About Eghogho Festival
TheAuchi Eghogho Festival is a cultural reunion event for all age-groups in Auchi Kingdom. It is a festival based on the age-long manhood/age-group tradition of the Auchi people. The manhood/age-group tradition is locally referred to as “Irhua”in the Auchi dialect and it means initiation into manhood. According to folktale, the “Irhua” tradition dates back to the period when the people who occupy the present location called Auchi migrated from Benin during the reign of Oba Ewuare around the 12th Century. Due to imminent invasion from the warriors from the Benin Kingdom who at the instance of the reigning Oba preferred an indivisible Kingdom and incessant inter-tribal wars, Uchi, the head of the Auchi community found it imperative to establish a standing army of young and virile men who could be called upon in times of wars for protection or communal activities. This army of young men became so indispensable in the community that they began to act as warriors, deterrent to slave raiders as well as being the custodian of law and order throughout the community. As the community developed and most of these young men grew into mature adults with other personal responsibilities, it became necessary to introduce a system of stratification where they could be graded into regiments according to their ages. To further develop this tradition, the heads of the community found it practical to establish a system of initiation into the revered age-group vested with responsibilities of protecting lives and properties. Thus, every young man of about 20 – 23 years of age was initiated into age-group/manhood with the above responsibilities. As Islam took root in Auchi, the age-group/manhood initiation became a trado-religious celebration performed by every young Auchi man between the ages of 20 – 23 years with 2 years intervals during Eid Kabir (Big Sallah) in the market square accompanied with a name and spiritual blessings from the Otaru of Auchi.
The age group tradition over the years has remained an event every young Auchi man and woman as well as parents look forward to. This is for the singular fact that it brings about merriments and a sense of achievements for all concerned. “Eghogho”, connotes joy, felicitation, merriment, fun, happiness in the Auchi dialect. The Eghogho festival is to bring all Auchi sons and (daughters) that have been initiated into manhood from the inception of Auchi Kingdom together. The festival, though intended to celebrate the manhood culture, it is also designed to celebrate the rich cultural heritage of the Auchi people through food, music, fashion, language, religions and arts. The festival is to provide a platform for celebration, reunion and interaction amongst all the various age-groups towards reigniting the common cultural legacy that binds the Auchi people together. Everybody belongs to one age-group or another and this event is intended to use the age-group/manhood institution to reawaken some of the rapidly eroding cultural legacies (that do not contradict modern day religious practices) of our forebears. On the day of the festival, each age-group will adorn a unique, but uniformed identity of traditional clothes reserved for each particular group. The identity will be in the form of colour of clothes, style of cap, cultural display which denotes what the age-group represents as indicated in their original name, history and events that led to their initiation. Part of the festival is to involve every member of the society through competitive activities between age-groups during the events and the winning age-group shall be presented with a medal of recognition based on the defined categories. This is to create healthy competition and cooperation between age-groups. The Eghogho festival will bring all Auchi sons and daughters both home and in the Diaspora who belong to different age groups without boundaries occasioned by status, creed and beliefs to come together once every years to chart a course in the general interest of the Auchi Kingdom, Afemai Land, Edo State and Nigeria.