Izara is a festival that accomplishes the rites of circumcision all through Amo land. During the festival which lasts exactly one month, all the ancestral deities are worshipped in thanksgiving and prayers. The festival itself is usually declared open by the paramount Chief of Amo, circumcising the “Kuzur” in the presence of the members of the traditional council and a select old woman.

The whole idea of Izara is based on the universality of the rite of circumcision as on occasion for spilling human blood in battle, no more, no less. Hence during the festival, the ancestral gods are appeased by the requirement of the slaughter a big he-goat so that any child can be circumcised.

The tradition of circumcision in Amo land is pre-historic, as no one, dead or alive could ever pinpoint the exact origin of the tradition. It is believed that the gods themselves ordained the rite or circumcision as a mark of peculiarity of the people of Amo, a mark of distinction separating the Amo people from all others around them. Incidentally, many of the neighbouring polities are close relations of the Amo people, and so they also have similar traditions. The similarities of the people have been authenticated by Nengel:

In most of the societies, the transition form one age-grade to another was an important occasion celebrated with rituals, dancing with great festival. For example, with single exception of the Kono, the tradition all societies relate that the transition from either the Yara to Matasa, or from the latter to Samari was the most important event marked by the circumcision rite generally known as Kumusu.

The timing for such a historic event is almost the same for some ethnic groups. He continued:

Place after four years. Yet for many of them like the Amo, Bujel, Buji, Binawa, Chokobo, Dingi, Janji, Duguza, Kaibi, Kahugu, Kiballo, Kurama, Piti, Rukuba and Tariya, their Kumusu was regularly performed at an interval of seven years while the Jere did theirs after eight years.

However, in the traditions of Amo people, the concept of Izara is very unique and radically different from the circumcision rites of the neighbouring polities. For wheas, circumcision in other polities is simply an initiation rite, for the Amo people, it is accompanied by the Izara festival, which in essence was a period during which human beings intermingle with ancestral gods. Hence, during the month, all other cultural practices come to stop and the spirit of Izara pervaded the whole land and controlled all the activities of all Amo people wherever they happened to be. This is because it is when the Rites of Passage are performed for the cleansing and retooling of the society. It also celebrated the victory of the human spirit over forces inimical to self-extinction. It concretizes in form of action, the arduous birth of an individual or communal entity, created a new being through utilizing and stressing the language of self glorification to which human nature is healthily prone. During this period of the festival, rapport between the Amo people and the unseen deities is substantial and the whole land became the resting home of the latter. This is always done for the well being of the human community of Amo people.

The well being of the society is to come only through the circumcision, which is always accompanied by the festival and the Kagi feast. This spiritual and physical well-being can only come when rites, proceedings, and the rules of these practices are followed correctly. The breach of the rituals of these ceremonial values attracts serious communal havoc to the community. This is because this human activity is believed to be controlled by the deities, and so this practice is also repressive in nature.  Schechner and Appel have concretized this fact when they said that:

Redressive rituals include divination into the hidden causes of misfortune, personal and social conflict and illness (all of which in tribal societies are intimately interconnected and thought to be caused by the invisible action of spirit, deities, witches, and sorcerers); they include curative rituals (which may often involve episodes of spirit possession; initiatory rites connected with these rituals of affliction.

It should be realized that these mishappenings in the community is to be caused by those.

Apart from the retribution that a defaulter faces when the taboos guiding this cultural practice are broken, the society in general faces a kind of serious misfortune. It is strongly believed that after the period of Izara, the song of Izara should not be sung by any person. If this happens and the Ugo (The Chief of Amo) dreams about it, there will be deaths in the land. This is because this sacred song is sung at the wrong time. The gods will be angry and the people must pay through the death of some citizens.

The same also happens when mistakes are made by the professionals in handling the rituals of the ceremony. There are always serious misfortunes, like barrenness and death experienced by the initiates and the people in general. This is because it is a communal activity that is shared by everyone in the community. An anthropologist, Igor Kopytoff, when writing about circumcision among the Suku people of Congo has this to say:

The organizers secure the service of a professional circumciser, who must also be knowledgeable in the details of the ceremonial because mistakes are considered to expose the children to witchcraft.

