OJPS  Vol.5 No.2 , March 2015
Masking Traditions and Their Behavioral Functions in Accounting for Stability and Order: A Critical Exposition of Select Study of West, East and Central African Masks
Development in Africa is both material and non-material; cultural and non-cultural regarding the modern state in Africa. One of the reasons why some Western aspects of development fail to work in Africa derive from the stubbornness of the indigenous people to let go of a tradition that has defined them and identified them as a cultural group. One of these defining traditions is the masking trends that account for the different masquerades and esoteric cultures that explain law and order in Africa. We will not go into why development plans fail in Africa; but by going into the masking traditions of Africans, we can understand why certain behaviors are exhibited by Africans that account for the clash of modernity and tradition. Since this is a paradigm seeking edition, we have gone on a brief study of the masking traditions of West, East and Central Africa with a view to understanding and appreciating their functions in their base societies. We gather that there is a preponderance of ancestral consciousness in all of the masks studied. For example, Mossi masks appear most frequently at funerals. Kuba masks are used by sorcerers to call upon primordial ancestors for purposes of social control. These functions of masking traditions reveal the desire to enforce law and bring about order in the society. They show that the role of the masquerade is within the same purview as the police of today and the involvement of spiritual “realities” bring about fear and reverence.

Cite this paper
Casimir, K. , Nwakego, O. , Umezinwa, E. (2015) Masking Traditions and Their Behavioral Functions in Accounting for Stability and Order: A Critical Exposition of Select Study of West, East and Central African Masks. Open Journal of Political Science, 5, 115-127. doi: 10.4236/ojps.2015.52014.
[1]   Bacquet, J.-B. (2002). The Tribal Arts of Africa. London: Thames & Hudson.

[2]   Bassani, E. (2005). Arts of Africa: 7000 Years of African Art. Milan: Skira Editore.

[3]   Cole, H. M. (1985). I Am Not Myself. The Art of African Masquerade. Los Angeles: Museum of Cultural History, University of California at Los Angeles.

[4]   Cornet, J. (1972). Preface in J.D. Mobutu’s. Art d’Afrique noire au pays dufleuve Zaire. Brussel: Arcade.

[5]   Ejizu, C. I. (1986). OFO, Igbo Ritual Symbol. Enugu: Fourth Dimension Publishers Ltd.

[6]   Jacques, K., Jean-Louis, P., & Lucien, S. (1988). L’art Ct les grandes civilizations: L’artafricain. Paris: Editions Mazenod, 620.

[7]   Lange, D. (2005). Die N’tomobei den Bambara und in Ugarit (Syrien). EmBeitrag der Ethnologiezur Altorientalistik. In K. Geisenhainer, & K. Lange (Eds.), Bewegliche Horizonte (pp. 265-282). Festschrift fir Benthard Streck, Leipzig: Universitätsverlag.

[8]   Nketia, K. (2012). Safeguarding Traditional Culture and Folklore in Africa. Ghana: International Centre for African Music and Dance, University of Ghana School of Performing Arts Accra.

[9]   Nunley, J. W. (1996). Cover Story. Journal of the American Medical Association, 276, 1782.

[10]   Obiechina, E. (1978). Literature—Traditional and Modern—in the Nsukka Environment. In Ofomata, G. E. K. (Ed.), The Nsukka Environment. Enugu: Fourth Dimension Publishers.

[11]   Roy, C. (1996). The Art of Burkina Faso. Canberra: Mangold Publishers.

[12]   Schaedler, K. (1992). Gods Spirits Ancestors: African Sculpture from Private German Collections. Villa Stuck Munchen: Panterra, 47.