One of the main traditional dances of the Abbi people of Delta State is the Ukwata dance. It is presented as part of the prestigious Ukwata Festival. On the other hand, the Ukwata Festival is a time to honor the ancestors of the land and mark the transition from one age group to another.
A major celebration honoring the Abbi people’s enduring peace and harmony is conducted each year in February. The Festival also heralds in a new growing season and puts an end to the Abbi people’s agricultural operations for the year.
The most eagerly awaited event of the Ukwata festival is the dancing day. The day usually comes after “Nkwo Ndi Ebieyi,” or “stranger’s day,” on which strangers and distant community members are welcomed back to their homes. The dance is performed in a way that has a religious theme and incorporates rituals performed to worship the gods. Women decide to build bonfires to ward off evil spirits during the event.
Ukwata dance prominently honors the wonder of water and what it has to provide. The dancers frequently wear lovely blue and green costumes and imitate a variety of aquatic creatures, including crocodiles, iguanas, fish, and alligators. They create dance patterns that both allude to mermaid dance styles and illustrate the genesis of these aquatic creatures.
The Otu-Ole age-grade camp on the outskirts of the town practiced diligently eight days prior to the Ukwata dance performance to select the greatest dancer for their quarter.
This design guarantees that Umia, Okwele, and Elovie, the three quarters, each execute the Ukwata dance in turn. The main street of Abbi (Olile) is typically congested during the dance with spectators who want to see the dancers perform and the singing procession from one end of the town to the other.
The Inotu (Chief) in the three-quarters of Abbi is frequently amused by Ukwata dancers returning from the shrine with an “Ukwata” (a white eagle seat on some local craft). On the streets of Abbi, the dance mainly turns into a fun dance carnival. Visitors and well-wishers gather in Abbi town during the performance to take in the dancers’ energetic movements. Typically, it is breathtaking to witness.