It is usually a ceremony that must be handled carefully, meticulously and professionally in order to avert the problems encountered when mistakes are made.

It should be realized that Izara festival takes place after seven years; it does not really mean an initiate after being circumcised and initiated becomes an adult physically. But the moment a boy goes through these rituals, he sees himself as quite a different person and also people within the community of Amo view him as somebody who will soon take important roles in the society. Igor Kopytoff supports this assertion, when he posited that:

Though a boy’s journey into manhood is gradual and without definite landmarks as far as the learning of task is concerned, there is one point in it that represents a definite psychological and social break from the past. This is circumcision ceremony.

So, this communal event should be seen as more of an admission into the training ground of being an adult. This is because a boy that is born within the range of seven years (1-7) cannot be said to have attained adulthood or manhood simply because he has gone through circumcision and initiation. But as soon as the boy is circumcised, he begins to take roles or tasks that are really for men. This happens, especially when the initiates go through the culmination of the processes of initiation during Kagi.


Male children in Amo land are circumcised hence all of them fall under the same age group. Participation is entirely unrelated to lineage, clan or political ties. The ceremony is handled by professional circumciser who always takes instructions from Ugo (chief priest) and the members of the traditional council (especially Ugo Nizara), who are “knowledgeable in the details of the ceremonial”. This is to avert mistakes that could wreck the community.

The parents of each candidate are expected to slaughter a goat. The fore limb, Ugap and the blood, nmii, after being boiled of the goat, are taken to his (candidate’s) maternal uncles which indicates that their daughter has a male child that has been circumcised. In the case of parents with many candidates, many goats are slaughtered. During the circumcision, any Ugbari (singular) that due to fear urinates, his father is fined a fowl. No woman under whatever circumstance is allowed to be seen at the circumcision ground. Just as that of the Suku people of Congo. In the words of Igor Kopitoff:


Circumcision takes place at early dawn, and the children immediately move to a special hut that has been previously erected outside the village…….During their residence they learn various dances and songs (most of which are derisive of women) and they are exposed to systematic hazing by their elders…….the entire ceremony is believed to ensure the boy’s virility. Throughout the period of seclusion, women are strictly forbidden to approach them. Those that do so by mistake are fined by the boys.      

Circumcision or Uboon-nono in Amo is usually performed between March and April.

The skins of the goats slaughtered during the circumcision rites are tanned and kept for use during the Izara (Kumusu) festival. The circumcision marks yet another turning point in the history of male children in Amo land. It is the beginning of the process of initiation, which would be rounded up during Kagi feast that takes place in the sixth year after Izara festival. The Circumcision is the first important step toward adulthood – that is the “social and psychological break from the past” that Kopytoff talked about.


Preparation for the Performance

Immediately the segment of circumcision is over, which comes with the slaughter of he-goats for the children’s maternal uncles, the next stage is for the Chief priest to decide on the days for the public performances of Izara (dance and music). Meanwhile, the active male participants who have slaughtered goats will be tanning the latter’s skins to be used as costumes and or even regalia throughout the period of the festival. The tanned skin shorts are called Kukii and Tigalgaba. Kukii is usually worn to cover the private parts of the participants while Tigalgaba is usually placed on the former at the front.

These leather skin shorts, gotten during the circumcision, are beautifully decorated with blue, white and yellow buttons and African cowries, Ikulma. The women on the other hand wear some bunches of fresh leaves and a string –like thing called ije or tigana beside the leaves.

They also wear a headband known as litapa. The men have each, a long staff (which is also used as a body prop) called Likpuu or in Hausa, gora, gotten from a bamboo tree. This staff is usually beautifully decorated, from the top to middle of it with either the beard of a horse, known as npasi, he-goat or the tail of a cow to appear as stripes on it. In addition, to all these, is the ochre powder, nton (Koya in Hausa) which is rubbed on the staff to add artificial colour to it. The women on the other hand, use abbo (the plural for libbo or gora in Hausa or jug in English) with some seven stones in them. They shake the abbo as the song of Izara goes on. Elderly women carry along with them nnuff nikpok (mai madaci oil) or ointment obtained from the seeds of mahogany tree. The oil is poured as make-up, on the back of the men as the dance progresses.

