Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Andoma and Keana

The Osana of Keana, Otaki Agbo II
About 25 miles north of the Benue River lies Keana. Keana is well known for its valuable salt pits. 

Keana Salt Works 1950s

This provided (mainly) the women of Keana an industry.

The Chief Of Salt Works (with the Staff of Authority in her hand) with her assistant  

Women at work

It is also one of the two major towns in which the Arago are concentrated, the other being Doma, situated some ten miles west of Lafia. 

It is said that the Arago settled with the Jukun at Kwararafa from where they migrated to Damagudu, then to Oturkpo and finally Idah. There, disputes over succession to the throne of Idah forced them to return via Makurdi under their Chief, the Andoma, from whom the settlement they eventually founded (about 1232 A.D.) derived its name, of Doma.

The Andoma had a younger brother named Keana whom he appointed Barde, war chief, of Doma and whom he sent to investigate the story told by hunters of salt pits some four days march from the capital.

Keana found the salt pits. The salt he discovered, was so good and the chances of making himself rich, so great that he decided not to go back despite his brothers orders to come home . 
He built himself a town by the salt pits and called it Keana.

Angered by his brothers insubordination, the Andoma marched against Keana. 

One version of the story says that when the time came to give battle his soldiers refused to fight against their kith and kin. The Andoma then cursed them all, calling them aragogo, a soubriquet by which the tribe is now known

Another version of the same story says the Andoma did not attempt to fight. All he did was try to destroy the source of his brothers pride. Aragogo, this version says, is a corruption of ilagogo (our speech shall be different) which the Andoma proclaimed after his men had trampled the salt workings into the mud.
The Andoma's next action was to try and shut up the spring. An iron cap was made with which he covered the salt spring. But having omitted, in his hurry, to offer the necessary sacrifices, the salt water burst the cap. The Andoma accepted this as an omen of the wrath of his gods and returned to Doma. 

OKWE Masqueraders

In order to ward off the dissension which he feared he had caused among the tribe, Keana sent the Andoma the first two sacks of salt from the pits. 

In return the Andoma sent him a royal gown and installed him chief of Keana.

Theses picture are from 1964. They depict the production of salt as was done by Keana women over the generations.

The land adjoining each salt spring was divided into plots, some twenty feet by five feet. And we're shared amongst Keana born women in the town.

Each women would collect salt water from the spring and sprinkle it on her piece of land. When the water dried up, it blistered the surface of the land into a whitish appearance. This blistered surface was then scraped off and placed in clay receptacles, then more spring water would be poured into that. The water gradually filtered through holes in the bottom of the receptacles into earthenware bowls. 

The water collected in the bowls was then boiled and after it evaporated only crystals of salt remained. Finally the scrapings were replaced on the surface of the land and the whole process was repeated for more salt.

This seasonal industry was only productive during the dry months of the year. The rainy season would cause the pits to flood and the women would return back to town.

In the past, after the rains, the men would clear the pits using calabashes and pots but as of the time these pictures were taken and onwards hand pumps were used.

Till this day the tradition of sending two bags to the Andoma is continued. This is really not as an act of homage, for the Keana does not acknowledge Domas supremacy, but in accordance with traditional custom, which seeks to re enact the settlement of a dispute between two brothers.

The Andoma (wearing cap) is saluted by two Domas

The IWAGU Masqueraders

An Arago at Doma Performing on the Ajingo

Photo Source: Nigeria Magazine 1964 and 1953

Trivia: The First Nigerian National Anthem.

A world wide competition was held for a poem for Nigeria's National anthem. The winner of the competition was Miss J. L Williams ( A British official of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Welfare) who won £100. She donated her prize money to the Nigerian Red Cross

There was also a competition for the music to the anthems words. Entries were received from as far field as British Guiana, Malta, Canada and Australia. The winning entry was from Miss Frances Benda of London. Her Prize was £1000.

Monday, 2 November 2015

Woman in Owo 1963

The Northern and Southern Cameroons in British Nigeria

The Chief Commissioner's Residence, Buea

Head Gardener At Commissioners Residence

Add caption

Empire Day At Victoria - No smiles

National Ideal Hotel - Seeing Is Believing

The Northern and Southern Cameroons

Chief Commissioner's Residence, Buea

During the "Scramble for Africa" (c1885) the area of present-day Cameroon was claimed by Germany as its protectorate. But, after Germany was defeated by the allied forces in the First World War, the League of Nations placed the Cameroons under a British Mandate (1922) and later, as a trusteeship territory of the United Nations, with Britain administering it.

