By Tochi Benjamin
The Mmanwu festival is an age long traditional masquerade event of the Igbo people of South Eastern Nigeria. It is a day dedicated to the very wonderful and indeed colourfully beautiful art works of the ancient Igbo race.
The Mmanwu is performed only by male members of exclusive secret societies. It involves the use of elaborate, colourful costumes that are meant to invoke and entice ancestral spirits as well as norms.
Masquerade traditions have a varied range of purposes that span from performing elements of epic drama derived from community cosmology and lore, ushering in new months and seasons, honouring totems and ancestral spirits, enactments of parables or myths, with entertainment and community building serving as a consistent commonality.
Predominantly, in the past, masquerades also bore judicial, social regulatory, and even policing powers. However, though these functions have decreased in modern times due to the emergence of civilisation or Western cultural dictates as fused in my the western powers. Many Igbo still hold tight the adventurous practice today, especially in Lilu, a community in Ihiala, Anambra State.
While the Halloween holds strong within the western community as strong cultural selling point, Eze Dr Peter Olikanyi Omenife sets out today, January 1, 2021, in Abor-Lilu town, to resonate the loud vibes of ancient Igbo trademark which can be very much harnessed as a might for tourism. As they say: “Your culture is your identity.”