It was a fulfilling moment for some youths of Uzairue clan in Etsako West Local Government Area of Edo State when they were officially initiated into adulthood by elders of the area, Daily Trust Saturday reports.
The Onoshoize age grade of Ikabigbo, one of the 21 communities in Uzairue Clan in Etsako West LGA of Edo State, recently initiated its youths into adulthood.
The young boys and girls of the age grade, numbering over 60, thronged the initiation arena on December 27, 2022, to celebrate their transition to adulthood.
The initiation, based on Daily Trust Saturday’s findings, enables the young men and women to sit with the elders at the community square and chief’s palace to discuss issues.
The tradition, it was gathered, bestows on the newly inducted young men and women a sense of responsibility and recognition by the community.
The age grade consists of young men and women born within a period of three or four years.
It was learnt that when the tradition started several decades ago it was the responsibility of parents who brought their first sons to the palace and the chief and elders admitted them into an age grade.
However, this was said to have changed in the late 80s when the process of constituting the age group was now done by the youths themselves based on playgroups and years in school, but it still does not exceed the period of between three or four years and subject to the acceptance of the elders.
On the initiation day, the young men and women file behind their chosen father (guardian) in a procession amid drumming, singing and praises of the celebrants to the traditional ruler for royal blessing and prayers, as well for a traditional name for the age grade to be pronounced by the traditional ruler.
On December 27, 2022, the age-grade also visited the homes of the four most elderly men in the community to seek prayers for a successful initiation before moving to the traditional ground for the initiation.
An Uzairue Clan elder, Mallam Usman Egbakhime Bello, noted that the tradition conferred on the age grade responsibility and recognition by the elders and the traditional ruler.
He explained that: “The manhood ceremony has been in existence in the community for over a century. Once you perform the initiation, you would be recognised as a full-grown man and be given responsibilities.
“The youths cannot reject whoever is brought to the age grade by their parents. If they reject anyone admitted by the traditional ruler and the elders, such rejected youths would be admitted into the age grade ahead of them and would automatically become their senior in the village.”
He noted that it was in the late 80s that women were introduced into the age grade, noting that the women held separate meetings and would only join their male counterparts during initiation.
He further said, “On the initiation day, the age graders appear in the same attire, beads, red cap and horse tails and begin a procession from their chosen father’s house and move around the entire community, visit the palace, as well as houses of four elderly men, to seek prayers and blessings from them.
“The males line up behind their ‘father’ during the procession while the women do so behind them with their chosen mother, and upon completing the procession, they move to the initiation arena where a musician is waiting to entertain them.
“They later dance with friends and relatives who spray them with money, but the event doesn’t exceed 4:30pm.”
Last December, the traditional ruler of the community, Chief Braimah Alegeh, while naming the age grade in his palace, prayed for the successful initiation and prosperity of the members and the community.
He said, “You are the first age grade to be initiated since I was crowned as the traditional ruler of the community. Your name is Onoshioze (one chosen by God) and as you are going to the initiation ground you would come out successfully without any harm.
“Today, you are now recognised in the community as adults, you can now sit with the chief and elders in the palace, discussing community affairs and any responsibility that can be assigned to you. I pray for long life and prosperity for the age grade and the entire community.”
On his part, the father of the age grade, Bashir Usman, commended the traditional ruler and the elders for their prayers and their support towards the success of the initiation.
One of the age graders, Hamza Usman, said they were happy that they were now qualified to sit with the elders at the community square and the chief’s palace to discuss issues affecting the community.