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Okija community bans masquerade

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OKIJA community held masquerade in utmost reverence. Traditional masquerades appear openly at specific period of the year and play prominent roles during celebration of cultural festivals but today, the fear of masquerade has become a problem in Okija, Ihiala Local Government Area as masquerades have turned themselves into terror to residents and non- residents living in the town.

Speaking in his palace,  Ubahu Okija, HRM, Igwe Emeka Okezie (Okaije Okija  11)  said that in the past, masquerades were regarded as the means of maintaining peace and order and were primarily used as law enforcement agent, noting that the whole village would come out for the ceremony of the colourful masquerades.

He added that masquerades would  walk up to certain individuals and loudly expose any bad habits, crime , or misbehaviour of such persons people would always take corrections from these exposures , that the masquerades were effective in keeping up with the traditional norms and values in the community. But today, masquerades have turned themselves to terrors at market places, roads, packs and other public places in the town.

Igwe Okezie stated that Okija had banned masquerade in the community till further notice and has set up committee on masquerade affair that will guide the masking of masquerade and urged those involve in masquerades to obey the rules and regulations guiding  masquerade in the community.

Also speaking, the committee chairman on masquerade, Chief Sylvester Obiako said that  masquerade has been a source of peace  and entertainment but these days, what is happening in Okija is different, people are being terrorised .”people don’t go to work and their business activities any longer.

Palace secretary, Sylvester Mmadu disclosed that masquerades are held in accordance with the community native calendars during festivals, burial rites and social gatherings and they respect people and perform exclusively but it is no longer the way it used to be noting that men and women have become victims of masquerade in Okija. He added that they collect tolls from motorist and have their vehicles damaged, passengers attacked.

Women were beaten by masquerades and  those involved were turning the masquerade activities into cult group.

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