ONYEKPEZE AND IKA CULTURAL MATTERS
Ika community had a glorious and rich cultural past in games and entertainments. The adults as well as the children were always fully occupied. There was hardly any time when people were not occupied in those days. On the days when people were not in their farms, they engaged in one craft or the other. Eken days were religiously observed. It was on Eken days that Ika people abstained from going to their farms. It was on Eken days that children and even adults who had no domestic assignments, engaged in a lot of games and entertainments which abound in each clan in the olden days.
In the evenings, the men engaged in discussing, contemporary issues smoked their pipes which was very popular in those days, and relaxing with their kindred on kegs of palmwine. Some of them moved out to visit or join relations, in-laws, friends and well-wishers. The women, in most cases, engaged in moon light tales and feebles that touched exemplary characters and sex education to the young ones and the fairly grown up children, respectively.
The stories told were of varied types. They included legends, allegories, myths, folktales, folk epics, wonder tales, fictions, riddles, rhetoric proverbs, proverbial songs, maxims, aphorisms, anecdotes, euphemisms, humours, dialogue, jokes, banter, folk songs, rumour, gossip, wonder-land, folk music, lyrics, greetings, wise sayings, etc. These stories which in some cases, involved very elderly members of a family, supplemented in-door games like itan ise and igho ise, which occupied the adults and youths at their homes when the moon was not on.
When the moon was on, the children often went out for the moon light plays. The children of the ancient Ika had more avenues of entertainment than their present day counterparts. This might be the reason why, in olden days, the children hardly had time for any mischiefs. The youths of the then Ika were very truthful and law-abiding. The games and entertainments that occupied them were many, and only a few present day youths may remember them. Some may not have even heard about many of the games.
This calls for concerted efforts to rediscover Ika glorious and rich traditional games and entertainments that are in danger of extinction in the face of modern civilization. Discussing them may certainly bring their existence to the knowledge of our youths. It may also assist in reviving interest in an aspect of entertainment of the community that is fast dying away. Perhaps, they could once again form part of education and training of Ika children.
To be able to treat these games sufficiently, they are grouped into five different headings: Indoor games, games solely played by boys, games solely played by girls, games suitable for both sexes and games for the very young ones in Ika society.
Itan Ise This is one of the most popular games among Ika people in the olden days. It is generally played by two persons, one on either side of a board. The board itself, commonly hewed out of a solid piece of wood, contains six holes, Okwa, on the either side with two bigger holes, one at each end. These are called Ulo/Olo. Each of the side holes, Okwa, contains four seeds (also pebbles or cowries). Sometimes, children play the game by digging similar holes on the ground in their compounds.
The game has some rules:
- It is played by two persons. The strategy is one person to attempt to capture as many seeds as possible from the other person. The winner is the person who has captured the greater number of seeds. The winner should capture at least 25 seeds since the total number of seeds in the holes is 48.
- The seeds are placed, according to the rules of the game, in clock wise direction.
- If the seed placed by one player falls on the seed in the side hole of the other player, the latter seed is capture and both seeds are removed by the first player and put in his store for seeds, Olo/Ulo.
- The same is true if the seed falls on a hole containing 2 seeds. But if the hole contains 3 or more seeds, the new seed cannot capture the ones already there. It simply increases the number of seeds in the hole.
- Any seeds in a hole, which are more than 3, form Odin. The seeds cannot be captured by any new seed placed in the hole.
- The Odin is said to die if:
(a) The number of seeds in a hole is so many that the seeding (placing of seeds in a hole) does not terminate on the side of the opponent.
(b) The seeding terminates on another Odin.
(c) The seeding terminates on an empty hole.
- The players play in turn. Under no circumstance can one player play consecutively.
- If a faulty play is detected, the game is cancelled and a fresh start made.
- The winner of the game is the person who has captured the greater number of seeds.
- If before the completion of the game one player anticipates defeat and concedes victory, then the other player becomes the winner.