The Northern area was administered by the Northern Region of Nigeria and the Southern section (Southern Cameroons) was formally administered as two provinces of the old Eastern Region, and then, from October 1954 it was a quasi Federal Territory within the Nigerian Federation with its own Legislature and it's own Executive Council.

Southern Cameroons was divided in 1949 into two provinces: Bamenda (capital Bamenda and Southern (capital Buea). 

Following the Ibadan General Conference of 1950, a new constitution for Nigeria devolved more power to the regions. In the subsequent election thirteen Southern Cameroonian representatives were elected to the Eastern Nigerian House of Assembly in Enugu. Citizens of this region had political representation in political parties such as The National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons (NCNC).
 In 1953, however, the Southern Cameroons representatives, unhappy with the domineering attitude of Nigerian politicians and lack of unity among the ethnic groups in the Eastern Region, declared a "benevolent neutrality" and withdrew from the assembly. 

Dr E.M.L Endeley

At a conference in London in 1953, the Southern Cameroons delegation asked for a separate region of its own. The British agreed, and Southern Cameroons became an autonomous region with its capital still at Buea. Elections were held in 1954 and the parliament met on 1 October 1954, with E.M.L. Endeley as Premier.

As Cameroun and Nigeria prepared for Independence, South Cameroons nationalists debated whether their best interests lay with 1. A union with Cameroun, 2. a union with Nigeria or 3. total independence.  It appeared a new era had dawned. An era whose objectives was the secession from the British Trust Territory, the Southern Cameroons and from the Federation of Nigeria, in an attempt to build the 'Kamerun' nation, together with the three million people of the French Cameroons (later Cameroun Republic).
John Ngu Foncha (Harry Pot/ Anefo)

The call for secession came mainly from inland districts. Endeley was defeated in elections on 1 February 1959 by John Ngu Foncha a "diminutive Roman Catholic schoolmaster". The one man opposition, who surprisingly became premier with only a few years experience as a politician.

The relationship with the Camoorons was a costly one, for example, from 1922 to the outbreak of war in1939 the Nigerian (colonial) government had spent approximately three quarters of a million pounds more than it received in revenues from the territory. Despite the figures (including a proportion of the assistance received from the Colonial Development Fund) the Cameroons still exceeded revenue by about £700,000.

The Federal Minister of Finance said " we do not begrudge the people of the Cameroon the money that we have invested in their territory, but at the same time we consider it only reasonable that the facts of the matter should be known. Too often have we heard the cry that the Federal Government is neglecting the Southern Cameroon's and I have therefore taken the opportunity on this occasion, when we are once again considering a motion to the financial advantage of the Trust Territory, to give a short history of our financial relationship with the territory" it's no surprise that no Nigerian political party or leader gave any assistance in their struggle to remain in the Federation, which was a surprise to the likes of Dr Endeley, whereas their opponents, the secessionists, we're known to have received outside support.

At the close of colonisation and the independence of most African countries, particularly the British colony Nigeria and the French colony Cameroon in 1960.
The political future of the Northern Cameroon's was not yet decided until the plebiscite , conducted under the supervision of the United Nations. 

Another plebiscite was held after the two countries had achieved independence allowing the people to choose whether they wished to join Nigeria, or the French Cameroon or to form an independent territory with the Southern British Council.

The plebiscite of 1961 impacted on the cooperate existence of the various ethnic groups and Southern Cameroon split from Nigeria.

Boy Eating Sugar Cane

Since the 1970s Nigeria and Cameroon engaged in boarder disputes over the Bakassi Peninsula in the Gulf of Guinea. The  case was heard by the International Court of Justice, which awarded the Peninsula to Cameroon in 2002.

Areas that were once part of Northern Camerooon include :  Dikwa in Maiduguri State, Gwozo in Borneo State  and Jalingo in Taraba state

The District Office, Victoria

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Igogo Festival - Nigeria Magazine 1963.

Oba Olateru Olagbegi II, the Olowo of Owo

Sixteen Obas, all of them Oduduwa’s sons, migrated from Ife to found the Yoruba nation.
They all left Ife on the same day after parting company at Ita-ajero, a place located within the city.  One of them Olowo Arere, founder of Owo’s ruling dynasty, was the favorite of their father and, in addition to the crown which each of the Obas were given, he received a sword.

