Ndako Gboya Culture In Nupeland And Brief Nupe History
Ndako Gboya Culture In Nupeland And Brief Nupe History
Ndako Gboya Masquerade Of Nupe People In Nupeland And Brief Nupe History
Ndako Gboya Masquerade Of Nupe People In Nupeland And Brief Nupe History
African Traditional Religion (ATR) predated Islam, Colonialism, and Christianity in Nupeland. However, in most Nupe villages, ATR has become a religion that is practised in secrecy due to a number of interrelated factors. Notwithstanding, Ndakogboya cultural heritage has managed to survive in Nupeland in Kwara State. This paper examined how Ndakogboya cultural heritage can be sustained in the midst of Islam, Christianity, and currently globalisation that are prevalent in Nupeland. Using the historical method, participant observation and interview, the researcher discovered that labelling of Ndakogboya as idol worship by adherents of Islam and Christianity had driven the masquerade underground in many Nupe villages. The effect of this was that the spiritual and physical security derived from the masquerade by those who claimed to have been afflicted by witchcraft is no more openly available.
The paper suggests the need for the Nupe people, regardless of religious affiliation, to be proud of their cultural heritage and protect it from extinction.Keywords: Culture, Ndakogboya, Witchcraft, Nupeland, Islam, Christianity, GlobalisationThe Sustainability of the Ndakogboya Cultural Heritage Introduction It is hitherto believed that the problem of Africans stemmed from the fact that African culture is inferior to the European culture. A notable solution for such „African problem‟ is the Europeanization of Africans, and this involves the learning of European culture and the abandonment of African culture. In order to achieve the project of Europeanizing Africans, they are educated in European languages.
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With the Europeanization of African economy and political organisation, Africans became consumers in the global market. That cultural colonialism is a powerful tool in the hands of the oppressor can be understood from the reasoning of Africans who adamantly believe that Africans are the descendants of Ham whom Noah cursed for being indiscreet about his father‟s nakedness (cf. Genesis 9:18- 27). The reasoning here is that the problem with Africa is due to such ancestral curse. The conclusion from this reasoning is that nothing good can come from Africa. One of the effects of this type of reasoning is the gradual demise of African cultural heritages.
This gradual demise of African cultural heritages happens, for instance, when Africans change ancestral names that have roots in African divinities such as Ogun (god of Iron) to Jesu (Jesus). In that case, a name like Ogunbiyi (Ogun has given birth to this child) is suppressed for Jesubiyi (Jesus has given birth to this child). The Ndakogboya is one of the cultural heritages in Nupeland, Kwara State in Nigeria. It is a very tall masquerade with costumes of different colours. It can appear short also. It dances and displays during celebrations.
This paper advocates for its sustainability in order to safeguard its future. The Nupe People and Religious Heritage The Nupe people are found in large population in states such as Niger state, Kwara state, and Kogi State in Nigeria and in towns such as Bida, Patigi, Lafiagi, Lapai, Tsonga, Tsaragi, and Lokoja. However, in Kwara state, the Nupe people are predominant in the two Local Government Areas of Patigi and Edu, in Kwara North Senatorial district. The vast area that makes up Nupeland in Kwara State is agrarian.
The major towns in the area under investigation are Patigi, Lade, Lafiagi, and Shonga. The Nupe call themselves „Nupenci‟ or in plural „Nupencizi‟. Their language is „Nupe‟ and their country „kin Nupe‟ meaning land of 74 Abiona Lawrence Adekunle Nupe. The rulers are addressed as „Etsu Nupe‟, king of Nupe (Madugu, 2009, p.5). The Yoruba refer to the Nupe people as Tápà, but Nupe people are not pleased with such a lable. They prefer to be called Nupe. Like most African societies, African Traditional Religion (ATR) is the indigenous religion of Nupeland. History suggests that Islam was introduced to Nupeland from the th th 16 century, but it gained ground in the 19 century (Olaniyi, 2017, p.46). th Amao (2018) reveals that Etsu Jubril, the 15 successor to Tsoede (the acclaimed founder of the Nupe kingdom) accepted Islam by 1750 (p.78).
