Cocoa & Culture: Exploring the Heart of Our West African-Inspired Brand

Did you know that all profits from the cocoa we sell go directly to a non-profit organization that funds the construction of schools for girls in Nigeria? Our mission here at NŌK CHOC is to further the education of African girls with Southeastern Nigeria holding an important place in our hearts. Because of that, we thought we’d share a little bit of the Nigerian culture that so heavily influences our hot cocoa.

Though culture is not defined by city limits, country borders, or municipal regions, our brand is most closely seeking to honor the masquerades performed by the tribal secret society of Ekpe, primarily spread over the Cross River State area (in Nigeria). Historians have found diaries of members dating back to the late 1700s, but the group was estimated to have been created much earlier. Members were leaders in socioeconomic and political activities, helping to regulate crime as well as the economy in local communities. Even today, they still play a large role in governmental affairs and legislative activities.

In the present day, the Ekpe are well known for their ceremonies held to celebrate the spirit of Ekpe, during which they dress up in elaborate hand-made costumes, complete with masks, headpieces, and staffs. During these ceremonies, members of the society and community can be seen marching and dancing to the beat of their ceremonial drums. These events are primarily to celebrate the return of their ancestors and to send messages from ancestors to the public. The bearer of the masquerade is a high-ranking member of the group who has gone through extensive rituals to provide the wisdom and guidance of the ancestors. They often lead these parades beginning at a town landmark to the palace of the traditional ruler.

Additionally, though women are prohibited from most of the Ekpe’s rituals, there are also societies specifically for women and girls that celebrate similar cultural ideas. During the Ekpe Masquerade, many of these women often perform with the men, with a dance called Ekombi. This dance is meant to symbolize the spirit of the waters, their movements very fluid and majestic.

We hope you’ll follow along for more stories of Nigerian culture and join us on our journey to spread celebration and love everywhere.

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