Like the other fifteen, he left Ife carrying with him some of the customs and traditions of the city, including arts, crafts, music and some of the four hundred festivals which, to this day, are celebrated annually in that city. Festivals like those connected with the harvesting of yams and with the commemoration of the birth and death of heroes and ancestors who are celebrated in Owo today were brought from Ife at this time. 

Olowo Arere migrated with the Ilaro, a large retinue classified into two broad groups: the Ugbama or youths and the Ighare made up of men of over fifty years of age who had performed the Ero ceremony. The Ugbama was assigned with the performance of all manual labor during the migratory period. The Ighare advised them and supervised their activities. This tradition has survived to this day.
Some Members Of The Ighare At The Olowo's Palace

On leaving Ita- agero, Olowo Arere led the Iloro to Uji. It was here that the greeting, Leji, wa gbo wa to, used by the chiefs in saluting the Olowo was developed in appreciation of the fact that the Olowo woke up hale and hearty on his first nights rest outside the city.
From Uji the party moved on to Ipafa hill, which they found cool and airy. The hill supported luxuriant vegetation, which provided them with plenty of shade, edible fruits and vegetables. But they were forced to leave this area by the many thunderstorms, which threatened their very existence. 
They went eastwards stopping at a place called Oke Imade. Here they found no water and when they saw a monkey, they followed it in the hope that it would lead them to water. This is how they arrived at Igbo Ogwata (also known as Okiti Asegbo) where they found water. From then on, the monkey became a sacred animal and its meat a taboo to Princes and Princesses of Owo - Okiti Asegbo is where Olowo Sir Olateru Olagbegi II K.B.E sited the local government offices and town hall.

The party arrived at Okiti Asegbo under Olowo Imade who succeeded his father, Olowo Arere.  Arere had died on the way and his corpse was taken back to Ife where it was buried.

It was at Okiti Asegbo that Olowo Renrengenjen married Oronsen, a princess from Afo. Her father told the Olowo of three taboos which Oronsen observed: First, a head load of firewood was not to be thrown down in her presence; second, water was not to be spilt before her; third, she should not hear the sound of okra being ground on a grindstone. As soon as Oronsen arrived at the palace, special quarters were assigned to her and a maid who would ensure that the taboos were not broken was provided to her.

Oronsen was as quiet as she was beautiful; she had no worries and worried nobody. And though the Olowo had many wives before he married her, he loved her more than he loved them. 
This excited their jealousy.

One day, the Olowo went off to war. Sometime after he was gone, Oluwa, The Olowo’s senior wife summoned his other wives to a meeting to discuss the threat posed to them by this new addition. They all new Oronsen observed taboos but they did not know which ones. Oluwa promised the other wives to find out what they were and they dispersed.
When they met again a few days later, she had bought the necessary information from Oronsen's maid, for a meal of mashed yams.
On learning what the taboos were, they decided to break them. They made what preparations were necessary and sent from Oronsen. As soon as she arrived, one of the women carrying a bundle of wood on her head threw it down before her; another spilt water on the ground before her; and a third began grinding okra on a stone nearby. Oronsens taboos were broken and she was compelled to leave.

She fled from the palace and ran until she came to Olisagho’s house. Here she stopped and beat her palm on the wall of the house to bid its owner good-bye. As she did this, her ring slipped off her finger and fell on the ground. Without noticing this, she continued her flight, dropping her hairpin at Igbo Ogwata. Further on she stopped to rest.

The Olowo returned from battle only to learn that Oronsen fled from the palace earlier that same day. He immediately sent one Isegbe Meso, a group of eighty-one men, to find her. The search party returned without her and another Isegbe Meso was sent out. This time the party found her ring and hairpin. Their approaching footsteps roused Oronsen where she was resting and she fled, leaving her head tie behind. A brother of the Olowo picked up the head tie and the pursuit continued. At last the party caught up with her at Igbo Oluwa and since it was forbidden for anyone to touch an Oluwa's wife, they pleaded with her to return to the palace.

There and then, she demanded of the Olowo the head of the Olowa as the condition for her return and insisted on having it before she took a step towards the palace. But Olowa occupied a very important position as the Olowo’s senior wife and this made the granting of her request impossible. 
Another head was however sent to her by the Olowo. In anger when she saw the substitute that was brought to her, Oronsen demanded a similar sacrifice annually if Owo was to have peace and plenty. 

