Gullah-Igala Ocho Festival celebrates with drumming, dancing, ushering new season of planting

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Members of the Gullah-Igala community and the Voice of Hope Church came together Saturday for this year’s Igala Ocho Festival.

The festival, a tribute to the Gullah’s quest for freedom, is a celebration of the Igala Kingdom’s ancient hunting and pre-planting festival dating back to 800 BCE.

The festival was banned in Nigeria for 64 years until 2018, according to Abba Nizar, the Igala Head of the USA, Cuba and Brazilian Chiefdoms.

The festival was first celebrated last year in America by the indigenous Igala Kingdom USA community headquartered in Charleston.

“We have a great tradition, these basket-making tradition, the song and dance, ironwork, all of that, that’s part of the Igala kingdom,” Nizar said. “We just have not been celebrating the kingdom before as we now have reconnected to the kingdom.”

The festival featured drumming and dancing.

Prayers for success were also a significant part of the celebration, like prayers for planting crops, seeking a new job or trying to build a new company. It’s part of the traditions that were observed before they were prohibited, Nizar said.

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Emilie Zuhowski

Emilie Zuhowski

Emilie joined the Live 5 News team in October 2021.