Amasiri as a people makes for an interesting study. Located in Afikpo North Local Government Area of Ebonyi State and a road-junction town lying at approximately 65 kilometers between Okigwe and Abakaliki, Amasiri is made up of five villages namely: Poperi, Ohachara, Ezeke, Ihie, and Ndukwe. According to oral Literature and historical records, the now urban community was founded by great warriors and mercenaries who migrated separately from towns invaded by the Umuneoha-mahogany built kidnappers and the white men who invaded them in a quest for Gold, Glory, and God, and settled in the areas (villages) that make up Amasiri some 2,000 years before the birth of Christ.

These men were–Itemba Owom of Ezeke (Ekuma Ubaghala), Obia-Okpaenunu of Ihie, Isaka-Ogu of Ndukwe, Utom-Okolu of Ohachara, and Igiri-Ato of Poperi.

Amasiri being part of the Igbo ethnic group, is not only bound together by a common historical, social, and cultural heritage but also naturally endowed with abundant potential and serves as an outlet for her neighbors. Amasiri, which covers an approximate area of about two hundred and seventy square kilometers, is bounded on the north by Okposi, on the south by Edda, on the east by Afikpo, on the west by Akaeze, and the northeast by Akpoha. The flyover at Amasiri junction(Abakaliki-Okigwe and Edda-Okposi) roads has added another beautiful colour to its development.

The mainstay of the people of Amasiri is Agriculture. Apart from her sons and daughters who are in different cities home and abroad and excelling greatly in their various careers, businesses, professions, government parastatals, and other fields of human endeavours, Amasirians are predominantly farmers who cultivate both food and cash crops such as yam, rice, cassava, palm trees, cashew nuts, groundnuts, watermelon, etc in subsistence and commercial quantities. Amasiri is unarguably the food basket of Ebonyi and other states as her harvested agricultural goods are exported to other states in Nigeria. However, when planting season is over, you see Amasiri man in complete leisure. The wife provides everything to make life enjoyable. He sits at ‘Ogo'(both wrestling arena and recreation ground dotted with legislative capitols for the traditional ruling councils) feasting himself with all kinds of ‘ama’ or ‘njenje’ (masquerades), while his food is at his beck and call.

As an Igbo group and in consonance with the general Igbo calendar, the Amasiri people of ancient times saw the importance of the cosmic order of nature and fashioned their traditional calendar in line with the twelve (12) Gregorian calendar. Thus, the twelve (12) calendar months system. Her calendar is so spread as to indicate planting season, harvesting period, resting period, and time for masquerading. These are 1. Ama(January, a period of masquerades and final festival), 2. Isu ehia(February, a period of sharing and clearing of farmlands, 3. Igwor iyi(early March, a period of cleaning of ponds and intensive yam cultivation), 4. Omuoha(April/May, a period of wrestling festival), 5. Mgba mbu(May, a period of Mgba Mbu by Age-Grade), 6. Ikpo(June/July, a period of Wrestling festival); 7. Elom Ji or Okike ahor(July/August, a period of New Yam festival preparation), 8. Ichu ahor(August, a period of the New Yam festival), 9. Ikeji(August/September, a period of Yam ritual and New Yam celebration), 10. Ulubu(October, a period of fattening processes for the female marital life), 11. Mbe(October/November, a period of the exhibition of masquerades (Okpaa) and harvesting of crops), and 12. Isiji(December, a period of initiation into the Ogo cult for the male-child and Ulubu for the female). The above sketch explains that the Amasiri traditional calendar is in harmony with the Lunar solar procession, working in consonance with nature. Her week is four days which is called Izu. The days in a week are; Orie, Ahor, Nkwo, and Eke. The Amasiri calendar is built on the month which is called Onwa. 

The culture of Amasiri people makes them highly relational. They are hardly ever alone, quite happy being together when they drink, sleep, work, travel, celebrate, etc. They have a minimal sense of privacy and they’re easily accessible socially; instead of a meticulous concern for safeguarding their private sphere, they actively seek a convergence of their lives with those of others. For instance, a sharing of concern is seen in a common form of greeting such as “I meri agaa?”(how are you?), “Ira hiari nke oma”(did you sleep well), “Juhu kwa or jokwa”(calm down or peace be unto you), “lerue enya”(take care), etc. Sharing of tasks and responsibilities is a way of life of the people. The Amasiri festivals are not valued for their own sake. Their aesthetics are not divorced from utilitarian, religious, moral, spiritual, social, and ecological concerns. Its culture and tradition, by all appearances, are veritable stamps of entertainment. The services of masquerades like Okpaa, Ikpor, Ogba Egbe, Enya chankwa, Okumkpo, Oro goro, etc, ensure balanced cultivation and development of human faculties–the physical skills as well as the inner potential. This is the magic why the Amasiri man is balanced and can be accepted anywhere he goes. Amasiri prides herself as the community that initiated the Oji-enyaleri Dance that went global. We are trailblazers.

By reason of the foregoing, Amasiri Cultural Festival Group (ACF-Group) in collaboration with Nde-Ezeogo, Nde-Ichie, Ekpuke Essaa, Ukeji Ogo, Isi Oru, Amasiri Town Union (ATU), in Afikpo North LGA, of Ebonyi State, cordially organizes an inaugural edition of Amasiri Cultural Carnival and entertainment scheduled to hold on the 4th day of January, 2024.

In a nutshell, no nation has ever progressed in all spheres of human endeavors by relegating her culture to the background. The western world gained their supremacy in technology through the manipulation of their natural endowment. The future of Amasiri will be improved a lot if we devise means of improving upon those aspects of our culture that make us grope. In this era, the best and radical means of development is not to throw away one’s culture, but to marry one’s good culture with the good culture of others. Yes, we cannot start in a vacuum and therefore, our culture is our springboard and since Amasiri sons and daughters are now widely travelled people, the elders, being the custodians of culture and tradition, should as well imbibe the opinions of the youth and vice-versa. Unu juhu kwa!

Written by Amadi Ekwutosilam Njoku

Bibliography: The Echoes of Amasiri~Chief Oko, Anthony Idam

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