The Ugie Festival Ceremonies as a Demonstration of Ancient Benin Culture in Nigeria

  • Damien Ukwandu
  • Benjamin Obeghare Izu
Keywords: culture, music, rituals, traditional festivals, Benin kingdom, Edo people, chiefs, Oba of Benin kingdom, Ugie festivals, Igue festival, Igue Dance


Through the ages, man has recorded his personal life experiences and sojourns in drawings, paintings, artefacts, sculptures, weaving, drama, music, songs, festivals and other forms of art. These expressions form part and parcel of the cultural heritage of mankind, and in many ways help to articulate human history, norms, customs and way of life. To the  Edo society, festivals constitute an essential appendage to their accomplishments. These festivals are usually celebrated with music and dance, which provide entertainment throughout the period of the celebrations. Apart from their entertainment value, festivals provide an opportunity for the memories of our forebears to re-assert themselves in the consciousness of the people, with the hope of leaving the world a better place. Festivals also form a part of the heritage of humankind and have traditionally been passed on for posterity. These festivals constantly remind people of their past which is usually compared with the present so as to ascertain whether communities are progressing or not and to document other dynamic changes. Furthermore, festivals enable celebrating communities to devise programmes to improve the areas in their culture where these have been neglected.

The main focus of this study is on the music and associated ceremonies enacted during the royal  Ugie (festival) of  the Omo N’ Oba N’ Edo Uku Akpolokpolo, Oba of the Benin kingdom. There are cycles of  Ugie rituals held periodically within the confines of the Benin royal palace. Some of these ceremonies are of a private nature, while others are public. During these Ugie ceremonies, the palace is always the centre of ritual activities aimed at the well-being and prosperity of the Omo N’ Oba and the Edo people.


Metrics Loading ...

Author Biographies

Damien Ukwandu

DAMIAN UKWANDU holds the post of postdoctoral fellow at the Department of Public Governance and Management at the University of Johannesburg, South Africa. His research interests embrace African politics, culture, governance and development.

Benjamin Obeghare Izu

BENJAMIN OBEGHARE IZU is a Doctoral candidate at the University of South Africa, specializing in Ethnomusicology. He is especially interested in research on African traditional festivals, festival music, African studies.

How to Cite
Ukwandu , D., & Izu, B. O. (2016). The Ugie Festival Ceremonies as a Demonstration of Ancient Benin Culture in Nigeria. Archiv orientální, 84(2), 249-267.
Research Article