African Drumming and Masquerades

A quick side note:

When I lived in Africa a few years back.  My first wife was a Nigerian.  She was from the Igbo tribe which is a pretty major tribe throughout the southeastern part of Nigeria.  She was a member of one village her father was an “Eze” which is like a king in western culture.  The village would be part of a greater network of tribes so 4 or 5 villages would be part of one group, then a few of those groups make up another body.  Each one of those village bodies’ would have another ruling “Eze”.  They would have times of the year, which they would throw masquerades and also times when they would have very heavy traditional drumming.  One of those ceremonies, there was a line of about 10 drummers, all of them playing “hard” and fast.  Non-stop.  It went on for hours.  I turn towards my wife and I say, not realizing that I am just some silly what man from New York: Do you think they would let me play the drums too?”

She said, oh no, honey.  You don’t want to play with these guys.  If the drumming stops, we are supposed to kill them!”  I was shocked! I said what do you mean they will kill them.  That does not seem possible.  They would actually kill them if they stop playing.  She said that it was part of the ceremony.  The ceremony that they were doing was a call to arms.  They were playing a rhythm over and over again that was actually a call to arms.  The idea behind this is that the drummers must play load and firm so the other villages around them can hear the drums and know that there is a call to arms and to come to the village to meet up for a good old fashion African battle.  So I asked her, what about today? She said that they most likely won’t kill them but they will be brought before her father (the Eze/king of her village) and her father would probably order to have him beaten or possibly forced into doing community labor or something of the similar.  I always wondered years later, would her father really allow one of his fellow village members to get beaten?  I think about this frequently, and he was kind of a nice man, he would probably just choose community labor for a while.  

They would have to play these sequences for long hours, sometimes days.  This one that I saw was to last 7 days straight.  The drummers would take turns.  They would shoot rounds into the air when I was there and also set off explosives.  I guess this is a way to show off their weaponry as they dance.  Something that they have done even back in the day by swinging there weapon around. 

Boys would dance like their father

Also, the masquerade was used to taunt the enemy and show one characteristic to the fellow members of the tribe to look for, when looking for their enemy. 

They would throw fireworks into the crowd to test fear with one another. 

I felt like I was in a current-day Soddem and Gimorah re-enactment

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