Anniversary edition: Is Oghu a Pagan Festival?4 min read
By Dr Cosmos Yahzitere Okoh
Before answering this great and challenging question, let me officially introduce myself. I am Amb(Chief) Meshiyach Cosmos Yahzitere Okoh from Eloka village, Ibele autonomous community, Njaba LGA, Imo state.
To proceed, I will love to present brief review on the present development or reactions on some Igbos on ancient cultures and festivals as Oghu. Truly not all ancient cultures are evil or condemned by the sacred scriptures. Many of the culture conform with the ancient practices of the Holy people or communities.
Referring to Oghu festival, it is one of the major masculine cultural events in many Igbo communities especially to Oru, Orsu, Isu, Owerre etc.
As known, it is meant specifically for male initiates and celebrated within periods of midyear annually.
In recent years, this well cherished festival has faced strong attacks and condemnations from many emerging Christian groups. When Christian missionaries came to Igbo land, they witnessed many of such cultures. They didn’t apply strict measures to abolish them. Rather, they mildly preached against them.
In those days, Roman Catholic Church and Anglican Communions were major and primary Christian wings. While Roman Catholic Church was too cold against the ancient cultures and festivals, Anglican Communion was a bit irrational towards them.
About two decades ago, the emergency of Charismatic Protestant Churches and Pentecostals brought great condemnations upon the cultures. These war like Christian groups began to forbid their members from participating in Oghu festival and others. These sparked strong arguments and debates on whether Oghu festival is related to pagan practices or not.
As one of the strongest servant of YAHWEH in Igbo society, I here present the position of all committed Yahweh’s ministries and congratulations. Oghu is an ancient pagan practice of the Ijaws and Igbos. This can be found in the History of Oghu Festival in Igbo Land.
The word Oghu or Owu and Oru are twined together. Oru is a riverine sub tribe in Igbo society. The history of Oru people is traced to a marine goddess called Oru that got married to a mortal man. This marriage of mortal and immortal persons breed up the Oru sub ethnic tribe of Igbo land. Many accounts hold that the marriage started in Ijaw tribe and some of their offsprings paddled or migrated down to riverside of Igbo area to settle. They constitute the Orus of the Igbo society.
To buttress the point of relationship between Ijaws and Orus, the Ijaw tribe identifies spirits by the name Oru. They celebrate cultural festival called Owu Sei. Owu Sei of Ijaw tribe and Oghu of Igbo land are meant for muscling initiates alone. Many names of persons and settlements in Ijaw bear the name Oru. For instance, Oruama, Angloru communities etc and Oruboko as a person. The prominent name of priests of some of the Ijaw gods and goddesses is the Amanyaoru meaning Priest of the god or goddess.
How did Owu or Oghu started to exist as a festival? It started amongst Ijaws and Orus as accounted. How is the festival connected to pagan practices? This is our primary question.
When Oru the Goddess and her human husband married, they encountered lots of problems. As the goddess was immortal, she exercised superior powers above her mortal husband in all affairs. The husband was not comfortable with the happenings and threatened to quit the marriage. As Oru was curious to develop mortal family, she brought up the wisdom of the goddess that will strengthen and empower her mortal husband to be spiritually charged and active to stand as the man of the house.
The request called for the establishment of the Owu or Oghu festival. It was used as a medium and period when mortal men will engage on the dance with the spirits that will invariably fortify them spiritually. Women are not allowed to participate in the dance at any level except the revelations of Eze Nwanyi or Ada Oghu.
By the original setting, no woman will even stand at the front row seats in the dance arena. Dancers are covered and referred as spirits (Mmuo). Masquerades are paraded to frighten and punish women that cross their path. All activities of feminine events will automatically seize immediately the Oghu dance commences and rounded up in a year. The festival is specifically provided for spiritual fortifications of men in the year. Within the period, men exercise naked authorities over women and set up the memory for the round year period.
This ancient culture is similar to the Beltane of ancient Britain as well as many others in Europe. Beltane festival is celebrated at the month of May. It is noted for pairing of men and women for fertility purposes. The fanfare goes on with May King, May Queen, Maypole, Mayflower etc. All of the festivities associated with Beltane and others have been polished and civilized as May Day or Workers Day celebration.
Oghu festival is a pagan stuff taken from the marine earthbound Spirit kingdoms. The attires and costumes of participants are open adored on white and red apparels. White fowls are often used for initiating of new participants.
The festival is not from Yahweh, so it is entirely pagan stuff that must be destroyed and disbelieved by true servants of the Most High One Yahweh.