Culture and Tradition
The culture and tradition of Umuomaku involves her way of life, the collection of ideas, habits, design for living, knowledge, morals, beliefs, arts, customs, technology, practices and tradition of the people which are transmitted from one generation to the next generation
The traditional ancient religion of Umuomaku is odinani, otherwise known as Hedonism. The people of Umuomaku believe in the supreme God who is referred to as Chukwu (the Great Spirit). Chukwu was the creation of the whole pantheon of Alusi spirits to whom he delegated the power to control various aspects of nature and activities of men. Chukwu was believed to be the creator of heaven and earth and the source of human life. The commonest way of approaching Chukwu in Umuomaku was igo ofo (incantations or traditional religious worship). Igo Ofo is believed to be a practice that strengthens not only the relationship between man and his Chukwu, but also between man and his fellow men.
The people communicated with Chukwu because they believed Chukwu listened to them, accepted and answered their prayers. The traditional religion recognized the existence of many Gods and condemned all misconduct such as lies, stealing, fornication, arson, indecent act, injustice, rape and killing of a human being. Anybody found guilty of stealing yams in the farm, killing or murder is severely punished.
Next to Chukwu is Arusi, sacrifices were made to Chukwu through the Arusi, oracle and ancestors. Arusi are minor eities that are worshipped and served in Umuomaku. These deities include Awuwo, Uhejioku (god of yam crops), Isigwu, Okwara, Ugaezi, Adaidike and Ekure.
• Awuwo deity was established and worshipped by Umueze kindred of Umunambu village in Umuomaku (formerly known as Umuawuwo). The feast is celebrated in the month of September to mark the end of the farming season. It is an annual event. During this festivity, bread fruit popularly known as 'ukwa' is cooked and served. This event lasts for three days.
• Uhejioku festival is celebrated to mark the beginning of harvest period in August or September of every year and it lasts for two days. Uhejioku deity originated from Umuoka kindred in Umunambu village. This kindred is the oldest in Umuomaku, this gave them the entitlement of the chief host of yam, the king of all crops. The deity is seen as the god of yam crop.
• Isigwu deity is usually performed in the 11th month of the year to mark the commencement of dry season by Nambu, the first son of Omaku which is today known as Umunabu village. During this feast, hunters from within and outside the community usually gather for a hunting expedition and all the bush meats caught are brought to the chief priest as a mark of honour. The hunting lasts for just a day while the feast last for eight days. Food and drinks are served on throughout the duration of the feast. Usually, masquarades perform at Ama Onyeneme village square on the third day.
• Okwara deity starts in the 12th month of the year to mark the period. Okpobe village is the chief host of this festival. The duration of this feast is usually eight days.
• Ugaezi deity feast comes after Okwara and it is usually celebrated in the thirteenth lunar month to mark the end of dry season and the beginning of the planting season.
• Adai deity festival marks the end of resting period and the beginning of planting season. The people of Umuezemarakwa kindred in Umungada village are the chief celebrants.
Traditional Marriage in Umuomaku
During the olden days, marriage arrangement is usually initiated at the early years of the girl and boy involved. Once a girl child is born and happens to be from a good home, the family of the supposed groom goes to indicate their interest. It is believed that the child would behave just like the parents when she is grown. This is no longer obtainable these days because men prefers to choose the person they love as wife and the women follows the man they love as well. There are four stages of before a marriage is initiated in Umuomaku.
The first stage involves the family of the suitor and the bride having a middleman (Onye Aka-Ebe). The middleman must be related to one of the families. The suitor would make the first visit to his intended in-laws alongside the middleman with one gallon of palm wine, one or more coconuts, soap and other gift items as a suitor may wish in one of the Eke market days. This stage is the enquiry stage, the parent of the bride gladly welcomes the visitors and serves them kola and food. After the warmth reception, the middleman will make known their intention to the parents of the bride. The father of the bride will ask the visitors to make a return visit for them to know their daughter’s stance on the proposal.
If the gifts items are not returned within three native days, it implies that the family of the bride has given their consent. The second stage involves the suitor visiting the bride’s parents with two gallons wine in company of his middleman and one or two of his kinsmen. The same word of inquiry is repeated through the middleman, the father of the bride will then reply after they must have been entertained with food and drinks. The bride’s father will then inform his kinsmen about the intended marriage. Secret inquiries would be made by both families to discover the true character and attributes of each family.
