51 UGURZA COMING OUT

This picture is from the facebook web page of Ikulu Chiefdom, Zangon Kataf LGA, Kaduna state to which Abisi Urgurza was originally borrowed. It’s identical to the Abisi one dancing in 1973.
The first public Dodo event of the year happened in December 1973, just before the harvest.
Dodo ceremonies go on to mid-May and disappear when the rains and the hoeing start.
Members of the first Dodo club “open the house” followed by each of the fourteen associations organized in a specific order.
All the neighbors of a Dodo clubhouse know that a ceremony is in preparation when they hear drums played and the rhombus sound at the end of the evening.
The next day, at about 4h30 p.m., people gather in front of the Clubhouse where girls and women wait in a large circular enclosure.
The occasion attracts young people who are not members and Hausas who come to sell cookies and fruits.
The atmosphere is exciting and is not burdened by ritual scruples. Initiate members, their faces covered with white powder, come in and out of the room.
Others carry inside large calabashes and baskets covered with leave lids.
When the voice of the bullroarer sounds, a man interprets the “word of the dodo” who first request the songs to begin.
The drummer comes out and stands in front of the women and girls who start to sing in chorus.
Soon after, the ” dodo police ” expands the circle of spectators by threatening them with a stick.
Suddenly, a Dodo dancer comes out, stomping on the ground fast and to the sound of his ankle bells, swirls around in the circle.
Somebody takes a chicken by the legs and passes it in the back of the dancer shouting “Oka! Oka! “. The hen is given to the “wife of the dodo” after the ceremony.
He is dressed from head to foot with a braided suit of red, black and white stripes.
He wears  an aluminum style cross on his head and holds a short stick in each hand. Grass crowns are attached to his ankles, knees, waist, neck and wrists.
After a few moments, he returns inside the house where children sprinkle the dancers who get very hot in their costumes, with water and refresh them carob tree branches.
He comes back ten minutes later but most ceremonies have three different dancers that come out either in turn or together.
From time to time , a woman comes out, the “Dodo’s wife “, and dances in front of the mask.
Spectators give coins to the singers, they jump in the center of the dance circle and put their pieces on the forehead of a girl and then let it drop down in her hands while women are encouraged to hoot by older ones.
Around half past six, when the dancers are all exhausted, the dodo voice is heard, it talks in the high tone of ibid or the low tone of the bullroarer.
This “voice of the dodo” is interpreted by an officiant who either cries out the message to the entire crowd or approaches some people and tell them in a low voice the wishes of the dodo.
Some messages call for more drinks and food because there are never enough.
But the strongest messages are about women who will change husband.
The dodo asks them:

“Why are you not satisfied with your current husband ?”

and he tells them

Something could happen if you leave your husbands.”
The public ceremony ends shortly after nightfall, but the drum continues to play a long time inside the Dodo House.
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