Predominantly natives of Nasarawa State in central Nigeria and found in Lafia, Akwanga, Keffi areas of the state, the Eggon community are part of the numerous ethnic groups Nigeria is blessed with. Receiving its name from the hill where the people lived before coming down to the plain, eggon refers to that hill which means “a good sense hearing”. The Eggon are also known as Mo Eggon.
The Eggon generally believe in Ahogben (God) who is far beyond the sky and created man and the universe and anything good is from him, because he is far above. To communicate with the supreme God, Ashim (a close god to humans), is usually who they call on. To consult this god, a libation is poured on the ground seven times with some confession by the elder or priest. Apart from Ashim, there are some religions practised by individuals or families such as Akuk, Arikya, Gango and Yamba. They use items like stones, cowries, pots and sticks as gods. Such items are kept mostly at home in a separate room for worshipping and they offer sacrifices to the item, believing it chases away evil spirits in the land or away from the family and make the land fit for farming. Over time, Islam and Christianity have spread widely in their land. Today Islam and Christianity are the major religion in the land.
Their mediums of reverence vary depending on individual preference; in the forms of sticks, cowries, beads, selected stones and clay pots. Just like other cultures, festivity is an integral part of the Eggon way. Annually, the people come from various locations all over the world and they gather to feast and show love to one another. The chief priest releases the “dodo” masquerade on this day as all the young maidens and men come out in numbers; making beautiful traditional renditions to their gods. The men and maidens dressed in traditional regalia. The men also display armouries (knives, spears, shields made out of wild ox skin, bow and arrow) used in the past to fight the local wars.
Customarily, during childbirth, the midwife who is already familiar with the family chooses betrothed male or female from her clan depending on the gender of the child being born. If the gender is female, a special dry wood would be given to the mother to boil water and bathe the child as a sign of interest in betrothing the girl. After consent, the “gamba” leaf would be assembled by the suitors and foodstuff on agreement of the girl’s parents. These foodstuff gifts would be presented each year until the girl is ready and of due age for marriage as stipulated by her parents. On the period of her wedding, the friends of the young man must cultivate farmland of the bride and her parents.
Due to the nature of the predominant occupation of the Eggon people (agriculture), they are polygamous in nature thereby ensuring their wives and children help in tilling and cultivating the soil for a massive yield of farm produce.
Upon the death of an Eggon native, burial rites are unified and have been passed on through generations. In the case of the demise of an Eggon individual, the corpse is treated with due respect. The corpse is cleaned up and dressed up awaiting the rites of the chief priest or prominent clan’s men. The men dig the grave; dug up to four feet like a round tube with a parallel passageway leading out of it. The corpse would be laid in, heading eastwards as they believe that all men migrated from the east. The family members of the deceased shave half of their heads as a symbol of mourning and prevention of being attacked by the dead. The deceased’s immediate family members can be inherited by the brothers of the late and they believe also in reincarnation (Inkiya).
ThankGod E. Airiohuodion