chapter  9
Unmasking the masquerades: the potential of TIE in Nigeria
ByJumai Ewu, Tunde Lakoju
Pages 20

Nigeria has a very vibrant theatre culture. Every rural community can boast of a performance tradition. Traditional performances, in which the masquerade phenomenon is most dominant, are mainly ritual based. Most of them have, however, now lost both their ritual bases and their spiritual functions. With urbanization and the attendant Western cultural penetration, through Christianity and education, most of our traditional performances have been sapped of their ritual essence. They have either been forced to move from their sociocultural rural contexts in search of new roots within the urban cultures or have willingly moved in search of economic patronage and social visibility. This inevitable development has its consequences. For instance, outside of their traditional rural roots they become mere entertainments. Their ritual essence is lost on their new audiences, who are mainly interested in the exotic elements and moments of the performances. To such new audiences the solemn moments communicate no message or meaning. Also in such new settings the medium of performances must inevitably shift from the original ‘native’ idiom to an adulterated idiom that the new audiences can comprehend. These are the inevitable consequences of modernization.