The way we are

Our masks, our layers, our foolishness, our empathy, our togetherness.
The way we communicate, our body language, how we look at ourselves, at each other.
The way we love, we live, we exist. The way we are. Humanity.

Njenje (Walkabout) 

Njenje is a parade that involves virtually an entire village’s population. It opens the first day of a Dry Season Festival, a time Afikpo say is ”our Christmas”, when rich meals, visits and ceremonies prevail. Men create elaborate appearances by borrowing cloth and jewelry from sisters, wives, lovers and friends who eagerly await the parade. Secrecy from women and uninitiated men is strictly enforced throughout the dressing process. This adds to the suspense of the audience who watch players stroll through the village as masked unmarried girls, as Europeans, as Muslims and children. How well they imitate feminine guile in their stride and costume – or suggest a schoolteacher, minister, lawyer or office clerk – is a test of the persuasive skills of the men who put the parade together.

For details about the different masks please check this page.

The weird figures made of piles of fabric, hair, beads and sweaters are Soundsuits, 2006, by Nick Cave

The last round gloomy mask is a female Goli mask of Kplekple, 20th century, from Ivory Coast, Africa.

Seattle Art Museum

June 15th, 2018