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Pre & Post Colonial Festivals & Holidays in Igbo Culture

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Elizabeth Santineau

on 5 November 2015

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Transcript of Pre & Post Colonial Festivals & Holidays in Igbo Culture

New Yam Festival
The New Yam Festival celebrates and signifies the end of a farming season and the beginning of another. For the Igbo people, this is an important annual festival because the yam crop is a staple food to the West African people. The yam is not only the most fertile, but also the most important economic crop of the Igbo people that live in Nigeria.
Pre & Post Colonial Festivals & Holidays in Igbo Culture
Masquerade Festivals
Masqerades, also called Mmanwu, are a typical celebratory festival held in honor of various events in accordance to the native calender of the Igbo community. During the celebration, the designated attire typically includes colorful robes and costumes accompanied by wooden, feathered, or fabric masks. Almost all masquerades are related to spiritual events and festivities, many of the costumes representing images of deities or occasionaly dead relatives. In the Igbo culture, masquerates embody both the spiritual and human worlds.
Sacred Week of Peace
The Sacred Week of Peace is a designated week prior to the planting season where the community is united in peace and no marital relations, physical abuse, or offensive language is allowed. The belief is that in order to yield good, healthy crops and ensure a successful sowing season, the spirit must first be cleansed by the gods. The week is spent celebrating and restoring peace and promoting purity among families.
New Year's Day (January 1)
Good Friday
Easter (March or April)
Worker's Day (May 1)
Nigerian Independence Day (October 1)
Christmas (December 24-26)
Milad un Nabi
Other Modern Holidays
Brief History of Nigeria
Despite the indigenous people already living there, Nigeria was colonized by the British in the late 1800's.

After war, the British obtained full control by the early 1900's. They valued Nigeria for their resources, people and economy.

Festivals and Holidays are an important aspect of Igbo culture because they represent concepts that are important and relevent to the Igbo people.
New Yam Festival: Pre Colonial

New Yam Festival: Post- Colonial
Aside from the actual crop, the spiritual traditions behind the New Yam festival are just as important because religion is a major part of Igbo culture. To begin the festival, the whole community gathers to watch the offering of yams to the gods in a sacred ritual performed either by the eldest man in the community or the man with the highest titles. The gods that are typically honored are Chukwu and Ala due to their association and believed attribution to the fertility and success of their crops. After this, the roasted yams are shared with everyone in the community. This ritual is also known as the Iwa-ji ceremony and has been a tradition in Igbo culture for endless generations.
The post-colonial New Yam Festival is similar to our Thanksgiving. They are thanking their ancestors for the harvest. The Igbo people don't honor the Earth goddess as much anymore, because of the Christian religion brought in. However, they still make animal sacrifices
Masquerades: Pre- Colonial
Masquerades were once considered very sacred. In pre-colonial times, it was only men who wore the masks. The masks represented dead wives and maidens. People who had broken tradition were publically anounced and would hear what their bad habits were.
Masquerades : Post- Colonial
Today, the masquerades celebrated by the Igbo people are mainly just entertainment and a huge tourist attraction. The masks usually symbolize spirits of the deceased.
Week of Peace:Pre- Colonial
As stated in the book the Week of Peace is simply as it sounds. During this week, no one shall beat anyone or you will be punished. This happened to Okonkwo for beating his wife.
Week of Peace: Post - Colonial
The week of peace is still a sacred week in the Igbo culture. They are expected to live with their neighbors in peace for this week. Of course, violence is less acceptable today than it was during pre - colonial times. Many Igbo people have converted to different religions, but they still celebrate this and many other festivals and holidays.
The New Yam Festival is when one farming season ends and another begins. The one who had the most barns of yams was given the title "Ezeji" or King of Yams. This title was usually given to the strongest man. Additionally, signifies families are in unison
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