I never knew today was Ekpo (masquerade) day in Umukwu, Ovim. I was having a little nap when the noisy drummers arrived with the masquerades.
When I was growing up I witnessed many masquerade carnivals and took particular interest in Ebulu–ogu – the biggest and stout masquerade. They are known to be merciless and stubborn. This is evident in their imposing looks. A masquerade’s size may signify that the wearer is either huge or small and could be strong or weak physically and spiritually, as the case may be. Masquerades have different nicknames and come in different shapes, colors and attires. They normally move in groups and it is rumored that lonely masquerades are most dangerous and are always on a revenge mission. So here’s a tip: if you ever come across a lonely masquerade, run away!
Masquerades gather in each village square with their drummers to dance and entertain people. Afterwards they are offered gifts, food and drinks. They usually don’t speak and are armed with sticks and machetes.
In Igbo land, masquerades are perceived as messengers of spirits. It is believed that masquerades possess supernatural powers and when a man dress as one, becomes controlled by spirits.
Tip 2: It is taboo to unmask or beat a masquerade. It is a serious offense and may have grave consequences!
I remember how these masquerades turned me into a sprinter. They hit people with their sticks. Each time I encounter them, I had to outrun them or get beaten!
I will be back with poetry. See ya.