Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Tanzania Holidays and Festivals

Dares Salaam and Zanzibar are the best places to enjoy Tanzania holidays, particularly the latter with its Muslim-majority populace. In July you can witness the Mwaka Kogwa and the Festival of the Dhow Countries, while the wildebeest migration in the Serengeti starts in December. Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa's highest peak, sees action during the Kiliman Adventure Challenge in February.

Wanyambo Festival

The Wanyambo Festival is one of the best opportunities to check out the local culture of Tanzania in early January. The event is staged in the northern area of Dar es Salaam known as Makumbusho, with lots of traditional music, dance, costumes, and food.

Kiliman Adventure Challenge

A triathlon if there ever was one, the Kiliman Adventure Challenge involves three grueling events in February to discover the "KiliMan." Events include a hike up Mount Kilimanjaro (not judged), followed by a mountain bike jaunt around the great circumference, and finally the Kilimanjaro Marathon.

Kilimanjaro Marathon

A separate entity from the Kiliman Adventure Challenge, the Kilimanjaro Marathon is a road race under the guise of the world's highest solitary mountain. There's also a half marathon and fun runs so everyone can get involved. The events take place in late February when it's the coolest.

Unification Day

A big day for Tanzanians, April 26, 1964 is when the Zanzibar islands joined Tanganyika in 1963 to become the Republic of Tanganyika and Zanzibar, later to be known as the Republic of Tanzania. Expect flag waving and parades in traditional garb in the main cities.

Mzalendo Halisi Music Festival

A two-day music festival in May, Mzalendo Halisi is staged in Kigitonyama in northwest Dar es Salaam. It features traditional Tanzanian music by local performers along with art and cultural exhibitions.
Karibu Travel and Tourism Fair
For those in Arusha in May/June, the Karibu Travel and Tourism Fair is a must to partake in, the biggest of its kind in East Africa. There are all sorts of Tanzanian items for purchase, from gemstones and furniture to safari gear and wine.

Festival of the Dhow Countries

This two-week festival in early July is one of music and motion pictures. The highlight is the week-long Zanzibar International Film Festival, the main arts event of East Africa. Enjoy local screenings throughout the city.

Mwaka Kogwa Festival

This four-day event in July/August is a must for visitors to Zanzibar, when village men thrash each other with banana stalks to settle arguments from the previous year. Women dress up, sing and dance, a straw hut is set on fire and a feast ensues.

Eid al-Fitr

Zanzibar is the place to witness Eid al-Fitr, the end of Ramadan in August. The best site is Makunduchi where there is much pageantry, dancing and dining.

Bagamoyo Arts Festival

The coastal town of Bagamoyo, between Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar, puts on the annual Bagamoyo Arts Festival which features traditional and contemporary music and dance. The week-long event in September also includes grand exhibitions, workshops and acrobatics shows.

Serengeti Wildebeest Migration

The animals are on the move through the Serengeti at various times throughout the year to find water and graze, although December through February sees the wildebeest at their peak in Tanzania.

*culled from www.iexplore.com

Monday, 30 January 2017

Maldives Holidays and Festivals

Most of the Maldives holidays revolve around and are influenced by the Islamic faith. The citizens are extremely proud, so Independence Day is a magnificent time of year celebrated on all the islands halfway through the year with parades and festivities. Ramadan is an important event held during the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. Much of the country alters its opening hours to accommodate this special fast.

Ramadan

Being a totally Islamic country, the Maldives celebrates the Ramadan period every year. Muslims fast during daylight hours and offices and government workers end the working days earlier. The event is held in the months of August or September, which is otherwise known as the ninth month of the Islamic calendar.

The National Day

The National Day is celebrated as the first day of Rabee-ul Awwal, which is held during the third month of the Islamic calendar. Falling sometime in February or March, you will see parades and marches across the Maldives.

Independence Day

One of the most important days on the calendar, Independence Day celebrates the freedom of the Maldives from Britain back in 1965. The islands are filled with parades, performances, food and festivities. It is held annually on July 26.

Republic Day

Although not as important as Independence Day, Republic Day is still an exciting event felt throughout the country. November 11 marks the day the Maldives became a republic for the second time in 1968. Male is the center of the celebrations, hosting parades throughout its streets and parks. Other towns and islands put on quite a good show.

Prophet's Birthday

For an interesting cultural experience, visitors should head to Male during the Prophet's Birthday. The event is held on the 12th day of Rabee-ul-Awwal, which falls in the third month of the Islamic calendar. The mosques in the capital and around the country are filled with worshippers and offices and shops close early.

Eid Festival

For the best feast of the year, the Eid Festival is the place to be. Held at the end of Ramadan in the month of September, Eid is a fantastic time to explore the cultural splendors of the Maldives' religious faith. The event usually lasts for about three days, where grand meals are prepared across the country.

*culled from www.iexplore.com

Sunday, 29 January 2017

Kenya Holidays and Festivals

Kenya celebrates a number of national and regional events and festivals throughout the year, usually connected to religion, historical events or African arts. Music, food and dance feature heavily in the celebrations, which usually emphasize family, community and unity. The vast majority of the population is Christian, so the major religious Kenya holidays of Easter and Christmas are also public holidays. The country's 11 percent Muslim population means that Islamic traditions are also observed, mainly near the coast, which had a historically stronger Arab influence.

East African Arts Festival

In March each year, Nairobi hosts the East African Art Festival, the biggest of its kind in the region, which attracts competitors and spectators from around the world. The three-day event showcases art, music, theater, music, fashion, literature, architecture, sculpture and traditional crafts. It is hosted by the Kenyan National Museum.

Easter

In Kenya, Good Friday and Easter Monday are public holidays, marking the long weekend commemorating Jesus Christ's crucifixion and resurrection. Good Friday often sees processions through the streets with dramatic recreations of the Stations of the Cross, culminating in church services. Saturday often involves a bonfire outside the church and the lighting of candles and prayers inside, with Sunday being a feast marked by singing, bell-ringing, church services, and family togetherness.

