The People’s Leisure

Like any other tribe in the world, when the Igarras are not engaged in their daily activities like farming and hunting, they engage themselves in one form of leisure or another. These include:-

  1. Akoto
  2. Ato-gigwu (Eshnue)
  3. Utochiche (Echuto)
  4. Ushi
  5. Ovuei/Oshapepe
  6. Druming of various kinds

It is a game played by the youths mainly. It can be played between two or ten people of moe. Akoto – the object of the game is made out of the shell of snail. The shell of the snail is carved or trimmed to form a cone-like object which would dance (rotate) when spinned. The rules of the game are as follows: When it is played, preferably on the floor where theer is plenty sand, the last to cover it or turn it upside down while still spinning would be the victims of the game, he will be beaten by all other members of the game. He is beaten on either the palm of the hand (epepetuvo) or the back of the hand (iramuvo) depending on the side agreed upon before the commencement of the game.

Another rule of the game is that the akoto must be covered on its base while it is still rotating. It is also a rule tha when you beat a victim with the akoto, it cast on reaching the ground rotate (ki), while rotating after the beating, the victims given the opportunity to cover the akoto as many times as the number of the players. If he (victim) so wishes he could bank it while the next victims in return, or he might decide for beat whosoever he covers. The game is orderly and never violent. This game is mainly played by the boys, girls do not play it, but not forbidden by them.

‘Ata means pebbles or small stone in Igarra language. Atogigwu therefore means the throwing up and catching of the pebbles. It is a game played by two or more people and again it is a game of the youth – both boys and girls play it. It is composed of seven pebbles or average size capable of one hand grip. The pebbles or whichever object used for the game are thrown one after the other starting from one, then twos, three, four and give at once. The player holds one of the pebbles in hand and as he throws that one up, he tries to pic the pebbles in turn as stated above. At the same time he must catch the one thrown up in conjunction with the one’s picked from the ground. After picking five and one, he tries to put one of the pebbles on top of the five pebbles. (OTUROSA).

This procedure is done once and failure to accomplish this would lead to another person taking over the game. In the end the player would put three pebbles on the ground, throws up four, and simultaneously picks the three pebbles on the ground, and from the four thrown up he tried to catch one of it, in addition to the three he picked from the floor. This last stage of the game is called “OGU”. The winner of the game is the person who is able to make more ‘Ogus’.

‘Uto’ means cowries. This game is a form of gambling which is played by grown up boys only. Since cowries was then used as a medium of exchange. Much importance was attached to this game. The game can be played by two or more people but usually not more than ten players. This is to avoid rowdiness and confusion in the game. All the contestants of the game are at equal distance from a target which is also a cowrie (uto) placed at the discretion of the last winner or otherwise.

All the contestants would through in turn at the target with the same cowries; until a person gets at it. Whoever gets this target is the winner of that round and he would have to collect the number of cowries thrown by other contestants. In the days of our forefathers, about fifty cowries would buy a ball of bean cake (Akara). This Uto – cowries has since given way to meal coins and paper money and this form of gambling has since been refined. The game Utochiche has since given way to ‘Ifinesha ochiche’ which is also phasing out quickly. “Ifinesha” is the seed of cheer (Esha).

‘Ushi’ in the general context means game, but in Igarra when we say ‘Ushi’ we refer to that game by two people on a ‘chess’ bond. It is made of a coward wood with twelve holes of six on each side. This game is popularly called ‘Ayo’ in Yoruba language. The content of the hole drilled on the wood are seeds of peanut size – four on each hole making a total of fourty-eight (48), that is twenty-four (24) on each side. It takes an average intelligence to win the game as it is like game of chess, draught, where planning is involved. It is not therefore a game of chance. The game is mostly played by elderly men especially on Amomo days.

Ovuei/Oshapepe is the hide and seek game. It is not different from that of any other tribe. One person is made to cover his or her face while the rest of the people go to hide (with “Oshapepe, Shapepe, Onogumata Ozozo vuo-Shaya”). Whoever is caught in the process before he or she crosses the boundary as agreed upon, would be the next victim to look for people in the game. It is never violent.