Edo people have very rich traditional festivals and culture
through which the people appease the various gods and goddesses,
purify both the land and people, and initiate men and women of
same age-grades into different age group or as a traditional get
Modern history has revealed that more than seventy (70)
major festivals are celebrated within Edo State between September
and March every year. Those celebrations offer opportunities
especially for reunion of member of the family and friends.
These celebrations likewise offer opportunities to visitors to see their
families. It offers opportunities to visitors to see and feel the rich
cultural and traditional heritage of the locality in the state. More
than one hundred major festivals are celebrated in and between say
January and December yearly.
However, Ora remains far more typical of the Owan
communities than Uokha because all except Uokha came out of
Benin after Eweka dynasty had firmly established its influence in
While Uokha stands as an example of pre-Eweka Benin, Ora
is as a result of the Eweka establishment. While Uokha formed a
single community, Ora a group of villages.
The Induction Process of the Age Group Coronation
Using the communities cited above as a valid example, within
the interval of three (3) years age group coronation are always held
as a time immemorial tradition, by initiating young men and women
into the age group initiates.
Thus, every young men and women of about 32 -34 years of
age was initiated into age-group/manhood just to commemorate
and recognize this age grades as bonafide parts and parcel of the
community both traditional and council ruling custodians.
Meanwhile, three (3) years before the actual coronation year,
the intending age grades participants would be initiated by first
introducing and exposing them to an event they call “gbo jaja”. It is
presumed that any of the participants who partakes in the pre age
group event is automatically considered a registered member of the
particular age group that would naturally be among the set to be
coronated three years after, usually the end of the third year by
The process is that after the group must have gone to
meet the elders in council, and declares their intention of being
capped as the next set of age grades to be initiated into manhood,
the elders would pray for them; give them some words of orientation
concerning the bold step and encourage them concerning the task
ahead of them and discharge them to go and undertake other
preparations concerning the big occasion ahead.
A date is chosen among these age grades, for the proper occasion and then the
participant’s picks uniform attire for the occasion, with lots of food,
assorted drinks and music readily available for everyone at the
occasion ground. At the elder’s council square compound, a lot of
people attending. However, this is just a passage (pre-group
initiation) to the main occasion which is still yet to come in three
However, when it is time for the main party, in three years’
time from when the age grades has performed the “ojaja rite”
mentioned above so to speak, the same coronation process would
take place, this time in a very big and elaborate manner of
This is when all the age-grades sets ever before, as far back as
they could gather themselves comes to the party too to celebrate
with the just coronated age group in different attires and partying
settings. All sorts of food, drinks and music bands of different
groups will be readily available for everyone who finds his or her
way to the celebration ground at the elders council square of the
Family, friends, well-wishers and even visitor from far and
wide come to witness this mouth-watering colourful occasion.
Before this time a unique name would already have been
allocated to the current age group by the elders in council just as it
was allocated to previous age groups from time immemorial, just to
identify them with it in future occasions.
Also, for the celebrants to know and identify themselves with their group’s unique name. like
every other age group or association the traditional age groups also
has hierarchy or governing body inside the group, there’s the head
of the group which is selected naturally by the most senior person
in the group which is called “Odion” meaning Most Senior. This
person chooses his minister whom the group members also trust
with errands and first-hand information concerning the running
and administration of the group. He is usually a male, chosen
within the group, which is called “Ukor”, meaning the Secretary and
few other offices like the Treasurer and P.R.O. All these selected
people see that the activities in the group like administration,
donations and outing invitations within the group is well organized.
There are two types of selected “Odions” in the group, that’s the
male “Odion” and the female “Odion” meanwhile the male “Odion”
(Senior) is the overall head of the group, and everyone reports to
him concerning the activities of the group.
The female “Odion”, frequently oversees the activities of the
ladies in the group, especially when it comes to the preparation of
food and other merriment of any sort in the group. She is in the
position to organize and supervise the other ladies in the group to
achieve that purpose, and if there is any hitch anywhere among the
ladies, she must report it to the male senior as a sign of respect and
superiority and also for peaceful resolutions.
The cow to be killed for cooking the general delicacy among
the age group must be killed at the “Odion’s” house being the most
senior of the group. After killing it there, he has the right to retain
the head of the cow and release the other body parts of the meat to
the rest of the group to the rest of the group for cooking. While the
female senior has the privilege to kill the pig for the closing party of
the initiation, seven days from the day of coronation at her own
house as directed by tradition.
However, it does not stop there, just on the coronation day,
the age group can also choose to be gathering at unique date to
celebrate themselves, this is usually done at the end of the year of
any festive periods chosen for themselves within the group.
Criticism is not left out though. The celebration is usually
interesting with lots of events and entertainment.