Then she vanished into thin air.

The tragedy of Oronsen took place in the season of the festival of new yams which featured drumming and dancing. It plunged the Olowo into mourning during which time he banned the beating of drums in the town. Later, a festival was built around the annual sacrifice demanded by Oronsen and superimposed on the festival of new yams. In place of drums, metal gongs (Agogo or Igogo) were used hence the festival became known as the Igogo festival.

The Olowo’s brother, who found Oronsens head tie received the title of Alaja and was ordained the priest of the festival.  The palace where the head tie was picked up became known as ul’aja (uluoja).
Chief Elerewe Dances To The Drumming After The Ban Has Been Lifted

Igogo festival lasts seventeen days. It begins with a ceremony called ighoroli, which takes place on Ugbegu market day.  At about 4pm on this day the Ighare dressed in their traditional wear; white loin cloths tied round their waist with a parrots’ red tail feathers stuck into their hair over their forehead; the Iloro Chiefs and the Edibo Aleli (domestic chiefs) assemble at the Ugha eduma (the meeting hall in the palace). Chief Osowe of Ehin- Ogbe, one of the stewards, greets the gathering by calling each man by his title name. He announces on behalf of the Olowo, the arrival of the Igogo festival. Then one by one, members of the Ighare, in a descending order of seniority, pay homage to the Olowo who presents them through the stewards – Chiefs Ajanna and Osowe – twenty four kola nuts in a special bowl made of lead and a calabash of Palm wine for use in a sacrifice.

Five days later, another Ighoroli is performed. This time the Olowo only serves out palm wine. Then follows Uyena, the clearing of a path supposed to have been taken by Oronsen during her flight. For this service, the Olowo pays twenty-eight kola nuts. Of these four go to the Ugbama who are dressed in a pair of trousers and head wear of calabash bowl formerly painted with white chalk, but today painted aluminum paint.
Younger Members Of The Ugbama Dancing

They carry long canes which they shake as they dance. The canes are carried for use on those who may try breaking the festive taboo by wearing caps or head ties. Each senior member of the Ugbama ties over his trousers, a piece of cloth just reaching his knee and carries horns or pieces of iron rods which he knocks together. The remaining twenty-four kola nuts go to the Ighare who are dressed in their traditional wears. Palm wine is also served at the Ugha Eduma (Eduma Hall).
Owo Chiefs Making Music On Igogo, Metal Gongs

Five days after Uyena comes Uyanna. The Alaja, priest of the festival and the Ighare meet at the Ugha alamuren (alamuren Hall) at about 4pm, then Olowo arrives, attended by the Edibo olowo. He wears a white robe and his hair is stuck with parrot feathers. 
He hands over the sacrificial sheep through the stewards to the Ugbama who are dancing and singing Ema mu wa, aye o yo e, a song they sing continuously until they receive the sheep (which has since replaced the human victims). The sheep is led to the Oronsen grove and sacrificed there.

Oba Olateru Olagbegi II, the Olowo of Owo Seated

At about 6pm four days after Uyanna, the Ugbate ceremony takes place. All the women who are traditionally vested with the powers of selling meat come to the Oba’s market carrying their trade baskets containing knives and pieces of iron – implements of their trade. They come to watch the "sacrifice" Onugho, being led round the Oba’s palace walls. They come dressed in white.

A strip of white cloth prepared and woven by a woman on that very day is tied round the sheep’s belly. The animal is led round the palace walls three times by the Ugbama who dance, singing repeatedly: Atipa a bale a toju de o, onugho gbanre’o. Then they lead the animal away to ul’aja, the spot where Oronsen left her head tie. There they keep an all night vigil.

The Igogo festival reaches its climax on the seventeenth day with all the chiefs dancing around the town on their way to the palace.  They dance to music beating only on metal gongs. At the palace they attend to the Olowo who also dances to Igogo music. The Olowo and his chiefs are all dressed in white loin cloths richly adorned with beads. All the priests assemble at the palace. The Olowo distributes to them peices of the sacrifice involved in the days celebrations, one he goat, one dog, seven goats and thirty six kola nuts. 