At this stage it is expected that ntoro (local beer) will be brewed by the families of the initiates. This is because during and after the dance, this beer is usually drunk.

It is important to realize that at this stage, rehearsals are expected to be going on. But this will happen only under a serious condition. This condition being that the real musical equipments and some of the props (like staff, oil, jug etc) will not be used during these rehearsals. Even the costumes are not allowed to be used. Any body that acts contrary to this condition will be fined-he or she will brew local beer and will provide cocks. So, instead of using the real staff (tikpuu), they use the corn stalks and they also use the drums used by children.      



Religious Functions of Izara

Izara is always a period of rites during which people rededicate or renew their allegiance to the gods. It is more of a cleansing performance whereby the long accumulated disharmonies are taken off.

Political and Adjudicative Functions of Izara

Politically, the Amo administrative machinery is hierarchical in structure. At the top is the Omnipotent God- Kutelle. On earth, the activities of man are over seen through the Ugo Namap and Ago Kipin. This is graphically represented below:


Just as the Eggon, the Amo also believe in the existence of only one supreme God who controls the affairs of man. The person occupying the next position of power in the hierarchy is the Ugo Namap (Chief of Amo) – who is the custodian of traditions and values and he is a spiritual and father of the Amo people. The Ugo Namap performs executive, legislative and judicial duties. He deals with offences of different kinds. He performs the role of ensuring the obedience of customary laws that guide the behaviours of the   people. He passes judgment on the offenders. He is a powerful ruler in the land next to Kutelle. Though there is a yari- who is a selected middle aged man whose duty is to investigate the causes of some mishappenings in the community. But the chief of Amo is at the helm of these governmental duties. He treats offences; ranging from witchcraft, rape, disobedience, divorce etc. During Izara, his duty is seen clearly as he is the person to declare festival open.   

Izara gives political identity to the Amo people. This is because it is a period of re-affirmation of political identity of Amo as a people. It is a period in which the centrality of political authority is emphasized through out Amo land. Hence, the chief with his traditional council is the only one who has the right to declare the festival open. This demonstrates the centrality of powers in the Amo society.

The chief also has the sole right of punishing those who break or flout the taboos guiding the festival. The offender usually pays the fine of ntoro (local beer) and seven fowls.

It is used as an instrument for re-affirmation of political ties between Amo and the neighboring polities (like the Rukuba and Jere people). There is a type of Izara that Rukuba people are usually invited to come and watch. This helps in concretizing the friendly relationship between the two ethnic groups.

It is the period that a powerful ruler can make new laws for the land. At this time, the Chief of Amo exercises his control through his roles in Izara, so when he says anything, it can generally be accepted. At this period, every Amo man and woman is waiting to hear from the Chief.

It is pertinent for the duties of the members of the traditional council to be highlighted.

Ugo Nizara is the custodian of the traditions of Izara. He works hand-in-hand with the Chief of Amo during Izara festival. There are two Ugos Nizara: one in Kides and the other in Kitara regions of Amo land.

Ugo Kipin is the head of the Nchill cult. He orders the punishment of a wizard that is involved in witchcraft.

Ugo Ndina is in charge of over seeing and clearing the way or the road for the Chief and his retinue. Sometimes malevolent spirits mislead the people to a way of damnation. At times, the road may even be missing. He functions during Izara and wars. He also leads the way when the chief is attending a serious function somewhere. Though there are the Amunchi (plura) who are endowed with superhuman powers. These people can arrive at the ground of the function even before the Chief.

Ugo Nibino is in charge of another festival of millet. He declares the consumption of the millet after being dedicated to the gods. This festival is known as Unim Para.

Ugo Sokoto controls a specific village but receives direction from the Chief of Amo.

Ugo Naparan is in charge of the Amo peak (the sacred hills). He protects them against their adulteration by spirits. He is very significant during Kagi feast.

Ugo Kupara is the assistant of Ugo Naparan, who takes care of one of the sacred hills.   


