Home ARTS & CULTUREFESTIVALS Alekwu Festival: The Link Between the Living and Dead in Idoma Land

Alekwu Festival: The Link Between the Living and Dead in Idoma Land

by InlandTown Editor
0 comment

Written by David Ugbabe

Prior to the advent of Christianity and Islam, the Idoma people of Benue State, have held strong to the worship of Alekwu-spirit of the ancestors which is believed to be the protector over their families and communities. In Oturkpo local government, the three districts comprising of Ugboju, Adoka and Otukpo hold their celebrations in March, February and September, respectively. The Alekwu festival is seen as a link between the living and the dead.



Most Idoma communities set aside a period of three days every year to celebrate the spirits for bountiful harvest in the out-going year, and in hopes for a bountiful harvest for the beginning of the New Year’s planting season. During the festival, the spirits of the ancestors usually manifest as masque


rades, known as the Alekwu afia who runs through the genealogies of the descent, in a poetic laden tune to the admiration of all. Commonly celebrated among the Ados, Otukpo and okpokou local government areas of Benue State, the Eje Alekwu Festival has become the avenue through which the Idomas celebrate the spirits of their ancestors who are known to also checkmate vices such as like adultery, theft and murder.

ALSO READ: Royal Tussle Before Coronation Of The Olu Of Warri, Atunwase III

Often celebrated yearly, between the end of March and the beginning of April, it commences with a ritual performance by the chief priest of the land for the purification, protection and provision. The people use this as a medium to seek for good yields. The event often attracts one of the largest gatheringsin Idoma land where communal hunting is carried out by its people and the largest catch offered to the gods.


According to an Idoma scholar, Amali E. Odumu, he described the Alekwaafia as the reincarnation of an Idoma ancestral father into a masquerade, based on the concept of life after death, so much so that the importance they attached to the masquerade and its poetic traditions cannot be over-emphasized. A rendition of Alekwu poetry of often rendered and is viewed as a means to sustain the cultural values and identity of the Idoma people during the festival.


Prior to the festival sacrifices are performed by the chief priest who seeks for blessings from the gods on the day of the festival. The able-bodied men go hunting for games for meals that will be prepared at the event.


On the event day, thousands of idoma people gather at the palace of Och’idoma (King of Idoma land) to pay homage and present gifts. On entrance of the Och’idoma always enters with his entourage, a cock is made to drink from the Oblukutu (local gin) is offered as sacrifice to the gods. The king often addresses the people as praises are showered on him.

For instance, in Ugboju land, the is usually held for 3 days which commences on a Friday. During this event, worshippers and custodians of the Alekwu pay homage to the gods with sacrifices either in the form drinks or agricultural produce. At such times, the Alekwu believers’ make request and supplication to the spirits on behalf of their families and the land, wherein they dwell throughout the weekend preceding the climax of celebration on Sunday at the playground of the Chief’s palace.

ALSO READ: Odumu Dance Festival, the Lion Dance of the Idoma People

Dancers thrill the crowd with exciting dance steps as enchanting music fills the air while several delicacies such as pounded yam and okoho soup obtained from okoho plants and games caught from the hunt. During this period, deserving natives are decorated with titles by the Och’idoma while several gifts are showered on the king. As the event comes to a climax, the king is often not seen and it is a commonly held belief that the king transcends to the realm of glory in a whirlwind.

Related Articles

Leave a Comment

* By using this form you agree with the storage and handling of your data by this website.

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More