Historical dynamics of Ọjị Ezinihitte cultural festival in Igboland, Nigeria
Ọjị (kola nut) is indispensable in traditional life of the Igbo of Nigeria. It plays an intrinsic role in almost all segments of the people‟s cultural life. In the Ọjị Ezinihitte festivity the „kola tradition‟ is meaningfully and elaborately celebrated. This article examines the importance of Ọjị within the context of Ezinihitte socio-cultural heritage, and equally accounts for continuity and change within it. An eclectic framework in data collection was utilized for this research. This involved the use of key-informant interviews, direct observation as well as extant textual sources (both published and un-published), including archival documents, for the purposes of the study. In terms of analysis, the study utilized the qualitative analytical approach. This was employed towards ensuring that the three basic purposes of this study – exploration, description and explanation – are well articulated and attained. The paper provided background for a proper understanding of the „sacred origin‟ of the Ọjị festive celebration. Through a vivid account of the festival‟s processes and rituals, it achieved a reconstruction of the festivity‟s origins and evolutionary trajectories and argues the festival as reflecting the people‟s spirit of fraternity and conviviality. Furthermore, in surveying the festival‟s dynamism within Ezinihitte society over time, it established that the Ọjị festival is not only a unifying factor but also lies at the heart of community development efforts in Ezinihitte clan.
Keywords: Ọjị (kola nut), Ọjị Ezinihitte cultural festival, Socio-cultural heritage, Historical dynamics, Igboland, Nigeria.
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