Understanding The Origin And Mysteries Around Ekwe Masquerade Of Atta Igala…

EKWE  is accorded the same status spiritually like the Atta, it enjoys the privileges of the royal anthem  ODECHI Atta. The royal trumpet OKAKACHI Atta.the royal umbrella and royal greeting of Atta and chants.EKWE is no doubt the most prestigious masquerade in igala kingdom the fact that all other masquerade in igala kingdom is subject to ekwe. The history of ekwe date back to the reign of Atta Ayegba oma idoko the great 14 century……oral tradition has it that ekwe originally belong to the jukun kingdom and during it’s great conquest to the igala kingdom during the reign of Atta Ayegba the great. It was seized and never to be returned to them….EKWE is said to have led the jukun warrior to stage war against the igala kingdom, on the defeat of the jukun warriors .the warriors seized the ekwe and took it to Atta Ayegba, because of the value he had for the masquerade he ekwe of the custody of the enefola clan…. Now okete enefola.near  the atta palace. The ekwe cult like masquerade cult in igala kingdom is the most powerful. The chief priests of the shrine is called ochala ekwe….. The person who becomes ochala ekwe is chosen from okete enefola clan….. Ekwe has a lot of devotees and initiates. For any one to be able to follow the masquerade during the performances closely…… You must be initiate to the Ekwe cult. They are some people that are incarnates of the ekwe masquerade those people are automatically devotees of the shrine… The ekwe shrine is sacred. No adult female crosses the part leading to the shrine, if it happens a process of purification is performance on the victim by ochalla or any of his subordinate The shrine has court where sacrilegious offence against the art of masquerading in igala kingdom are administration. Making Ekwe the principal in all igala masquerade… Ekwe is a ceremonial masquerade it does not perform except during festivals and very special occasion the music instruments are two wooden drum and a metal gong know as oke. A special song called inyado is sang during it performance. The sonorous nature of inyado makes it an amiable delight…. The synchronization in song and drums produces a rhythmic music and all initiates dance with the principal igala masquerade as it moves along the street leading to the palace of the Atta Igala usually the performance starts in the early hours of the morning from the shrine as ekwe steps out the shrine the eight other royal masquerade come to pay homage in order of seniority led by Agbanabo. Ekwe is accompanied by the son of Abilifada oma ekwe. The first point of call is the Atta palace the peak of ekwe performance is at the palace where it dance in grandeur and in full paraphernalia as the igala principal masquerade. At palace of the Atta, the royal anthem is played for the ekwe accompanied by the trumpet and the royal flute Okpana. At this point the inyado music stop playing. Chant of Ami Deju by the palace woman praise singers comes on, the same accorded to the Atta, Ekwe acknowledges this with a very dramatic dance while it waves it’s sacred cane etali at the crowd. Atta raises it right hand up to acknowledge the performance. Ekwe in turn blesses the Atta with its sacred cane indicating a spiritual affirmation by the ancestors…….

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