The Ogori Culture: Origin, language and festival

“Human cultural diversity is vast; the range of cultural practices, beliefs, and languages that we speak is vast.” Mark Pagel

Ogori Culture: Origin, Language and  festival

The Ogori tribe is a minor ethnic group found in the north-central of Nigeria, Kogi state. They occupy Ogori-Magongo local government, a local government that hosts the Ogori and Magongo people and is said to be the smallest local government in the state. The population of indigenous is estimated at 65,000. The local government area shares borders with Imoga, Lampese, Bekuma, Olokoto, Makeke, Ojah, Ekpedo and Ososo, all in Edo State.

Origin

The people of Ogori, or Ogorians as they are commonly called, have a history that dates back to about 700 years ago; they are believed to be a product of multiple migrations of the Yoruba; and as such, their origin is tied to the ancient home of the Yoruba lineage, Ile-Ife; they are descendants of Akinbuyi of Ile-Ife.

Language

Due to their Yoruba descent, most Ogori people are known to understand and speak Yoruba fluently, but they primarily speak a language called Oko. This language is said to have been created from various linguistic groups during the wave of migration from Ile-Ife.

Festival

The Ogori culture is rich in value and heritage; the Ogorians usually hold an annual festival called the Ovia-Osese festival, normally dated two weeks after Easter. The people of Ogori hold this festival in high esteem and has gained national and international recognition over the years. The Ovia-Osese festival is a rite of passage for young teenage girls in the land who are initiated into womanhood. This initiation is believed to promote chastity and sexual purity in the land; therefore, only teenage girls who are virgins are allowed to take part in this rite. This festival is a week-long of celebrations and festivities; the young girls are camped and taught by the Iyodina, an elder in the Ogori land. She teaches them morals of womanhood, marital and societal and cultural values. After training and certification, the Iyodina takes them to the community square for public recognition; they are dressed in colourful asooke strapped to the chest and beads adorning their heads and neck. They perform a special dance called “oke”, accompanied by chants to mourn their last time as girls as they transition into womanhood. Other features of this festival include sporting activities, cultural displays, and beauty pageantries.

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