The conduct of the second burialAs stated earlier on, the second burial consists of a series of activities which marks the formal transition of the spirit of a dead person into the spiritual realm of life. These activities can be classified into two categories.
The first is the religious (ancestral spiritual) activities while the second is the social recreational activities. These two sets of activities are carried out concurrently and sometimes people do not appreciate their differential importance in the life of the people.
Indeed, for most people, possibly because of the variety of social activities organised during second burial, it
is the social significance of the event that is appreciated. In addition, the majority of the people has converted to Christianity and no longer has a deep attachment to cultural practices.
When such persons are pressed by more culturally-minded members of their families to mark the second burial of their dead relatives, they do so without a strong allegiance to the religious significance of the practice.
The second burial is done within a period of 6 to 14 days, although the actual ceremony is between three to seven days. The burial of chiefs is for seven days while those of other persons last for three days. There is no stipulated time between the first burial and the second burial. It is entirely at the discretion of the family.
The sequencing of events for the Second burialAfowy’odvodvu (Fixing the date for the second burial)
Indolowyi ow’owa (Mourners return to the compound where the burial is to be held)
Anjodvudode (Gun salute to the dead person whose burial is being organised)
Ochowyi ohoha (Inquest and stocktaking)
Egb’owyi ochichi (Gunshot to mark the commencement of the second burial)
Owy’orenje (The climax of the second burial; all-night mourning and performances)
Amukwu Ibroga (Departure of the various ancestral masquerades)
Okw’ Ekpa Omi (Family members entertain their respective Ekpa, the age groups)
Owyi obubru (Departure)
The second burial starts with male-only, all night performances by ancestral masquerades. The specific ancestral masquerades are provided by the clan that one belongs to.
The masquerades, in the course of two days, engage in ancestral mourning rituals as a way of appeasing the ancestors. By so doing, they intercede on behalf of the dead person and in the process the spirit is admitted into the spirit world.
Apart from this religious import of ancestral masquerade mourning, the masquerade chants as in Okpnma and Ikwukwur’ohoha are a rich source of historical knowledge (a special case of oral tradition) about the origin of the clan as well as kinship ties within the broader Akpa society.
The afternoons are used for masquerade performances which provide entertainment and spiritual functions. It should be noted that the ancestral masquerades are generally regarded as a sort of physical manifestation of the spirit of ancestors and in a way act as intermediary between the people and the spirit world. They are sacrosanct and women and young people are not allowed into the secret of how they are prepared. Women, especially elderly ones may have limited access to ancestral masquerades during their daytime performances such as when they come out to dance at the funeral arcade. The second category of masquerades is more accessible as they are meant to only entertain guests.
The social significance of the second burial
One of the major functions of the second burial, apart from the religious dimension is that it serves to bring the people together.
It is an event that attracts every segment of the Akpa people regardless of clan, age or sex. A significant component of this coming together is the Ekpa or age group. In every second burial, all the different age groups gather to make merriment. The Ekpa is not only a mechanism for social interaction but a powerful medium for the mobilisation of the people in Akpa land.
Being composed of people born at about the same time, communities use the Ekpa to assign responsibilities to people. To ensure cohesiveness, the Ekpa groups meet at both the first and the second burials during which issues of how to strengthen the group are discussed.
When a member of an Ekpa is marking the second burial of his or her father, mother or uncle, they are expected to provide special feeding for the Ekpa; what is called Okw’ekpa Omi. Failure to do this tends to diminish a person’s stature among their age mates. It is, in short, a status symbol.
>To be continued<