Mascurade is one of the Igbo Cultures with a mystery which is still in existence today. In the Igbo tradition, the masquerade embodies both the spirit and human world.
The mystery surrounding each masquerade and its appearance is one of the key components of Igbo culture that survived the western colonization and influence.
Therefore, this write-up will show us some of the most popular Igbo masquerades, their duties in the Igbo culture and occasions where they are seen.
- The Ijele Masquerade:
This is a very special and the most popular masquerade in the Igbo culture. The Ijele traces its origin to Anambra and Enugu states. It has been listed by UNESCO as the biggest masquerade in Sub-Saharan Africa.
The Ijele is believed to be the king of all masquerades, and as such, it has 45 other masquerades performing at the top of it. Recently, the 45 other masquerades have been represented on the Ijele by the 45 figurines seen on top of Ijele. The Ijele performs alone in cultural festivals and usually performs last.
- The Izaga:
This is the tallest of all Igbo masquerades. It has the ability to make itself tall and also reduce its height. The main purpose of the Izaga is entertainment, and as such, it appears in traditional events and funerals.
The Ulaga Masquerade is not often seen as it comes out occasionally during funerals of titled men and new yam festivals.
The Agaba is a warrior masquerade of the Igbo land. It is popularly known for having large sets of teeth and usually carrying a cutlass. The Agaba is seen during occasions and funerals of titled men.
The Odo masquerade is predominant among the Nsukka, Aku, people of Enugu State. The Odo represents a deity that afford the living an opportunity to commune with the dead in line with the Igbo tradition.
The Ekpe is popular among the people of Enugu, Abia and Ebonyi states. The Ekpe is often used to enforce law and order in the community, it is a rarely seen masquerade.
These masquerades usually appear in large numbers for the sole purpose of entertainment. It often carries a cane with which it scares people away and is popular among the young men of the Igbo land. The Igariga are often seen in burials and Ofala festivals of the Igbo people.
The Omaba is a popular masquerade among the Nsukka and Nkanu people of Enugu State. Omaba masquerades come in different masks and usually perform during the Omaba festival.
This particular masquerade is known for its aggressive nature. It always carried a sharp cutlass with which it salutes other masquerades or extorts money from individuals. The Udo-Akpu-Enyi is often accompanied by another individual who holds the rope that is tied around its waist to prevent it from causing damage.
The Ajofia is peculiar to the Nnewi people of Anamabra State. The name which means “evil forest” is a proof that it is rarely seen unless a strong titled man passes on.
The Adamma entertainment masquerade is known for its dancing abilities. This masquerade is peculiar to the Angelo people of Enugu State. Often accompanied by two other masquerades “the police masquerade and a palm wine tapper”, the Adamma is seen in burial ceremonies, title taking ceremonies and cultural festivals.
Nwachineke Onyeke Chekwube reporting, Obinwannem news writer/ November 5, 2021