The EKE and why it is Revered in Eastern Nigeria

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The python is a type of snake found in different parts of the world, including Nigeria. However, the significance of a python varies from one region to the other. The python is called Eke in eastern Nigeria and unlike in other parts of the country where it is seen as a mere reptile, in these parts, the Eke is a god. Some communities in other parts of Nigeria also revere the python but it is not as common as it is in the eastern part of Nigeria.

Parts of Nigeria where Eke is considered a god

  1. Imo state: Njaba, Eziala, Ihitte, Imeoha, Okwudor, Umuekwe, Uziamu, Umuabiaha, Ugbele, Umuehi, Umuokpara, Umuorji, Nkwerre.
  2. Anambra state: Idemili, Enugwu-ukwu.
  3. Delta state: Ujevwu community.
  4. Bayelsa state: Nembe people
  5. Yobe state: Machina community

The significance of the Eke in these parts

The Eke is considered a deity in these villages. It is revered and worshipped by many and its presence or appearance in your home is considered a good omen. It is common to find the Eke in homes where a celebration is being held; a marriage ceremony, a child naming ceremony, a wine-carrying ceremony etc. it is almost as though the Eke comes to celebrate with the family.

In these villages, outsiders are warned upon visiting about the Eke and how unproblematic it is to residents. A host would caution his/her guests on the implication of bringing harm to the Eke. The Eke wanders freely on the streets and roads while passersby wait for it to move across. There have never been news about the Eke bringing harm to the residents.

Igo ofo: it is not uncommon to see some worshippers of the eke using its shrine to perform incantations. They believe in the power of the eke and will offer sacrifices to it for different purposes.

The significance of harming the Eke

It is quite rare for harm to be brought to the Eke, however, some outsiders who did not receive prior orientation upon visiting these villages have fallen victim to the alu that is harming the Eke. When this happens, a village meeting is held and steps are taken to embark upon the appeasement of the gods.

During the meeting, it will be decided that the culprit throws the deceased Eke a befitting burial. The burial ceremony will be held in the village square, the villagers will attend and some items will be brought out to perform the appeasement. A portion of land is used to bury the Eke during this ceremony, after which the villagers will now drink, dance and celebrate the demise of the Eke.

If the culprit refuses to perform the burial rites and the burial ceremony as demanded by the village head and villagers, he/she stands the risk of being ostracized. It is considered a taboo to harm the Eke even by accident, let alone intentionally and as such, those rites must be performed for the villagers to believe that normalcy has been attained.

The implication of Christianity on the Eke

With increasing popularity in Christian religion, idol worship has drastically reduced and is almost nonexistent. The Eke is not left out. The Eke was considered a god or deity and as such, sacrifices would be offered to it occasionally. There are bushes and forests where they are known to habit and villagers would intentionally carry their sacrifices to the entrance of these bushes and forests and drop them there.

The villagers who worship the Eke strongly believe in its power to protect them from harm and bring them good fortune.

However, as Christianity came and a lot of idol worshippers turned their backs on their idols, the Eke was not left out. Although no harm is still brought to the Eke till this day, it is no longer worshipped as it was in ancient times. The Eke must have sensed that it is no longer welcome in homes and as such the Eke sighting have been fewer and fewer as the years go by.

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