Two things i want to talk about. It would interest you, Maazi Ogbonnaya.
In the early days in Afikpo, two things happened. The girls got hitched way too early and girls and women wrestled.
.when a girl is born, any family that had interests in her would go to see that newborn and do two things:
Put money in her feeding plate and give her a special bangle to wear on her wrist. This acted as an engagement or promise of sorts and an agreement among the two families to watch out for their kids.
From then on, the children grow up always in each others face as the boy would always go to help the girl’s family in their farms, get firewood and other necessities for them. He did this in the knowledge of the fact that when the time came to take his wife, he would not have to spend so much as he had already served the family. More like in the bible times.
If the children were too young to understand, it would be a family affair.
Today, there is a part of the brideprice called “ahia ozi” where the man pays for the services he did not render to the family before the marriage happens. Ussually not more than 15k anyway.
Secondly, Afikpo seems to be the only place where only girl and only woman branded wrestling matches are held.
There was the “mgba ukwu udara” in which young girls challenged each other to wrestling matches. For instance, if I quarrelled with another girl, i would invite her to the Udara tree, where we would do the quarrells with our hands. It was done during the dry season. During that time, girls would look out for their arch rivals and bring them to the wrestling match. It was as honourable as it was for men to throw a fellow girl down under the Udara tree. My grand ma once showed me where the famous tree had been. Did i imagine myself wrestling? Yes! Haha!
The young men came to the match to look for strong young women to marry. It was all fun. Unfortunately, nobody is interested in it now and its all sad!
Additionally, during the last rains of the year, young married women cleared the roads leading to the stream. This often happened when the famous “okpaa” masqurade would come out. The young, newly married women were called “nchekwa” women between ages 20 to 40 who were by every means still really young in their marriages. So, it happened that these set of women were often jealous of each other and quarrelling in the village. So instead of quarrelling in the village, they stock up and meet together while clearing the road to the stream once a year to wrestle. The okpaa masqurade would be the umpire. I was surprised would a few weeks ago while in the village one old woman said something about holding a wrestling match like that for “these young women who are disturbing the neighbourhood”
It was popularly called “mgba uzo iyi”
“Chere m na uzo iyi” was a big big threat
Just as “biakwute m na ukwu udara” was a legit invitation. Chai! I love Afikpo mehn!
I wish the wrestling still happened though.