Eid al-Fitr

Eid Al Fitr is an Islamic celebration that usually takes place in September, when the sighting of the moon marks the end of the Muslim holy month of fasting during Ramadan. Eid celebrations usually involve personal cleansing, communal prayers, charity donations, and three full days of feasting and spending time with friends and family. The celebrations are biggest along the coastal areas where most of the Muslim population of Kenya lives.

International Camel Derby and Festival

The annual International Camel Derby and Festival has been held on the outskirts of Maralal town in northern Kenya since 1990. The main feature is the camel racing which takes place over several days through semi-desert regions and is open to amateurs and novices. Visitors come from all over the world to take part or watch, and there are also cycle races, donkey rides, children's entertainment, and the opportunity to rent a camel for the day. The derby usually takes place in August.

Mombasa Carnival

November is when the city of Mombasa celebrates Kenyan culture with a carnival by the Indian Ocean. Artists, dancers, musicians and tribal people flock to take part in the concerts that make up one of Kenya's largest annual events. One of the major features is the main street parade with floats that showcase the different tribal identities across the nation. There are street stalls and opportunities for eating, drinking and dancing.

Jamhuri Day

Jamhuri means "republic" in Swahili and December 12 is set aside as a public holiday to celebrate Kenya's becoming a republic in 1964. The date is doubly important as the country also gained independence from Britain on December 12, 1963. The occasion is marked by dancing, parades and a speech from each of the eight Provincial Presidents. Many towns also host cultural performances, while families will often get together for meals. Fireworks are often a highlight and air shows have become popular in modern times.

Christmas

Kenya's many Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ on December 25, which is a public holiday. The events are largely religious in nature, featuring church services, caroling and nativity performances. Houses and churches are decorated with balloons, flowers and green leaves and storefronts in the larger towns are bathed in fake snow. If parents can afford gifts for the children, it will often be books, practical items or a new outfit for attending church. Families get together to attend services then enjoy a feast, usually of roasted goat.

New Year

New Year celebrations begin the evening of December 31 with parties, music and church services, leading up to the midnight countdown which sees fireworks, music and cheering to welcome in the New Year. Church services and non-religious parties take place all across the nation, many of which continue after dawn. Nairobi has the biggest event, with musical performances and fireworks displays. Mombasa is known for its New Year beach parties, often hosted by local radio stations with live music and DJs.

*culled from iexplore.com

Saturday, 28 January 2017

Montenegro Holidays and Festivals

If you're a fan of festivals, then you've made the right decision for your vacation, as numerous celebrations take place all over Montenegro every month. Montenegro holidays and events here are based on religious occasions, beloved folk traditions of music and dance and the changing of the seasons. Two of the favorites are the Kotor Carnival and the Mimosa Festival.

St Tryphon Festival

This February religious event in Kotor commemorates the martyrdom of the popular saint with processions, church services and folk performances in front of the cathedral.

Kotor Carnival

Kotor Carnival is one of the liveliest festivals in Montenegro, kicking off every February with masked balls for adults and children. Theaters put on traditional shows, concerts are held in the streets and venues, restaurants offer special menus, and the streets throng with costumed revelers enjoying performers, fireworks and parades. Another similar carnival is held in Kotor every August.

Mimosa Festival

The Mimosa Festival, held all over Montenegro in February/March, celebrates the coming of spring with the appearance of the first fragrant, yellow mimosa blossoms. The event lasts for several weeks with fine art exhibitions, traditional and modern theater, music and dance, and street fun. Flower shows are a highlight, and costumed girls holding branches of the flowing shrub travel between towns to visit friends and relatives.

Easter

Orthodox Easter falls on average two weeks later than in Catholic and Protestant countries, with Holy Week usually held in late April. Processions carrying images of Christ and local saints wind around the streets to the churches and cathedrals, and candlelit services draw huge crowds.

Music of the Summer

This iconic event is held in Budva over the four summer months, beginning in June to celebrate the traditional musical heritage of Montenegro in all its forms from brass bands to vocal groups, traditional ensembles and more. The concerts are held in various venues, often in the open air main squares, and is welcomed by a huge musical parade to the Old Town to the Square of Poets.

Kotor International Fashion Festival

Another Montenegrin event popular with visitors is July's International Fashion Festival, held annually in Kotor over several days. Top designers from the Balkan nations and the rest of the world attend to share their designs with fashion-forward locals.

Perast Music Festival

Held in the charming town of Perast, the annual Montenegro music festival takes place every August, and is a focus for internationally-known singers, musicians, instrumentalists, and orchestras. Concerts are held in venues all over town, and the event attracts a large number of overseas visitors.

Gornja Lastva Fiesta

Gornja Lastva is a tiny village near Tivat, known for its August fiesta week dedicated to the preservation of traditional musical and dance in Montenegro. Balkan circle dancing and unique klapa male a-capella songs are the heart of the festival and the iconic Clapper music and other traditional Lastva folk songs draw visitors from Tivat and overseas.

Christmas Day

Orthodox Christmas falls at the end of the first week of January, and is a family-oriented time for church visits, celebrations with friends and carolling in the streets. Special meals are prepared, homes are decorated and gifts are given.

New Year's Eve

New Year celebrations on Montenegro begin on December 31 and end on January 2 so you've got plenty of time to welcome in the new year with Montenegrin friends. Everything from street parties and entertainment to the traditional fireworks displays, concerts and other events are held, and hotels and restaurants host special events and parties.

*culled from www.iexplore.com

Friday, 27 January 2017

Loy Krathong Festival

During the full moon of the twelfth lunar month, Bangkok becomes a wonderful place full of lights. It's the Loi Krathong, the Festival of lights. Loi Krathong refers to the lotus-shaped receptacle that can float on the water. They can contain food, nuts, joss sticks, flowers, coins and a compulsory candle. 

The ritual is very simple, build a Loi Krathong, make a wish and let it float away with the current of a river. The flame of the candle signifies longevity, fulfillment of wishes and release from sins. People will watch their floating devices intensely hoping the candle will last as long as possible. During the twelfth full moon, thousand of people will follow the same ritual along Bangkok rivers and canals transforming the water in an amazing bed of candles.

