AN INQUIRY INTO THE INITIATION OF YOUNG GIRLS INTO WOMANHOOD
OKPEMERI’S BACKGROUND STUDY, PHYSICAL AND HISTORICAL DESCRIPTION
“Okpemeri” is a term that denotes oneness; in other words, “Okpemeri” means “we are one.” The group of people identified with this name are those who share the same cultural, historical, and linguistic characteristics. The towns are located in Edo State’s northern region, specifically in the Akoko Edo Local Government Area. The towns are as follows:
Aiyegunle is a first name.
Bakuma is the second name of a Japanese man.
Dagbala is the fifth letter of the Greek alphabet.
Ekpesa is an abbreviation for Eksa.
Eshawa is the seventh city in Ontario.
Ihillo is the eighth word in the word list.
Ikiran-lle is a 9th grader.
Ikiran-Oke is ten.
Campese is a 12th-century Italian word.
Makeke is 13 years old.
Oyanubuza, number 18
Somorika is 19 years old.
Ugboshi-Ele is number twenty.
Ugbosi-Ele is number twenty-one.
Because the languages of these twenty-two communities are so similar, the term “Okpemeri” was coined to represent everything the communities stand for. One of the most important ceremonies and festivals in the communities is the initiation of young girls into womanhood. This ceremony is commonly referred to as “Oviliok.” The term ovilivia refers to those who have been initiated.
This festival is held once a year in each of the aforementioned villages. Ovilivia is a festival of initiation into womanhood for young girls of marriageable age. It is a revered culture that upholds the “Okpemeri” communities’ moral purity. It’s only natural for the festival to be concerned with both morality and religion. In his book “sociology of education (1978),” Idowu stated that “morality is basically the first of religion and that to begin with, it depends on it.”
The ovilivia festival is not a mass wedding festival, but rather one that declares young women mature, qualified, and old enough to marry. In some areas, initiating maidens may be in terms of circumcision, but not in the “Okpemeri.” During the ceremony, young girls are decorated with “Elopo” (beads) that are worn around their waist, neck, and hands to indicate that they are participating in the festival. This could also be used to demonstrate that they are eligible for marriage.
Sugar is distributed by the parent, Ahu (local beer brewed at home). There is also gunfire to indicate that a festival is taking place. J. Odutola (1963) During the Olivia festivals, maidens wore Ojah (woven cloth) tied around their waists and were decorated with beads and bangles on their hands and necks. Age women in the villages lead them to the market square, where cultural groups dance to entertain them.
The Ovilivias, on the other hand, participate in the cultural dance as they arrive on the scene. This was always accompanied by a standing ovation from spectators from nearly all of the villages in “Okpemeri.” Later, the chief of one of the villages in “Okpemeri” arrives to perform the necessary rites, and the dancing and singing continues from there. During this time, suitors come out and look for their future partners; when this is done, they inform the girls’ parents, who either reject or accept the suitors.
THE HISTORY OF THE CEREMONY
The origin of the “Ovilivia” festival is similar to the origin of other aspects of the Okpemeri people’s culture, which dates back to antiquity. However, there is much speculation about the festival’s origins. The first theory is that the festival began several years ago as a nuclear family affair when the communities had evolved and had become tolerably stable after the migration era of the communities’ evolution.
Because of the importance of classify in the festivals, it is speculated that worried mothers may have been forced to consult oracle due to rumours that spread among their daughters’ suitors that they were unfaithful, [perhaps such a rumor was scaring many suitors away from their daughters. The anxious mothers who sought advice from the oracle will be told a different story.
The parent who was overjoyed by this discovery later expressed regret to their daughters. As a result of this development, many men were encouraged to seek the lady’s land in marriage, and the lady chose to prepare herself (likely named Ovilivia) for her future role as a wife. The mother gave her more training, which may have resulted in positive results that encouraged more families to organize similar festivals for their spinster daughters as a convenience; the festivals then gradually grew from a family affair to a kindred, clan, and finally community affair.
The second theory is that the Okpemeri people got this idea from Owo and Benin, two communities with whom they came into contact during their migration from Ile-ife to their current location. A similar female initiation festival into womanhood, known as “Igogo” festivals, is being organized in Owo. However, one thing to note about the festivals’ origins is their association with religious beliefs.
Religious beliefs are the foundation and governing principle of life for the Okpemeri people, as they are for most African cultural groups. Religion allows them to live their lives in such a way that it becomes the theme of songs and folklore.
Many areas in Nigeria’s culture and tradition have not benefited from documentation, and much is unknown about woman initiation. Particularly in this part of the world. Modern girls regard their festivals as barbaric in the sense that they expose their bodies, which is part of their human virtue. This also has an impact on academic performance at school because the girl will be embarrassed to go to school the next day.
This is because her classmate’s opposite sex will tease her. Some students will never return to school. Parents of initiated girls see this period as a time to flaunt their wealth. It was done moderately in the past. However, the number of Elopo (beads) worn by a girl today indicates her parents’ wealth. Young men use this period to mock the young girls, which affects them psychologically because they (girls) now feel they have nothing to be proud of.
THE STUDY’S IMPORTANCE
This study is about the “initiation of young girls into womanhood,” and it is an attempt to document one of the Okpemeri’s most important customs. It is also an attempt to highlight the manner in which women in this region of the country demonstrate and prove their chastity before going to their manhood homes.
The importance of initiation of young girls into womanhood in the area is the focus of this study. The importance of initiation in Okpemeri culture, on the other hand, is emphasized. Another topic covered in this study is the mode of initiation, which includes dance performance, customs, and entertainment. There is also an attempt to make useful recommendations.
Ovilivia is a young lady.
Igogo – Festival of Womanhood
Okpemeri – unity
Beads – Elopo
Beads – Illeke
Attu is a locally brewed beer.
Oja is a wooden cloth.
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AN INQUIRY INTO THE INITIATION OF YOUNG GIRLS INTO WOMANHOOD