Are you from Edo state and you’re planning to know more about your culture, or a Nigerian/ African that is researching on the Nigerian/African culture? Well, you’ll now have to worry less as this is one added and vital knowledge about Edo state/ Nigeria/Africa that is coming to you!
The Agbe ceremony is a ceremony celebrated in Afaso (pronounced as Afasho) community in Edo North where a farmer is given the Agbe title to acknowledge his farming prowess. This title is specifically given to farmers and it is celebrated with yam, mainly water yam.
I witnessed the third phase of the ceremony which has five phases. In this ceremony, Doctor John Idemode, a lecturer in Auchi polytechnic was taking a title for his younger brother, that is, he is adding his younger brother to the titled men in the community which according to the Dr. is presently four.
To get to this stage, the farmer has to plant yam, harvest and ensure that he has 72 colons on yam in his barn. The height of the barn has to be the size of the farmer, so his hard work will be highly dependent on his height and the kind of yam he cultivates. If he’s tall and the yam he cultivates are small pieces, then his work will be more, but if the yams are big, then less yam will make up the colons in the barn.
After harvesting, he’ll send 21 best tubers of yam to the eldest man amongst the titled men in the community. He will send 7 choice tubers to the oldest man in the community and also the chief of the community, where the chief will later send words to the farmer, acknowledging receipt of the yam.
The next stage is followed by a town crier announcing the title that will be taken the next day, which I was fortunate to attend:mrgreen:, where there will be distribution of yam to the titled men in the community, and also to other guests present in the occasion. The idea of distribution is not for them to eat it, but for the purpose to farming to continue and spread with these guests.
Speaking to Dr. Idemode, he gave a brief insight to the ideology behind this ceremony, informing us that as a culture that doesn’t promote stealing, which also believes that it is the hand that shows your greatness, they work with the world’s best resources which is your hand and the soil, and on this day, a farmer appreciates God for blessing the work of his hands. The farmer calls people to celebrate with him, and also in his own little way help aspiring farmers who lacks the produce (Yam) to farm, but has interest in it. To this community, farming and agriculture in general is the salvation for fighting hunger and they encourage the tradition so that the youths don’t start acting irresponsible and lying around lazy.
This to me is an interesting ceremony, and it still being practiced is a good way to preserve it. According to Dr. Idemode, his father ensured that he took his title before he went further for his Masters programme which was in 1983 as his father believed that he might not come back to take his Agbe title after going further in education, therefore in his own words “seeking the Western knowledge and finding foolishness”.
Dr. Idemode pleads that government should seek for ways to bring back the culture of agriculture in Nigeria. Not just saying it, but leaders that youths can look up to as role models because farming is not a dirty job, rather it is what Africans are known for… Communal living, where we live together for the peace and well being of others. Farmers are reducing because the culture is being looked down on, so ceremonies like Agbe is a good forum to empower the youth by encouraging diversified economy and educated youths can find their ways back to the farm.
The ceremony was quite an interesting one, and since I love hearing about the African culture, especially those ones that forms us, I couldn’t help but be in awe of this learned doctor who education hasn’t blinded, but has better opened his eyes to the beauty that lies in the African culture, just like it should to every learned African.
I had my fun, took yams home, though I can’t farm because I have no land, so the story of my yams will end in my stomach, so sad but true. The next phase will be the faaji phase where it will be PYVP all the way! In case you missed it, i meant Pounded Yam Very Plenty!
So I urge every African today, let’s not allow knowledge to make us foolish and loose the essence of who we are in our quest to become “civilized”, let’s take that knowledge to know and understand our culture better, because we can’t really grow if we don’t accept who we really are.
Talk to you guys more on Agbe ceremony after I’m done with the final phase of the ceremony where by God’s grace I’ll be eating pounded yam and one of Edo State’s delicious soup, preferably Groundnut soup.😍