Little things can trigger great memories of the past. I stumbled on this mask in a shop at the souk that collected all manner of knicks and knacks from all over the World. On enquiry, the seller told me he believes it’s from somewhere in West Africa.
Looking at it transported me back home to my native Igbo land of Enugu State in Nigeria. It brought back a flooding of memories of cultural festivities that showcased fierce masquerades and the drumbeats of the African drums and special gong, especially at Christmas or New Year season.
It reminded me of my days as a young girl and how we used to run as swiftly as we could to get away from the young agile masquerades who loved to send our adrenaline pumping by chasing us around the square or through the bush path – especially the young girls.
Traditionally where I’m from, women don’t come near masquerades and stood to watch from the peripheries. It’s only the domain of men who have attained a certain level in their age-grade. To be initiated in the masquerade group required a ceremony of its own which is only attended by men and held at a secret place.
To my understanding, some of these traditions have been eroded by Western culture, but there are still some villages that hold on to their cultural heritage.
P.S. Some clips I found on YouTube about some Igbo festivals.