Culture is defined as people's way of life. Igbo land is famous for its aesthetic dramatic performances of different masquerades. The Igbos are people rich in culture and traditions.
Despite modernism, they hold in very high esteem their culture, tradition and custom handed over to them from their forefathers.
The Igbo land is found in the southeast region of Nigeria and is made up of five states in Nigeria: Abia, Imo, Enugu, Ebonyi and Anambra.
In these states, there are different festivals and the festivals are typically accompanied by different awesome masquerade performances.
Enugu state, one of the states dominated by the Igbos is made of 17 local governments with different cultural backgrounds.
In Udenu Local Government Area of Enugu State, one thing the communities share in common is the performance of the Akatakpa masquerade.
Each community in Udenu Local Government has a mapped out season for the celebration of Akatakpa festival. In the case of the Ezimo community, the celebration is used to mark the end of the year as it is celebrated in the last month of the year (December).
The festival starts in the first day of December and ends on the last day of December (31st December) as it marks the end of the year and ushers the people of Ezimo into a new year.
During the celebration, Ezimo indigenes in the diaspora are welcomed home for the great festival.
It is a festival of peace and joy as the people of Ezimo thank God for his blessings for the year and ask him to continue to bless and protect them as they enter the new year.
In Ezimo, there are different kinds of Akatakpa masquerade grouped according to their costumes and cultural displays.
The people of Ezimo have Akatakpa Owa Egara, Kpurukpuru Akatakpa and Ochi Ajakpa. These different kinds of masquerades are categorised according to their representations.
Owa Egara is the most beautiful and the most adorned Akatakpa. The costumes are made with different shining and beautiful ornaments.
This type of Akatakpa is not aggressive but rather peaceful, calm and beautiful. It is equally known for its magical dancing step.
Whenever it is on display, the spectators will gather around to watch as they applaud and cheer it up.
As Akatakpa Owa Egara displays to the amusement of all, the Ochi Ajagba will come out unexpectedly and chase the crowd away.
The Akatakpa Ochi Ajagba is known for its waring spirit. The costume is that of a warrior.
Unlike Owa Egara that is adorned inexpensive ornaments, Ochi Ajakpa is casually dressed and always with a whip to flog the audience constituting nuisance and blocking other people's view.
Akatakpa Kpurukpuru is another special kind of Akatakapa. The costume differs from every other Akatakpa.
Kpurukpuru is adorned with different shades of colour, but it is always known for its yellow colour. It is the only Akatapa that is decorated with a shade of yellow.
Kpurukpuru Akatakpa is of two kinds: Owa Egara and Ochi Ajakpa. The Owa Egara sings and equally dances to the admiration of all while the Ochi Ajakpa is an aggressive one that chases the audience out.
Different Akatakpa dramatic and aesthetic performances usually accompany the end of the year festival. Their performance is usually beautiful and thrilling to watch.
Spectators would be seen all around watching the masquerades while the masquerades move around in groups looking for those that will appreciate them and the culture either in cash or in kind.
Some other masquerades will also be moving around with canes and whips in the bid to flog anyone who wasn't friendly.
One other thing to note is that despite this being a festive event, women are not allowed to come close to the masquerades. In fact, it is a taboo in Ezimo community.
Women are only allowed to stay at a far distance, cheering and applauding their awesome performances.