Masquerade In Other Parts of the World:Santa clues, Halloween, clowns, masquerade balls, as played in European and American countries, are forms of masquerade where people disguise, wear masks and special costumes to perform and entertain people. The Mathom (Limba Devil) and Ghongorli are some special masquerades played in Sierra Leone of Africa. The Elewe, Aja-dudu are some types of special Egungun [masquerade] played in Yoruba tribe of Nigeria. Also, the Mbakara, Ajofia, Mgbada Ike, Ebule are some special Nmonwu [masquerade] played in Eastern Nigeria.
Occassions for Masquerade Dance:In Nigeria (West Africa), as part of culture, Masquerades are mostly played during New yam festivals [Iri-ji], Burial ceremony of a great man, chieftaincy coronation, and other special festivals. Also played in some parts in Easter and Christmas celebrations. These masquerades come in various forms and sizes and for different occasions. There are ones played during the daytime and ones played only during the nights. All are generally explained to be spirits and are not humans.
Day Masquerade:The day Masquerades[Ajofia, Mgbada ike, Ebule, etc] membership is by initiation which is only for men in most communities (few elderly women are allowed members in some communities) while the non-members can only watch from far. They are mainly for entertainment to grace special occasions. In Enugu town [eastern Nigeria] Easter celebration is climaxed on Easter Monday by a display of masquerade dance from all parts of the town and neighbouring towns. On that day, different types and sizes of masquerades, big masquerade [oke nmonwu], and small masquerade come to display at Obiagu town where people will gather to watch. It is a day that people who bought new masquerades come to display them for people to watch. The day is always really enjoyable as masquerades of different forms, colour, sizes come to display in different dance steps and music.
Night Masquerade:The Night masquerades Ogbaagu, Icheoku [eastern Nigeria], culturally is played in a night following a new yam festival and during burial of a great man in the community. These masquerades require special membership initiation and are not to be seen by anybody that is not a member, especially the children and women. They are regarded as spirits and any non-member who sees it dies that same night. The Yorubas also have night masquerades, "Oro", also not seen by non-members. When "Oro" is played in the daytime women are told to stay indoors.
Bad Aspects Of Masquerade Dance:One bad thing about Masquerade dance in Africa is that some men use it for evil. It is noticed that after the Masquerade display, people, especially the youths begin to die one after the other. It is said that the members engage in cultism and use juju [charm] when performing and that the groups try their powers on each other to see which is more powerful. That is the reason they begin to die after the performance. This has made some communities to stop masquerade performance during their festivities.
Also, the Night masuerades are played strickly by member initiates. Non-members are not allowed to see them or come out during the ceremonies. Any non-member that see it will be killed. This is why it is always announced before the ceremony to make people aware of the day of the ceremony. Some occassions, members use the medium to render abussive utterances to non-members whom they hate. This aspects of Killings and abuses of human rights, carried out during or after the ceremonies is bad and bring unwanted grief to the people.
AfryCulture View point:Masquerade Dance is not a bad culture as it bring good entertainment to the people and good cultural heritage to Africa. It is people that want to make it bad, especiall wicked men who use it for evil purposes. AfryCulture believe that some modifications should be put into the festival so as to make it more entertaining to the people. Also to remove those areas where it bring sadness to people and voilate Human Rights Acts.