1.1. Background History Of Enugwu-Agidi
The Opoto festival belongs to an Igbo group in Southeastern Nigerian called Enugwu- Agidi it is at the center of Awka and Onitsha in Anambra state.
The people are known for farming because of their fertile land. Then also, they are known for timber trading because of the think rain forest that surrounds them.
Enugu —Agidi has so many festival which are known for its significant but the main cultural festival celebrated by Enugu Agidi in “Opoto Festival” Opoto festival is a celebration which is one every third month of the year ie March. This festival is annual done to bring all the people of Enugwu- Agidi people from far and wide together to that the gods of land and ancestors for keeping them throughout the past years and also for the new farming season which they are about to begin “Opoto” is a festival which after the celebration, anybody can now start to cultivate yam and if at all anybody live old yam in his farm it is entitled to anybody who comes across it.
The celebration starts which the chief priest of “Eke” (Eke Eke) made some consultation with the gods in which he asks when they want to have festival has been fixed and it must be “Eke” which is the day of the market in Enugwu- Agidi, the festival lasts for four days the first day is the to buy all the things needed for that day.
The next day, is the main day when the festival starts with some local food which are used in celebrating the festival properly prepared by that second day is the day in which the Mbubu Udo” masquerade will perform in the market square when manhood is being tested among various groups, using “Agba” then the “Ufuo” will be used in playing some melodies for them to dance to the tone the music. The third day is also the day when young boys who also come to pour libation to the gods by bringing yams kolanut, palmwine, alegator pepper and some other things to the chief priest which he blesses and gives them traditional chalk to draw at the center of the shrine (ITU NZU). The grand finally is the day for Afo Mmumi) by masquerade both from my farm and from other towns' such Ukpo, Abagana Nnewi, Ukwuli etc. around us that is the day that women watch the way they move around because they are not expected to look at a masquerade directly. It is the men's world now.
The music played the last day is known as “Abia” and no woman dances to its melody. If done, it is known as sacrilege and some sacrilege here to be done appease the gods on behalf of the festival.
The reason or significant of celebrating Opoto” Festival in Enugwu- Agidi are so many but the main ories to mark beginning of the farming season in which the gods of the land are appeased for keeping them to see and also to beg the gods of the land to give them more beautiful harvest farming season. This is done by making many sacrifices to the god of the ;land befor this festival commences. It is the chief priest of Eke od that announce the date of the festival which he always know by the reading the of the moon and consultation of the god on when they want the festival to take place.
Opoto is also meant to known the man that are men which means it is when method are being tested this is done by the boys which are of certain age grade to show who it is the king among them. They display some masquerade's (Iga) which is known for (Ipa agba) this will be done when music from “Ufo” is being played. There is special step for dancing “Ufo” which is known by every male child in my town. The name “Ufo” is a wooden gong that is made up wood and its stand is made up metal. It is also during this festival that boys at the age of fifteen is initiated into the Mmanawu cult which means that the person is fit to display any type of masquerade in the markrt square during the festival such as Izaga, Evava, Obulu Nyi Mbulu Udo, Osiasili etc.
The masquerade has many costune that is made to make up the masquerade for example cawry, beads, Uvugwu Nza (Nama fail) Elephant tusk and masks. Some masquerade, however, do not employ masks or headpiece but there peaces is headen by the costune in which pignut beads or skin. Some masks are carved to represent the human faces while other slow rotesane features of criminals features like here in Enugu Ojonu, Okwonma, Izaga Ijele, Simeon Ottenberg (1968) etc.