The ritual required us to sing and dance through the village. We had different groups doing the same thing. We had names, offenses and songs designed to suit specific unacceptable acts.
For the woman who had been involved in adultery, we will sing to her house, mention her name, mention her offense, mention her husband’s name, mention the other man’s name and call her out to tell us if our claim was true or not! The ritual was that crude. Also, for those axiomatic cases, we simply called the people what they are; rapists, adulterers, prostitutes, thieves, etc. For the young girls who had carried out abortions, we did same. We visited every known offense. We mentioned names and offenses, we went from street to street, doing the same thing. Apart from the fact that we had some sort of traditional immunity, our intel is always near perfect so it is hard to ever get a summon by an accused for any false accusation. This went on till 12 mid night.
The last time I participated in this kind of ritual was like six years ago at Ashaka. It was really fun.
One funny thing about village life is that everyone knows everyone and everything. As big as the village is becoming, this unique feature has not faded. Everyone knows of every crime, of every unacceptable act, of every police case, etc. Gossip is part of the culture here. This is one reason why 98% of the accusations during the ritual is often true.
At about 1AM, we had concluded the first part of the ritual and had gone to the next stage. Our dancers had assembled in front of an old Palace and had started to rehearse for the real festival. Some of us had beer, gin, cigarette, weed, etc. At this point, the women and young girls who followed us during the dancing stage had all withdrawn from the process.
The Eworo ‘spirit’ is not to be seen by women or young girls (except for the few women who had become equal to men by their traditional status). At this stage, I had to also withdraw from the ritual because by traditional standard, I was considered equal to a woman for refusing initiation into that level of the ritual! Although I am reconsidering my position on that. The Eworo ‘spirit’ will roam across the village till 5am.
The entire aim of the ritual is to purify the clan. We did not have the powre to convict anybody, but the impact of our exposure was worst than conviction. It is a reactive and proactive effort. It is reactive because we are expected to report every bad act that has happened in the community within the past one year. We are to let the accused know that we know what has happened. That the community is aware. It is proactive because it helps people to behave well, knowing that, whatever evil one has done, someone is keeping record and by next festival, your name and offense will make a hit track.
The Ojeh Festival will commence anytime soon today.
To be continued…