The city of Bangkok will animate the day with beautiful parades, traditional Thai dancing, concerts, fireworks and beauty pageants. Bridges and building will also have their own suit of lights.
From few days before the full moon to the day of the full moon, spectacular illuminated barges will light up the Chao Phraya River from the Memorial Bridge to Krungthon Bridge.

Loi Krathong is one of the most renowned festival of Thailand and a good occasion to inhale the mystic atmosphere of the full moon celebration.

Thursday, 26 January 2017

MOLES : CLUES TO OUR DESTINY

Eyes:
A mole in the right eye gives easy – money. Even if the person doesn't work, he will become rich suddenly out of sheer luck. A mole in the left eye represents an arrogant person who would be after ladies. He will have a secret and illegal connection with ladies.
Moles at the eye socket (corner towards the ear) represent a generous and peaceful person. But there is possibility of sudden death. Moles at the eye socket (corner towards the nose bridge) represent death of one of the children and grief for the native.

Ears:
A mole any where on the ear represents good earnings and luxurious life. Expenditure will be uncontrollable. There may be danger of drowning. A mole at the backside of the ear represents a person who follows customs. He will get his wife from a higher family.

Nose:
A mole on the tip of the nose represents quick thinking and quick temper. Such a person will have high self-respect and generally win on others.
A mole at right side of the nose represents more money with fewer efforts. A mole at the left side of the nose gives bad results. The native involves into prostitution.
A mole on the bridge between nostrils represents obstacles in getting the job and loss of money. A mole below the nose represents good sexual drive. The native possesses a large family and many children.

Chin:
A mole which is located exactly in the middle of the chin represents a lofty person who receives laurels from others.
Moles on the right side of the chin represent logical thinking and diplomatic nature. They can convince others with their speech. Their earnings will be very good and they get name and fame easily. Moles on the left side of the chin represent a person who talks straight forward and hence people do not like him. He becomes quarrelsome. Expenditure will be uncontrollable.

Lips:
A mole on the upper lip represents a person who does good to every one. There will be weakness of ladies and luxurious items. A mole on the lower lip represents a person who loves good food. He will have interest in acting and theatre arts.
A mole on the inner side of the upper lip represents a person skilled in mantras and mystic forces. A mole on the inner side of the lower lip represents a person who becomes a drunkard and losses money on speculation.

Cheek:
Moles on the right cheek represent a sensitive person who gives a lot of respect to his parents. He loves his wife and relatives. He enjoys wealth and health and lives long. Moles on the left cheek represent a person who is introvert and an arrogant person. He would face troubles in the life. But he will be happy in the old age because of his children.

Tongue:
A mole on the middle of the tongue indicates obstacles in the education. The native may not be able to talk fluently and there will be health problems.
A mole on the tip (outer edge) of the tongue represents a person who can convince others with his speech. He is intelligent and diplomatic. He loves good food and his children will have good future.

Neck:
A mole on the back side of the neck represents angry and aggressive person. Generally such a person involves into anti-social activities. A mole on the front side of the neck represents an artistic person with sweet voice. His life will settle well after his marriage.

Shoulders:
Moles on right shoulder represent brave and courageous person who will not sleep until finishing any project. Moles on the left shoulder represent a person who involves into quarrels with others.

Chest:
A mole on the right side of the chest indicates more female progeny. Financial problems trouble him. But he receives due respect from others. A mole on the left side of the chest represents a person who is clever and who does not maintain good relation with his relations and friends. Financial problems are common for him. A mole exactly in the middle of the chest represents heavy financial problems. Such person involves into heavy debts. But he will have devotion to God.

*Watch out for the concluding part!

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

The Deity Called Olokun

OLOKUN (oni-okun , he who owns the sea), "Lord of the Sea," is the sea-god of the Yorubas. He is one of those who came from the body of Yemaja.

As man worships that from which he has most to fear, or from which he hopes to receive the greatest benefits, the inland tribes pay little or no attention to Olokun, who is, however, the chief god of fishermen and of all others whose avocations take them upon the sea.

When Olokun is angry he causes the sea to be rough and stirs up a raging surf upon the shore; and it is he who drowns men, upsets boats or canoes, and causes shipwrecks. Olokun is not the personally divine sea but an anthropomorphic conception.

He is of human shape and black in colour, but with long flowing hair, and resides in a vast palace under the sea, where he is served by a number of sea-spirits, some of whom are human in shape, while others partake more or less of the nature of fish. On ordinary occasions animals are sacrificed to Olokun, but when the condition of the surf prevents canoes from putting to sea for many days at a time, a human victim is offered to appease him. 

It is said that such sacrifices have been made in recent times, even at Lagos, by the people of the Isaleko quarter, who are chiefly worshippers of Olokun. The sacrifice was of course secret, and according to native report the canoemen used to watch by night till they caught some solitary wayfarer, whom they gagged and conveyed across the lagoon to the sea-shore, where they struck off his head and threw the body into the surf.

A myth says that Olokun, becoming enraged with mankind on account of their neglect of him, endeavoured to destroy them by overflowing the land; and had drowned large numbers when Obatala interfered to save the remainder, and forced Olokun back to his palace, where he bound him with seven iron chains till he promised to abandon his design. This, perhaps, has reference to some former encroachment of the sea upon the low-lying sandy shores, which are even now liable to be submerged at spring-tides.

(1)
Olokun has a wife named Olokun-su, or Elusu, who lives in the harbour bar at Lagos. She is white in colour and human in shape, but is covered with fish-scales from below the breasts to the hips. The fish in the waters of the bar are sacred to her, and should anyone catch them, she takes vengeance by upsetting canoes and drowning the occupants. A man who should be so ill-advised as to attempt to fish on the bar would run a great risk of being
(1. Another myth of this nature has been mentioned in Chapter II., under Ifa.)
thrown overboard by the other canoemen. Olokunsu is an example of a local sea-goddess, originally, as on the Gold Coast at the present day, considered quite independent, being attached to the general god of the sea, and accounted for as belonging to him.

