UNN FYHESSA Cultural Day

The ekwe, ogene and ichaka that composed the cultural tune of the Igbo tradition were still beating persistently and unchanging as they spawned from the gigantic sound system.

Their sounds were no longer a separate thing from the living university community. It was unceasing like the pulsation of the heart of a warrior of the proverbial Umudike.

It throbbed the air, incongruously upsetting the cloud filled with promising and unpromising events, extending its impact even to the trees and the university portion of the Biological sciences ‘Jimbazz quadrangle which was tensed with grim excitement.

I walked into the scene, sat under a tree with my legs crossed. Like a flash of lightning, my eyes peered around the environment.

The decorations were deeply a typical reflection of the Igbo traditional ambience.

One would never argue as each canopy had scores of brown weaved traditional hats with red colour strappings through them.

At one corner lay two mature hens knotted together and awaiting their fates.

Seats were still as they were kept. People were coming like rain in the heart of the dry season.

It was appearing as if the information did not get to them in time, or did they forget the almost overemphasized invitation for all members of FYHESSA, friends and well-wishers from across different faculties, departments and beyond the university horizons?

The other on my left would iterate, “are you sure this event would be as fruitful as it was promised?”

Not gifted in predicting the future, I had occasionally replied to him to watch patiently as the prospective events unfold.

He had nodded in agreement and jocularly said he didn’t want many numbers of people so that the food would be so plentiful that he could easily get some leftovers to take back home.

In a twinkle of an eye, everywhere was filled to the brim.

A place that was as scanty as the trees in the Savannah was so crowded that a grain of sand would struggle to find its way through.

Students started appearing in their different cultural attires and outfits.

Some typically represented their cultures to the extent of being accorded perfection.

Everyone wanted their cultural outfits to outshine the other.

It was a mutual cultural competition.

Yoruba students in their different styles dofiro, Buba, iborum (ipele) and ileke.

However, the Gobi, and Tinko were fitting on their heads.

Hausa male students wore large flowing gowns known as ‘Babbanriga’, and a robe-like dress with designs called ‘Jalabia’, though they were least on headcount.

Some minority ethnic groups in Nigeria were also fully represented as students hailing from these tribes unfailingly displayed their cultural outfits. Igbo students were predominantly the centre of attraction.

Most male students were on their “Ishi-agu” and “enyi” attires, beautifully adorned with red caps.

On their hands were creatively crafted walking sticks which appeared in different styles.

The ladies were the most tantalizing of the event.

Most of them wore coiffure which was neatly weaved up to a crest in the middle of the head. Can-wood was applied lightly onto the skin of a lady inadvertently spotted. All over her body were black-beautiful patterns drawn with ‘uli’. She wore a black necklace that hung down in three coils just above her full, succulent and teasing cleavages.

On her arms were red and yellow bangles, and on her waist were four to five rows of “jigida” or waist beads.

She slashed into my mind like the hunter’s cutlass.

I beamed a smile and whispered sweet-nothings to myself, continually looking at peace with my world.

The emcee could not hold his peace any further.

He picked the microphone and started speaking into it.

He convened the overexcited crowd who were already taking photos, hugging appreciatively to their friends’ good looks.

FYHESSA excos took their honourable seats so did the lecturers and guests who were distinctively exchanging greetings as if they were old friends meeting again after being separated by a war that one would say, almost swallowed scores of heads of women and children and even sick men crippled in domesticity.

The other could not contain his joy, placing his hand on the other’s shoulder, pointing at the kegs of palm wine and saying, “this is a very big cultural display.

I’ll cancel the later scheduled meeting. I must see to the end.

Nobody will tell me any iota of the scene. These children have put me at my best. “They both laughed afterwards.

The MC called out for a virgin to come to the stage and offer prayers to Chiukwu(God).

No strand of hair dared to leave the audience to his amazement.

In the words of his mind, he would mutter that “not even a single virgin could be found in the Faculty of Health Sciences.

He shrugged his shoulders, moved few steps forward and gripped a young girl with obvious innocence written boldly on her face.

She admitted being a virgin and offered prayers and supplications to Chukwuokikeabiama. Ọjị (kola-nut) was prayed as well in Igbo raw dialect and later presented before the spectators, first to respective individuals representing the various states in the federation and then randomly.

Nsukka was infallibly respected as the land on which the university, the stampede of our Western education hope lies. “When kinsmen gather to feast on the vulture, the ‘ngiga’ won’t be hesitantly opened.

