8 Popular Masquerades Across Different Tribes In Nigeria

Masquerades are believed to be the spirits of the ancestors that came to visit the world of the living. During masquerade festivals in different cultures in Nigeria, masquerades are dressed in colorful regalias – some hold whips while some do not. One of the unique features of masquerades is their hidden personalities as their faces are usually covered. Different tribes have different masquerades and distinct ways in which they celebrate their masquerades. Here are some notorious masquerades that are celebrated in Nigeria.

1. Adamma

This is a popular masquerade among the Enugu-Igbo people in the southwestern part of Nigeria. Adamma is the name given to the first daughter in the Igbo household and it means “beautiful woman”. Although it is named after a woman, the masquerade is usually carried by men, they are dressed in elegant attires and they dance so well to the amazement of the on-lookers.

2. Izaga

Izaga is a masquerade that is said to be comical. The masquerade is the tallest masquerade in Igbo land. It can change its height by growing taller or shorter while entertaining people.

3. Mkpamkpanku

This masquerade is known to be widely feared by the people due to its hostility. It’s carried by a strong male youth, hence its agility and aggressive nature. Some men are always following Mkpamkpanku with a rope tied around it to prevent it from losing control.

4. Eyo

This is a widely known masquerade in Lagos state. The masquerade is dressed in white attire with a hat and a staff called “Opambata”. In the Olden days, this Eyo festival was held after the death of a king or chief to escort the spirits of the dead kings and chiefs and to install a new king. This masquerade is believed to curb hooliganism and to prevent Immoral acts.

5. Agemo

Agemo, is a masquerade in Ijebu land in Ogun state and is carried to honor the spirit of the Agemo diety. This masquerade is said to be a protector of little children and Ijebu people in general. The Agemo festival is held for a week, within this week, many rituals are carried out and the most important of these rituals is the coming out of the Agemo masquerade which is also the last part of the rituals.

6. Atipako

This masquerade carries load on it head and is often followed by women. The load on its head is said to be dirt deposited at its shrine. The masquerade is believed to come out to cleanse the land.

7. Alanpansanpa

Also known as Eegun Ogundeji, this is a fierce masquerade that’s quite popular in Ibadan, the capital of Oyo state. In the olden days, the masquerade went to many wars and won many battles. The masquerade is expected to visit the Olubadan anytime it is celebrated and the refusal to go to the Olubadan Palace means there won’t be peace in the land or that the Olubadan is not a good and deserving King.

8. Danofojura

This masquerade is said to be the oldest in Oyo kingdom. It is named after its ability to sit and display in a burning fire without getting burnt no matter how hot the flame is.

There are several other masquerades across different tribes in Nigeria. While masquerading is a cultural norm in Nigeria (especially among the Igbos and Yorubas), its practices has reduced due to civilization. Fortunately, the digital world has brought us closer to some of our ancient cultures as there are different resources online from which we can learn or obtain vital information about our past cultures.