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Naming Ceremony In Yoruba Land By Olalekan Oduntan

When a child is born in Yoruba land, the father of the child approaches an Ifa priest to know about the destiny of the child known as "Akosejaye" . 

Consultation will first of all be made with the Ifa priest to know what and what to bring to enhance their findings. On the day of the divination, the parents of the child must have provided all the necessary requirements for the divination of Ifa to be smooth. 

What is Akosejaye? It is finding out about the destiny with which the child has brought to the world. Akosejaye means the destiny of the child. The Ifa priest will not only find out about the destiny of the child, Ifa will also delve into the kinds of food that the child should or should not eat when he or she grows up. 

Findings will also be revealed from Ifa to the parents about the colours of cloths that the child should or should not wear when he or she grows up. Ifa will talk about the kind of works the child should or should not do when he or she grows up. 

Ifa talks about successes, failures, marriage, children and the places that the child will be during his or her lifetime. It may also be revealed that the parents of the child should keep Ifa for the child and that they should be using certain  things to appease it on behalf the child until he or she grows up. 

So before the child is grown up, the parents will be responsible for taking care of the Ifa for their child from time to time. Mention must also be made about the negative things which the child will experience in the course of growing up in life as time goes on. 

After findings from the Ifa priest, the christening of the child will now properly take place. It is the Ifa that will bring out the name with which to christen the child. Salt, honey, kola nuts, bitter kola and wine will be used to pray for the child by the elders present at the ceremony. 

And showers of blessing in form of prayers will be rained on the child from the Ifa priest and the parents of the child. The Ifa Corpuses with which the child has been born will be revealed to the parents of the child and this is the path which the child will follow when he or she grows up till death.

Sunday, 22 January 2017

MOLES : CLUES TO OUR DESTINY

Moles are marks which can be found on different parts of the body. In Indian and Chinese Astrology, moles are interpreted as representing the destiny of the person. The influence of the planets on the person would start at the time of fetus formation in the mother's womb. Some planets influence the fetus more and some less. These influences result into mole formation when focused at the surface of the body. In the horoscope, the Ascendant and its lord, 6th house lord, Moon, Mars, Saturn, Uranus, Rahu and Kethu will form moles on the human body. For example, if the Ascendant lord Saturn is posited in Aries, will produce a black mole (Saturn for black) on the head part (Aries for head) of the native.
If the sign and planet influencing the fetus are masculine then the mole will be formed at the right side of the body. If the sign and planet are feminine then the mole will be formed at the left side of the body. For example, a combination of Mars (Male planet) and Venus (Female planet) in Scorpio (female sign representing genitals) forms a mole on the genitals. If Mars is strong, then the mole will be at the right side on the genitals. If Venus is strong, then the mole will be formed at left side. The colors of the moles can be decided by the colors of the planets. For example, Saturn and Rahu give black moles and Mars gives red moles.
Moles should be interpreted according to their color, shape and size, and the place where they are located on the body. Moles in red color or honey color or green color will generally bring good fortune. Moles in black color give bad results. Small moles which are not so visible, will not give any results. Only big moles will produce results. Long moles give good results. Moles which are in square shape will give bad results in the starting, but they produce good results by the end. Moles in the form of a triangle will produce mixed results, sometimes good and sometimes bad. Moles in zigzag shapes will produce bad results. Now, let us discuss the effects of moles according to their placement on human body.

The following points are given for gents. But they are equally applicable to ladies also.

Head:
The moles on the top (crown) of the head are visible only if the head is shaven. If a mole is found on the right side of the head, the person will excel in politics. If the mole is in red or green color, then he will become minister. He can also be a president leading a society or business organization. He will have social status and success in every walk of life.
If the mole is at the left side of the head, then the native will not have enough money. Generally, he will not marry and spends his life in roaming. He will lead a spiritual life and gives spiritual discourses. There would be an interest in literature also. Moles at the back side of the head represent weakness of ladies. Such a person will be attached to his wife. He earns more money but he will not have a good name in the society.

Forehead:
If the forehead is wide and there is a mole on the right side of the forehead, then it denotes wealth. The native becomes wealthy and receives good name and fame in the society. He will help others and will have devotion to God. If the mole on the forehead is located at left side and the forehead is narrow, then the person will be selfish and does not help any one. Others will not give him any respect.

Temples:
If the mole is on the right side temple, it denotes early marriage and beautiful wife. There is a possibility of sudden and unexpected arrival of money. If the mole is at the left temple, it also denotes sudden marriage and sudden wealth. There will be losses in the business. People do not like them for any reason.

Eye brows:
If there is a mole in the middle of the eyebrows, it denotes leadership qualities, wealth, name and fame. Such a native likes luxuries and women. If the mole is found on the right eyebrow, there will be early marriage with a good lady. The native becomes lucky after marriage. It is better if he invests in his wife's name. If the mole is on the left eyebrow, the person will be unlucky. He cannot utilize the money properly and faces troubles in the job or business.

Eye lids:
A mole on the right eyelid brings wealth. The native becomes rich slowly. He will have inner pride and feels that he is great. Expenditure will be more. He will spend money for God either by constructing temples or for performing pujas. A mole on the left eyelid represents a general life. The person earns meager amount of money. He is prone to jealousy from others.
A mole in the inner part of top eyelids represents a lucky and wealthy person. On the other hand, mole in the inner part of lower eyelids represents domestic troubles and lack of luck.

*To be continued.

Saturday, 21 January 2017

Aje Festival In Ondo Kingdom (Part 1)

Odun Aje in Ondo kingdom is literally referred to as a festival of the goddess of wealth and fertility. The festival is one of the over 44 traditional festivals annually celebrated with pomp and pageantry in Ondo.

The festival is dedicated to Aje, the Yoruba goddess of wealth and fertility, it is another very special and impressive female angle to the Ondo traditions.

Odun Aje festival in Ondo city is an annual festival usually performed by the Opojis, that is the female Chiefs, the festival is usually held on the eve of Odun Moko, a special festival usually performed around November by the Udoko community, where women are barred from public glare.

