Itopa Aneku Onogidi Obanyi Kuroko – Aneku Onogidi is an ancient dreaded masquerade that has being in existence over centuries. The masquerade or mascot is one of the most powerful, highly spiritual and famous masquerade in the history of Ebira land, that has maintains his spiritual strength from the ancient time till the present day.
The History of Aneku Onogidi
Aneku Onogidi is a blessing to people of Ebira land, healing and rescuing people from evil bondage, the masquerade usually bless barren women who find it difficult to conceive a baby. Hence, when such women finally give birth, if the child is a male, he will be named “Ogidi” and if the child is a female, she will be named “Onyi Onogidi”.
Ogidi is a name of a place, where one Uhuami descendant found a certain spiritual material (idol substance) in the ancient time. Ogidi is a place in the present day Ijumu Local Government Area of Kogi State.
The word “Ogidi”, meaning; a farm area, where the spiritual material was found. While the word “Ano-Ogidi”, meaning; the one from Ogidi area, which was later pronounced as “Onogidi”. Hence, the word “Aneku-Onogidi” is the name given to the masquerade. The word “Aneku” refer to ancestor. “Onogidi” is the most feared masquerade by women in Ebira land.
Historically, Aneku Onogidi Ichapaniko of Kuroko was founded around 18 century, by “Adayi-Ani’uhuami” from “Ekko” lineage (Abara), sub-clan of Uhuami.
Adayi Ani’uhuami use the substance to build up the masquerade or mascot (“Eku”) at the ancient time. Concisely, the outer mask (Enya’resu-Obanyi) of the mascot is made with that idol substance and so the mascot was named “ONOGIDI” a word derived from the name of the area where that substance was found, (a particular village in Kabba called “Ogidi”).
The Uhuami descendant (Adayi-Ani’uhuami) directs his younger brother Iruku descendant (Adayi-Ani’iruku) to act as the stick bearer of the masquerade, he stayed behind as the custodian of the deity and spelled out the mode of sacrifices.
Which implies that, in regards to the arrangement, Uhuami people serve as the custodian (“Oku’irapate”) while Aniku people serve as the stick bearer (“Okuochi-ruvo”).
Uhuami and Aniku people have been living together over a long period of time. In the early migration period, Adavi had five son’s; Upopuvete (Apasi), Uka, Uhuami, Aniku (Idu) and Adeika which is the seniority order of the five clans of Adavi. Like his other brothers did, Uhuami, left Adavi-Eba to settle in the hilly portion of Iruku Uroko (forest of Iroko trees) now known as Ukuroko (Kuroko). His younger brother followed suit and settle in the valley of the same forest which was why he adopted the Ani Iruku (People of the forest) now Aniku.
Ogidi is a place dominated by people called (Anee’se and Anowee), the main reason of the song; ( Onogidi enevanamawu Ke ! weva-Anee’se ! wava-Anowee ! Onogidi enevanamawu Ke !), the song people sing for Onogidi during Eche’ane festival when Onogidi has suddenly appears on stage.
Onogidi usually hold a cut to size heavy stick (Arubebe) that he normally throw which also has its own spiritual power, not just for fun. More so, if Onogidi enters into some compound and see a local pot which is covered upside down, the pot will surely be broken into pieces if the pot is not an ordinary pot; etc.
Various people has acted as the stick bearer of Onogidi from generation to generation, since the emergence from the ancient time. Though, at the reign of Attah Ibrahim Onoruoiza, when he was installed as the Paramount ruler (1st monarch) of Ebira land. A famous stick bearer (Okuochi-ruvo) of “Aneku Onogidi Kuroko” at that period is called (Ijamboro). His initial name is “Okuku” while his nickname “Ijamboro” was gotten from a white man who visited HRH. Attah Ibrahim Onoruoiza.
When Attah Ibrahim Onoruioza was chosen as a king by the British Government, there was a very stiff opposition to his nomination. Due to his young age and fear of humiliation from those who felt cheated, the district officer asked that strong and hefty men be scouted across Ebira land to serve as security officers for the Ohinoyi.
During the search, one of those picked was “Okuku” who was a giant, very strong and then the stick bearer of “Aneku-Onogidi”; immediately the colonial master sighted him, he exclaimed “JOHN BULL” (“John The Bull”), due to his gigantic nature. After confirmation as chief security officer to the monarch (Ohinoyi), on his arrival back to “Kuroko” where he is based, he told the people there, that the white man called him “Jamboro”, which was later pronounced as “IJAMBORO”. That is the origin of the nickname “Ijamboro”.
Onogidi has other names as an eulogy such as; (Ichapaniko, Muwo-Muwo Anee’se, Odopochi-Okaha). There is the strong belief that the power of the Aneku-Onogidi, supersedes many other spiritual powers even that of witches and wizards, that is why people also praise him as “Odopochi-Okaha”. Other of his praise names are: Ikokere-Omuha, Ori’ahue-Oniri’asise, Oshe’eyirataba, Odo-Odumi evu, Atuporoja, Osho-Okavu vovo, Opakiovo, Onyai-vooo; etc.
No individual dare brings in his own charms into the costume, because Onogidi is a holistic deity that need no help from any being.
The masks and clothes worn by the masquerades are seen as totem, sacred objects which should not be touched by an ordinary being.
There is another belief that they represent the ancestors.
The purpose of masquerade can be to entertain, to commend achievers, to chastise evil-doers, to bring messages of hope, peace, or impending disaster, to mourn the dead or to grace a ceremonial occasion like a festival.
Aneku Onogidi Outing in Ebiraland
© Itopa Aneku Onogidi by Saka Abdulbaki, 2020.
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