NNABÖ: INSIGHTS ON EFIK WAR DANCE MASQUERADE
© Holyns Hogan, 2023
Definitively, Nnabö is an Efik popular ancient war [dance] masquerade that is naturally characterized by “guided violent attributes” that can extremely be fatal, ghastly or destructive if not well checked by its chieftains, law or tradition. Arguably, Nnabö behaviour is usually spiritually orchestrated by Nnabö deity (Abasi Nnabö)/ mbukpo Nnabö (Nnabö ancestors), under the influence of the heavy alcoholism, incantations, invocations/libation that traditionally wakes and sustains its “wild spirit” with heavy, serious and fast drumming, singing and dancing excitements.
Historically, the origin of Nnabö, though shrouded in mystery, with very little or no literature to guide interested researchers in oral or written form, traces amongst other accounts to an unascertained origin in the ancient war dance used by a famous Efik prince, seadog/ warlord that later became King Archibong II, Eyo Asiböñ Mminika and his men to celebrate their subjugation of the Tom Shott Island pirates, the killing and returning to old Calabar with the head of their king and NKANDA war deity of Obodom Etak Ukim in the late 1800s.
Accordingly, some critics argue that if truly Nnabö origin has anything to do with Obodom Etak Ukim and the Isangheli war deity called Nkanda, as implied in the referred historical account, it follows logically that the name Nnabö is originally of Efut Usakedet (Isangheli) descent. The rest of the story is deliberately left as an academic challenge/ motivation to opposing critics and historians to prove otherwise and in doing so, provide more useful debates and knowledge about Nnabö history for future reference/research learning purposes.
Traditionally, Nnabö comes in variant fearsome yet colourful types. They are mostly arranged in no specific order except deliberately set for a cultural carnival parade, formal road show, public, state or national arts and culture festival/contest.
Nnabö usually comprises a choric force of initiates/admitted talented male drummers and singers, the EKÖÑ (eka Nnabö, mkpökpörö, Nnabö, ebua itök- the forerunner), “swords men”/traditional fencers (mkparawa ukwa), “Nnabö flag men”, “spiritual light/juju plate bearer”, chief priest and/or ayabom- “the heavily charcoaled physical reps of the ancestors”.
On the usual “rectangular board head” of every Nnabö masquerade, traditionally sits a real /improvised human skull, adorned with cowries (mbamba), ndam (dyed raffia) and mkpatari (cautus spectabilis) and/or ntinya believed to carry the presence of the ancestors and the gods of Nnabö as spiritual protectors, guide and energizers. Cowries and other “traditional pictographic materials” are equally used to design “Nnabö face cover”.
All rights of copy reserved by the author@ Holyns Hogan, 2023.
HAVE YOUR SAY!