Cultural festivities in Ebira speaking communities

Cultural festivities in Ebira speaking communities


The ebira speaking tribe are commonly found in kogi state and other neighborhood states like kwara state and Niger state with their distinctive cultural practices that have been a source of tourist attraction to people from other regions of the country.

Ancient traditional practice have remained key aspects of everyday living despite the spread of Islam and Christianity across the length and breath of Nigeria at the expense of local religions.

Some of the most celebrated masquerade festival in ebira land are mainly the Ekuechi, Eche-ane, and Eche Ori.


Ekuechi festival is held mainly in celebration of the ancestral spirits (Ekuechi) who are said to descend from the realm of the supernatural during the celebrations. The festivals name translates literally from the ebira dialect as the descent ancestors.

Ekuechi festival lasts over a month, beginning around November and continuing into the new year. The festival holds across several communities with shared customs and native practices and commonly involve traditional songs and dances and masquerades display and ritualistic displays. The conduct of the annual Ekuechi festival is one of the most important responsibilities of the ebira's ireba Ekuechi masquerade cult whose priest have to consult local oracles in order to ascertain the exact day manner for it celebration 

There are are many accounts of how it originated, most of which are just myth; the prominent of them all is: "According to the Ebiras, the Ireba Eku (masquerade cult) was believed to have been formed under the Divine instructions of God to check the excesses of women, apart from ancestor worship. Myth has it that after creating man and woman as husband and wife. One day God sent for the husband but he was too busy to answer God call. Instead, he told his wife to meet God on his behalf.

God gave the woman Irakwo (an egg-like object) that contains the secret of life. Having known it contents she later swallowed it and hid it in her uterus. Due to this, she has the power to manifest supernatural power for her husband. Thereafter, she became very powerful, performing supernatural feats such as transforming into any animal and changing back to a human being. She could grow wings to hover around in astral travels. Apart from this, she was capable of different sorts of mysterious transformations.

This made her husband envious of her powers and in sympathy, according to the ebiras, God enabled the husband to create the Eku masquerade cult which women membership are not allowed as a counter force to the powers possessed by women.


This is an annual masquerade festival celebrated in rotation from one district to the other in Ebiraland (between April–June). In the past, it was only during the period of the festival that betrothed girls were given away in marriage to their suitors. That is why the festival is called 'Eche-ane' (women festival). Masquerades, though carried long canes, came out primarily to entertain people and received gifts in return. The ladies of marriage age are introduced into the culture of self adornment, as they are thought the basics of womanhood composure, ethics and morals. They are majorly put in charge of cooking and preparing the UZI(bitter leaf) delicacy for the male suitors and other visitors.


‘Eche Ori’ is a new yam festival celebrated only in two districts in Ebiraland, Ihima and Eganyi. During the festival, traditional worshippers make sacrifices in the secret groove of ‘Ori’ (deity) high up in the mountain to show gratitude for its protection and provision of bounteous harvest.

The worshipers carry long canes with which they whip one another in turns without anyone exhibiting any sign of pain. This is a mark of strength or manhood.

Another important attraction of the festival is the delightful ‘Echori’music in which female singers feature prominently. Only after this festival can one eat or sell new yams in the market as it is a taboo to do so before the festival. 

Basically there are few account of how Eku concept started. However, the differences in these accounts are not fundamental. Generally in Africa, theories of origin for masquerade are often propounded through oral traditions. A mere encompassing conceptual thought on the phenomenon of female exclusion from masquerade cults within the African patriarchal context resides in the understanding that women are feeble minded and cannot keep secrets. Also because "they are also mysterious and sometimes unclean", they cannot therefore approach these ancestral manifestation whose character is diametrically opposed to their own.

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