I ran across this eye-article about the famous Ijele masquerade and knew I must share it.
One thing I learnt is that Igbos tried to use masquerades to scare of people they consider invaders.
In Moremi’s time, the Igbos used masquerades to scare off the Yoruba who had displaced them from Ike Ife.
Then, in the case of the Ijele, the Igbos used it to try to scare white missionaries who had come to convert Igbos to Christianity.
Anyway, read the 10 facts below:
a.Studies have shown that the Ijele masquerade has its roots from the Akunechenyi dance group in Umuleri and Aguleri communities in Anambra State.
b. Available resources also show that the original idea was for the masquerade to drive away the early missionaries as well as celebrate royalty and greatness in Igboland.
c. It is regarded as the biggest masquerade in sub-Saharan Africa.
d. It stands at between 12ft-15ft.
e. It was listed in the UNESCO Archives as an intangible cultural element in need of urgent safeguarding.
f. It is believed that in the olden days, 45 other masquerades performed on top of the Ijele (signifying its kingship above all other eastern masquerades). These masquerades are represented today by 45 figurines on top of the Ijele.
g. It takes about a hundred men to put the Ijele costume in order.
h. It performs at the death of important people in the village, members of the Ijele family and during the death of the oldest person in the village.
i. It holds numerous significances. For instance, the fact that the Ijele can bow down to royalty and authority shows that no one is above ‘bowing’ down.
j. The Ijele MUST never touch the ground, if it does, it is considered dead and the carrier and his family can never bear the Ijele again.P.S: If revived and given an urban feel, could this be a theme for a major urban festival like crop over or something? Flavour imbibed it in his most recent album and it was cool and cultural all at once.