In the third stage, the suitor, the middleman and the suitor’s kinsmen (not more than four persons) will visit the bride’s family with different items of gift which would be given to the bride. They ought to go along with one crate of beer, one crate of malt, three gallons of palm wine and a gallon of raffia wine. After the rite and entertainment, the bride leaves with his husband to return the empty gallons of wine to the husband. The bride stays for three or four native weeks, this period is used for both spouses to study each other.
In the final stage which is the fourth stage, both families would choose a date and invite their relations, friends and well-wishers to witness the traditional marriage ceremony. The suitor will come along with the required items and payment of dowry is done afterwards. The items will be shared among Wives (Alutaradi), Umuada, Boys, Men and Ladies
Cultural Dance in Umuomaku
Cultural dance are movements that embody cultural values and standards. The dance has a story that reflects certain values or beliefs, hence goes beyond merely learning different types of moves. The cultural dancing groups in Umuomaku include Arigede, Atiriogwu, Egwu-ogene, Ndidiamaka, Igba-egwuregwu, Nkanwaite, Odenigbo, Ochfuru-igba, Kokoma, Igbawaraya, Onye-aghana-nwanneya among others.
Traditional Attire in Umuomaku
Dresses promote inter-group relations among the people of Umuomaku. For instance, the people have come to accept red cap as one of their traditional forms of dressing as a result of acculturation. The Igwe-in-council, as well as the chieftaincy title holders in Umuomaku are recognised and identified by their red caps. The Isiagu attire is the generally accepted dress for the men in Umuomaku community whereas the women wear blouse with two pieces of wrapper and a scarf
Masquereade in Umuomaku
Masquerade is one of the most socio-cultural activities of the people of Umuomaku. It is a great activity for men who have been initiated into the fold on attainment of adulthood. The concept of Mmanwu was fundamentally based on the idea that the ancestors continued to take part in the affairs of the living descendants. When a masquerade is seen in public, it is believed that they embody both the spirit and human worlds and is therefore highly regarded. In Umuomaku, masquerades are of two types, namely the visible masquerades and the invisible masquerades
Some of the visible masquerades in Umuomaku include Uraga, Ichenku, Mgbadike, Obodo Iduu, Oluku and Okwomma and they perform songs and dances during festive periods such as Christmas, New year, Easter and Independent day celebrations in the community square.
These dramatic performances often depict stories of daily life with a moralistic bent that highlights the social norms that the masquerade so closely enforce.
The invisible masquerades as the name implies are not supposed to be seen but can be heard. They perform at night.
The masquerader uses his voice to scream so it may be heard in the village. The invisible masquerades are Achikwu, Ogbagu, Oku-ekwe, Onyekuteredike. Although these masquerades do not perform any longer, they were used to enforce societal norms.
Chieftaincy Title in Umuomaku
The chieftaincy titles in Umuomaku are Igwe, Nze na Ozo, Ume and Ogene. The Igweship title is the highest title in Umuomaku. The Igwe is the holder of a title of respect and honour. The Igwe is usually from the oldest village in Umuomaku, Umunambu.
The oldest kindred which is the Umuoka and the oldest family which is Umuoma family are to produce the Igwe of the community. But currently, the law of the land has been amended to allow the rotation of this highly revered title of the Igwe.
Ozo title in Umuomaku is highly revered and the holders of the title are held in high esteem because their tongues have been washed by the oat that guides the title. It is seen as an abomination for an ozo titled man to tell a lie. This makes them the dispenser of justice. This is also obtainable in the entire Igboland.
Ozo title taking among Igbo people originated in order to honour the ancestors who distinguished themselves when they were alive. The ozo title is the second highest title to be taken in Umuomaku. Any man that wishes to be conferred with this title must be screened to make sure that he is qualified to take the title. He cannot take the title if his father is still alive and if his elder brother is yet to take the title. He must be someone who is highly revered in the community, especially in matters of saying the truth, wisdom, integrity, honesty, amongst others.
If he is qualified, he then must approach the head of ozo title holders who will help him prepare for the initiation
Naming Ceremony in Umuomaku
Naming ceremony which is also known as Igu Afa in igboland is usually done on the 8th day after a child’s birth. A name is more than a stamp of identity, it bears a message, meaning, a story, an observation, a history. A life experience or a prayer
Kolanut in Umuomaku
Kola is seen as a symbol of acceptance, cooperation and solidarity. The kola nut otherwise known as oji in Igbo language is the first thing that is served to the visitor. This is done to show that he is accepted and welcomed. It is broken into pieces by the elder and shared after prayers has been offered to God for protection and guidance