Ngada’s Reba Ceremony
Reba is one of the most important ceremonies in the Ngada district – it is a thanksgiving celebration held annually to thank God and to honour their ancestors for blessing the villagers with good harvest and wealth. This ceremony is held over three days and is packed with rituals, food crops and livestock and focuses on the legend of the ancestors and how they travelled far and wide to find a better place to live.
The are many different stages to the ceremony; preparations and rituals begin one week ahead of the actual day and is followed by the collecting of offerings, receiving guests, dancing, reciting original myths, and praising the yam root as yam used to be the most important and staple food in the past.
The ceremonies are varied and many and some take place in the outskirts of the village, the kisanatha or around the ancestral shrines. As the village Bena is considered the mother of all Ngada villages, this ceremony will take place here first, followed by other villages in January including Langa, Nage and Wogo and Ruto, Deru or Turekisa in February.
The ceremony is peppered with cultural symbolism, such as Ngadhu – a tall wooden trunk with carvings and a conical, thatched rood that represents each clan’s first male ancestor. Bhaga, which looks like a miniature of a Ngada house, represents a clan’s first female ancestor. The festival ends with the villagers throwing all the yam peels outside of the village.
– Check with your guide on the exact dates that the Reba will take place
– Book transport and accommodations in advance
– Bring a video camera and respect their culture at all times
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