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Africa culture/tradition education Igbo culture lifestyle Nature Pastoral

Tradition: Ohafia War Dance (Ikpirikpi Ogu)

Intro: Ohafia is a town in Abia State in Nigeria, it consists of 26 communities with Elu as the ancestral capital. Many people have asked questions about Ohafia War Dance.

In the olden days, Ohafia was known for their bravery during tribal wars. At present, Ohafia is still known as land of warriors. It was said that they were as strong as Lions. They engaged in so many wars and never lost in any battle. During any battle, they made souvenirs of their victims’ heads which they cut off and take home leaving the lifeless bodies to indicate that the person was killed in battle. Till this present Ohafia is addressed as Mba Bu Ishi Acho Ishi* (carrying a head and yet looking for another). It was indeed land of great warriors.

Ohafia War Dance is popular called Ikpirikpi Ogu (a practice of beheading the enemies). Ohafia War Dance is a dance of victory by Ohafia warriors, which included chanting war songs during inter tribal wars and drumming after defeating their warriors. This dance was indeed incomplete without the presence of a human head because this was an indication that they have defeated their opponents. But in this present day of civilization, human heads are no longer featured in the dance.

Learn Igbo language and culture here.

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*Ishi: Ohafia’s dialect says Ishi instead of Isi, which is Central Igbo language meaning head.

By Oke Iroegbu

Finance Graduate, Bibliophile and Bard of Ovim, his hometown. Read more at www.oiroegbu.com/about

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