Drumming In Igarra

Like any other tribe in Nigeria, Igarras have way of expressing their feelings – in time of joy or in times of sorrow. One such way is the drumming pattern of Igarras. There are many drums beaten in Igarra for different occasions. These drums include:-

2. Agba
3. Arido
15. Yeanova

Apart from the Arigede drum which is an insignia of office of a reigning Otaru, the others are for the generality of the people played by all or a group of family. I shall enumerate here the purpose for which these drums are beaten.

1. Agada

This drum is not for any specific family in Igarra, it is jointly owned by all, but certain families are known to be very good or gifted in the playing of the drum. The families noted for this are Eshinavaka and Eshinogu families. The songs are very philosophical. It is made up of a big pot with a crocodile’s skin or alligator’s skin covering the mouth of the pot; and a smaller drum carved out of wood, and followed by a gong (Isue) also. The beating of the drum is usually accompanied with many elderly women playing shekere or ashisha which further adds pep to the melody. The Agada drum is played on several occasion – joy or sorrow. This include: – Ori Festival, Wedding and Burial of (women only). It is played for women only because this drum also heralds the becoming of age of women during the Ori Festivals.

2. Arigede

It is an insignia of office of Otaru of Igarra. This drum was among the traditional regalia brought to Igarra by the founder – Ariwo-Ovejijo during the migration in the early part of the 14th century. It is a set of drum made, comprising a very big drum  a smaller called ‘OZI’ and a gong (ISUE) collectively referred to as ARIGEDE.

The five rulling families collectively called Eziazu family are the owners of this set of Arigede drums. Where there is a vacancy of the Otaru-ship, the Arigede drums remains with the eldest man of the family of the discussed Otaru. At the appropriate time, this eldest man in the family must give the set of Arigede drums up for blessing by the King-makers during the coronation of the new Otaru. The new Otaru then becomes the custodian of the official Arigede drums.

The Otaru gives the permission for and authorizes his subject to beat the Arigede drums during important occasion like when himself is travelling out of Igarra or returning to Igarra, or during festival occasions including Ihu, Ori, Ubete, Irepa, chieftaincy etc. This set of drum is also beaten during the burial of an Otaru and any Okomayin which is second in rant to Otaru.

3. Ezanova, Aba and Arido

These are separate drums played or beaten only during Irepa ceremonies. These have been discussed under Irepa festival in Chapter 8.,

Ezeanova drum is also beaten during Asi ceremony – i.e. a feast in which the celebrant is rejoicing for having a grand-child – men only.

4. Igede

Igede drum came to Igarra is the early part of this century. The advent of this drum can be traced to the time when one Onubeji’s father died. This Onubeji went to Okene to invite this drummers of Igede from Akuta family in Okene. Coincidentally Onubeji was also from Eziakuta family of Igarra. It became a regular trip to Okene to invite these drummers wherever any elder dies from the Eziakuta family. To minimize the hardships involved in the travel to Okene, Onubeji decided to carve a replica of the Igede from Okene. They no longer go to Okene to invite the drummers as they now own one.

Today in Igarra Igede is beaten exclusively by the Eziakuta in Ubobo quarters while other family apart from the Royal family play it in Uttua and Uffa quarters.

The drum is now beaten not only for burial ceremonies but also in times of joy like Marriage, Anniversary etc. The songs are philosophical.

5. Ijavi

Ijavi is a popular drum beaten by the opoze age-group for relaxation, festival, and during burial ceremonies. This drum is only played by the five Royal families. This drum-Ijavi was supposed to have been copied from one of the neighbouring villages with whom Igarras took refuge during one of the invasions. It is believed to have been from Ogugu or Oges which are the places the Igarras took refuge. As a result of the social contact, the Ijavi was born when they finally settled. It would then be observed that the songs of Ijavi are blended with these peoples language.

6. Iko

It is the dance of the youth – mainly the Openepere or “Opafuafu” These are the age-groups yet to be initiated and next in rank to the first age-groups. They have no specific role in Igarra. This drum is beaten for any member of this age-group who so desires during the burial of his father or mother. Being the dance of the youth, it is an energy sapping exercise.

It is dammed with only a short on, without any singlet or shirt. Many ports of pitto are served on this occasion. The drum is not owned by any particular family. It belongs to all. It is made up of two talking drum called “Igogoyin in Igarra language and gong (Isue). It could also be danced by women (sympathy dance) otherwise it is soley for men.

7. Ikko

This drum, Ikko is beaten only by the Anona family and nobody else. It is believed to be brought to Igarra from where used is not understood by anyone else.

The drum is beaten mainly during burial ceremonies and for other activity among the members of the family. Isues (gongs) dominate the beating of this drum.

8. Ikede

This drum is for the generality of the people of Igarra. It is beaten on many occasions, specifically for joy. It is of beaten during burial. The centre of attraction during the drumming is the elegance of the women. They play a vital role in this drum. Though it is beaten by the men but the dancing troupe is usually but not always made up of women. It is beaten during the following feasts or festivals.

(a) Asi festival (celebration of the birth of a grand-child). This is celebrated by woman.

(b) Echetete festival

(c) Ori festival (Echori)

(d) Ekwechi festival (alien to Igarra)

The drum is not owned by any specific family in Igarra.

9. Ishoko

Ishoko is the dance or drum of the hunters. It is played and danced to by the hunters. It is rarely played except when reknowned hunters like an Oshi dies or whom hunter kills a lion or a tiger. This drum is not owned by a specific family it is owned by all Igarra.

10. Okono

Okono dance or drum was popularly played by the opoga age-group during a pitto drinking session. This drum is for all Igarra and not owned by a particular family, it has been neglected and relegated to the archives.

11. Ogugu

‘Ogugu’ is a type of drum beaten for the dead i.e. during burial ceremony. The drum beaten on this occasion is similar to the one used for Ikede dance, but beaten with a different tone. It is beaten on the following day of wake-keeping or all night dance for the dead. During this dance, women and men wear the attire of the diseased, (mainly for men) an they dress funnily.

12. Oya

Oya dance is also a dance of joy and also for the dead. It is solely played by the Eshinogu family. It was believed to have been a dance organized by the Epuko people for their relaxation. Since most Epuko people are Eziogus or Eshimogun family, that claim ownership of this drum.