Thursday 12 October 2023Masquerading in Nigerian Music, Fashion & Culture
A Homecoming Journey
By Zainab Kuku - @indigo.distortion 🌍

Masquerading is the art of concealment, which plays a significant role in Nigerian social and indigenous ways of life. In Igbo and Yoruba culture, masqueraders represent the physical manifestation of deities or spirits on earth and according to cultural custom, should be treated with respect. Through communal bonding and festivals, masquerading serves as a vessel which connects the masquerade (and observers of the masquerade) to their origins and lineage. Within this paradigm, masquerading facilitates a Homecoming, or return to tradition, which is untainted by Western or colonial influence.

The Ijele Masquerade festival originated in Anambra state. It is one of the largest and most intricately designed masquerades in Sub-Saharan Africa.

In an article titled ‘Playing With Our Ancestors: Culture and Communal Memory in Igbo Theatre’, researcher and writer Okagbue Osita explains the significance of the Ijele Masquerade and acknowledges that through this medium, masquerading is used as a theatrical, performative and religious tool, which reflects Igbo ideals and strengthens communal bonds within Igbo society.

The Eyo Festival (also known as the Adamu Orisa play), is one of the most notable Masquerade festivals in Yoruba culture and dates back to the 18th century. The festival is a key symbol, which represents the social and communal fabric of Lagos state. Eyo Festivals were originally held to escort the soul of a departed Lagos Oba (king) and usher in his successor but over the years, the festival has morphed into a cultural highlight for the city and key tourist attraction.


Taking the world to africa and africa to the world         

Taking the world to africa and africa to the world