Keeping Revered Tradition: The Tying of Wrapper

In this episode, Issues Abattoir examines the importance and significance of the tradition of a people especially such regarded as revered in most quarters and having overbearing influence on the society. This edition beams light on the process and prospects of “tying of wrapper” as a tradition of the Ataba people in the Obolo extraction in Rivers and Akwa Ibom States.

Tradition, according to Geddes and Grossets (2007) is “the handing down from generation to generation of opinions and practices, or the belief, practice thus passed on”.

Moreso, it is “a belief, custom or way of doing something that has existed for a long time among a particular group of people”. (Hornby 2010).

Tradition as a belief and custom of a people as handed down from time immemorial to generations have certain bearing influence on a people to a great extent, hence some are abandoned while others are modernized, either to suit the current faith or otherwise.

Certain traditions are abandoned due to its intense diabolic nature as against the people’s new found faith. This is prevalent in many societies or communities, not only in Ataba or in Obolo nation.

In Obolo nation, many traditions have been forsaken or let go because of the acceptance of the Salvation as offered by ‘Jesus Christ’. Others were let go as a result of its contributions to division, crisis and inter or intra communal wars.

But one tradition considered as ‘Revered’ by many especially in the Obolo (Andoni) extraction is the “Tying of Wrapper” commonly known as (Ikwun-Ekwut) in Obolo dialect.

Issues Abattoir took a stand to agree with the school of thought that accepts the practice of the tradition of tying of Wrapper because of its considered benefits, belief, non-diabolic nature, and of course the opportunity it affords female gender to truly acknowledge their roles as mothers.

The tradition of Ikwun-ekwut in Obolo nation was dated back to centuries ago but currently maintained, observed and practiced mainly by the Ataba kingdom in Obolo nation.

The tradition is mainly observed for pregnant women. Ofcourse, it is not an understatement to say that pregnancy is another visible sign for maturity.

The tradition or practice is a sign of attainment of maturity by the pregnant woman, who is concerned at the moment.

A young lady who is duly married, pregnant must be accorded such traditional right as a means of ushering her into motherhood, adulthood and proclaiming that she has attained maturity as traditions demand.

Such traditional right is observed or performed when the pregnant lady is about 2-3 months ready for delivery or to give birth.

However, there is no civil, criminal or otherwise offense against such a woman on whom the traditional right is not performed.

But one significance is that, it is believed the woman delivers in nakedness and it attracts disgrace, shame as well as undermine the integrity of the husband, both parents and families in question.

It was further believed that such pregnant woman is yet to be admitted into womanhood, in otherwords it simply portray it that she is still a youth, hence she has to be administered with the traditional right as a means, sign and colour for her honour, into the womanhood.

The tradition is non-diabolic, it commences with prayers, followed by praises and worship to God for appreciation on the woman’s present status.

The ceremony which is purely women affairs always have the pregnant woman almost naked, she must be with only underwears while the tying of wrapper proceeds.

It is an event so admired by many as assorted types of wrappers are displayed in spacious basins (carriers). It should be noted that because of modernization all kinds of wrappers are welcomed but the main and acceptable wrappers for the practice is printed wax of assorted category and simple Georges.

There is no specific number or pieces of wrapper but as many as available is acceptable. The sources of wrappers are from mother of the pregnant woman, mother in-law, husband, relations and well-wishers alike.

A common practice is that, if the pregnant woman hails from Ataba, her mothers wrapper usually plays the first role of tying followed by her mother-in-law. But if the woman is a non-indigene married to Ataba, her mother in-laws wrapper takes the initial role at the ceremony.

Whether modernized or not, another significance is that, it aids the pregnant woman against lack of wrappers or cloths to use while in her maternity leave and ensure her neatness to protect and project the family’s integrity.

Issues Abattoir’s beam light on the Ataba tradition in Obolo nation revealed that such tradition is only for the pregnant women, who are married.

It also encourages and influence proper marriage against unwanted pregnancies, adultery and fornication as they are not criteria for such tradition, except otherwise.

To Issues Abattoir, which took time out for intensive interaction with some prominent Chiefs and their wives on the ceremony, it was indeed a welcome tradition which all kingdoms and communities should emulate to honour the motherhood.

In Obolo nation, Agwut-Obolo the traditional headquarter and Ikuru town have their celebrations of this tradition in separate ways, however, there are areas of convergence and divergence in their practices.

During the ceremony the celebrant is always admonished in certain functions of the motherhood, which probably she had no opportunity to acquire some of it before her marriage.

The merits of the traditional tying of wrapper however outweighs its demerits.

Its therefore, the opinion of Issues Abattoir that certain traditions of the people including the “tying of wrapper”, should not be abandoned rather could be modernized to affect the society positively.

The Ataba people in the Andoni Local Government are publicly known, and identified as practicing this tradition to its later.

Meanwhile, such traditions that seem against humanity in any society should be done away with for posterity sake.

Ataba kingdom and other communities in Obolo nation saddle with the practice of such moral and educative traditions are however commended. And a call to abolish any such tradition that tends to portray the nation in bad light.  ##


With James Mgboineme

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