Mkpọkiti (Nkpọkiti) – Igbo Greatest Cultural Dance In History
Dance is an important part of Igbo culture. Dancers use symbolic gestures, masks, costumes, body painting, and traditional props. Some traditional dances have very powerful moves, requiring a lot of energy and acrobatic skills, reasons why such dances are reserved for the young people in the community. Others are more elegant majestic, slow and flowing with rhythm.
Dancing takes up the greater part of the Igbo culture’s amusement and religious components. The Igbos think that dancing has many more purposes in society than just entertainment, such as spiritual purification of the land, fitness training for teenagers, historical preservation, and so on.
Mkpọkiti dance was founded in 1959 by late Chief Festus Okoli Nwankwo of Ugwunano village of Umunze in Orumba local government of Anambra state. In 1970 immediately after the civil war, all the states of the Nigerian federation were summoned in Lagos to celebrate the end of the civil war. Among the programmes lined up for the celebrations was the cultural dance competition from all the states. A cash prize of 3,000 British Pounds and a gold gong were prizes for the first place in cultural dances. The competition started from villages to the divisions and to the states. From village level to the national stage, Mkpọkiti secured first position and won the coveted gold gong and cash prize in Lagos.
This stimulated other dance groups in the country with the result that in 1971, many dance groups registered for the competition. The final competition for the year took place in Ibadan and Mkpọkiti maintained the lead.
In 1972 – 1973 in Kaduna, the case was the same. Since inception, the Mkpọkiti dance group has never obtained a second position in any competition. Formerly, Anambra State Government chose Mkpọkiti as its state dance but after the continuous clinching of first position in national competitions, the Federal Government adopted Mkpọkiti as a national dance. Mkpọkiti represented the Federal Government in FESTAC ’77 at Lagos. In New York, Washington, Jamaica, Barbados, Brazil, Venezuela, Trinidad and Tobago, Cuba, Port of Spain, and England, Mkpọkiti dance has been exhibited as the greatest cultural dance in Africa.
The Satinsheen Company under the management of Miss Franca Afebua took Mkpọkiti dance to a global competition in Wembley, England. All the groups competed in Oxford University, England. As expected, Mkpọkiti dance secured the1st prize there and carried the World Cup back to Nigeria.
The Federal Government has taken Mkpọkiti dance group to ALL THE PARTS OF THE WORLD except Australia. The achievements made in these travels including winning the World Cup multiple times even in New York, Algeria and North Korea a few years ago rightly crowned the legendary Mkpọkiti dance of Igbo people the great. They are regarded as the greatest cultural dance group in the universe, they are featured at the back of
N5 (five naira) note as an honor.
In August 2015, magical Mkpọkiti Dance of our people bagged the United Nations Gold Medal of Culture and Exhibitions. Mkpọkiti Bus-stop in Enugu were named after them.
Have you ever seen a live or video performance of the Mkpọkiti dance? How was the experience?