The Igbo tribe is rich in culture, customs and traditions. Prior to the use of cinemas, gramophones, televisions, radios and internet services, The Igbo people have a place and time when they could run around to strengthen their veins and arteries as well as build their muscles.
The Igbo people institute the culture of the moonlight play ‘egwu onwa’
The moonlight plays serve as a bringer of joy to the adults and an opportunity for the children to play with their peers and learn from the stories told by the adults.
Recently, the activities of the moonlight play is no longer seen as an important part of the Igbo Culture due to technological advancements, security and global civilizations which eroded many good cultures of the Igbo people.
In the Igbo land, as soon as the moons start to shine forth in full blast, the particular moment for playing under the moonlight dawns. At such moments, everyone who has had her dinner ecstatically troop out of her home to the community square.
While those who are yet to complete their domestic chores of the evening would speed-up activities and increase the tempo of their work in order to finish in time and leave home for the community square where the moonlight play usually takes place.
Young girls take special delight in hanging out in groups in less open places as they interact among themselves, share some juicy gossip, admire handsome young males of their community, and even attempt to catch the attention of some good-looking dudes.
While the young men take joy in challenging each other “either as individuals or groups” to wrestling duels, acrobatic displays, special stunts, dancing and musical performance particularly to impress the young women who make up their major spectators.
During the moonlight play, the elderly men of the community sit in groups around campfires sipping and sharing local drinks while reminiscing and talking about the events of the past. Sometimes, they delight in teasing each other of misdemeanours of the past.
Some of the elderly ones indoctrinate the children into the cultures and traditions of the community by gathering them in groups and telling them traditional tales and folk stories under the moonlight, and sometimes they deepen the wisdom and intelligence of the young by playing the games of riddles and proverbs with them throughout the night.
As for the sick people in the community, they also participate by sitting around special bonfires while they observe the colourful life and activities taking place around them. The moonlight play experience has been said to have therapeutic effects on the sick who seem to respond better to medications after sharing a night with the healthy under the moonlight.
There is no particular time for the end of the moonlight play and entertainment. It goes on until one is tired and ready to go home. However, at dawn, the young maidens of the community are expected to assemble for sweeping and cleaning up of the community following a moonlight play night.
Nwachineke Onyeke Chekwube reporting, Obinwannem news writer / October 29, 2021.