It is said that during the reign of Etsu Ma‟azu, (Man Nan Deh Yen Dondo Nan) Which mean “Islamic Techear Who Has Everything”, then the name was leter corrupted to Mallam Dendo by Hausa people, a Fulani Islamic preacher and charm seller came to Nupeland and he married a Nupe woman. This Dendo had been delegated by the Emir of Gwandu to lead the Jihad in Nupe kingdom. Therefore, after the death of Etsu Ma‟azu, Dendo took the advantage of the death of Etsu Ma‟azu and his spiritual figure influence to bring the Nupe kingdom under the Gwandu Emirate of the Fulani people (Amao, 2018, p.78). The Fulani spread Islam in Nupeland and used the religion as a powerful uniting force in the land (Madugu, 2009, p.15).
Presently, there are four emirates in Nupeland, Kwara State, namely, Patigi, Lafiagi, Shonga, and Tsaragi emirates. Moreover, the record of Madugu (2009) indicates that Christian Missionaries of the Sudan Interior Mission/Evangelical Churches of West Africa (SIM/ECWA) are the first to set their feet on Nupe soil of Kwara State in Patigi and that they established the first SIM/ECWA station in 1902 (p.11). The SIM/ECWA is now known as Evangelical Church Winning All (Josiah, 2016, p. 4). From the record of Fleck (2013), the three young Sudan Interior Mission (SIM) pioneer missionaries that landed in Lagos on December 4, 1893 include Mr Walter Gowans (a Presbyterian), Mr. Rowland Bingham (a Baptist), and Mr. Thomas Kent (a Congregationalist) (p. 207). One cannot but marvel at the audacity of these young missionaries who plunged themselves into an alien territory in order to “rescue the souls of the Africans from demons”. They risked all that they had and they paid the ultimate prize. However, the present reality in Nupeland is that ATR, Islam, and Christianity now cohabitate Nupeland. It is however pertinent to note that a stranger to Nupeland will not notice any sign of the presence of ATR in the way that the presence of mosques and churches symbolises the presence of 75 The Sustainability of the Ndakogboya Cultural Heritage Islam and Christianity.
It is also important to note that where Islam and Christianity are proselytising, ATR is not. This means a great effort is needed to sustain ATR in Nupeland. Traditional Nupeland and Cultural heritage Culture is a social phenomenon on which people rely in order to develop their religion, character, language, and indeed their total way of life (Kalu, 2015, p. xiii). Culture is the way of life of a group of people. It is seen in the language, music, religion, dressing, beliefs, customs, practices, and social behaviour of a particular people (Ngare, 2012, pp.39- 64). It is the means of creating order in the society and it is a source of identity (Oladipo, 2009, pp.11-13). If culture is a source of identity, cultural heritage is what has been handed down to forebears by the ancestors/ancestresses. This cultural heritage ranges from festivals, religion, healthcare methods, and so forth.
Some of the cultural heritages in traditional Nupeland include Gunnun, Ndakogboya, Kuti Vuguvugu, Kutilaci, Duwa and Ladi, etc (Madugu, 2009, p. 16). Others include Kuti- Eyagi (known as Egúngún in Yoruba) and Ndabozuma (known as Orò in Yoruba). The presence of Islam and Christianity in Nupeland has seriously affected the cultural heritage of Nupeland because some of the adherents of these two Abrahamic religions are uncomfortable with some of the Nupe cultural heritages, which have been depicted as idol worshipping. Notwithstanding, Na‟Allah (1996) is convinced that many Nupecizi still pay allegiance to their „gods‟ and are still actively involved in Egúngún, ìgunnu, and “witchcraft” performances (p. 60). Moreover, the reality in Nupeland shows that Na‟Allah‟s submission needs to be reviewed. Like all traditional Africans, the Nupe believe in Sòkó (God) and they commune with God through the divinities. However, it is misleading to claim that the Nupe pay allegiance to their „gods‟ as if they are polytheists. In fact, associating witchcraft with African Traditional Religion (ATR) is a sign of ignorance.
Witchcraft is part of the human culture and it is not a religious phenomenon. Neither is it a Nupe heritage. Witchcraft is not a performance. Therefore, it is wrong to associate it with drama or entertainment. There is nowhere in Africa where witchcraft is a drama or performance. No society uses witchcraft to 76 Abiona Lawrence Adekunle entertain in the manner of ìgunnu and Egúngún. Witchcraft is one of the mysteries of life. It can be considered as a spiritual heritage of human beings and it is a reality in every human society including Nupeland, Kwara State. That is the reason why Opoku (1978) believes and the researcher agrees that witchcraft is a mystical force that can be tapped for good or evil ends by human beings with the requisite knowledge (p. 140). Notwithstanding, witchcraft accusations still flourish in Nupeland as in other African societies in Nigeria. In fact, the African Indigenous “Pentecostal” churches are concerned with casting and binding of demons, which they consider as the causes of the problems encountered by their adherents. Such problems include poverty, childlessness, delay in having a suitor, sicknesses, accidents, and so forth.
