When Ojonkwu, The Big Leopard, Visits, Only The Brave Dares It

When Ojonkwu, The Big Leopard, Visits, Only The Brave Dares It

— Now Viewed Live Across The World, The Communal Drama Of This Annual Visitor Re-Ignites Light Of Unity In Apuanu Item, Owani Obire Ancient Community of Item Okpi Kingdom

By Sam Egburonu, Editor

There are many masquerades in existing ancient kingdoms but there is none like Ojonkwu, the big masquerade of Apuanu Item, the Owani of the Ancient Kingdom of Item Okpi!

This is because Ojonkwu is not just a celebration of a masquerade; Ojonkwu is a communal drama, the recreation of how courageous youths of Apuanu Item risked their lives to halt the exploits of a mythic male leopard that visited and tormented Apuanu Item, the ancient Owani Obire community, many years ago.

When he comes, it is only the brave ‘men,’ the fiery youths in the land that gather, not to behold him in awe, but to fight with their lives to save the people and restore peace in Owani Obire.

Today, when Ojonkwu’s yearly visits have become part of the End of Year festivities of the people of Apuanu Item community, the mass of the people, who gather from all over the world to celebrate and enjoy the pulsating dances, simply call the annual visitor, “Ojonkwu, the Big Masquerade.”

 But the few youths who dare to ‘dance’ in Ojonkwu’s presence, agree with the ancient story that Ojonkwu is indeed a big, rampaging leopard no one jokes with. So, up till today, Ojonkwu dance can be seen as a battle of the strong-willed patriotic youths determined to save the people from Ojonkwu’s strong grips and to restore peace in Owani Obire.

In the years buried in the bowels of Owani history, Ojonkwu’s visits must have claimed precious lives and thus left behind great sorrow and pain. So, for as long as the roaring leopard battles the warriors, the entire community remains aflame! No wonder, as the youths dare the aggressive leopard to come to the Ologho for the great fight in today’s festivals, “Gan gara gara, bia ayi je re ologho ayi…,”; we can hear the ‘cry’ of the aged and the ladies: who will arrest this roaring leopard for the peace of our land? “Onye banderu nwa Agu, kayi lanu….;” 


Apuanu Item is a land of great warriors, so even the mythic big leopard in the distant past must have met his match in the reckless, dare-devil adventure of Owani patriotic youths who dared to confront him for the good of the land.

Thrilling, even terrifying, it is however heartwarming to note that the battle or the dance with the big masquerade, the leopard, always ends in miraculous victory for the people of Owani just as the folklore tells of how the people’s brave ancestors dared the monster and saved the people and the land!

Today, the leopard’s historic visit is being recreated in the annual communal drama of the dance with the big masquerade which the people call the Ojonkwu Festival.

Aside its recreation of an important history of Apuanu Item community, Ojonkwu Annual Festival has become a time when sons and daughters of Apuanu Item, and indeed the entire Item Okpi Kingdom, gather from all corners of the world to celebrate both their individual and the communal victories over all travails of life within the year and to dance and rejoice as One Great Dance Group.

Now viewed live across the world, the festival of this annual visitor, according to the people, helps to re-ignite and to sustain the light of unity so much needed in the fast developing Apuanu Item town, the Owani Obire of the ancient Item Okpi Kingdom.

Source: Samuel Egburonu @ http://newsorientng.com    December 28, 2022

Photo Credit: Jonah Ukaegbu James