In Nigeria, various tribes have their cultural festival, each ethnic group has her own cultural festival either celebrated yearly or otherwise. The Ijaw ethnic nationality has various cultural festivals been celebrated in different clans and kingdoms. Amongst these cultural festivals is Amaseikumor cultural festival celebrated in Gbaramatu kingdom.
According to history, Amaseikumor Festival is one of the ancient enduring traditional exercises in Ijaw nation. It is celebrated annually by the Ijaws in Gbaramatu kingdom, Warri South West Local Government Area of Delta State, South-South Nigeria. It is a cultural festival observed to cleanse the kingdom from all forms of spiritual dirt in order to pave way for peace and prosperity.
According to elders of the kingdom, Amaseikumor festival came into being at about 14AD. The Chief Priest who performed the first traditional ritual then is Late Pa. Obuko of Azama town . On before this year, Amaseikumor festival was been celebrated in the month of April yearly, and Oporoza town, the headquarters of Gbaramatu kingdom served as host to other communities under the kingdom and beyond.
Amaseikumor, as the name implies, means good living, peace, unity, prosperity and protection to the people of the communities in Gbaramatu kingdom. It is an ancient deity that emanated from river, and since then, it has been celebrated by the entire Gbaramatu communities in accordance with laid down rules and regulations.
It is usually celebrated through seven days. Throughout this period of elaborate traditional and cultural activities, Gbaramatu chiefs are expected to be in their enviable traditional regalia, likewise people of the kingdom.
According to information made available to Gbaramatu Voice Newspaper the day one, two and three (Monday 17th, Tuesday 18th, and Wednesday 19th, April) of this year’s festival are the Gbaraun Egbesu days; within these day, all sons and daughters of the kingdom both home and abroad are expected to confess their sins, the king thereafter prays for their forgiveness. It is binding on Gbaramatu indigenes, just like any other Ijaws, that blood covenant is forbidden; murder is a sin against God and the goddess of the land; adultery must not be mentioned amongst them let alone committing it; evil thought against each other is forbidden as well.
Day four (Thursday 20th April) is scheduled for Iboloumobo-ere feast, after which guests shall be well entertained in the Ijaw way
Day five (Friday 21th April) of this year’s festival is the Amaseikumo proper. After the traditional rites, there shall be musical entertainment from 7: 00PM till dawn
Day six (Saturday 22nd April) of this year’s festival is scheduled for lectures on Ijaw cultures and traditions, after which reception of guests shall follow.
Day seven (Sunday 23 April), which is grand finale of this year’s festival is thanksgiving service. After thanking God for making this year’s festival possible, guests shall be entertained in a grand style.
It is worth noting that during the period of this festival, it is binding on all the communities in Gbaramatu kingdom to attend and take active part in the celebrations.
This is because Amaseikumor festival itself is a combination of several masquerades from different communities in the kingdom-each of the communities is given opportunity to display skills of her masquerades.
Amaseikumor festival can be regarded as the most important and highly celebrated festival in Gbaramatu kingdom in the ancient days and till now. Records from past celebrations and it significance no doubt make an average Gbaramatu person to holds the celebration in high esteem.
Amaseikumor festival according to investigation heralds unprecedented peace to Gbaramatu kingdom and her people. This has therefore established Amaseikumor a deity of peace. More so, the people of the kingdom are more united, and enjoy abundant blessings after the celebration. These blessings flow in diverse ways. For instance, there are usually abundant flowing from fishermen, hunters, farmers, traders, etc. the people in addition, also enjoy good health, safe delivery of pregnant women and good neighbourliness.
Also, Amaseikumor festival, according to research is key to protection of the people of Gbaramatu kingdom. It was gathered that after the celebration people are protected from premature death, accidents, ill-health and strange diseases, etc.
It is a standpoint and a symbol of unity that offers the entire people of Gbaramatu the opportunity to gather and unite as one during and after the festival. This is so as the communities in the kingdom do unanimously attend and actively participate in the festival with joy and happiness in accordance with the rules and regulations binding the festival. It is a festival celebrated indeed to unite, restore and re-affirm brotherhood of the entire Gbaramatu communities, as the people firmly believe that unity is strength.
Amaseikumor festival has no doubt endure and continue to retain its main features despite modernisation in all aspects, say political, economic, sociological and technological development. The Ijaws in Gbaramatu have not allow modernization to becloud them of their culture as they still continuously maintain their stand in traditions and culture.