Performing Ugie Olokun and Egwu Okuma Dance in Southern Nigeria.
Agbomawena Isename (Pefti Film Institute)
Ndubuisi Ezeluomba (New Orleans Museum of Art)
Paper short abstract:
Important to any ritual is dance performance. This take the form of staged and sometimes erratic movements that complements a ritual event, helping to heighten the atmosphere before an actual ritual ceremony. Ugie-Olokun and Egwu Okuma dance are two of such ritual events that are highly performative
Paper long abstract:
Important to any ritual is dance performance. This takes the form of staged and sometimes erratic movements that complements a ritual event, helping to heighten the atmosphere before the actual ritual ceremony. Ugie-Olokun is performed to appreciate Olokun support in support of a successful ritual year. When the year ends well for priests and their clients, Olokun is deserving of the Ugie performances that follow. In the course of the performance, these priests occasion various movements and sounds. There is also the stewing of substances and the speaking in tensed voices, said to come with trance possession. Egwu-okuma dance performance is carried out to commemorate the founding fathers (ancestors) of the community. It is a mimicry of a war dance, and symbolize how their ancestors secured for them the community, while capturing and decapitating enemies from within and externally. The highlight of this dance performance is the display of canine jaws that symbolize the jaws and sometimes skulls of defeated enemies during the battle to secure the community. This paper will analyze both performances as they pertain to the enactment of rituals within each community. It is the thinking that both performances culminate in a significant ritual that rejuvenate worshippers resolve to continue the veneration of Olokun, and traditional Ukwuani peoples resolve to commemorate the role their ancestors played to securing the community they now call home. In doing this, we hope to articulate the importance of performance in ritual enactment within both cultures and many other cultures in Africa.
Ritual as performance space