There are six types of Izara performances that take place in six stages during the one month period of the festival. There are Izara Kubi, Izara Kuji,Izara Kubanaja, Ukalu Tigalgaba, Izara Nishum and Useru Tikpuu (the grand finale).

Izara Kubi is the first performance which lasts for two weeks. It takes place at an arena adjacent to the house of each member of the traditional council. Each of the two regions of Amo (Kides and Kitara) has seven members namely, Ugo Nizara, Ugo Kipin, Ugo Ndina, Ugo Sokoto, Ugo Naparan, Ugo Kupara. Each of the members will inform the chief priest (Ugo Namap) on the day the performers will come and display at his arena. Then the information will be passed to the performers. Each member, on his day, is expected to brew a large quantity of ntoro (local beer) to be served to the performers and audience.

Izara Kuji takes place for only a day. The parents of the newly circumcised initiates will brew the local beer known as ntoro naji, which is supposed to be served to old people on the arena of the event. The local beer will be shared to the old people in the two regions of Amo (Kides and Kitara) as a sign of thanksgiving to Kutelle for giving the male children who have survived circumcision.

It is important to note that this is the preliminary stage of the festival, and so the participants are expected to master the dance steps and the usage of the staff. Though some of the participants just need to recall how it is used because they have been participating in it.

Izara Kubanajana or Likpuu is historical in nature. It takes place for only a day and is done by the participants from Kitara and Kides. Historically, according to Ugo Isaac Bawa Sambo, “It is believed that the family entrusted with chieftancy (dynasty) of Amo people has its origin in the Rukuba ethnic group”. Besides, the relationship was further substantiated when the warrior, Katura, who for altruistic reason, gave out himself to the Hausas in order to save a Rukuba friend and ruler with his people. It was as a result of this that the two tribes (Amo and Rukuba) resolved to be friends.

This extension of a hand of friendship through Izara started with Ugo Doya in about 300 years ago at Kamari. This tradition continued with Doya’ sons: Ugo Sambo Doya and Miango when they came down from the top of hills to a place known as Ikawra.

Izara Kubanaja which is usually performed for the Rukuba people is always preceded by an announcement by the Ugo Nizara that the participants and some elders would go to the peak of Amo at Kamari to perform for the Chief of Rukuba and his people. The arena is usually at the foot of the peak (mountain). Sometimes it is done at Karanbana town. This performance also brings to notice that another set of children have been circumcised successfully. Not just that, it is appreciation to Kutelle (God).


Moreover, since a league was entered into between Rukuba and Amo, it has therefore become a custom that anything important within the Amo community must also involve the Rukubas.

The third stage and performance is also known as Ukalu Tigalgaba, which takes place for a day also. Ukalu Tigalgaba refers to the removal of Tigalgaba, part of costumes that are placed on the Kukii around the loin. It is not the actual removal of these leather skins, but that in the next stage which is Izara Nishum, the participants will not use them.

Izara Nishum  (Izara  of beans) is the fifth performance and stage of Izara  festival. It lasts for a day at Kides – the place of its origin. According to Isaac Bawa, that the origin of Izara Nishum  is kides because of an incident that took place at Kawam town. Usually, the participants from Kitara are expected to visit Kides to perform together. It was so because special musical instruments are expected to be used by select persons. These instruments are Kizing - zing drums and the kulantung trumpet from the house of the Chief Priest.

On a certain day of Izara Nishum, the participants from Kitara, while dancing, marched some beans plants close to the arena of the ceremony. So the people from Kides named that particular performance Izara Nishum.  So it has become a tradition that prior to the day of Izara Nishum,  the head clans and the performers will be asked to package some cooked beans meal to be served to the performers from Kitara while dancing. This is how it is usually done when it gets to the stage of Izara Nishum.

This is also the stage that draws mass audience because the Chief Priest (Ugo Namap) is expected to lead his retinue of traditional council members, participants and large number of people from Kitara to participate in the Izara Nishum.  Meanwhile, the Ugo Ndina  is to be at the front clearing the way for the Chief’s retinue. They are to travel down to Kides in a precession. On getting close to the arena of the performance at Kawam, they will stop at that point. Then the members of the traditional council from Kides will come and receive the Kitara’s participants to join the former. At this point, the tempo and the zeal in the performers are heightened because this session of it is seen as a competition between the participants from the two regions.