The festival in Ondo kingdom is usually referred to as the goddess that controls women's success in business, and extends their wealth, Aje, is normally regularly propitiated by Ondo women, especially the market Chiefs and the Opojis.

The special annual festival and the worship is however vested in the Opojis, who perform the rites on their own and on behalf of womanhood, and the entire people in the kingdom.
According to a former Commissioner for Education in Ondo State and the Mayegun of Ondo city, Chief Mrs. Olufunke Iluyemi, Aje is worshiped annually in the city, so that fortune will continue to smile on all women and the townsfolk in general.

She explained that each Opoji in the city is expected to have her own Aje, which is a kind of movable shrine, dedicated to the Yoruba goddess of affluence and fertility.

The shrine consists of the Aje itself which is placed in a big clean and white bowl, usually of brass and in the bowl are placed several items symbolic of wealth, enhanced social status and fertility.

The items include Aso-Oke, the Ondo traditional cloth, owo eyo, (cowrie money) Iyun (red beads) awo (China plates) irunkere, (horse tail) and decorative mirrors as well as gold ornaments to mention a few.

The items which are artistically and daintily arranged in the white bowl and topped with horse tail is a symbol of prestige, status, ease and affluence. It could also be topped with white doll, which also symbolises western civilisation in which Ondos are noted for.

The Aje in Ondo kingdom is the Opoji's symbol of position and elevation in the society, it reflects her position as a woman of substance and respectability without which attributes she could not have been made a chief.

Other women around her or her own relations may also have cause to propitiate the Aje on their own behalf for success in their individual business in life's endeavours.

For example, at the beginning of the Obitun ceremony celebrated for puberty initiation performed by the Ondos for girls prior to marriage, the girls involved will have the Aje near them or that of their relation who is an Opoji worshipped on their behalf.

The usual materials for the Aje rites are kolanut and cold water (Ugba Omi Titu) in local parlance, elo (marched yam without palm oil) among others.
Apart from this private worship of the Aje, which is usually around November, precisely on the eve of Odunmoko, a special outing for each Opoji with her Aje. This is called Odun Aje, a unique outing for the women Chiefs to perform publicly the worship of their Aje to seek fortune and favour, not only on themselves, but also on the entire kingdom, including the Oba, Chiefs and all his subjects.

The Aje ceremony in Ondo kingdom also involves the Udoko priest Chiefs whose duty it is to perform the rites on the Aje to seek for success and prosperity in the entire kingdom.

*Watch out for the concluding part!

Friday, 20 January 2017

Festivals Celebrated Every Year In Mexico

Day of the dead celebrates the spirits of the deceased.

While Cinco de Mayo may be the most known Mexican celebration in the United States, major festivals with political and religious significance in Mexico are far more important. Festivals combine early American Indian culture, Spanish influences and Mexican sensibilities of the country's citizens.

Cinco de Mayo

Cinco de Mayo, celebrated more in the United States than Mexico, honors the date in 1862 when Mexican soldiers defeated the French army in Puebla, preserving the country's nascent democracy. Emperor Napoleon III's intent in sending the army was to replace Mexico's government with a monarchy that supported France. Celebrations in Puebla include lectures, concerts and cultural programs in the days before May 5. On the 5th, the Mexican army, joined by costumed residents, leads a parade. One Mexico City neighborhood settled by descendents of the original soldiers holds a daylong celebration with a street party and parade.

Las Dias de los Muertos

Observed on November 1 and 2, Las Dias de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebrates the spirits of deceased relatives with music and feasts. Originally observed for the entire month of August, the dates changed when Spaniards attempted to Christianize the celebration. Children are remembered on November 1 and adults on the next day. Participants decorate altars where offerings of food are placed. Fresh flowers adorn cemeteries, and family members gather for a festive reunion. In rural Mexico, family members leave gifts for the dead at the cemetery and prepare a feast of the deceased's favorite foods.

Las Posadas

Las Posadas re-creates Mary and Joseph's search for a room at an inn. The festival begins on December 16, when a man and a woman portraying Joseph and Mary lead a procession of the Magi, shepherds and children dressed as angels. The group goes from house to house searching for a room but are turned away until they reach a designated home where they are welcomed. People gather for a party, and a doll is left at the home to be picked up by the next night's participants. The festival goes on each night until Christmas Eve, when it is followed by midnight Mass.

El Grito de Independencia

Mexicans celebrate El Grito de Independencia, or Independence Day, on September 16. The date marks the 1810 start of the 10-year war for independence with Spain. Re-enactments take place in village and city plazas, and homes and business are decorated with the national colors: green, white and red. Vendors sell souvenirs, and food stands offer Mexican food and drink. People gather in the plaza the night before the celebration, wearing indigenous dress, and bands perform traditional Mexican music. The party continues until 11:00 p.m., when an individual, typically a local government official, arrives to declare independence. Fireworks displays mark the beginning of El Grito de Independencia.

Thursday, 19 January 2017

Sao Tome Principe Holidays and Festivals

Although Saõ Tóme has a rich and diverse culture, there are not many festivals to this effect. However, there are many public Saõ Tóme and Príncipe holidays which travelers should take note of, such as Independence Day, which celebrates the nation's hard-fought sovereignty, and Labor Day, which commemorates all of the workers who have made the country great. On these days, the country generally shuts down and public amenities are closed.

International Workers' Day

International Workers' Day, or Labor Day as it is locally known, takes place on May 1 every year. This public holiday is marked by events celebrating the historic International Labor Movement, the development of trade unions in the country (which fight to protect workers' rights), and the contribution of every worker to the nation that São Tomé has become today.

Independence Day

On July 12, São Tomé e Príncipe celebrates the attainment of full sovereignty from the colonial rule of the Portuguese. This public holiday is filled with displays of tradition and culture in many different cities. Travelers can expect to see musical performances, dance shows, and theatrical interpretations of the centuries during which the region was a colony.

