Sunday, July 8, 2012

Ntongho Eyang Ékpè







In November, 2011 several Ékpè leaders from Cameroon gave a certificate of recognition to their Cuban Abakua counterparts, that stated: “This is to certify that the title of Ntongho Eyang Ékpè has been awarded to the Cuban Ékpè, for their dedication towards the preservation, research and promotion of the Ékpè culture. On this day of October 17th, 2009. Signed Sisiku Emmanuel Ojong Orok.”

Ntongho Eyang Ékpè means ‘teacher of Ékpè’ in the Ejagham language of Nigeria and Cameroon.

The certificate had been created in response to the reunion of Cameroon Ékpè and Cuban Abakua at the CD release party for Eyenison Enkama at Joe’s Pub in NYC, but it wasn’t until 2011 that the two parties met again. The award was presented in the home and Ékpè lodge of Ékpè USA leader Sisiku Emmanuel Ojong Orok in Baltimore. It was received on behalf of all the Cuban Abakuá by Roman Diaz, who holds the title of Moni Bonko of Havana lodge Apapa Umon Ekori Tonko. For 200 years Cuban Abakua have preserved and maintained the traditions of their ancestors in Cuban Ékpè (Abakua) lodges spread throughout Havana and Matanzas. The very first Cuban lodge, called Efik Ebuton, was founded in the Havana neighborhood of Regla in the nineteenth century and was named after Obutong, an Ékpè lodge in Southeast Nigeria.



Roman Diaz is photographed here with Dr. Ivor Miller, Sisiku Philip Tazi (our gracious and most generous host), Sisiku Emmanuel Ojong Orock. This Ékpè ceremony commenced a week of activities with Ékpè U.S.A and Dr. Miller's talk "A Cultural History of Cross River Civilization" at the National Museum of African Art, Washington D.C., where he is currently a Smithsonian Senior Fellow. Roman Diaz was a featured artist along with Cameroon Ékpè masquerades, who were all graciously welcomed with introductory remarks by the Museum’s Director, Dr. Johnnetta B. Cole.

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