Gender, Performance And Communication: African Ikeji Mask Festivals Of Aro And Diaspora

Gender, Performance And Communication: African Ikeji Mask Festivals Of Aro And Diaspora

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Africa World Press, Inc.
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This book is about festival performance and how it works with the cultural nexus of a patriarchal culture. Such a culture is that of the Igbo of southeastern Nigeria and such a nexus is the mask-character or masquerade produced by clubs of privileged men. Organizers of mask performances usually operate in secret cults and their productions are usually shrouded in mystery, but this book has broken down walls of exclusion and incomprehension by unraveling the mystery of the mask performance to delineate its characteristics and engage its gender dimension. Drawing from extensive field work, library and archival research, the book deals with many subject areas, such as oral tradition, folk drama, women and gender, cultural studies and anthropology, but its umbrella base is the festival with a focus on masking practice. Through fourteen chapters, the author delineates background and origins of Ikeji mask performance in Arochukwu, its development and migration to other areas in pre-colonial times, presentation of selected festival plays in the original Aro homeland and some Aro Diaspora locations, as well as the place of postcoloniality and Christianity. The patriarchal community and social cosmos that influence the mask theater, its union with ritual, performance techniques, and other aspects that facilitate appreciation of the inscrutable wonder of traditional communities are also analyzed. Issues of masculinity, femininity and gender power politics run through the book and also feature as separate chapters and chapter-sections. This work that delineates the concept and practice of African Ikeji mask performance with considerable attention to the construction and communication of gender will be of great use to students, scholars and all those interested in Africana, traditional theater, women, culture and communication issues. This well-researched and forcefully articulated study unravels the inner workings of patriarchal power in the construction of masculinity and femininity in the enactment of the inscrutable space at the intersection of the human and spirit worlds. More importantly, in its unveiling of the gender politics of masking as a performative act, Ikeji underscores the fluidity of gendered power in an African society Obioma Nnaemeka, Chancellor s Distinguished Professor, Indiana University, Indianapolis Chinyere Okafor s African Ikeji Mask Festivals of Aro and Diaspora is not just a work in drama, music and dance, but one that provides insight into the rich African history and culture, woven in a clear and lively style. She emphasizes that the Ikeji Festival does not only underscore facets of the peoples past, but it provides entertainment and relaxation after a year s work, both in the homeland and in the diaspora. We find in this book, an author who is a great interpreter of her roots in a coherent and lucid manner. Okoro Ijoma, FHSN, FIIA, Professor of History, University of Nigeria, Nsukka

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