Argel Accord Day

Every year on November 26, São Tomé celebrates the national holiday of Argel Accord Day. Prior to the nation being granted independence, the Argel Accords―which promised to grant sovereignty―were signed in Portugal. These accords came about from the actions of Portuguese civil society against the then dictatorial government. Argel Accords Day then not only commemorates the signing of these historical documents, but the efforts of the Portuguese people who fought for the freedom of Portuguese colonies around the world.

Christmas Day

São Tomé has a large Christian population, accounting for about 80 percent of people in the country. Understandably then, Christian religious holidays like Christmas Day on December 25 are a big deal. Christmas marks the birth of the Christian messiah Jesus. The day is celebrated by going to mass and the enjoyment of feasts with friends and family. The day has taken on a cultural aspect as well as it is considered a non-working day and most people in the country, religious or not, partake in the festivities.

*culled from iexplore.com.

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

GELEDE (Concluding Part)

The cloth of the mask itself functions as a measure of the owner's prestige. Since Yoruba myths connect nakedness with craziness and infancy, the more numerous the layers of cloth (which conceal nakedness) translates into a greater respect and wealth for the family who owns the costume. In addition, the elaborate textures and color between cloth layers are necessary in order to have the masker experience a "transformation." This transformation is what the Yoruba call a "miracle" – it involves the dancer completely changing the look of his costume by slipping the material 'inside out'. This is a physical part of the dance, where the dancer actually torques his body so violently that the material layers flap to show different layers of fabric, all brilliantly colored or patterned to captivate and excite the audience. The physical stamina this requires is tremendous, yet the "miracles" are performed continuously and with vigor on each occasion.

The egungun mask, given its intimate ties with ritual dancing and drumbeat, is literally impossible to appreciate behind a glass in a museum. The sterile evironment subtracts the natural festive atmosphere that gives the costume its motion and magic. Yet there is the opportunity in a museum to closely scrutinize the different layers that make up the costume. The first feature, worn next to the skin, is the undersack, made of aso oke, which is an indigo and white stripcloth. That sack, plus face netting for the face and hands, helps to completely disguise identity. Over the aso oke comes various layers of lappets, which create what researchers have named a 'breeze of blessing" when whirled about. To add even more beauty (and thereby, power) all kinds of sequins, patterns and amulets (which often hold protective medicines) also adorn the costume.

The egungun costume fits perfectly as the medium for the masker's communion with his ancestors, mainly because the transience of the colors that fly around are reminiscent of the transience of terrestrial life in the face of the eternal and continuous world of the spirits. Only men do the actual masking, but women do participate in the ritual dances by singing 'praise poems.' The style of each performance showcases the innovative freeform dancing of the performer in accordance with the drum-beats and the noise around him. A complete mastery of the egungun performance will make illusion into a reality of its own, by embellishing and transforming it through dance. Reference to origin myths is constant, bringing the past events of the given mythical story into vibrant reality once again. 

There is kind of a gentle fusion of worlds – the past never truly dies just as the ancestors never truly leave the world of the living to completely fend on their own.

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

The Deity Called Oke (Mountain)

Oke, mountain, or hill, is the god of Mountains, and is worshipped by those who live in mountainous or rocky country. If neglected, he is apt to roll down huge masses of rock upon the habitations of those who have been forgetful of his wants, or to sweep them away by a landslip. When any great mishap of this nature occurs, a human victim is offered up to turn away his anger. The falling of boulders or detached pieces of rock is always considered the handiwork of Oke and a sign that something is required. The emblem of Oke is a stone or fragment of rock. He is one of those who sprang from Yemaja.
At Abeokuta there is a rocky cavern in which Oke is worshipped. It is popularly believed by the other tribes that the Egbas, when defeated in war, can retire into this cavern, which then hermetically seats itself till the danger is past.

Monday, 16 January 2017

Pastimes and Childhood Games

Hopscotch – Every Nigerian remembers the game of hopscotch from growing up. Hopscotch is an age-old children's game based on the principle of not treading on lines. In Nigeria it is known as 'suwe'. The diagram is drawn in sand, and a stone or a ball of crushed leaves is used as a marker. The rules resemble those in the German game of Hinkspiel. In suwe, if the player's stone is tossed on a line, he/she is out of the game. At the end of the game, the players make drawings in each of the squares. The game is quite unisexual – it is not uncommon to find young boys in primary and junior secondary schools playing alongside their female peers.

Fire on the mountain – Children are arranged into two concentric circles, one with one more member than the other. Upon a signal they begin to run in opposite directions singing "fire on the mountain, run, run, run" until the whistle is blown – "fire is up!" Then each player endeavours to secure a partner from the other circle. The player left without a partner is penalised to do some stunts or asked to squat in the centre of the circle. The elimination process continues until one pair is left, who are then declared the winners. This game has various indigenous names across Nigerian cultures.

Who picks the flag first – Two teams of children play this game. The children are grouped into two equal and parallel formations opposite each other. Children from the opposing teams are paired to numbers, two children per number. An umpire then stands at a distance holding up a flag or cloth. The umpire begins to call numbers. The two children paired to that number begin to run towards the flag. While running, each child is to ensure that he/she is not touched by his/her opponent while they race towards the flag. The player that does not succeed in picking up the flag or that is touched by the other player before returning to his domain (where other teammates are) is thus 'captured' by the other team. The game continues in this manner until all of one team's players are 'captives'. This game has various indigenous names across Nigerian cultures.

Akokoro – This is played by two people (usually boys) using a small snail shell or soft metal sheet shaped like a snail shell. One of the players spins the shell/cone and while it is spinning swipes it or 'cuts' it with a sweeping stroke of the finger to make the base of the cone land flat on the ground. The winning player is usually the player who can successfully make the base of the cone land flat. Unless the cone lands in this manner, a player is unsuccessful. When a player has achieved this feat and the other has not, the player who fails offers his hand to the winning player for a 'strike' – the winner uses the cone to forcefully hit the back of the loser's hand. The game is also known as Okoto.

