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Lwati: A Journal of Contemporary Research

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Eku Otung: theatrical and transcendental celebration of death among the Ejaghams of Calabar

I.E. Kadimo Oqua

Abstract


Death, within many African societies, is the spring board towards life re-incarnation. It is not perceived as extinction but as a transition from one life to another; a mere change of abode. Among the Qua/Ejagham speaking people of Cross River State Nigeria, Death is celebrated and even more elaborate are the rites, rituals and celebrations especially when dignitaries and royalties are involved. Looking at the funeral rites of the kings of the Qua/Ejgham speaking people, this rite commonly known as the Eku Otung, this is the unveiling of the kings death which is usually done by the women who wear a costume of male black tail coat over a loin tied round their waist with a black hat; these women begin the farewell rites of the dead king dressed in this manner; they move round the vicinity of the kings abode while chanting a course to their final destination which is the town square hence the society is informed of the kings demise. As soon as these women start this ritual the native wooden gong known as the ihuk by the Qua/Ejagham people is used to announce the ritual procession, this paper highlights the theatrical elements present in this rituals, its transcendental perspectives of the funeral celebration, why these rite is esteemed among the people and its potency for the living, thereby, establishing its relevance in today’s society.



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