer to his name. Emuka reluctantly answered to her call because he already knew why he was been summoned. Obidiya was about to put down the yam which is already done and ready to be pounded. Emuka appeared on the second time his mother shouted for his name. “Nnam ooo, the yam is ready to be pounded” she petted him, as she was picking the pieces of yam inside the mortar. Emuka picked the mortar handle and began the pounding, murmuring sounds that was difficult to be heard. Ikem was still sitting where Emuka had left him and had decided not to go near the kitchen for he knew that he must surely do something if he eventually goes there. Sweat covered all over Emuka’s body, he was breathing faster than normal, at every pound he hisses a “hum” sound as though he was making a mound out of the soil. This time he had finished pounding, he rushed to a nearby mat and threw himself on it, spreading his legs too wide and facing up to the sky, breathing heavily. When he was done taking his bath and was back with his friend, his mother served them the pounded yam and the deliciously prepared egwusi soup. They went second round after they had gulped down the first mountain of pounded yam that was served.