Ayo – This is played by two players on a rectangular carved board with 12 round pits, 6 on each side. 48 small seeds are shared in fours into each of the 12 holes. Each player takes turns to move seeds from the pits on his side of the board and strives to win more than half the seeds to win the game. The game helps to enhance the quantitative ability of the players as success depends a lot on logic and one's ability to count correctly and manipulate numbers. It is played widely throughout Nigeria. The Ebira people call it Igori.

Ten Ten – In playing this game, girls stand facing each other clapping their hands and moving their legs to a rhythm. The aim of each girl during the game is to ensure that she does not raise the leg directly facing the other girl – which means it is okay for a girl to raise a left leg when the other raises a right leg. Once a girl raises the wrong leg, the other girl scores a point.

Ta lo wa ninu ogba naa? – To play this game, the children form a circle. One of the players stands outside the circle while those players in the circle sing 'ta lo wa ninu ogba naa,' which literarily means in Yoruba 'who is in the garden?' When the song ends, the player outside the circle chooses any of the players in the circle to replace him/her before joining the others in the circle.

Why not draw some lines and remember how it felt to be a child!

Sunday, 15 January 2017

10 COLOURFUL FESTIVALS IN NIGERIA

7. Carniriv

For seven days, few weeks before Christmas in the city of Port Harcourt, The Port Harcourt Carnival which combines two carnivals;  a contemporary Caribbean style carnival and a cultural carnival changes the 'Garden City to become very colourful. Carniriv is Rivers State's biggest tourism export.

8. Ofala Festival

The Ofala Festival is held in Anambra State where the Obi of Onitsha, Dr Alfred Nnaemeka Achebe and traditional rulers who are adorned in their red caps and royal regalia with their traditional staffs paint the whole place red with their parades and display of affluence and power.

9. Argungu Fishing Festival

You may have experienced some fascinated water activities around the world but if you have not been to Argungu fishing festival, your list may not be complete. The alluring dynamics of the festival, the exciting spectators, and the anxious competitors who are ready to jump inside the river to begin their search for the biggest fish make this fishing festival extraordinary and beautiful.

10. New Yam Festivals

One festival that is celebrated around the country is the New Yam Festival; from the Leboku in Ugep, Cross River State to the Iriji-Mmanwu festival in Enugu State, the festival is celebrated in pomp and cultural display. Hundreds of masquerades, dancers in beautiful attires, acrobatic displays and fetish activities make it one festival that you should not miss.

So, with these colourful festivals in their full swings, it seems like a good time to pack your bags and visit Nigeria to experience some of these cultural festivals. Let us know what your favourite festivals are;

*culled from travelstrat.com

Friday, 13 January 2017

10 COLOURFUL FESTIVALS IN NIGERIA

3. Lagos 
Carnival

This is just so colourful. Like the Calabar Carnival but slightly different, Lagos Carnival is one of the most vibrant parties in Nigeria. You can feel the excitement in the air even before the carnival kicks off yearly. Revellers are seen travelling from different parts of the world to experience this carnival. You can join in the fun of the Carnival. Make new friends and share those memorable moments with family and friends.

4. Osun Festival

We leave the comfort of the bustling city life to experience one of the most regarded cultural festivals in Nigeria.  It usually takes place in the month of July and August every year. Off to the Sacred Forest of Osun, in a one week colourful festival to honour and reverence the river goddess, Oshun of Osun State, people come here to get their solutions to their problems.

5. Sango Festival

Pretty much experience for anyone who has ever come to Sango Festival, this festival is in the honour of Sango the all powerful god in Yoruba land. This festival has facilitated an annual home-coming avenue for Yoruba descents in the Diaspora as a form of pilgrimage. It brings back the past history and celebrates the culture and tradition of the people, while creating wealth and employment for the people.

6. Ojude Oba Festival

Ojude Oba festival is a cultural heritage that is woven from threads of diversity, history, legend and conquest. 'The King's front year' is the literal meaning of Ojuda Oba. The people of Ijebu Ode return en masse to pay their homage to the king, the Awujale of Ijebuland. This takes place on the third day of the Ileya Festival, (Eid-el-Kabir). This festival includes parades, traditional songs, equestrian skill display and lots more.
*watch out for the concluding part!!!

Thursday, 12 January 2017

The Story of Abeokuta


The story of Abeokuta, the abode of the Egbas (and Owus), started with their liberation from the sovereignty of the Alafin of Oyo Empire, to which the Egbas had belonged.

The Liberation took place between 1775 and 1780, under the leadership of Lisabi, a resident of Igbehin who was born in Itoku. He organized an insurgent movement disguised under the name of Egbe Aaro Tradition Mutual Aid Society.

Lisabi later used the society to free the Egba by organizing the simultaneous killing of the Ajeles or Ilaris in all Egba settlements in 1780, starting from Igbehin. In all, more than 600 llaris or Ajeles were wiped out in one day. Ilaris were the representatives of the Alafin of Oyo and collectors of the tributes paid to the Alafin from all territories under the dominion of Oyo Empire.

The Ajeles or Ilaris generally behaved like an Army of Occupation in the places they administered. Their tyrannical rules marked them out as instruments for the oppression and suppression of the people. It was this authoritarian rule of the Alafin and reckless lifestyle of the Ilaris in Egbaland that resolved Lisabi and his peers to bring an end to the evil.

The adoption of the universally popular Aaro system of cooperative by the Egbe Ologun (Arms Bearers Club) of Lisabi was the strategy he used to plot against the Ilaris in his Igbehin town. All the other Egba towns rose and killed the Ilaris in their midst in an almost simultaneous coordination!
As soon as the news reached metropolitan Oyo the Alaafin wasted no time in dispatching an Army to crush the Egba rebellion.

This was already anticipated in the Lisabi plan and the Oyo army of vengeance was routed and the freedom of the Egbas established. This episode occurred between 1775 and 1780 in the Egba forest.

This unity and cooperation among the numerous Egba forest settlements was very short lived, their lack of cooperation and unified direction later resulting in their being completely routed at the advent of the Yoruba Wars triggered at Apomu market near Orile Owu.

