| Growing up in Ogui Nike, Enugu, the Enugu state capital can be a bit of fun; but sometimes, it can be scary. |
Easter celebrations were usually more popular and noisier than, say Christmas, in Enugu.
The reason being that most people travelled to their villages during Christmas celebrations. And this normally leaves Ogui, especially Obiagu Road, the cultural nerve centre of Enugu, virtually empty.
As kids, we used to converge in our small groups, singing and dancing to Ogene tunes, to the delight of our teeming spectators who would, in appreciation, throw some wads of money to us.
Whenever a bigger and more fearsome, and in most cases, dangerous, masquerades approached, we would cluster, stoop and kneel in obeisance to the rampaging masquerades who would not accommodate, even little minions like us sharing the stage, attention and adulation with them.
And so, during one of those Easter festivities, we were plying our usual trade on the famous Obiagu Road when one Okija masquerade came threatening.
Of course, we did the usual needful: knelt down and continued singing and beating our Awka-made gongs.
Not too long after the Okija masquerade, well known for its ability to grow as tall as the sky in one swoop and as short as a Congo pigmy in another second, had passed us by, another big masquerade came threatening.
As we knelt down, including our Okwomma masquerade (chai!!), we heard the guttural voice of the deadly Inyi-agboku masquerade, singing some weird esoteric songs.
The spirit, yes, that is what a masquerade is, approached us and asked us which direction the masquerade known for hitting its head on the ground when dancing had gone.
We pointed the kindred spirit to the direction the Okija masquerade went. The next minute, we were all spectators: watching the confrontation between Mmanwu Okija and Inyi-agboku from Awkunanaw.
Sadly, some of the exchanges were conducted in the spirit world as most of us, little, innocent souls, were not initiated into voodoo practice. But the physical fight we witnessed was both scary and entertaining. The Inyi-agboku warned its opponent not to hit the ground again with its head.
But, after dancing for a second, the defiant Okija masquerade hit its head on the surface of the earth again! Then, all hell went berserk as the Okija masquerade’s head was transfixed to the ground.
There was pandemonium: people ran helter-skelter, screaming… (…Haven’t you heard enough for now?…)”.
Dili Ojukwu wrote from The United Kingdom