History and Origin Of Leboku Festival

The Leboku Festival which is also known as the “New Yam Festival” is celebrated by the Ugep people annually. the festival last for about four weeks starting from the first week of August to the first Week of September. The four weeks festival is the culmination of many events: the beginning of the yam harvest, a time to appease the gods and ancestors, a public parade of engaged maidens, a commemoration of events that led to the migration from the Yakurr ancestral home to the present site, a period of holiday in the Yakurr traditional calendar, etc.

Leboku is the annual New Yam Festival celebrated in Ugep, Nigeria in honor of the earth goddess and the ancestral spirits of the land in Ugep, one of the five settlements of Yakurr. During the Leboku festival, people keep away from intense farming activities and exchange visits with their families.

Leboku Celebration

The leboku festival celebration starts with the following events:

Female Wrestling: The leboku festival officially kicks off with a female wrestling competition. Before the commencement of the wrestling, A chief goes ran the Lukpal in the morning to perform some ritual which is known as leboku kepili. During this time, nobody is expected to come close to him or pass by. He does this for about seven times before declaring the leboku festival open.

After the declaration, the female wrestling will commence immediately that very morning starting with little children and gradually going to mature female wrestlers in the various playground of each ward such as Biko Biko, Ketabebe, Ijom, Ijiman, and Ikpakapit.


Watch The full Video of the Female Wrestling Below:

Male Wrestling: After the female wrestling in the morning hours, the male category also takes off in the evening in the Ijiman playground behind the Obol Lopon Palace. Just like the female category, male wrestling also starts with little boys and then finally graduates to mature wrestlers of which the best wrestler for the year will be selected and appreciated.

Watch The full Video of the Male Wrestling Below:

Mblemi: On this day, the harvest of new yams is officially flagged off. Women go to the farm in the morning to harvest and bring new yams to the community.

In the evening, beautifully attired women from different farm roads who had gone to harvest yams will parade the town with their harvests. Showing the big yams and the best yam harvested of the year will be selected that very day.

Janenboku: After the Yam harvest, the next thing is the Janenboku, which literally means “Women’s Festival Day“.

On this day, gifts are given to women only by their loved ones, parents, and friends. The leteboku traditional dance also takes place in the evening around all the wards in Ugep.

Ekoi Dance: The Ekoi dance is the traditional carnival-like drumming and dancing to the rhythm of the Ekoi drums to usher in the Ledemboku. This dance usually takes place at the Midnight of the Janenboku at the Obol Lopon Palace.

Mr. and Miss Leboku Contest: This is a great contest to select who will be the winner of the Mr. and Miss Leboku Beauty Pageant. It starts from 9 PM on the very day of Janenboku till Mid Night at about 1 AM

Note: Tourists, visitors, and people of Ugep on the night of Janenboku are faced with these two options: Either dancing to the rhythm of the Ekoi drums held at the Obol Lopon Palace or attending the Mr. and Miss Leboku Beauty Pageant contest, held in one of the hotels within the town.

Watch The full Video of the Mr. and Miss Leboku Contest Below:

Ledemboku: The next day after the Janenboku is the Ledemboku which means “Men’s Festival Day”. It involves the exchange of gifts to men only, a performance by the male Ekoi dancers, a parade of the Obol Lopon and his council of chiefs (Bi-Inah), a parade and dances by leg-bangle-wearing Leboku maidens to the rhythm of the Ekoi drums, and a display by the Etangala masquerade, whose only outing yearlong is on this day.

Watch The full Video of the Etangala Masquerade Display Below:

Leteboku: The Leteboku is a performance poetry contest among Leboku maidens from each of the political wards in Ugep. The songs danced to, and the rhythm produced by the leg-bangles worn by the maidens is a delight to watch.

The Leteboku comes up after a day of rest from the Ledemboku, which gives the Leboku maidens opportunities to make new friends, known as Nkokeboi.

Lobo (Yekpi): Two days after the Leteboku, which are normally observed as rest days, is the Yekpi which is also known as Lobo. The Yekpi is a day when boys and Leboku maidens parade the town in a ceremony believed to usher in peace and prosperity.

The boys dress in white wrappers, with powder on their bodies and yellow color known as “Ejehno” on their legs as seen in the picture below:

Lobo (Yekpi)
Lobo (Yekpi)

Yeponfawa (Libini): The Yeponfawa which is also known as “Libini” follows the Yekpi. This is a ceremony reserved only for initiates of the Libini group, to mark the end of the first Phase of the Leboku Festival.

This event usually starts at midnight to the next day morning when the non-initiates stay awake to listen to the songs and see their dance steps.

Watch The full Video of the Yeponfawa (Libini) Display Below:

Egbendum and Oka: After the Libini, young boys and girls still in secondary school participate in a one-week music and dance celebration which is known as Egbendum (for boys) and Oka (for girls).

Every neighbourhood has its own singing and dancing group, which is usually controlled by an adult, who also teaches them songs and dance steps.

This event lasts for One week and it marks the end of the Leboku Festival.


The festival is an incredible cultural and tourism fiesta and also a refreshing and interesting experience.
The Final celebration usually takes place at the Peace Stadium, Ugep, the headquarters of the Yakurr Local Government Area. Click Here to watch the Leboku Videos on our YouTube Channel.

Also, Read The Following:


Yakurr Names and their Meanings, Gender & Origin

Yakurr Names That Do Not Have Meanings 

Migration and Origin of the Ugep People

Leboku Festival 2022 – Full Documentation


Origin and Significance of The Bekwara New Yam Festival

To Watch the Yakurr Culture, Leboku Festival, and other Traditional Videos, Click Here.

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