This constant emphasis on demons tends to keep alive the belief in witchcraft. Moreover, it is unfortunate that most of the custodians of the divinities mentioned above have gone underground in most Nupe villages. This means that most of these heritages have gone into extinction in Nupeland. Fortunately, however, in villages such as Zambufu, Lade, and Rifun, the Ndakogboya cultural heritage has survived. The Sustainability of the Ndakogboya cultural heritage in Nupeland Findings reveal that the Ndakogboya (which literally means Grandfather of Gboya) is a traditional secret society that specialises in the control of witchcraft in Nupeland and it is a major pillar of occult belief among the Nupe.
It is on record that Ndakogboya became ineffective with the advent of colonial rule and that the missionaries and the colonial officers tried to destroy „juju medicine‟ and the anti-witchcraft cults (Ndakogboya) without success (Kohnert, 2007, pp. 56-59). Another discovery is that the Yoruba Muslims in Ilorin have abandoned Egúngún masquerade, while Nupe Muslims have sustained the Ndakogboya masquerade. The Yoruba people bear testimony to the Nupe origin of Ndakogboya by statement such as “Tápà lónì ’gunnu” (Nupe people are the custodians of ìgunnu). Egúngún Masquerades can no longer perform in Ilorin, a Yoruba land, because it is now an Islamic domain. It is reported that a former Emir of Ilorin, Alhaji Zulkarnaini Gambari Mohammad outlawed Egúngún Masquerades in the 70s (Na‟Allah, 1996, p. 67). The effect of this ban 77 The Sustainability of the Ndakogboya Cultural Heritage reared its head in August 2017 when the Ndakogboya masquerade is alleged to have emerged from the College of Education, Ilorin in a procession to Sawmill Area of Ilorin.
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The Kwara State Muslim Stakeholders (KSMS) raised an eyebrow at the appearance of ìgunnu in Ilorin. In the petition they addressed to the Governor of Kwara State, Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed, and the Secretary of Kwara State Inter-religious th Committee on 17 August 2017, KSMS said, “If the incidence is allowed to continue, it would lay a very bad precedence against the existing legacy and religious sanctity which the ancient city of Ilorin is noted for. The Muslim community in Ilorin saw this as a provocation in the name of cultural display” (KSMS, 2017). It is the opinion of the researcher that if the display of Ndakogboya cultural heritage by the Nupe people who are indigenes of Kwara State in their state capital has become a religious pollution of Ilorin, the effect of cultural imperialism is evident. Ironically, the use of „hijab‟ has been embraced in Ilorin as in other societies in Nigeria where there are Muslims as a form of identity. It is disturbing that many African Christians now consider a valid marriage as the one in which the bride appears in the white wedding gown and the bridegroom appears in suit. Wearing the “Adire and Aso Oke” (Yoruba attire) for a wedding is a mark of being uncivilised. Having noticed the impacts of Islam, Christianity, and Colonialism on African Cultural heritages, it is feared that globalisation may have similar effect. On the surface, globalisation is said to be the process of uniting the world for the common good of all people (Fabella & Sugirtharajah, 2000, p. 91).
In a world, that has become a global village, Bhagirath (2001) claims that “Globalisation broadly means fully – free economic operations across the borders of countries without any impediments by governments of countries”. In theory, globalisation promotes the flow of goods, services, and capital from one country to another. However, in a world of inequality in economic and productive capacities, the developed nations promote globalisation as the solution to the poverty in the developing nations such as Africa, while Africa may dream of globalisation as a means of sharing in the money of the rich nations. However, in practice, globalisation can lead to a re-colonisation of Africa and make the poor poorer. Nigeria is now described as the “world‟s 78 Abiona Lawrence Adekunle headquarters for extreme poverty” (Atiku, November 8, 2018), and the researcher observes that most Africans now lose their values and heritage at an alarming rate due to the influence of foreign cultures made possible by telecommunication technology that has made the world a global village.
