1.1 BACKGROUND HISTORY
“The Igbos appears to be people perpetually celebrating.
Every month, some community somewhere is celebrating. The Igbo year, “aro”, is a round of festivals and ceremonies, which vibrate with life, collier, sounds and meaning” (Okafor 1989: 133).
Festivals are an integral part of Igbo traditional culture and system. It is a period of celebration when series of performance of music, drama, film etc, given regularly, especially once a year.
In Igbo land, every town, kindred, village have festivals they celebrates, like wise in Nnewi, Nnewi is a village that situated at southern part of Anambra State. It’s people have a rather intricate origin, as handed down by the predecessors.
Also considering the fact that most so these information are based on oral traditions, we are presented with so many faces of the story making it difficult to identify the true origin.
Despite of its intricate origin, Nnewi is in existence till
Date. They have their festivals they celebrates Viz: Igu aro,
Igba Ofala, Afiolu, Iriji, Ikwu aro, ETC. Above all mentioned Afiolu Festival happens to be the greatest festival that Nnewi people respect and being practicing to date.
Since festival is a public celebration of very important event with different remarkable happenings in live. Afiolu festival in Nnewi happens to be outstanding festivity that remarks when long toil of cultivation is over every year. Also it was done to offer thanksgiving to the gods of crop and farming called Ufejioke which they believe that it makes their land to be fertile so that on harvesting period the plants will produce richly.
During this festival, there are so many activities that Nnewi people engage themselves into, like, people in their various homes cook different types of foods and drinks for enjoyment. People that are abroad visit their various homes. Friends visit their friends but the most important aspect of it is masquerading by the youths at ama. Afiolu masquerade, this masquerades wipe themselves with a particular cane called anasi on their heads to display power and entertainment. Women, girls and little children ran for them for fun.
Masquerading in afiolu festival has some important roles it plays during that great festival.
a. It act as homage to Ufejioke god of Crop and farming.
b. It act as refreshing of spirit/human relationship
c. It helps in sustaining of tradition
d. It serves as an entertainment to people
e. It also serve as a display of traditional wealth of creativity to Nnewi.
Afiolu festival is free for everyone to participate, women and children are allowed because is a festival that brings sharing of love, happiness and unity. It is one of their traditional heritages that is not against Christianity no performance of rituals in this festival.
Finally, Afiolu festival in Nnewi has been started for some years back till date, it is still this same. It is a time of grand merriment for everybody in Nnewi be it indigenes or foreigners.