Later that evening, the Olowo presents, through Osowe, to all Chiefs, Ighare, Priests and Ugbama who are assembled in the palace: cows, goats, dogs, blocks of salt, snails, cocks, eku ama, eje ale, rats, fish, birds and eggs

During the presentation, the Osowe recites the following incantations on behalf of the Olowo at ugha alamuren:

Okereke ( three times)
Olilolohun (three times)
Oluwagarajigbo deji (three times)
Urun aja ri aja foju
Urun agutan ri agutan gbeghe
Otakun yu otakun wa
Otakun Muli ajen
Ojegejegekun bobo male
Orogbodo oyan ye poma
O poma tan o kun efun
Obelebele ye jin abe rawe
Kema se ejo a se agalamtata
Eyin ‘ka erun ‘baje
Udeli akon moron agba sengwa
Moja esisi mo na arima
Mojiba  agba
Mojiba iba bami
Iseseri odudu oron fo oronmufede
Oluwa agajigbo mo pe
Oronsen deji mo pe
Oronsen More mo pe
Odon jo
Osunsun sun
Aghoro fohun odon
Olowo omo re N.N ( name of Olowo)
Wa sodon ghen eyitoni
Onisale onisare
Oni Ugba ogbi gbo
Onipankan aso anogho
Ugba Eku
Ugba eja
Ugba Ogbigbo
Ugba eghen nene 
Akeke deregbe
Ogun aja
Odo agutan
Aso erenla

At the end of this incantation the Osowe says a prayer for the Olowo and his subjects. From this evening, for seven days, girls dance round the town and young men engage every evening in wrestling contests organized on a quarter versus quarter basis.

The day following the recital of the incantation, the Iloro dance to the palace. 
The Olowo if he is so disposed may dance around the town attended by the Iloro and Owo Chiefs or remain in the palace to receive guests. 
In the evening, Uru, a priest carrying a very long stick covered with white feather comes from Emure ile, six miles to Owo, to perform some ceremonies at Ugha alamuren. At this ceremony, Chief Osowo recites, on behalf of the Olowo, the last twenty-five lines of the incantations he recited the previous day. After he has done, the Uru recites them, striking two bulls horn at intervals.
To round up the festival all the priests gather at the Olowo’s palace at about 10pm, six days after the Uru’s visit. They assemble at the Ugha okunrin where the Olowo presents them with twenty-four kola nuts. Each priest then dances to a tune. Before they leave, all the priests recite O de o de o, Aghoro mama se ‘jo oro, three times.

After they leave the Olowo goes to Oke agbala, a hall within the palace where a priest who has the sacrifice is. This priest only sees the Olowo once a year and only at the Igogo festival. Before he leaves he presents his offering to the priest and his Olori’s dance around the palace and some parts of the town.
Omo-Olowo, Princess Dancing To Igogo Music

To mark the end of the festival, the Olowo’s servants beat a drum at Oke ugha to notify the town. The ban on drumming is lifted… till the following year.

Oba Olateru Olagbeji II Attempts To Return to Owo Town After Two YearsIn Exhile

Sir Olateru Olagbegi II, Olowo of Owo (August 1910 – 1998) was the Olowo (King) of Owo
He was appointed Olowo in 1941 and ruled for 25 years before he was deposed and exiled from Owo to Okitipupa then to Ibadan
His exile from power was a fallout of a regional crisis between two Action Group leaders: Awolowo and Samuel Ladoke Akintola.
The Action Group (launched in his palace a decade earlier) was led by Awolowo in the 1950s. A battle of wills between the two gladiators in the early 1960s saw Oba Olateru pitching his tent with Akintola.
However, his choice only fomented tension in his community.
The military coup in 1966 created an avenue for some citizens of Owo to unleash violence and revolt against Olagbegi. He was banished from power in 1966 by the military administrator of the Western Region. Then the federal government later validated his dethronement as the Olowo of Owo through a decree. A year later, a new Olowo was chosen by the people of Owo and thats how Sir Olateru Olagbegi II lost the throne to politics.
However, the banished monarch regained his throne back after 25 years in exile. and in 1993, he was re-appointed to his former title of Olowo after the death of the reigning monarch
He died in October 1998 and crown was passed to his son Oba Folagbade Olagbegi III.

The newspaper clipping is from 1968 when Oba Olateru Olagbeji II attempted to return to Owo. It was unsuccessful and the people of the town rioted in protest of his return.