As soon as the Kitara participants join the Kides’, the former will be given the chance to display their dancing prowess. They are to go round for seven times. After the seventh round, the chief priest will announce the date for the grand finale (Useru Tikpuu). It is when they would be going round for seven times that beans meal would be served to them. Beans is regarded as a special meal beside the major meal – tiza (tuwo in Hausa).

  Besides the bean meal consumed, ntoro  (local beer) is also drank in celebration of this festival. This stage was regarded as the semi-final of the festival.


It is imperative to start by recognizing the beliefs guiding the performance. Just as during the circumcision rite, if the stone of any Ugbari change position the boy will die, the same happens during Izara performance. If in the course of the dance, the staff (likpuu) of a performer breaks at the middle; his son will not survive to see the Kagi feast that will come up in the sixth year to complete the initiation rites. Such a performer usually burst into a loud cry because he knows fully well the repercussion of it.

The direct translation of Useru Tikpuu,  is the collection of staff. It is during this stage of the festival that the Chief Priest (Ugo Namap) collects the tikpuu from the active actors or performers after they may have gone round in a well choreographed dance movement seven times.

This is the sixth performance and stage, which takes place on an arena at Kamari, the town of the Ugo Namap. This stage is endowed with a lot of traditional activities apart from the dance; there are usually horse racing and a display of hunting and warfare prowess by the performers using den guns.

As it has already been said, the Izara dance structure has a cyclical formation. With particular reference to the arena for Izara Nishum at Kawam and Useru Tikpuu at Kamari, the center of the cycle is occupied by a rocky platform that Ugo Namp uses for his speech.



This is followed by the drummers and the instrumentalists, who are men and few women who hold the abbo (jugs) to shake them rhythmically. The old men and women are the ones dancing next to the drummers and instrumentalists. They are weak, so a space is usually provided for them before the men because of the nature of the dance. The performers are surrounded by the numerous spectators who also participate by occasional responses to the songs. At times, some spectators intermittently join the active dancers to dance. It is really a fluid kind of performance.

  Just as it usually happens at Kawam during Izara Nishum, the same becomes of the Useru Tikpuu.  The performers from Kides will storm on the arena of the event at Kamari town in their large number in the same manner as the performers from Kitara would do during Izara Nishum.  As soon as this happens, the combined performers of Kides and Kitara will dance round for seven times, while singing the song of Izara.  The theatricality of this performance lies on the dance steps and the song. Someone sees the aesthetics in the tapping and stamping movements of the legs and also the diagonal and sideways movements of the body. The chorus is the same for the song. Two kinds of moods are expressed in such a song/music – the happy one and the sad one.

There are justifiable reasons for the performers being happy or sad on this day; one of the reasons for being happy is because of the male child that Kutelle (God) has given a performer. Not only that, but also the child is alive and he is partaking in such a long awaited traditional rites of circumcision and initiation. The performer also thanks the in – laws for giving him their daughter to be his wife; also for the reason that she has given birth to a male child who is going through the reputable rites in the land. On the other hand, those who are sad lament in the song by saying the reason for being sad. The major reason is their lack of male children or the loss of them. For instance, during the circumcision rite, parents loss their children. So these parents engage themselves in ugozu na wui (lamentation). In this case, the performers lament generally about the sad happenings in their homes. They do this in a form of dialogue with their wives or other children who are in the audience. For instance, if a performer’s child once stole something at home, the wife will calm him or tell him the reasons for that. There is usually a serious contagious effect of what the performers say in their songs in the members of the audience that makes the later cry laugh. The song takes the tone of a dirge if the performers begin to mourn the death of their loved ones. This is usually the climax of their sadness that they would wish they had the Uki nlura  (the key to the dead) – Lura  is Hades. As soon as some spectators hear this, they immediately burst into a loud cry. This is because it reminds them of their lost ones too. This goes in line with what Oladele Taiwo opines that:

The people’s beliefs and attitudes to life are embedded in their songs and so they have appropriate songs for any situation. These songs are regarded as a major activity during which people show their joy or sorrow or in the case of religious festivals, their reverence and devotion.

