NIGERIA: Kroeber and Parsons (1958): “transmitted and created content and patterns of values, ideas, and other symbolic- meaningful systems as factors in the shaping of human behaviour” (p. 583). An even less easily comprehensible definition was provided by White (1959/2007): “By culture, we mean an extra somatic, temporal continuum of things and events dependent upon symboling” (p. 3).
Masquerade celebrations are one of the memorable events that spice up the Nupe culture in Nigeria. This cultural event brings both Nupe and Yoruba tribes together. However, the event is originally celebrated by the Nupes from Niger, Kwara, Kogi and Abuja.
Types of masquerades in Nupe culture
Ndako Gboya is the strongest among all the masquerades in the Nupe kingdom.
Ndako Gboya means masquerade in the Nupe language, it was brought to Lagos by Yaisa Ayani in the early 19th century with the influence of Chief Oshodi-Tapa, a Nupe man who at that time established himself as a trusted fellow of Oba Kosoko.
Yaisa was inspired by the colourful masquerade festivals among the Yorùbás, so he approached Chief Oshodi Tapa to request for land where he could establish “Ibasoshi” (Igbọ́-Igunnu). Tapa without hesitation offered land to Yaisa and is known as “IGBO IGUNNU EPETEDO” to date. It was from this place that the Igunnuko culture spread across other Yorùbá cities.
Kuti Stabi, Kudi woni, Kuti gada, Kuti langba, Kuti sengi and many more are types of masquerades in Nupe land.
The legacy and significance of masquerades
The Nupe masquerade before going out for any performance; the owners must serve by doing some sacrifice. Some masquerades accept fowl as a sacrifice, some welcome goats while to some it is palm wine. This sacrifice is done to enable the masquerades to perform optimally and to listen to the instructions of their owner.
A tour to some of these Nupe land makes one believe that the people still value their cultures and traditions.
The Nupe masquerade like any other masquerade aims to entertain visitors and play a vital role in ceremonial functions. I’m a proud Nigerian. We are full of innovations and driven by enormous ideas.
The mechanism used to control these masquerades makes them creep into any door size, they can be as high as a tree and within a minute roll on the floor like a drum, spread like leaves on the floor all in one breath.
Seeing masquerades performing an event in a local setting helps the younger generation to witness and experience their culture so as to carry it forward.
People visit masquerade performing centres to watch the performances and relieve them of some burdens. In the aspect of information function, helps people to be informed about events and cultural activities.
Nupe people have a variety of celebrations in which their masquerades appear. They love celebrating the prophet’s birthday (Maulud). The mask has a human body/face with a motif rising above it, placed with stylized horns. The huge masquerade wears a cloth mask decorated with cowrie shells.
It is used during festivals, carnivals, traditional weddings, turbaning ceremonies, etc.
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