Occupation & Craft
This is the main occupation of the people
of Ekpeye. Work to be done by men and women are clearly defined. The
task of clearing the bush. falling trees, tilling the ground, making
moulds staking of yams, etc. are exclusively for men. Though of recent,
because men are involved in white-collar jobs, the women are venturing
into doing the above mentioned tasks. Yams are generally referred to as
The women are involved in planting crops such as cassava, three leaf
yams, cocoyam, pepper, corn, melon, okra, pumpkins, tomatoes,
vegetables, weeding and harvesting most of the crops.
Types of Farms
There are two types of farms: distance farms (a few kilometers from
home) and home farms that are near or around the home. In the distance
farms, plantains, bananas, economic trees such as cola nuts, pears, etc.
are the crops on the farms. In home farms, yams, cassava, cocoyam,
vegetables, pepper, etc. are the main crops on the farm.
The distance farms are made in forests, unvirginated for that purpose.
The home farms are on a long time unvirginated forests. Shifting system
of cultivation is mainly used. After harvesting from a piece of land,
the farmland is allowed to fallow for a period of three to seven years.
There are two planting seasons among the Ekpeye people. Men plant the
yams between the months of March to May and harvest from January to
February. After men have harvested their yams, women will start their
own farming on the same piece of land called Uche-Ukpu. Crops
such as water yam, cocoyam, vegetables, pepper, etc. are cultivation.
Just of recent, cassava is demanded more than yams, which makes the
system of fallowing very difficult top Practice.
Cropping and Diety Worship
Cassava was a crop imported into Ekpeye. In the olden days, it was
believed that the goddess of women called Ebilika contributed
more to harvest of the farm. Cocoyam was regarded as being her making,
hence Ebilika (deity) shrine is prepared for every good female
farmer in Ekpeye. The symbol is a type of special cocoyam called "Nali"
planted at a corner of the woman's house with an old hoe called oguu
and a calabash pot called agbu-gbolo, believed to be used by
the spirit in the farm. This concept contributed to cocoyam being a holy
crop for juju priest in Ekpeye land and marked as a special diet for
them on the special diet for them on the special day of Ekpeye week days
of Eke, Udhie, Izu and Ehwo, in which their juju may forbid them to eat
cassava. The regard of cocoyam as the women's crop and its spiritual
conception to the diet of the juju priest on special days makes it a
general staple food on the days of ogwu Adaunwo/Ekpeye
festival. And it is during or after the ogwu Adaunwo/Ekpeye
that the chief priest of Ekpeye juju can eat new yams, that day is
usually a special feast day for him called Ubeshi-gbidhi.
Professional native doctors both men and women are inclusive in the
belief and act accordingly. They will not eat new yams until after
The first daughter (Adaunwo) as a custom in Ekpeye land has a very
forceful stand in every home. As an honor to her, every farmer in Ekpeye
is expected to reserve at least a rope of yams in his barn called
Ekwe before planting. And on the day of the planting, the biggest
yam in the barn is given to her to sit down called "gbidhi unazi ezi"
and good fish to cook it. New yam festival are held annually to signify
harvest season or eating of fresh fruits in Ekpeye land during which
thanks are given to god/goddess of the land.