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This unit focuses on ceremony as a form of bottom-up extra-mundane communication. It defines the concept of ceremony, looks at the features and presents some examples.


At the end of this unit of study, should be able to:

  1. Define ceremonies 
  2. Discuss ceremonies as a form of extra-mundane bottom-up communication and their significance


3.1.0 Ceremonies

Ceremonies are channels of communication in Africa. They are either religious or cultural. A religious ceremony is a ceremony organised in line with the tenets of the religion or faith of the organiser, for instance a Christian or Muslim ceremony while a traditional ceremony is organised based on the culture of a people. Examples of ceremonies include marriages, christening, house warming, chieftaincy, and coronation.

Ceremonies such as initiation, marriages, christening (discussed under names-history and types), house warming, chieftaincy, turbaning, etc, involve pouring of libation, sprinkling native chalk on the floor and blowing some into the air as a mark of respect for the gods and ancestors, and to invite them to partake in the events.They are of two types – cultural and religious. The various ceremonies discussed in this unit would bring to the fore some cultural and religious examples of ceremonies.

3.1.1 Some Examples of Ceremonies and their Significance

Chieftaincy Installation in Delta State Nigeria: Cheiftaincy installation can be traced to as afr back as the origin of traditional institution. One can be installed a chief if the person wishes and has come of age. Age here means that the person must be an adult (no upper limit), responsible married and wealthy. Again, wealth here maens the person can fend for his/her familyat the same time meet up with the financial requirements of the ceremony. Also, someone can be installed a chief by a community as mark of honour. This honour is confered in recognition of the person conmtribution to the community and the larger society. The receipient must have contributed to the meaningful develpment of the community and it is done to encourage others so emulate the receipent in helping to develop the community (Ogwezzy, 1987 and Ogwezzy,1999).

Before the installation day, notice is given to enable chiefs get ready for the ceremony. The notice is given to the highest to the least in rank. The notice is normally for one market week if the receipient is financially ready. The items required in Emu-Obodoeti community in Ndokwa West Local Governemnt Area of Delta State which must be brought to the house of the Onotu-uku third highest in the ranks of chiefs in that community include three bottles of Brandy, nine cartons of beer, three crates of soft drinks, 100 native kola-nuts, a plate of alligator pepper or ten naira in lieu , two hundred naira being the cost of carrying out a search on the receipient to ascertain his/her credibility and integrity, six hundred naira cost of installation, and two hundred naira to buy the local fan called Ezuzu Onotu (a hand fan made of animal skin, wool and mirrow [ staff of office]). These requirements vary from community to community and must be produced in the presence of the Onotu-uku and the council of chiefs. If these items are produced and the search also gives the person a clean bill, the recipient will be taken to the house of the highest in rank (Okpala-uku) by the Onotu-Uku and his council of chiefs. In the Okpala-uku’s palace, the person to be installed is required to pay two hundred naira in the presence of the Okpala-uku, highest in rank; Okwa, second highest; Onotu-uku, third highest and other chiefs. After which the person will be installed (Ogwezzy, 1987 and Ogwezzy,1999).

The installation is done by first introducing the recipient to the Okpala-Uku, Okwa, Onotu-uku and other chiefs. After this, the Okpala-uku then installs the person by appeasing the gods and pouring libation on behalf of the recipient. The libation signifies life and properity in the chieftaindom. Also, the installed will be rubbed with white native chalk while praying for the recipient to be guided by the Almighty God. The cloth used is traditional out-fit (Ogwezzy, 1987 and Ogwezzy,1999).

After the installation, the new chief will rally back to his/her residence in the company of other ciefs where he/she will welcome them with a goat, which herals the kick-off of the reception party for club members, friends and well wishers that follows the installation. Dignitaries from within and outside the community attend the reception. This is followed by dance from different groups of well wishers and friends. Also, the village orchestras perform various acrobatics (Ogwezzy, 1987 and Ogwezzy,1999).

After the installation comes rising through the hierarchy. It starts with Ozojini-ogwe, followed by Ojiniegoso-otue. Onotu-uku rotates family by family quinquennially. After five years and the Onotu-uku is not among the eldest two Onotu-ukus, he/she then goes back to the Ojiniegoso-otue but if he or she falls within the eldest two, the person moves to the next stage, which is Okwa. The eldest of the Okwas form the Okpala-uku, which is the highest rank (Ogwezzy, 1987 and Ogwezzy,1999).

The Okpala-uku is the overall head of the village which he is assited by the Okwas, Onotu-Ukus and the other chiefs. The Onotu-ukus and his council of chiefs run the day-to-day administration of the strees under them while the Okpala-uku and the Okwas have the final say in matters that concern the whole village (Ogwezzy, 1987 and Ogwezzy,1999).

Ozo Title Ceremony: The Ozo title ceremony is common among the Ibos in eastern Nigeria. It is a tradition that admits a mature, capable and industrious adult male to the folds of elders. The Ozo titleholders are dedicated to “Ani”(god of the soil) and other deities of the land. They take oaths amidst rituals among which are the oath of truthfulness and clean hands. An Ozo title holder is approached in serious matters like quarrels between husbands and wives for settlements.

