Wednesday, 5 September 2012

The Unmasking of the Egwugwu

      Sunday- today is the day where the annual ceremony was held in Umofia, the annual worship of the earth goddess in honor of the earth deity. At such times, the ancestors of the clan who had committed to Mother Earth at their death emerged again as Egwugwu through tiny ant holes, this is when the masked spirits were abroad. The Christian women who had been to church could not therefore go home. Some of their men had gone out to beg the Egwugwu to retire for a short while for the women to pass. They agreed and were already retiring, when Enoch boasted aloud that they would not dare to touch a Christian. Whereupon they all came back and one of them gave Enoch a good stroke of the cane. Enoch was so mad that he unmasked the Egwugwu in public. I was there when this tragedy happened and I was shocked to see the revealing of the Egwugwu. I was pondering and asking myself, "is this another sign of things falling apart in our clan?"

      Through what I have learnt from my culture and beliefs, in tradititonal Igbo religion, the ancestral spirit communicates through the Egwugwu. The Igbo believes that during this time, the human underneath the mask is not present; the mask is transformed into the spirit. Thus, Enoch's action by unmasking the Egwugwu kills the ancestral spirit. Besides, I'm sure that his action cause some of the clan members to question their long-held sacred beliefs regarding the Egwugwu and maybe some of them will leave their religion and convert to Christian because their beliefs seems to be gradually torning apart. Apparently, I'm one of them. Nevertheless, this tragedy also represents the climax of confrontation between the traditional Igbo religious beliefs and the Christians and to a great extent, this also symbolize the broader cultural confrontation.

      Eventually, after this cruel tragedy happened, I have no doubt in why I've converted to Christianity. After all the Igbo religion is slowly torning apart. The unmasking of the Egwugwu is one of the example. I will not belief in a religion that is not strong enough. As for me, I'm more attracted to the Christian faith.

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