Ekimogun Day

Prominent Ondo indegines dancing at Ekimogun 2015
Prominent Ondo indigines dancing at Ekimogun 2015. Photo: MetroNews NG

Ekimogun Day: Carnival in Ondo town, incorporating dances, marches and impressive cultural extravaganza. First, the drums roared at sunrise. And the crowd at the civic centre erupted in ecstasy. The tingling sound of gong and tumbrels reverberated in the air, throwing spectacles and spectators into a collective reverie. Then usually a stampede follows as members of the audience fall over one another in order to catch a glimpse of Amama, the dancing masquerade, just emerging from the back stage. As if in a drunken stupor, Amama, ivied and wild, swirled and switched in quick delightful turns. Waving a hand fan made of straw mat, the masquerade flapped his arms and flaunted his ethereal beauty, His gangling frame was coated in assorted feathers, palm fronds, and graven images of the gods, His flowing trendy gown sprawled on the ground like appended tail of a wedding gown. And his dance steps, charming and enchanting. With its frenetic displays, Amama makes its mark as the link between the people and their ancestors. When singers singers chorused – Amama Nepe, Ondo indigenes were momentarily transported into the past. They remembered the years of yore when the gods seemingly dictated the thermometer of human existence.

Before Amama mounted the stage, Obitun dancers had had their turn. Essentially, a dance of the maidens, Obitun featured a bevy of beauties whose charismatic dance steps commanded a thunderous ovation. As the back-rich repertoire of Ondo’s cultural heritage, Obitun is an inspiring diversion with therapeutic capacities. Among the Ekimogun, as Ondo indigenes are fondly called, it is believed that Obitun performance can make the barren fruitful and restore the health of the sick. But Amama is not as simple. In its original form, this weird masquerade is ritualistic and surrealistic. It rarely danced. And whenever it did, it was to propitiate the gods. All that seems to have changed. At least, for the Ekimogun feast, Amama was an entertaining sight divested of its old time rituals and sacrifices. Like the modern day of teddy bear, Amama entertains and takes sacrifice of cash from the pockets ‘ of excited audience. As clapping and howling reached a crescendo, drummers often go berserk, pounding at the bembe, omele and gangan, all traditional instruments of melody. Then, there is usually a slight commotion[i].

[i] The News December 30, 2002

Tope Apoola
Profession: Writer