This Masquerade Represents Abundance For Bayelsa People
Food keeps the flesh running to hold the soul and body together for exploits of life and riverine communities in Nigeria are blessed when it comes to food production.
Sometimes it appears there is nothing like time and season there, like a tree that is planted by the rivers of water.
Rejoice for the harvest is here and abundance that will now reduce the price of a tuber of yam again has come.
That is the atmosphere in Bayelsa State at the moment.
Big drums had been arranged accordingly and drummers stood in front of them, beating them feverishly with sticks.
The sudden appearance of the masquerades which Atissa
people of the State believe represents abundance of farm produce and
wealth, was greeted with cheers.
The huge cheer from the crowd could be heard in the surrounding villages as they were thrilled by the acrobatic display from the masked men.
As the masquerades existed the arena, anyone who wanted to dance, could go to the centre stage and prove himself.
The village square was filled with people, as they danced to the rhythm of the drums.
Fire was set, and food cooked in a twinkle by some of the dancers, serenading the harvest season that Bayelsa State has now entered.
At that moment, some elders who had gone to Swali River to offer sacrifice to Egbesu - the ljaw god, for protection and peace during the ceremony, returned.
While the elders sat comfortably under the canopies, those who came early enough to secure seats sat behind them.
Before everyone, the festival turned political rally and became disorganised.
Youths of various political groups in Bayelsa State tried to intimidate their rivals into silence.
Some were seen wearing T-shirts with inscriptions such as ' PAM for second tenure ', and ' Egberi for Governor'.
However, the appearance of the king, His Royal Majesty Godwin Igodo, the Ogbotom Edede VII, of Ebeni - Atissa Kingdom, restored peace and order.
The mystical element in social life is often crystalised in the person of the king.
He is not merely a secular ruler, but exists for the well-being of his subjects and always a symbol of unity, war leader, ruler and source of wealth.
After he was seated, it was time for the presentation of gifts to the king.
The drummers took their sticks and the crowd became silent once again.
The rhythmic sound of the drums beckoned on the dancers, adorned with colours that reflects the season. They danced the popular lzon owigiri dance, bringing their harvests before the king.
The twitching of muscles, the slightly dazed look in their eyes, the stimulated trembling of their backside - the full African buttocks - shivering to the body movement with smile as the dances in procession with their gifts to the king.
At that moment, the crowd surrounded the drummers whose rhythm was the heart-beat of the festival.
This year's event took place at Obogoro community and saw the gathering of the 12 communities of Atissa Kingdom.
They are lkolo, Yenebebeli, Yenaka, Famgbe, Yenagoa, Akaba, Ogu, Swali, Ovom, Onopa, Agbura and the host community, Obogoro.
It is the 'Festival of Harvest' held to showcase the harvested farm produce which are then handed to the king as a gift.
It's a means to seek unity and promote the unique culture of Atissa people.
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