AN INVESTIGATION INTO PUBERTY INITIATION OF YOUNG GIRLS INTO WOMANHOOD
This project investigated into puberty initiation of young girls into womanhood in Ikpemeri, Akoko Edo Local Government Area of Edo State. The scope of the study was within the Okpemeri people in Akoko-Edo Local Government Area. The findings have shown that there is negative effect on the initiation of young girls into womanhood in Okpemeri. This is because these affect the education of the girls. Some may choose ceremony. The research instrument used included questionnaire, and oral interview. The population of study was for 50 respondents. The study, also prepared some solution to alleviate the identified problems.
TABLE OF CONTENT
Table of content
Background of the study
Statement of problem
Significance of study
Scope of study
Limitation of study
Definition of term
Administration and collection of data
Population of the study
Analysis and Presentation of Data
BACKGROUND STUDY, PHYSICAL AND HISTORICAL DESCRIPTION OF OKPEMERI
“Okpemeri” is a term, which denotes oneness in other words the term “Okpemeri” means “we are one” the group of people “Okpemeri” who are identified with this name are those that sphere the same cultural historical and linguistic attributes the towns are situated in the northern part of Edo State specially in Akoko Edo Local Government Area. The towns are:
The languages of these twenty-two communities are quite similar, hence the term “Okpemeri” was been adapted to represent all that the communities stand for. Among the various ceremony and festivals of the communities the initiation of young girls into womanhood is one of the most important. This ceremony is generally called “Oviliok”. The term ovilivia represent the initiated. This festival takes place once a year in each of the villages mentioned above. Ovilivia is a festival of initiation of young girls of marriageable age into womanhood. It is a revered culture, which upholds the moral purity of the “Okpemeri” communities. That the festival has to do with both morality and religion is only to be expected. According to Idowu in his book the “sociology of education (1978)” said “morality is basically the first of religion and that to begin with, it depend upon it”. The ovilivia festival is not a festival of mass wedding rather, it is a festival which declare young women mature, qualified and old enough to marry. In some areas initiating maidens could be interms of circumcision but the “Okpemeri”, it is not so. During the ceremony, young girls are decorated with “Elopo” (beads), which is worn round the waist, her neck and hands to identify that they are undergoing the festival. This could also serve as a medium to show that they are eligible for marriage. The parent distributes sugar, Ahu (local beer brewed at home). There is also the shooting of guns to signify that there is a festival going on. (J. O. Odutola, 1963) in terms of customs during the Olivia festivals the maidens usually dressed with Ojah (woven cloth) tied around their waist but decorated with beads and bangles both on their hands and necks. They are led to the market square by the age women in the villages where there are cultural groups dancing to entertain them. However the Ovilivias also partake in the cultural dance as they get to the scene. This was always accompanies by ovation of spectators from almost all the villages in “Okpemeri”. Later the chief of one of then villages in “Okpemeri” comes and perform the necessary rites and from there, dancing and singing continues. During this time suitors come out and seek for their future partakers, when this is done, they make their intention known to the girls parents who reject or accepts the suitors.
The origin of “Ovilivia” festival is like the origin of the other aspects of the culture of Okpemeri people, which is last in antiquity of the past. However, there are too speculation about the origin of the festival. The first speculation is that perhaps the festival first started several years ago as a nuclear family affair when the communities had evolved and had became tolerable stable after the migration era of the evolution of the communities. As a result of the importance of classify in the festivals, it is speculated that worried mother might have been forced to consult oracle due to rumour which spread among the suitors of their daughters that their were not faithful, [perhaps such a rumor was scaring many suitors away from their daughters. The worried mothers who then consulted the oracle will be told a different story. The parent who felt highly elated by this discovery, then regretted with their daughters. As a result of this development, many men were then encourage to seek the land of this lady in marriage and the lady made her choice to prepare her (probably named Ovilivia) for her future role as a wife. The mother gave her more training, perhaps this yielded nice results that encouraged more families to organize the same type of festivals for their spinsters’ daughters as their conveniences, the festivals then gradually grew from a family to kindred, then clan and finally communities’ affairs.
The second speculation is that perhaps the Okpemeri people borrowed this idea from Owo and Benin, two of the communities that the people came in contact with during their immigration from Ile-ife to their present location. In Owo a similar female initiation festival into womanhood called “Igogo” festivals is being organized. However, one thing to not about the origin of the festivals has been its colour with religious outlook. Like most African cultured groups, religious form the foundation and governing principle of life for the Okpemeri people. Religion permits their lives so much that it expresses itself in multifarious ways it forms the theme of songs, folklores.
Culture and tradition of many areas in Nigeria have not being given the benefit of documentation again mush has not been known on woman initiation. Specially in this area of the world. Modern girls see their festivals as being barbaric in the sense that the exposure of there bodies which is part of their virtue too in human. This also affects the academic performance in the school in the sense that the girl will be shy to go to the school the following day. This is because her opposite sex who is in the same class will tease her. Sometimes some will not go to school again. Also parents of the initiated girls see this period as a period of display of wealth. In the olden days, it was moderately done. But today, the number of Elopo (beads) worn by a girl shows her parents wealth young men use this period to ridicule the young girls, this affect them psychologically as they (girls) now feel they do not anything to be proud of again.
This research is on the “initiation of young girls into women-hood” it is an attempt to document one of the most important customs of the Okpemeri. It is also an attempt to highlight the way women in this part of the country exhibit and prove their chastity before going to their manhood homes.
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