Uhola Festival

Uhola Festival

Varies
Observed by the Dakarkari people in Nigeria, the Uhola Festival is preceded by a housecleaning period during which the villages, the shrines, and the surrounding hills are cleaned up and put in order. This time is dominated by the drinking of local beer, called m'kya . The Yadato —boys and girls from wealthy families—go into seclusion for a four-week period prior to the Uhola, where they are properly fed and fattened, and encouraged to rest up for the celebration.
On the first day of the festival, the Yadato must dance in front of the chiefs' palace and present the chiefs with Uhola gifts. The celebration then moves to the village square, where they continue to dance and sing songs satirizing prostitutes, unmarried pregnant girls, irresponsible men—even political figures. The highlight of the second day of the festival is the wrestling contest, which also takes place in the village square. Sometimes the Dakarkari wrestle against other tribes, and the victor in each match receives a prize from the chief. The wrestling, prize giving, and speeches continue for about four more days, until the priest declares that the festival is over.
Only girls who are engaged to be married are allowed to participate in the Uhola. Their future husbands must have completed their golmo —a period of farm labor in lieu of paying for their brides. After the Uhola, the girls move into their prospective husbands' homes, while new boys go into golmo.
CONTACTS:
Embassy of the Federal Republic of Nigeria
3519 International Ct. N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20036
202-986-8400; fax: 202-775-1385
www.nigeriaembassyusa.org
SOURCES:
FolkWrldHol-1999, p. 536
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