This means that globalisation can help the economically powerful cultures to absorb the weak cultures, and eliminate them. If one observes that under the influence of what the researcher understands as cultural imperialism there have been controversies over the use of „hijab’ (Islamic headscarf) in public schools in Nigeria. For instance, Amasa Firdaus, a law graduate was reportedly denied a call to the Nigeria bar for refusing to remove her „hijab’ on December 12, 2017 (Oladeinde, December 16, 2017). Then, in a borderless world, the survival of African cultural heritages seems to be slim. Interviews conducted by the researcher in Nupeland reveals that cultural imperialism is a threat to African cultural security. For instance, Mr Paul Baba Raphael from Bokungi village claims that Christianity and Islam have driven away ìgunnu and egúngún. Chief Paul Jiya, the traditional ruler of Patidzuru, attests to the fact that African Traditional Religion (ATR) is dying out because people are afraid of being labelled or laughed at. The chief himself is a member of the Catholic Church.
One of my informants, Catechist Solomon Jiya from Patidzuru said that there are still some secret ATR adherents. They practise the religion secretly because of shame and stigma. Daniel Jiya is an old man in Kpankorogi village. He also claims that there is no public worship of „idol‟ again. According to him, all those who worship „idol‟ do it secretly to avoid being mocked. Some Muslim interviewees are hostile to the mention of the divinities, which they label as Kuti (idol). For instance, Alhaji Usman Jibril from Diadiamugi village who the researcher met at Bokungi claims that he hates ATR and he cannot associate with its adherents. Mr. Abdullahi Isa, a Principal, claims that Ndakogboya exists to prevent the work of witchcraft. However, it is discovered that Ndakogboya has been reduced to the status of entertainment in Nupeland.
Mr. James Baba of Bokungi village also attests to this discovery. The transformation of Ndakogboya into entertainers is the result of cultural imperialism. 79 The Sustainability of the Ndakogboya Cultural Heritage African Philosophy teaches that a notable figure that led a cultural emancipation in Africa was Léopold Sédar Senghor (1906-2001), a former Senegalese president. He gave Africans the Négritude as a reaction to the cultural imperialism that invaded Africa and as a way of creating a path of liberation from European colonialism. Therefore, there is a need for cultural revival among the Nupe to safe their cultural heritage from extinction. The photograph below is a scene of Ndakogboya performance at Lade, Patigi Local Government Area in Kwara State during the 2018 Sallah celebration. Source: Fieldwork by the researcher, 2018. A close look at the picture shows that the custodians are turbaned.
They are Nupe Muslims who now entertain the village head and his council together with the villagers with the Ndakogboya masquerade during their Muslim festival. During the festival, local drums are used along with songs rendered in Nupe language. Several gunshots are heard as the Ndakogboya comes out to perform. Everyone, including the traditional ruler, dances and enjoys the Eid-el-Fitr (Sallah) celebration. The traditional singer praises the family of the Ndakogboya, the traditional ruler and other important dignitaries at the scene of the celebration. No one looks down on another person as an idol worshipper during the celebration as each person dances 80 Abiona Lawrence Adekunle and sings along with the lead singer. In Lade, Islam has adapted to ATR th because as noted by the 8 Ndacheko of Lade, Umar Saba, everyone looks forward to the celebration of the Ndakogboya.
The Ndacheko family is the custodian of Ndakogboya in Lade. During the celebration, the lead singer calls the name of a dignitary, and he or she comes forward, dances, and sprays money on the singer. The dignitary sprays money on other dancers as well during the celebration. This means that the survival of Ndakogboya is tied to its reduction to the means of entertainers during the Islamic festival while its anti-witchcraft status has been suppressed. From the discovery above, the Ndakogboya masquerade has become a Nupe identity. Nupe people must maintain this self-identity because it can transport them from being absolute cultural consumers to meaningful cultural producers.
This is because globalisation cannot liberate Africa; it can only eliminate African cultural heritage and enslave Africans. Therefore, in a borderless world, cultural encounters in a cultural global market may lead to the extinction of the African cultural heritage, including the Ndakogboya, for the single reason that most Africans have an unrestrained appetite for foreign goods. Conclusion This study has shown that colonialism led to the depiction of Africans as savages in need of rescue operation.
The gain of independence, however, has not translated into cultural liberation in Africa. Rather, many Africans who have accepted Islam, Christianity, and Western Education have scornfully abandoned most of the African cultural heritages, and this has led to the extinction of most African heritages. This is the situation in Nupeland, as in many other African societies. However, in Nupeland, although the Ndakogboya cultural heritage has lost its security status as anti-witchcraft masquerade, it has been transformed into a source of entertainment that can yield revenue for the government and the custodians if propagated for tourism. This may be the Nupe contribution to the global market and it may lead to its sustainability. 81 The Sustainability of the Ndakogboya Cultural Heritage
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