Akachak Festival: Where Culture Meets Nature.

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By Emmanuel Ntuyang

In the heart of Nigeria’s rainforest lies Oban, a peaceful Ejagham community in Cross River State where the Akachak Festival, an annual spectacle has found rhythm in the cultural chord of Nigeria.

Oban,the richest part of Nigeria’s Biodiversity is reputed to be the custodian of one of the oldest forests in Africa and internationally acclaimed as one of the 25 Biodiversity hotspots in the world.

Teeming with abundance of wildlife,geomophological and archeological features,this forest is nature’s gift to the people. Some of the plants and animal species are endemic to the area, while some are new to science.
It is a forest that hosts the Oban division of Cross River National Park, a deliberate effort by the Federal government to protect and preserve these resources for the benefit of the present and future generations.

The scenic Oban hills with it’s captivating profile, now a candidate for UNESCO World Heritage Site adds to the list of what makes Oban a unique destination.

The recent recognition by UNESCO of this awesomely rich tropical rainforest as Man and Biosphere Reserve presents the area as an important global conservation landmark. In the midst of these incredible natural manifestations, thrives a vibrant cultural ensemble crested “Akachak Festival”.

Akachak festival is where nature meets culture in a perfect harmony. It showcases the rich and undiluted cultural heritage of the Ejagham people and the harmonious relationship between the people and nature.

The one month long festival takes place from the first week of December every year to 2nd January of the following year. The celebration brings together the community, tourists, nature and cultural enthusiasts to revel in this beauty to the supreme favour of the sustenance of this providence.

The festival begins with a colourful opening ceremony in the community square “,Ocham Mgbe” where traditional music ,dance performances, cultural initiations , traditional wrestling, etc are further given impetus and verve.
Then follows hiking and nature walk through the emerald rainforest to the highest peak ” Talbot Peak” of the magnificent Oban hills.

Daily activities such as cooking competition of delicious local cusines, emphasising the use of local spices from the forest, beauty pageant ,etc at the one month festival highlights the community’s deep connection with their heritage.

The grand finale which always takes place on the 2nd of January begins with procession through the town of the different cultural groups and bands and followed by a series of events.

Perhaps what is more revealing in the festival is the pride with which the Oban people value their culture and the passion to pass it down to the next generation.
The enthusiastic participation of the youths,presents a bright future for the festival and has remained its key sustainability element.

This explains why the grand finale witnesses very spectacular presentations and performances of Mgbe ,Nchibi, Orborn, Angbu, Ache aboh, Oyi okare ntem, Okum akpor ajeh, the captivating Monikim (maiden) dance, among others, all clad in vibrant costumes.

Akachak is a festival of unity ,colour ,energy,beauty, dexterity,and enchantment. Little wonder why the scintillating dance steps of the masquerades and the adorable gaits of the female dancers have often connived to leave visitors in awe.

Akachak festival is now more than just a celebration,it’ has since become a way of life for the people of Oban ,their friends and neighbours.

It offers a glimpse to the endowment and charm of Oban,a hospitable community nestled in the lush tropical rainforest of Nigeria.

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