On the reaching the seventh round of the combined dance, the chief priest, members of the traditional council (both from Kides and Kitara) and some selected old men will pave their way to the center of the performers. The chief priest will walk to a dancer and touch him or collect his staff. Already, the attention of the dancers is on him (Ugo), so they will stop dancing immediately. Every one of them will drop his staff somewhere or give it to a familiar spectator to keep for him. It should be realized that it is not an actual collection of the staff from the performer, because these props will remain with them after the festival to be used by their old men and women as walking sticks.

The chief priest will now climb the top of the rocky platform in the center of the cycle and announce to the people (performers and spectators) the next stage or aspect which is known as Libari.  This aspect of Izara is highly dramatic in the sense that it is a show of bravery, powers and teamwork, which is done in a playful form and mood. This aspect draws mass participation as every Amo person gets involved in it except the Ugo Namap, traditional council members, the old men, non-Amo spectators and other dignitaries present.

The whole participants will divide themselves into two groups- the Kides camp and the Kitara camp. Meanwhile, there is a royal plant that must appear at the side of the Kitara camp because their side is of the royalty and of the dynasty. This plant is known as Fiqui.  At this point, it is the communal obligation of the Kides participants or camp to cut down the plant and it is also the communal duty of the Kitara group to protect and defend it, their pride. Most of the participants will be holding different kinds of local weapons harmlessly, ranging from bows and arrows, spears, swords, sticks and other participants will take recourse to leaves. In what can be described as a war-like encounter, the “warriors” from Kides will make six attempts, in a fiery mood to cut down the Fiqui, but will be prevented by the Kitara “warriors”. On the seventh attempt, the situation will become that of peaceful and harmless pandemonium. Here, participants run helter-skelter, but the Fiqui is well guarded by able-bodied men who are also spiritually powerful. Horsemen also take part in this contest.

There is something daring about this Libari. It is not that some participants cannot cut it, but the implication or repercussion for doing so is death. It takes super-human powers for someone to successfully do this. Even if this happens, it does not mean that chieftaincy title (stool) will be transferred to Kides – no; it will remain in Kitara region of Amo land.

After a while, the place will become calm and quiet. So the Ugo Namap will climb the rocky platform to thank Kutelle  and the Anta-Kune  for coming to share with their creatures and descendants, and also  for protecting the people for adhering to the rules and taboos of the traditional practices of Izara.

This closing address of the Ugo Namap will put an end to the festival – no more songs of Izara, no more dances, and no more circumcision, until another period of it approaches. Any body caught doing any of the above must face the wrath of the traditional rules and also the sanction from the people. But it is questionable these days as people continue to circumcise their boys without waiting for that time.

But this does not mean that the process of initiation has been completed until after five years when the Kagi feast will be held. The feast is usually the last lap of the initiation rites that must be observed.    


This is the last lap for the completion of the initiation rites, which takes place around March or April. As soon as the period approaches, the survivors of the circumcision of the last fives will participate in the Kagi Feast. The fathers or elder brothers of the initiates will take their children for the Kagi. They are to move in a procession according to their clans.

The first place to settle is known as Kuparan Tini. They will sit according to their clans and eat. The next place is Kupara Tipara; here, it is the same thing that will happen. Then the next and final destination for the period of seclusion and ritual is Kupara Majaka. Even the movement to this arena is itself a ritual. For instance, the first initiate walking at the front of Anan Liki clan wears a cap that is known as Udara to help him lead his brothers in the clan.                                                                                       It is the clan that the chief priest comes from. At Kupara Majaka, they will be stripped naked and their hair cut. At this moment, some leaves will be used to cover their genitals. These leaves are known as agbaw (leaves from one of the zerophytic trees). The initiates will be assembled according to their clans around a rocky platform, reminiscent of the Useru Tikpuu arena. There is already prepared concoction mixed with water in a special calabash that the chief priest brings with him. He will use some leaves of locust bean tree to dip into the concoction and sprinkle on the heads of the initiates.

