AGBON-URHOBO FESTIVALS AND FEMALE PROHIBITIONS: A 21ST CENTURY DISCOURSEAbstract:
The Urhobo nation is endowed with several forms of traditional festivals which are celebrated periodically to preserve and promote the cultural values and heritages of the people. In this paper, we investigated the cultural reasons for the seclusion of the womenfolk from certain rituals during traditional festivals in Agbon-Urhobo communities in Delta State. The data for this study were collected through in-depth interviews of respondents that have insight into Agbon festivals and women prohibitions from certain rituals. The study adopted the purposive sampling technique which gives the researchers freedom to select respondents who have profound knowledge of traditional festivals in Agbon Clan. The interviews lasted for three days with the interviewer recording the oral data with a tape and also taking notes of respondents. The oral data obtained from the key informants were carefully transcribed and translated into the English version. Two research assistants were recruited to handle the tape recorder and take notes while the researcher asked the unstructured questions. Besides the primary data, secondary materials were consulted to substantiate the arguments and the views of the respondents from the field. The qualitative data were analyzed using descriptive and analytic methods since the information is non-numerical based. The findings show that traditional festivals in Agbon Clan are characterized with female prohibitions. Though culture is dynamic, the Agbon people still hold unto their strong cultural beliefs and practices, hence women are excluded from certain rituals during traditional festivals. Informants argue that the men serve as mediators between the living and the dead, and they also preserve and protect the cultural values and heritage of their communities. Unlike the men, the women cannot keep family or community secrets and oaths taken during traditional rites and rituals. They are regarded as “unclean” and so during festivals they could desecrate sacred places especially when they are under their menstrual period.