Akatakpa Masquerade: an Agent of Entertainment

Many people of this era regard Akatakpa as a deity and accord it worships like other traditional gods and goddesses. This is a misinterpretation of the cultural heritage of antiquity.

Although Akatakpa is a masquerade, it is more personal and social than religious. Individual male youths ‘produce’ Akatakpa and are responsible for their sustenance and actions. Akatakpa dresses up and comes out from the personal house of its owner, known as Ụlọ-Ọfụ. It is always identified with its owner. Any crimes committed by Akatakpa are traceable because the ‘owner’ is not hidden. That’s why one can safely talk about “Akatakpa Samuel Eto, Akatakpa Ken Chuks Agboeze, Akatakpa Prince Noel Chinaza Agbo, etc”. In relation to Ọmabe, all the above are aberrations and religious abominations: Nsọ Ma! This is because Ọmabe has religious mysteries and cultural secrets attached to it. Akatakpa is free from all those!

As an agent of entertainment in Eha-Alumona Community, Akatakpa begins [or used to begin] to appear around May or June annually. It moves from village to village, entertaining people with its beauty and cultural demonstrations. A good number of them entertain elders with Egara. Others chase young people around, including ladies, not in punitive sentiments but as an exercise of physical fellowship in the light of culture. Young men even offer themselves to be lashed by Akatakpa belonging to their colleagues, just for fun and in view of the fellowship. It is in view of all these that Jacinta Chinyere Okwor argues [in her History Thesis, UNN,] that Akatakpa is a unit of “the athletic exuberance of the youths”. 

Meanwhile, some Akatakpa masquerades in different villages upgraded to deities and are worshipped as traditional gods. This is a result of the extreme religious sensitivity of our people as we have always explained. Those special Akatakpa include Agbadi, Okoro-Ododo, Atụ, Ikebuen’ Ogwugwu, Okerekwu dị Amọlụ, Obu, Edọga Og’ri, etc. They are known as Ishima and so have Attama, etc.

Let us repeat that Akatakpa is an agent of entertainment! Associating it with charms and violence as witnessed in our time is a harmful imitation – an imported crime. In the past, it was Akatakpa Obolo [and to some extent, Akatakpa Orba] that occasioned violence. Akatakpa in Eha-Alumona Community only entertains the people and corrects children, especially the stubborn ones.

We learned that in Ụzọ Day! It is the day that Akatakpa returns to the spirit world. It is named Ụzọ because on this day, all major roads are cleared [and made ‘passable’] by young men of each village. At the appointed time in the afternoon, there is echọ dance at designated places. Akatakpa of different categories gathers at those venues to entertain people with their beauty and dance amidst cultural melody and noisy excitement. On the night of Ụzọ Day, elders of each village gather at the shrine of the village Ishima to worship it with fowl and other items. That marks the departure of Akatakpa to the spirit world.

Today, we remember exceptional Akatakpa personalities of Eha-Alumona Town, especially Udele Nwamba of Amaechel’ Village [who was also a great warrior] and Uche Nwa Ọkwọ Nwa Asọgwa of Ogbodu-Ele! [Uche nwa Honourable: he died on January 11, 2003].

written by Emmanuel O Mary Asogwa

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