Assembly of clans

A Graphical Representation of the Assembly of Clans before the Chief Priest at Kagi

He will make sure the substance touches the head of every initiate present there. Then a trumpet will be blown with the tone of Izara.

Immediately this happens every initiate will be shouldered by his father or elder brother for what is known as Libari. But this Libari is different from that of Izara festival performance. Here, the parents/brothers will run with them at once from one point to another for seven times. From there, the initiates will not be allowed to touch the ground. They will be taken home on the shoulders. Already, there are new clothes sewn for them. Meanwhile, during their stay in the jungle, no woman is allowed to see them. Any woman that does so will be fined.

If they wear these clothes, they will be taken to the palace of the chief priest for the final rite. They will assemble themselves according to their clans in front of the palace. Already, there is a big basin filled with ntoro naji (local brew for an age group).

There is a little conversation that precedes the service the Ugo does to the initiates at ntoro naji session. This conversation is among three personalities- Ugo, Ugo Naparan and Ugo Kupara. It is going to be demonstrated below:

 Ugo Namap (Chief Priest on a platform before the initiates and the spectators): Kayika. Kayika!!! (At this time everybody is quiet. He continues) Ugo Naparan duka? (“Is Ugo Naparan around?” This is because Ugo Naparan is in charge of the arena of Kagi and he is to take care of the initiates).

Ugo Naparan (Answers): Nnduku, nkwana Baba.

Ugo Namap (Continues): Ugo Naparan, none nsa vat ta? (“Have all the initiates returned?”)

Ugo Naparan (Answers): Isa vat. (“All of them have returned”. If one of them is missing or dead, he will tell Ugo Namap)

Ugo Kupara (who has been in the crowd secretly will intrude in the conversation): Kashi, Kashi, in pino munu. Inta nnuff likwok ku (“I have caught you. I have put the oil from mahogany tree”).

This is usually the conversation among these persons.

        Then the chief priest will chant certain incantation which is a prelude for him to make them sip of the ntoro. If they all have the sip, he will declare them as men and also as age group (Kuji), which has been graduated.

    At this moment, most of the initiates will have become friends- Adong-dong. It is really a day of jubilation for the initiates and their parents and the reverse for parents that lost their own. Friendship ties established during the Kagi feast lasts till death. Most of them usually invite their houses for further celebration. This is the last stage of the initiation rite and for the formation of an age group in Amo land.


Ago Kipin- Traditional council member

Abaw- Leaves

Amunci- Persons with superhuman powers


Adong-dong- Friends

Fiqui- Royal and sacred plant

Kakonto- A hut used during Kagi

Kukii- The tanned skin costume

Kulangtung- A trumpet

Kumusu- Another name for Izara

Kutelle- Almighty God

Kuzur- The initiate from the Chief’s house

Libbo- A jug

Likpuu-Bamboo stick


Npasi-Horse beard

Nton-Ochre powder

Ntoro-Locally brewed beer

Uboon-nono- Circumcision

Ugbari-An initiate

Ugap-Fore limb

Ugozi na wui- Lamentation

Uteru Kadun- Tying of mortar

                              END NOTES

John Garah Nengel  “Intergroup Relation in the Pre-colonial Polities of Kauru and Pengana Highlands, Central Nigeria”, unpublished Ph.D Thesis, Jos, University of Jos, September, 1989.

Richard Schechner, By Means of Performance. London: Wenner, Cambridge, Green Foundation for Anthroplogical Research, 1990.

Igor Kopitoff,  The Suku of South-Western Congo. Boston: Boston University Press, U.S.A. 1958.

Oladele Taiwo. An Introduction toWest Africa Literature, Australia, Thomas Nelson, 1967.

Oyin Ogunba.  Theatre in Africa. Ibadan: IbadanUniversity Press, 1970.

Ugo Isa’ac  B. Sambo.  Oral Interview at Jengre on the 29th December, 2003.

Ugo Paul Magaji. Oral Interview at Katako on the 22nd December, 2003.