PATANI COMMUNITY AND THE FESTIVAL OF PEACE

PATANI COMMUNITY AND THE FESTIVAL OF PEACE

 



By: Oweifie Gabriel

Apart from Christmas the Easther season is also a special period for the people of Patani community which is located in Patani Local Government Area in Delta State, Nigeria. It is special not because of the celebration of the death and resurrection of Christ but because it marks their annual Kabowei Seigbein festival - the festival of peace.

Seigbein is the major festival of the Kabowei clan of the Patani community as it attracts visitors from around and far beyond the community. Sei means 'evil' while gbein means to 'throw away', seigbein then means to 'throw away evil' or to 'leave bad behaviors'.

The festival is held in respect of Kabowei, the father of the Kabowei clan and the founder of the Patani community. Kabowei was the youngest son of Oporoza, he was not living in the kingdom until the death of his father due to the fact that himself and his elder brothers, Gbaranwei and Kumbowei did never had good relationship. Returning back at the news of the death of his father he pleaded with his brothers to allow him perform his burial rite to their late father and it was granted. The grandeur of the ceremony Kabowei held in respect to their late father was so heavy that it attracted many visitors and it has been so up till date.

The festival is preceded by the 'Amateri' rituals by Taware community. This is a period of twelve days of total silence in the whole of the clan exempting Osuoware community thus during this period Churches and mosque those not make use of sound systems, parties and clubs are not also left out. There have been cases where some churches refuses to abide by the law and put on their sound systems and get their instruments destroyed by the community youths.

Breaking the twelve days of silence is the 'Amafini Ogele'. It is an evening procession where the people rally round the town with drums and music, dressed in colorful attires. They usually dance from Osuaware to Taware and back to the king's palace then later when they return the elders other men gather at the Osuaware community chairman's house to wine and dine while children and women return home. There is also the 'Apia ogele' (Knife display) where the men dress up like warriors matching to battle with their weapons and they also dance round the town.

Other processions includes the 'Opuobori ogele',  an elephant masquerade; the 'Azo' - dancing palm tree and 'Amele' - gorilla masquerade dressed in leaf plant that is believed to posses healing powers.

Other communities in the Kabowei clan also carry out their 'Ogele', the Ekise, Taware, Ogainware, Afiniaware, Oyuoware, Okuruware, Koloware. They also does theirs in like manner as the Osuaware Amafini Ogele but while the Amafini Ogele usually features live traditional instruments and music, others may use modern sound system moving on a truck or vehicle. Other activities are Canoe race, wrestling and swimming competition.

To crown the whole celebration is the Miss Kabowei beauty pageant. Contestant dresses in the Kabo way and makes their presentation in the Kabo Ijaw dialect. The winner is awarded the title of 'Miss Kabowei' till the next contest which an interval of one year. There is also a cash prize and may be awarded a scholarship if the winner is a student.

 For outsider, the Seigbein is a period of tourism but for the sons and daughters of Kabowei it is a time to show love, a time of cleansing and to remind themselves of their cultural heritage.

Patani, as big as the community, it has been known for its peaceful nature. Regardless of the level of civilization it is not common for one to hear of such bad news that may be associated with urban areas such as robbery, crisis dispute, gang wars and ritual killings among many other; one can walk in the street at late night and feel confidently safe.

The people of Patani are also industrious and creative as their occupation includes: Farming in varieties of crops such as Cassava, Yam, Coco Yam, potato, Pepper, Groundnut, Garden Egg, Corn et. c. They are also involved in fishing as the town is located along the famous River Niger. As a riverine community they are also involved in canoe making.

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