Nigerian Masquerades

Description: “In Nigeria a masquerade is basically, so here we have masquerades but they’re lie people in suits to represent what the masquerade looks like. And So like there’s these spirits that embody this certain emotion or spiritual energy or whatever. When you look at the mask it’ll be a mask and a bunch of colored rafia and like pieces of wooden jewelry. Depending on the different mask they may carry a fan or a machete or something. But like in Nigeria all of your parents would tell us stories about masquerades but that were like legitimate spirits not like a dude in a suit but people who would be around the masquerade when it was coming through villages dancing were people who believe in the masquerade’s power like and culturally you could not get close to a masquerade you’re not allowed to but nobody really wants to unless you’re like following the masquerade. Cause that’s some scary shit. My mom told me about this one that she saw when she was a little girl. First of all, you’re only supposed to watch from a distance like you can’t get close or anything like that unless you’re like a man who’s authorized to be next to the masquerade or something like that. I wouldn’t say it’s like a priest. It’s just like men dancing and chanting. It’s just a patron of that spiritual culture. Somebody who’s like apart of it. But you have to be a man and you have to be old enough. You can’t just be like a teen boy or a woman. And so what she was telling me about this one and all these men were dancing around the masquerade you know like shouting and dancing or whatever. And the masquerade was like, it looked like it was a person under a white sheet. Just walking and dancing along, Doing these weird like movements. And then instantaneously it would fall flat like a sheet. And then continue moving. And then reform. And then fall flat. And this is the thing like this is rural Nigeria like it’s like a rural town in America so just like low tech. They don’t have the technology of special effects to make this construct like inflate and deflate. Exactly they just can’t do that. So, like the fact of the matter is – well I can’t even say fact because I haven’t seen it but it’s something that our parents do not mess around with. It’s like a serious thing. So when she saw this thing it like blew her mind because like oh my god this is real. You know? And like that’s Masquerades.  They’re not all like they’ll be one form and then they’ll lose form the next . Some are just like beast or whatever. But always there’s like a chant or a dance that’s like associated with each masquerade.”

2. This piece was very personal to my friend. He’s spoken several times about how his mom doesn’t joke around with this stuff. He said that his family talks about festivals like these all the time. That’s how he found out about it.

3. I went into his dorm room and asked him to tell me some Nigerian folklore. He got really excited and then told me this one. His eyes got really big and he started talking fast.

4. There’s so much content to digest with this one. First of all, he has the first hand account of his mother that’s really fascinating. Not only does he have a cultural idea that he can take with him everywhere he goes, but he has a first hand account from one of the  most trusted people in his life to believe in. This post give great insight into the Nigerian value and fear of spirits as well. They consider it a great honor to be able