“The realm of the occasion stood tall. Everyone in their anxious expectation increased their pace.

Occasionally the emcee would communicate jocularly, expounding proverbs, folktales and mixed parables.

The inter-mixtures looked perplexing for the city-bred students.

They were not new to my ears just as the penis is not new to the pudenda of a staunch prostitute.

The time came for every department under the umbrella of Health Sciences’ to showcase what they had in stock.

Anxiety tensed again and again, for the presenters.

Medical Rehabilitation students took the lead with their “akukouwa” (news).

The earth seemed still. Nothing seemed to be moving.

The voices of the newscasters piercing through the dense air.

Everyone listened with some superlative degree of keen interest.

The news contained the revered Phy111 exams and reactions of students afterwards.

Some pledged sincere reconciliation with their physics textbooks.

Soon applause in form of chattering claps and huzzahs were raining in approval.

They really did wonderfully.

A dance by Nursing students followed up.

 Everyone was happy. The event was serving its expected happy sense.

The female cultural dancers were perfectly and skillfully twisting their waists rhythmically to the sonorous beat of music emanating from the speakers and Oja from the flautist.

Their waists were moving freely like an oiled wheel.

Males would size their waist with the tape of their minds.

Some ridiculed perceived ladies with flaccid buttocks while others took concentration in the ‘bombom’ of damsels, admiring the wonderful creation of God.

Medical Laboratory Sciences took everyone to their ethnic homes with their drama which depicted different parents’ reactions to their children’s announcement of admission into the university, particularly the University of Nigeria.

It was a nice and perfectly represented display of culture in African homes.

It was no short of fun.

Medical Radiography’s ‘ilu’ presentation was super and intriguing.

Faculty dance led by the president of FYHESSA added to the excitement.

To heighten the joy, everyone was served the native Igbo Abacha (tapioca) and a bottle of soft drinks to accompany it since palm wine appeared to be insufficient.

Incantation was heard from the back into the stage.

Everyone turned to know what was amiss.

It was the custodian of the tradition of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka community known as Eze mmuo (chief priest), in his shaggy, deep blood-coloured sleeveless gown.

His body was densely rubbed with “nzu” (White chalk) and a broken hemispherical calabash was in his hand.

Often he would parade round, raising his left leg, chanting what seemed to be the language of the gods.

He held the “Ofo” in his right hand and a red cap with white straps, its head toasting backwards, was fitted into his head.

NdiIchie, Igwes and Ugoezes representing various facets of Nsukka followed suit with the annoying speed like that of an ailing snail.

Everyone’s mind was enslaved in their direction.

Background of traditional music was playing while the flutist blending it with his Oja.

A girl beside me shouted” oh my God this is too deep. Blood of Jesus Christ covers your children,” as she hid her face on my thighs which mixed pleasure too.

It then started drizzling little and little.

People began excusing the stage, leaving only the ezemmuo and his messenger sitting inside a circle drawn with nzu as she continued to draw other marks on the ground with nzu.

Suddenly, the rain stopped.

It was said that Ezemmuo had stopped the rain.

People took back their positions watching the event without losing focus.

In a fraction of time, traditional coronation began.

The prospective for the Igwe, Ugoeze, Ichie, Ada and Okpara titles were led into the stage by Ezemmuo.

The fire was burning steadily from a small clay pot he kept in front of his abode.

A tuber of yam and hen was offered to him too.

Eze mmuo would throw a piece of Oji often, whispering to himself and wounding the ofo around his head.

The males laid prostrating parallel while the females knelt humbly crossing their hands across their breasts, in grim of what seemed to be fear which had gripped them.

Each was lashed at the back ferociously with nzu brought from a calabash by the elders or sometimes the messenger of ezemmuo until friends who couldn’t take it anymore offered a token amount to save their pals on hearing their names on stage.

Finally, they have crowned their respective titles for FYHESSA.

Music played on again. Friends danced. The sun had already hidden its face completely from the earth.

The earth was wearing tick darkness when everything was brought to a happy end following the award of honour presented to a friend and father of FYHESSA.

The female muso played different kinds of music, each brewing a kind of excitement and everyone danced out his heart.

People were seen marrying and remarrying.

Others were sharply spotted as they were continuously caressing the waists of the already excited females who were supposedly drunk with the unending melody of music.

With my hands across my chest, catching a happy feeling I said, “FYHESSA cultural day didn’t disappoint my expectations.

It’s a glimpse into our shared culture, love and unity.

“I zoomed off and got lost into the distant silent night.



AUGUST 2019.


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