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    Joforo Kingdom: Zangbeto festival holds January


    The Joforo Kingdom in Lagos State will become agog again with the long-awaited Joforo Zangbeto masquerade festival scheduled to hold at the beginning of the year 2019, exactly three years after the last held.

    In the centuries past, The Zangbeto masquerade provided security for the community and ensured discipline among the Egun society (the people of Badagry), and although it is no longer relied on to play these roles, it is still a cherished cultural icon in Badagry, particularly in Joforo, Zangbeto festival is celebrated every 3 years, during which the Zangbetos appease the gods, pray for the immediate community and generally offer good wishes for all households, after which the people expect to reap a plentiful harvest, farmers and fishermen alike.

    The Zangbeto masquerade is clothed in ‘AsoGbeto’, made from locally sourced palm fronds and is dedicated to breathtaking showmanship, dazzling its audiences with spirited and ‘magical’ displays. During a Zangbeto performance, you are likely to see fire burn in dry sand or white cloth sprout from underground. Watching the Zangbeto wade through the water, spinning and shuffling is a rare thrill in itself. Zangbetos never walk alone and are always accompanied by minders known as Kregbetos, whose role it is to guide the masquerade’s every step.

    Particularly in Joforo, during the Zangbeto festival, all uncircumcised girls and women become circumcised, rituals are performed on their behalf, sacrifices are made to appease the gods, and the village is cleansed. Circumcision of girls and women is a critical requirement for all indigenes of Joforo, and a MUST for all that come from any of the royal families. There are four royal families in the village which are the GBETOYON FAMILY, the ZANMENU FAMILY, the FASINU FAMILY and the ZANNU FAMILY. Female circumcision is a must for all the women married into any of these royal families and all female children born into them as well.

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    Owing to this, a celebration is held every 3 years in honour of the deity, Zangbeto. Invitations are sent out to all families, friends and communities within and outside the Joforo village. All descendants of all the royal families are required to be present at this festival. Therefore, all sons of this village home and abroad, converge at home to take part in the celebrations.

    Excitement usually grows in the crowd during the Zangbeto Voodoo festival, with scores of colourful palm-frond figures representing the traditional guardian of the night. As men and women in white ceremonial clothing sing and dance to the sound of heavy drums, adherents douse a cone-shaped Zangbeto with kerosene. A ball of fire rose as it goes up in flames. Some Nigerians frustrated by crime and corruption have suggested that reviving such traditions could be a deterrent to crimes and bad behaviours.

    The festival helps to create “fear and reverence,” the chairman of the festival’s organizing committee, told The Associated Press. The Ogu is another expression for the egun people and deity. The festival of about 2,000 people in the coastal Joforo Kingdom in Lagos State, held every three years, is one of the most important events in the local religious calendar. The Ogu inhabit coastal areas of Nigeria, Benin and Togo. The West African region once was known as the Slave Coast because of the large number of slaves taken from there over centuries. Beyond the slave trade, Ogu land is also noted for the voodoo widely practised there. The use of the Zangbeto is said to date back to the 17th century.

    The post appeared first on Tribune Online.

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