Wow, what can I say about today? We spent most of the time preparing for and doing the gala, which basically means parade. This is a public way of advertising and generating excitement about an event or product. We went around the city, which was packed with people, following a truck filled with band members, instruments, speakers and singers.
We made our way around the city and stopped at variouslocations to meet with local community leaders of the ancient kingdoms. These leaders are called Eze, meaning King. Each of them have their compound in which is the palace. This meeting hall is where people come to do their business with the Eze. There are thrones in the front, desks were the king in his cabinet sit to do business, and all around the hall there are chairs for the visitors to sit.
Every location, we went through the ritual of passing the Kola nut. As it was explained to me, this Kola nut is as traditional to the Igbo people as the Thanksgiving turkey in the US. They present a plate and everyone from the nearest to the farthest sees the plate. After we have seen it, then we eat and do business. It was said a couple times that the Kola nut doesn't speak English, but they would make an exception today.
During our time at the palaces, we go through a number of formalities and in a roundabout way request that the Eze will be present at the event tomorrow. Each of the four that we visited promised that they would attend and that it would encourage their people to attend also. Each one of them kept their word, and judging by the size of the attendance, they truly have influence. As we went around the town, we passed out fliers by the thousands in people's reaction was varied. Some looked at us angrily, others were in shock to see a white person running around in a gala while others were very happy he gladly took our flyers. At the end of the day we were tired and continued planning for the event the next day.
Dr. Ansa, even though she is originally from Calaba in Nigeria, had never expereinced what we did today. I'm glad I wasn't the only one who was learning everything for the first time.