Egba-eze is a traditional festival observed by Ibagwa- Aka community, in igbo-eze south local government area of Enugu state. The festival is solemn and of great significant to the members of the community and beyond; as it brings about peaceful co-existance amongst the people, as well as its neighbouring communities. Egba-eze however, originates from the word ” Egba” which in ibagwa-aka dialect means ; feast , while” eze” means king. Hence, the festival is celebrated annually in honor of a famous king, whose reign according to oral history brought about peace , harmony and tranquility, as well as victory over their enemies. Thus, in bits not to erase the works of this great king, Egba-eze is held yearly in his honour.
Egba-eze is celebrated on every first month of the year according to the traditional calendar of the ibagwa-aka community. The festival opens the year and marks the end of protracted period of rest; following the conclusion of cocoyam and yam harvest. As soon as the feast finishes, a new cycle of farm work follows. In a way, Egba-eze can be described as a feast that closes the year and marks the beginning of another. The feast brings about joyful and happy moments, evident in the kind of jubilation the people experience sighting the new moon, which of course ushers in the period of Egba-eze festival, which last for a period of twenty days ( izu ise) ; five traditional weeks.
During this festival, Akatakpa masquerades are expected to move freely within ibagwa-aka territory without disturbing the peace of the people; as they are believed to be spirits of the ancestors coming to visit the people. Akatakpa masquerades are expected to receive gifts of money and other items except cooked food from the people. This shows that spirits are hungry just like humans.
Egba-eze period is sacred, thus, there are special rules and regulations for the period. This is why it is believed that a man under any circumstances should divorce his wife, which of course applies to the wife. It is believed that no one dies during this period, and no death is announced publicly or mourning of any kind.
Egba – Eze is not a period of mourning. Within the last four days of the holy period of Egba – Eze, the proper celebration takes place. Amebo people will be the first to celebrate it on Eke market day. Echara and Ezema with the exclusion of Idi people will celebrate theirs on Orie day. Idi (a minor lineage of Echara bloc) celebrate theirs on Afor day. Oral history has it that Idi people migrated from Ugbene in Uzo-uwani Local Government Area of Enugu state and as such, they are seen as the youngest of Ibagwa – Aka. This, probably, could explain why they celebrate theirs´ last.