OHAFIA- MBA BU ISHI ACHO ISHI
In the ancient past, the Ohafia people were known for their war prowess. They were in constant search for wars, in which they could participate and show how great they were as warriors. Eventually, they turned into something like mercenaries and the Arochukwu people, who were taking slaves all around the Igbo region, soon learned how to take advantage of this spirit to meet their own interests. Since those times, the Ohafia people have been proud of being part of a line of mighty warriors and have kept as part of their spiritual and cultural heritage.
In accordance with the Ohafia war dance history, these warriors started the tradition of IRI AGHA , beheading their fallen enemies. From a usual war event, this process turned into a performance that was called to show the might and prowess of Ohafia people. Human skulls taken during wars were kept as souvenirs and as a proof of their courage and honor. Only those who had a human head to bring home from another battle could wear eagle feathers that were a sign of courage and might.
The war dance is meant to celebrate some war achievements, be it individual victories over some enemies or the victory of the entire army.
The group of dancers is headed by a leader who has a basket with human skulls. This basket is traditionally called oyaya.
It shows how many skulls the warriors have gathered owing to their prowess and smartness.
He also carries a small cutlass and a palm shoot. In the meanwhile, men who accompany him, pretend to be cutting human heads. The performance done along with Igbo traditional music played with the akwatankwa.
The traditional Ohafia dance with the mimicked beheading of their enemies has already become a popular Igbo cultural dance rather than an everyday warriors’ routine.
Those who visit Igbo lands have a chance of seeing this dance performed by the ancestors of the renowned warriors.
The true sons of the Ohafian people devotedly perform the dance of strength and prowess to the sounds of traditional instruments, the melody brings you centuries back, to the lands ruled by courage and battles, and you almost feel the rhythm of this ancient enchanting dance. It’s an experience to remember!
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