Much later around 1829, Lamodi of Igbehin and Balogun of the Egbas living in Maye's camp in Ibadan, decided that the Egbas should escape from Maye's bondage. The Egbas had heard about Abeokuta in their quest for a place to settle in. They sent Chief Sobookun, the Baamokun of Ilugun, and others to bring a handful of earth from there for divination, and the result was propitious.

The first batch to arrive in Abeokuta consisted of Egba Alake, Oke Ona, and Gbagura, in that order. Later, Olufakun led Owu to Abeokuta, while others soon followed.
(NOTE: It is known that an Owu-Apomu warrior by the name of Sangojimi Gudugba and his group were also at the head of that pioneering refugee team from Ibadan led by Sodeke).

Lamodi lost his life in battle at a river crossing while trying to prevent his first son, Osota, from being captured by Maye's army, who were pursuing the Egba. Sodeke, the Seriki of the Egbas succeeded him and in 1830 led the Egba Alake into Abeokuta. Balogun Olunloye, the Balogun Ilugun led Ogba Oke-Ona while Oluwole Agbo, Balogun Ojo Gbagura led the Gbagura to Abeokuta.
An Itoko chief named Idowu Liperu had earlier been living at the settlement. He had crossed the Ogun River and settled on a farmland where three hunters by name Jibulu, Ose and Olunle joined him. Unlike, Liperu who erected a house with the assistance of the then Olubara Lafa the three hunters lodged in caves under the Olumo Rock. They had earlier assisted Sobookun to retrieve the soil samples from around the Olumo Rock.

Later, Adagba and others moved to the rock to join Liperu and the three hunters, who had settled there. Adagba was a brave man who had his farmland located very close to the rock. The settlement was called Oko Adagba, the initial name of Abeokuta. Olumo means 'built by the Lord' – its naturally furnished apartments being its caves! Another interpretation of Olumo is 'Oluwa Fimo' meaning God puts an end to the hostility against the Egbas. 

Abeokuta is also known as 'Abe Olumo' – a settlement under the rock.
Between 1830 and the turn of the century, the settlers in Abeokuta were forced to fight several wars mostly for the survival of the emerging settlement. In 1832, the Ijebu Remo people provoked the new settlers into taking arms against several Ijebu Remo towns in the Owiwi war. In 1834, an attempted Ibadan invasion also challenged them into a war which resulted in the heavy defeat of the Ibadan army at the Battle of Arakanga which manifested the potency and indispensability of the warriors of the Owu settlers who had only recently been convinced by Sodeke to settle with them in order to boost the new settlement's defences!

In 1842, the settlers took the offensive against the Ota people in order to ensure free movement through Ota territory on their route to Lagos for firearms. This led to another war in 1844 when they attacked Ado under the Owu war general, Gbalefa, for assisting the Ota people two years earlier. The same year, the Dahomeans, under King Gezo, invaded Abeokuta but were repulsed. The Dahomey army repeated the invasion in 1851 and suffered the devastating defeat of their largely female 'Amazon' warriors who were pursued all the way to the outskirts of their kingdom!

In 1849, Abeokuta attacked Ibarapa for waylaying the Egba in their territory. Among other wars fought by Abeokuta were the Ijebu-Ere War in 1851, and the Ijaye War of 1860-1862, and the Makun War of 1862-1864, as well as a few others. In most of these encounters, they emerged victorious – although they suffered their own reverses in some as well.

After the demise of Sodeke, Abeokuta had no leader for quite a number of years. The administration of the town was left in the hands of chiefs like Ogunbona the Balogun of Ikija, Okukenu the Sagbua of Ake, Somoye the Seriki, who later became Bashorun in succeeding Apati, Bada of Kemta, and others.

The Egbas in an effort to reunite from this leadership fractionalization elected to install an Oba, and the lot fell on Okukenu, the Sabua of Ake and head of Egba Ogboni cult. An industrious woodcarver, he was installed the Alake of Ake on August 8, 1854.

A few months later in 1855, the first Olowu in Abeokuta, Oba Adeyanju Pawu from the Otileta Royal lineage was also crowned!

The above were culled, refined, and edited from articles posted on historical sites.

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

10 COLOURFUL FESTIVALS IN NIGERIA

EYO Masquerade 
There is no better way to explore and experience Nigeria's rich cultural heritage than joining in the colourful celebration at the cultural festivals. With a lot of inimitable cultural festivals for you to choose from; the Africa's biggest street party in Calabar, the worship of the goddess Oshun in the Sacred Forest of Osun, or witnessing the stunning white Eyo masquerades and lots more, we have selected 10 colourful cultural festivals in Nigeria that would blow off your mind; you can plan your next trip to Nigeria to revel at one of these colourful festivals.

1. Eyo Festival

Witness one of the most unique and fabulous celebrations in Nigeria. Some people called it the Adamu Orisha Play, a Yoruba festival that transforms the commercial Lagos Island to be stunning white. It attracts thousands of tourists from around the world who come to see costumed dancers or masquerades called 'Eyo' who perform during the festival. The processions are colourful and a lot of major roads are closed. It is strongly believed that Eyo Festival is a forerunner of the world biggest carnival in the world, the Rio de Janeiro Carnival.

2.  Festivals are an irresistible part of Cross River. They are a celebration of tradition and the ways of life of the many different communities.
Celebrations and dances are an integral part of our customs and traditions—
nowhere else in Nigeria will you find such rich diversity.
Every ritual and dance communicates and teaches something important. These festivals help to reinforce the values that keep our communities together and proudly celebrate their identity.

Calabar Festival
Calabar Festival 

Held from the end of November to the end of December, the Calabar Festival is undisputedly the biggest and longest multi-dimensional, multi-faceted tourism leisure and entertainment programme in West Africa. Thirty-two days of exciting events, colourful activities and unprecedented. No festival can ever beat this Calabar Festival when it comes to amazing performances. This is the celebration of creativity and culture that blends with both the traditional and modern lifestyle of the people of Cross River State. The long feathered headdresses, the colourful costumes, the mesmerizing dancers and dance steps, the street parades and the bands attract thousands of people to it.
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