Dramatic performance is one of the major components of Adara Orature. It is generally defined as an act of presenting a play or a piece of music or other form of entertainment before a target audience for specific reasons. In consonance with the above definition, I would like to present the "Akpazuma" cultural festival in my Katari Community as a form of Dramatic performance.

Akpazuma is a yearly tradional festival in my community. It is celebrated during the dry season, preferably between February and May by traditionalists.

During the festival, Masquerades which are perceived by traditionalists to be the spirits of departed relations or ancestors called Okwu are the major actors. 

The venue is normally a traditional shrine at the village square. The shrine is in the form of a round hut with thatch roof and short mud walls. Masquerades stay in the hut and gleefully reel out assorted songs in their characteristic gutteral voices typical of ancestral spirits while women who are adherents of the tradional religion dance animatedly to the rhythm of the tunes.

The men folk who are also traditionalists, dance and beat drums inside the ancestral hut with the spirits. The Chief priest and his cohorts intercede between the spirits and the women outside since women are not allowed to see ancestral spirits. 

Interestingly, the spirits call the women by their designated names and even relay messages to them on particular issues. At times, women having issues with their husbands are summoned and reprimanded by the spirits through interpreters or intercessors. One of the elderly women is usually anointed by the spirits as the Chief intercessor or representative. Anytime the spirits want to address any of the women on a particular issue, it is done through the representative.

 Annointed women representatives are sometimes allowed to briefly enter the ancestral hut and dance but with drooping heads so as not to see the spirits. Men traditionalists in the community avail themselves of this special privilege to foster marital control and discipline over their wives since the spirits normally reprimand the women in cases of insubordination, infidelity, witchcraft and other masculine related vices.


Sacrifices are made to the Akpazuma deity by both men and women, but women are the major contributors. Every female adherent (especially the married ones), is expected to offer a bowl of "tuwo" in a calabash with either one cooked chicken wholesomely or dried cat fish wholesomely as well. The food is normally accompanied by a jar of local red wine. Men on the other hand, normally offer the deity big jars of local red wine. A man's economic strength is measured by the quantity of red wine he offers to the gods. People looking for one favour or the other from the ancestral spirits also offer food and drinks to the spirits.


During the festivities, men appear in rough clothes, but don't put on shoes or any headwear while in the ancestral hut or shrine. It is a taboo to enter the shrine with shoes or headwear. Where it occurs accidentally, an offering is made to appease the spirits by the offender.

Women on the other hand, are the major center of attraction in terms of their costumes during this period. To be at the venue of the festival, the women are expected to wear a traditional skirt that comes down to the knees and a piece of well embroidered goatskin additionally adoned with beads on top of the skirt. They also wear sound emitting paraphernalia or objects around their ankles which usually release sharp mind-tingling sounds as the women hysterically dance to the rhythm of the drums and gutteral sounds emanating from the ancestral hut. 

Basking in the euphoria of this captivating ecstatic spectacle, the women dance in well choreographed steps that makes their performance the cynosure of all eyes from far and near. What more, as the women dance in synergy, they also lend their voices to the music with occasional outbursts of synchronized ululations. 

No doubt, Akpazuma festival is a brilliant spectacle to behold by traditionalists and tourists in my community. Indeed, it is emblematic of the dramatic element in Adara Orature.

Post a Comment