PEOPLE AND THEIR CULTURE, NABO DAY AT ABAK
Abak Local Government Area today, 29th December, 2018 observe her traditional festival tagged “NABO”.
Everywhere in Africa there are always certain traditional practices that are peculiar to each people. In some cases this practice may have certain instances that shows its affinity with that of other/another people far or close by, while in many of the instances it has shown a complete different practice that defines what the inheritors of such a tradition understand as the best way of defining themselves. Where there is a kind of cultural affinity shown by any people’s traditional display with that of another people, it becomes explicit to directly maintain that both communities are related historically. This is not the case with Nabo traditional festival in Abak Local Government of Akwa-Ibom.
Nabo is claimed to be a masquerading festival, but the entire activities differ from what obtain elsewhere where masquerades are being celebrated. By supposition, nabo day should evoke the presence of different masquerades showcasing the historical emblem that characterised each community within the inheritors. Other than this, what is seen every day that nabo is celebrated are able-bodied men, basically young ones within the active population rate, moving about with their faces painted in blue. They tie palm frond on their heads or waists.
Naturally, nabo is a festival of bloodshed celebrated on the last market day of the Abak people. Other Anang settlements have their similar blood seeking festivals celebrated at different times of the year. All the festivals take similar shape and remarkable with the intrusion of the artistes to the market of each inheritors’ community where they perform certain rituals to mark the end of the blood feast. Women are usually forbidden from showing up at the mystic point of nabo, while other communities of the Anang sect forbid the appearance of women at major streets, markets and observable distance on the last day. The penalty for disobeying this order by any woman is death.
Presently due to civilization and Christianity among the inhabitants, noabo does not involve practical killing any longer. The image above is usually the real body of a corpse used to mark the festival. In the present time, they use plantain body to design an artificial corpse as shown above to contain such view. But, perhaps because the festival has been dedicated to bloodshed, there is always the spontaneous feeling on the activists to spill blood on every nabo day. Where it appears difficult, certain intangible issues would arise and lead to a serious fight during which blood drops. It happens this way every year.
The Historical Relevance of Nabo Festival
The only historical relevance that nabo informs is demonstrated via the machete they artistes bear as they parade the streets of Abak. The significance of the machete is not only historical, as may have argued, but has and still contributes immensely in defining the Anang man. Like totemic symbols to many historically conditioned people, machete is significant in the socialization of the Anang people. As revealed by a version of their oral tradition, the Anang believed that their ancestors were remarkable with the dealings that involve machete. Being the instrument with which their ancestors defended themselves in their early days of hobo, when they were expunged by their Ngwa brothers, it remains that the attainment of maturity by any Anang male children is marked by the possession of a personal machete. With this, it is believed that one could defend himself and his future family against any attack. To them, one is not mature until one possesses a machete of one’s own.
Another historical relevance of nabo and its similar festivals among the Anang settlement is marked with the infesting of the inheritors’ markets to mark the end of the festival. This was invented to ward off several misconceptions resulting from the zest to fulfill certain ritualistic obligations in another man’s land. Originally, before such festivals took place in the ancient times when the Anangs were a handful population, men were sent to Aba Ngwa (presently the abode of the prestigious Ariaria market in Aba). There the envoys of the Anang community would perform rituals of remembrance of place of origin, then the envoys would return before the festival commenced. As people continue to multiply and intentions continued to change from good to evil, the venue of this ritual was changed to each community’s market.