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Behind the Masks of ModernismGlobal and Transnational Perspectives$
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Andrew Reynolds and Bonnie Roos

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780813061641

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813061641.001.0001

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Nyoro Masquerade as a Hunt for Modernity

Nyoro Masquerade as a Hunt for Modernity

A View from a West African City

(p.184) 8 Nyoro Masquerade as a Hunt for Modernity
Behind the Masks of Modernism

Jordan A. Fenton

University Press of Florida

Jordan Fenton’s chapter explores how the appearance of well-known Ekpe/Mgbe mask genres during structured and unstructured performances stimulate local dialogues that reflect and mediate the various modalities of modernity of Calabar, Nigeria’s history. This mediation can reveal and reclaim the future by way of the past. Based on personal field work, Fenton considers one example of this performance that takes place in the urban setting of Calabar, home to a number of secret masquerade societies. The most prominent secret masquerade society in Calabar’s past and present is known as Ekpe (among the Efik and Efut), or Mgbe (among the Qua-Ejagham). Ekpe/Mgbe has long been used as a mechanism for coping and responding to different modernities: the transatlantic slave trade, the palm oil trade, missionizing, Nigerian independence, urbanization, and tourism. The chapter explores how the mask genres were used during initiation ceremonies and annual end-of-the-year performances to negotiate Calabar’s more recent urbanization.

Keywords:   Nigeria, Calabar, Masquerade

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