Indigenous Performances as Change Agent for the Future
The Transmogrification of Ubochi Obasi Festival
In Africa, festival performances embody an aspect of the people’s way of life. These cultural festivals have in the past played dominant and effective roles in the community by imparting cultural values to the young ones as well as correcting, and purging the ills of the society. Before now, communal concord towards environmental preservation, and the sacredness of certain articles of faith in a traditional festival was held supreme. However, the practices in recent festivals such as the Iri ji (New yam festival), Ekpe (Masquerade festival) and Mgbede (Initiation rite into womanhood) are fast eschewing traditional African patterns by not observing the rites and rituals which enhances the festival’s moral aesthetics and economic functions. Emerging trends in traditional performances reveal that, traditional, cultural and religious practices that were hitherto beneficial to the people as agents of social control, judicial control, environmental preservation and sanctity of life, which in Igbo cosmology hold cultural and religious underpinnings, are fading away. These traditional practices/religious beliefs cum rituals are now perceived as demonic, obsolete and paganish without consideration to their environmental, economic and spiritual importance. A case in point is the Ubochi-Obasi festival of the people of Umuobasi village in Nnentu, Abia State. The festival is on the verge of abandoning every cultural legacy it is known for and has evolved into an admixture that breeds disharmony
amongst its people. The methodological approach of this study uses expository, historical analysis and dependency theory. This is to assess the transmogrification of Ubochi-Obasi as the communal conscience of the people. The study reveals that transmogrification of the festival has affected the prospects of development for the people of Umuobasi. The researcher recommends a return to the cultural and religious underpinnings of the festival in order to revive the people’s cultural values as paradigm for sustainable development.