Ikpu isi a celebration in Nteje is as old as the town itself. It is the period in which particular age-grade graduates from the youthful age into adulthood. In that case, they would be the leaders of the youths in every kindred or hamlet, as the case may be. They would be in charge of “Iza-ama” sweeping the playground in every village.
To get into this exalted position, one should be within the age range of 47-49 years. For example, those who celebrated the Ikpo Isi ceremony were born in 1971/2/3.
This great celebration is observed every three years in Nteje town. It costs a lot from those whom it is their turn to celebrate the august event. For instance, some of the age-grade members who have made it in life kill as many as two or three cows just to celebrate the prestigious ceremony.
One of those who celebrated the Ikpu-Isi ceremony in Nteje is Mr. Nnamdi “Rastaman” Obi, a Port-Harcourt based business mogul. His compound was a beehive of activity during this period. On the eve of the ceremony, a musical dance band was playing all night. A Eugene group was entertaining the mammoth crowd that came into his compound all through; with an “Akpili” man that makes the wee hours of the night vibrating with the echoes of the akpili. Akpili is a kind of fruit that emanates from the horn of a deer. It is peculiar to the people of the Omambala area. It makes the adrenalin of strong people go high that they could do something they could not ordinarily do. For example, before an Ijele masquerades come out to dance, there must be an akpili man to ginger the man carrying it.
When Citizens’ Advocate asked Nnamdi why he had to spend much BCN money in the celebration of the Ikpu-Isi ceremony; he first thanked God for keeping him alive to witness such an enviable ceremony in Nteje, pointing out that many people died even before the Ikpu-Isi ceremony in their lives. But God Almighty has made it possible for him to witness it in good health. So why can’t he thank God by celebrating the great occasion to the full!
This celebration attracted inlaws, the daughters of the land that got married in other places to come and offer the celebrant live fowls or goats as the hand of one could reach.
Some would come accompanied by a musical group to show solidarity to the brother who is in this age grade. While returning to their homes, the celebrant gives out souvenirs as pieces of cloth, buckets, etc
On the following day, people gather at the play-ground to drink and wine and also give or show appreciation by giving out yams, money or whatever to the celebrant. As usual, this is the period in which masquerades appear-dancing and flogging each other in the usual village pattern of “flog me, I flog you” to the admiration of the watching crowd that had gathered.
In the case of Mazi Nnamdi Obi’s celebration, the Anambra State Commissioner for Commerce and Transport, Mr. Uchenna Charles Okafor ‘aka’ “Wiper” was on hand to grace and celebrate with him. He wished Nnamdi a long life and more prosperity after the celebration.
In the meantime, the whole town of Nteje vibrated on the 15th, 16th and 17th of September 2019 for the great three-yearly anniversary of Ikpu-Isi.
Ikpu-Isi literarily means “shaving or barbing the head,” which welcomes one into manhood or adulthood in an agrarian town of Nteje.
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