Ipari’s Palm Wine By Adebayo Fajinmi

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Apart from the enviable educational development that Igbajo, my hometown, is known for, the way our people socialise is another appealing side that nobody can controvert.This shows in the eulogy of the town: Omo alagogo menu. Meaning people who beat the gong to drink palm wine.

Let me tell you how we adopted this eulogy as a community as disclosed by Late Oba Olufemi Fashade.

When the Igbajos settled here, it was during the dark ages and there was no road. What we had then were hills. Some Igbajos were on one side of the hill while others were on the other side. They were farmers and after their tedious work on the farm, may be one of them on the other side was frying yams and the smoke billowed the sky, then another Igbajo from the other side came back from the farm and sighted smoke, he would then take a gong to alert the one frying yam. And they all can differentiate the sound of their gongs.The meaning of the gong sound is for them to meet for relaxation and savour good palm wine, while they also play traditional games like “Opon Ayo” after a full day of work on the farm.

Palm wine which is a strong bond of brotherhood among Igbajo people means same among Ipari people. It is also a tool of social cohesion. The drink is also served during during important occasions like marriage and festival.

The name Ipari in Otukpa, Ogbadibo Local Government of Benue State, means ‘inside palm tree.’ No wonder the community is one of the richest in terms of the drink.

The way palm wine has survived urbanisation in my village, retaining both its social and cultural values, it has survived in Ipari as well. However, the gourd and calabash used previously to store and sip the wine have been exchanged for the keg and red cup.

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