The initiation is done in doors at evenings through the night. In Onitsha, for instance, the Ozo -to -be will go to a market called “Afia Ozo” to be recognized. He is later taken to a shrine for Ani’s blessings. The title aspirant is escorted to the one day market where articles used in his household are displayed and bought with cowries. This reflects the original tradition of Igbo land before the coming of white men with their paper notes and coins. After that, a ceremony is held for his Kinsmen and intimate family friends. After that, the “title day” is announced. After that night “Okwute” initiation on the following day is a festival for all. The feasting lasts for a complete day and at the end of the festivity, the aspirant is invited to the fold of the responsible “Ozo” title holders. He then becomes an icon, pride to his family. As a symbol, he merits a leg band, red cap with an eagle’s feather on it. Ozo title (cheiftancy title) does not have a specific year or period of the year.

Ipu Ogo Ceremony: The Ipu Ugo ceremony is common among the Ibos in eastern Nigeria.It means initiation to manhood. It takes place only at puberty stage. It is done only to male children. Males growing to become adults are taken to the forest to spend three days. They are faced with wild animals during their stay in the forest. It is done at the end of every three year. The initiation to manhood (Ipu Ogo) signifies the strength and value of a man in his society.

Burial: in Igbo customs, there is another example of extra-mundane communication as it involves the offering of a lot of sacrifice such as offering of cocks, goats, fish, cows, plantain, yams, and pouring libation to ensure the smooth transition of the soul of the departed. According Ilogu (1998:109) quoted in Akpabio (2003:33):

Burial rites and ceremonies therefore are the means by which the transition is expected to ensure that the dead receive secure places in the spirit world… (and) it is generally believed among the Igbo[a linguistic group in Eastern Nigeria] that the souls of dead members of the community cannot rest or find secured places among the dead unless proper burial rites and ceremonies have been performed.

Turbaning of a King in Bauchi State: One of the most important ceremonies observed here is ‘Turbaning’ which is strictly given to personalities due to be offered titles. There are categories of turbaning in Bauchi State. We have the turbaning of a king, a Chief or ‘Seriki’, village elder, Imam and alfas.

Among all the turbaning ceremonies, the one of kings is taken seriously as it concerns all the indigines of Bauchi State. The important personalities in attendance for this ceremony are the Chief Imam of the State and the king-makers. On this occasion, all the inhabitants gather at the palace ground of the would-be king. As tradition requires, local guards or the king’s guards who are dressed in their traditional attire mount their horses and are posted to strategic positions around the palace. As early as 8:00am, crowds begin to mill in around the palace to observe the turbaning ceremony and then pay homage to their new king. Men, women, and youths are seen in their colourful traditional attires, some riding on horse backs, others on donkeys and even camels. Drums are beaten non-stop whiles the local musicians blare their horns and cymbals to grace the occasion.

Meanwhile, the would-be king who is confined to the palace is ushered in to the main hall of the palace where the kingmakers and the Chief Imam are waiting. The Chief Imam then offers a prayer before the actual turbaning starts. The chief kingmaker, assisted by two other people, do the turbaning. After the turbaning, the Chief Imam then gives a Koran to the king in making and he takes the oath of allegiance to abide by the laws of the land and that of ‘Allah’, throughout the period of his reign.

After this, the king is seated on a decorated mat and receives homage from his subordinates, comprising all the sub-chiefs, elders and other officers of the palace. The king is then moved out to the center of the palace ground where he is introduced to the teeming Bauchi people, who sing, shower praises on him, and pray to ‘Allah’ to give him long life on the throne.

The merry-making does not end there as various competitions are held all over the place. Horse racing, wrestling, athletics and other forms of local games are observed to grace this memorable occasion.

Turbaning of an Imam in Bauchi State: This is a religious ceremony, which is strictly performed according to the Islamic laws. The Imam to be must be a devout Muslim who is well versed in the Holy Koran and has taught in Koranic schools for a period of at least ten years and also officiated in Islamic services for about 15 years. He must be spiritually inclined towards the upliftment of Islam.

In Bauchi the ceremony is performed by selected Imams from other notable mosques in the state. After the reading and recitation of parts of Koran, the Imam is seated on a mat on the floor and after the reading of Holy Koran, he is turbaned. He is then presented with a copy of the Holy Koran, after which he takes oath of office and allegiance to the Almighty Allah, to abide by His laws and go strictly according to the Holy Koran in all its ramifications.


The examples of both cultural and religious ceremonies from different parts of Nigeria presented above reveal that ceremonies are common in various parts of Nigeria. Therefore, a ceremony is a form of bottom-up extra-mundane meant to communicate something.


This unit zeroed in on ceremony – a form of extra-mundane bottom-up communication. It presented some example and highlighted their significance. It is believed that it would enhance students understanding of ceremonies.

Self Assessment Exercise

i. List two ceremonies that are common in your community


  1. Write on a ceremony that is common in your community, highlighting its significance.


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