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Published On: Wed, Sep 26th, 2018

Unenurhie Community Marks Seven Days Idju Festival In Spectacle (PHOTOS)

The Warriors’ Dance processing to the arena.

By Young Erhiurhoro
LAGOS SEPTEMBER 26TH (URHOBOTODAY)-The community of Unenurhie in Evwreni Kingdom, Ughelli North LGA of Delta state was recently a bee-hive of different cultural activities as the community celebrated the seven days Idju cultural festival.
The cultural festival which lasted for seven days featured different cultural dances by women folk, the youths and men with different cultural regalia, attires and chanting of different war songs. Visitors and invitees were treated to different lavish dinning and winning in individuals’ compounds, bars and restaurants.
The day one of the festival was a masquerade dance of two masquerades each of the two quarters making the community. There were drummers and singers, singing old war songs to the admiration of the masquerades and dancers. Day two of the festival was a general cultural dance by both the men and women folks. It was really a moment to behold.
The fifth and sixth days of the festival were more captivating as the two days featured the “warriors’ dance”. The “warriors’ dance” according to the Odion’Rode of Evwreni Kingdom, His Highness, Ebruphiyor Jemre who spoke to Urhobotoday.com in his palace, said the dance was put up for only acclaimed and certified warriors by the Chief Warrior (Olotu’Rode) and selected elders in the community.
According to the traditional ruler who also participated in all the cultural activities, the dance was neither for children nor for infidels.

The Odion’Rode displaying during the festival.

“The first part of the dance is a general dance for both men and women, children and adults. Whereas, the second part of the dance is mainly for the warriors and not infidels. The dance is put up for those that can beat their chests as men and not as women,” he stated.
Speaking to Urhobotoday.com correspondent during the cultural event in the dancing arena, the Olotu’Rode (Chief Warrior) of the community, Chief Priest Peter Ogbovwan said, “The Idju festival is one of our cultural festivals in the community. We celebrate the festival once in eleven years after Owhorhu’Rode, that is big Owhorhu is celebrated. The Owhorhu is our annual cultural festival while the Idju is celebrated once in eleven years.”
When asked the reasons behind the celebration of the cultural festival, the Chief Warrior who was decorated with native chalk and worn a well knitted white skirt said, “the Idju festival is celebrated to honour Oghene (Almighty God) for protecting our community from foreign invasion, inter and intra communal crises for not just a year but a decade.
“Secondly, we celebrate the festival to appease our gods of war in the community. In almost every community or village in Urhobo and Isoko, they have different war deities instituted by our forefathers to protect themselves and their families in those days when communal wars were rampant. Those war deities also protect the community from foreign invaders or enemies. As you can see, it’s a time of dancing, eating, drinking and visiting of family members and friends.”

The Drummer, Jabin Terry beating the talking drum

Also speaking during the ceremony, was one of the community chairmanship aspirants and a strong APC member in Evwreni Ward, Hon. Diamond Friday aka Ogbo who earlier sponsored a football competition between the two quarters in the community.
According to him, “The Idju festival is part of Unenurhie culture. Every religion must respect culture in its highest degree. Culture and religion are inseparable. Those cutlasses you saw the warriors throwing up and down, were not to cut people but to show their agility and strength as warriors. It was like a memorial of past events in the lives of our forefathers.
According to him, “ I am appealing to Delta state government under the Ministry of Culture and Tourism to start organizing annual cultural fiesta for communities in the state as a form of competition. This is a way of generating revenue to the coffers of our government treasury and also a way to revive, modernize and protect our culture from generation to generation. If you observe, great part of the Urhobo and Isoko cultures are fading away everyday because of civilization. I strongly believe that the in-coming government of the state will look into this area very strongly with meaningful changes. I thank every person present in this cultural event.” Others who spoke were also of the same view that government was the cause of the fading of culture. They pleaded with the government to revive and promote the Urhobo culture.
The high point of the Idju cultural festival was the slaughtering of live dogs, fowls by the warriors to serve the war deities. In almost every ancestral compound in the community, family heads and elders were seen serving their ancestral fathers with goat pepper soup or dried fish oil soup.

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