Origins of The Ayande Tribe

The people of Ayande tribe were the craftsmen and blacksmiths in the Mbiu nation. The traditional blacksmith’s identity was brought by the almost-mythical prestige that he commands and by the near-mystical power that he wields and manipulates, after an extensive, secretive initiation. The blacksmith was a veritable force-tamer, with his uncanny, trans-mundane ability to harness iron and clay that is believed to animate all things. They believed in benign power of a god, Inake the god of iron and metal working. Apart from being blacksmiths, the Ayande tribesmen were traditional weavers who made objects and fabric from sisal and reeds and practised tanning in the process.

The Ayande blacksmith holds an important position in society. Blacksmiths were often called upon by the King for guidance in major decisions regarding the village. The power of the blacksmith was thought to be so great that they are also feared. Ayande Blacksmiths control a force called Bayanze. This means that they control all energy and power in the village as well as the makeup and workings of the Ayande society. The ability to control such a force was not given to just anyone. A single family in the village is designated to produce blacksmiths. The boys from that family are taught the secret knowledge about the use and nature of Bayanze. It is the foundation that nourishes the institution of smiting, so that it may nourish society, is the simple axiom that knowledge can be power when properly articulated. They begin training at an early age, as an apprentice in order to master the techniques of blacksmithing by the time they reach adulthood and become an Ayande Blacksmith.

The Ayande were more traditional in their way of life and less inclined to exploration. They were more sociable and eager to belong, which was quite evident in their pure love for entertainment. They welcomed people from other tribes into their community through trading. Items exchanged included their woven baskets, fabric and iron knives, swords, amulets, arrowheads and shields for food items like honey, meat, fruits, milk and sometimes gold. In as much as the Ayande were social, they were more conservative than liberal and not open to intermarriages albeit openly interacting with other tribes of the nation. Their keen attention to detail was more evident in their detail-oriented dance that was taught from a very early age and was an essential fabric to their identity. Ayande music and dance was however not a substitute for happiness, but an expression of it.

The children start learning dance routines and drum playing at an early age. As they start spending less time with their grandmothers and more time with other children, they begin to participate in music making more often and sing songs and musical games. The little children would enjoy making things and many of the top craftsmen started learning their skills at a very early age from their grandmother or father. Little boys would make toy cars which they push a round for most of the day. The Ayande children and adults played several games, probably the best known was played by making a few holes in the ground and moving stones around in a logical and tactical manner. The women would spend most of their time in between weaving baskets and sisal mats and taking care of the homestead.

The Ayande tribe was a monarch led by a King and assisted by his wife, the Ayorwe, the Queen. As the King performed duties that affected the tribe, the Queen carried out the rituals and consecration ceremonies. The monarch was assisted in its duties by a council of ministers, appointed by the King. The tribe was subdivided into three clans; the royalty, the blacksmiths and the weavers- managed by a council of elders. Each clan had a military sub-unit that was selected after the traditional circumcision ceremony presided over by the King. The young men were initiated and trained by older and more experienced men on how to fight and protect themselves using the phenomenal Ayande shield. Each military subunit took turns in protecting the monarch against external attacks and often carried out competitions to showcase their expertise amongst themselves in different social celebrations in the monarch.

Read Also: Who is a Ayande?

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