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Thursday, 13 February 2014

Why Masquerade?


 

Egúngún Òndó

Yorùbá belief that somehow, there's ìbáṣepọ̀; relationship that takes place (láàrinbetween the living ará ayé and the dead - ará ọ̀run. It is said that ará àlàdé ọ̀run (people of the dead) visits ayé; earth sometimes. 

When the dead is buried - bí a bá sín ní kú, the corpse in the long run turns into earth, bópẹ́ bóyá eèpẹ̀ á gba ara but ṣùgbọ́n the egúngún (bones) will be left in the grave; sàárè. The spirit ẹ̀mí of the dead person òkú is brought back to life through egúngún

The word egúngún is derived from egúngún; bone or skeleton. It implies that when one dies, one automatically becomes egúngún; egúngún as the body rots in the earth; ilẹ̀.

Nítẹ́síwájú
; in furtherance, my people say 
"bí ará ayé ṣń ṣàdúrà fún ará ọ̀run bẹ́ẹ̀ lará ọ̀run ń ṣàdúrà fún ará ayé " - the living pray for the dead, so the dead pray for the living. Which is why you hear Yorùbá's say "orí ìyá mi lọ́run má sùn o" - my mother in heaven thou should not sleep (late mother in heaven help me) or "ẹlẹ́dàá bàbá mi gbèmí, o ò gbọdọ̀ sùn lọ́run  o" - my father’s maker (soul) please do not sleep in heaven.



The Yorùbá people remember their late ones by making sàárà (usually àkàrà) which will be distributed to the living. A reason why almost all homes have one eégún or the other.

Ọjọ́ tí à ń rántí àwọn òkú ọ̀run làwọn eégún lóríṣiríṣi ma ń jáde (wá sí ayé), láti wá f'ìyà jẹ ẹni ibi, tí ẹni ire yóò gba ìbùkún - the day that the Yorùbá  remember the late is when eégún comes to town.

You don't expect an ará ọ̀run; masquerade to speak like the living, which is why you hear the ohùn; voice of the masquerade sound like kọ̀nkọ̀ lálẹ̀ odò - a frog under water. Once you hear the voice, no one tells you it's an eégún speaking.

Ònpìtàn; historian sọ fún wa wípé said that, Ẹ̀ṣà Ọ̀gbín Ológbojò is the first egúngún to display in the ẹ̀kú; eégún atire lórílẹ̀ ayé - on earth. The historians, said that it is a man named Ọlọ́wọjọ̀n Kújẹ́nrá ará Agbọ́ṣọ̀kun owns the ẹ̀kú eégún 

Whenever, Ẹ̀ṣà Ọ̀gbín Ológbojò wears the masquerade attire (ẹ̀kú or agọ̀ egúngún), he praises himself with ewì; poem as he ; dance kiri about nínú in agọ̀ the regalia.


The poem ewì alóhùn tí Ẹ̀ṣà Ọ̀gbín Ológbojò ma ńké ni ó di Ẹ̀ṣà; said by Ẹ̀ṣà Ọ̀gbín when dancing about is regarded as iwì kíké (poem recitation); egúngún's poem. The speech of eégún is also called ẹ̀ṣà/ẹ̀ṣà pípè (the calling of Ẹ̀ṣà). From then and henceforth any masquerade that calls Ẹ̀ṣà is literally calling the first egúngún.

Òkòtòròjò
Ẹ̀ṣà is used to praise someone (à ń fi ẹ̀ṣà kí èèyàn), we use it to tell a story and events around (sọ ìtàn àti ìṣẹ̀lẹ̀ láwùjọ). Music is not left out in Ẹ̀ṣà (orin ò gbẹ́yìn pẹ̀lú lẹ́nu eégún), You will hear - :

"Mo jùbá onílé, ìbà àlejò, ìbà ọmọdé, àgbà. Ìbà eníyán, ìbà ènìyàn. Bí èkòló bá ti jùbá ilẹ̀ẹ́lẹ̀ á lanu, aṣọ ò ní ya méégún lórí. Èèwò!" 

"Modé modé, èmi ni eégún aláré-abì-koko-lẹ́tí aṣọ, èmi ni ọmọ apòòyìì rọinrọinrọin, èmi ni ọmọ atàkìtì, oníjó lẹ́sẹ̀, alóyinlóhùn

...............................................................

"Homage i pay to the house owner, visitors, young and old. Homage to the powerful (witches), homage to humans. 
The earth opens up to the earthworm when it pays homage to the earth. The eégún's attire will never tear on the eégún. Its a taboo! 

I have come, I have come, I am the show masquerade with knots at the elm of the cloth, I am the child who whirls around, the child that somersaults, the dancer, the one with sweet voice" 


The above poem; 
iwì/ewì eégún gives insight into the character, look of an egúngún, as well as its acrobatic displays as he performs.

You might have heard the word àgbà ọ̀jẹ̀  used as a figure of speech - àkànlò èdè to imply wisdom or wise one, professional (àwọn tí ó ní 
Òye). 




ìgbàlẹ̀

For instance, an announcement may go thus; àwọn àgbà ọ̀jẹ̀ nínú eré ìdárayá yóó wà ní ìkàlẹ̀ - professionals in sport will be at the event. Those regarded àgbà ọ̀jẹ̀ are renown for one thing or another. But in the real sense àgbà ọ̀jẹ̀ is an experienced person who is well drilled in the practice of eégún. Whereas, the word ọ̀jẹ̀ on the other hand, refers to a masquerade; all masqueraders in Yorùbá land are called ọ̀jẹ̀

In Yorùbá land, we have so many masquerades.  Apart from the father of masquerades eégún Ológbojò. Yorùbá masquerades includes ọya the fierce eégún. Alárìnjó/alágbe is an eégún in Ọ̀yọ́, which uses rags for its regalia. There is also eégún Ajóbíewé (masquerade that dance like a leaf), Ajófóyìnbó (dance for the whites), Alárànán in Ògbómọ̀ṣọ̀ (velvet masquerade).




Dánáfojúrà is an egúngún who dance in fire.

In Èkìtì we have eégún yalawi, Ọ̀ṣáṣá, Àdó (the god of Ògún's masquerade), Ẹ̀pa or Òkòtòròjò/Ẹlẹ́fọ̀n; a masquerade with a kind of wound on its head. And also is Ẹdẹ̀

In Ìjẹ̀bú there is Ẹ̀lẹ́kú,  Awùrú, Elégbódo, Ìjẹ̀pà, Alápánsánpá and Gẹ̀lẹ̀dẹ́ a female affairs masquerade from Ẹ̀gbá. In Ìbàdàn we have Olóòlù, Siaba Ọ̀rányàn

In Lagos; Èkó we have Adímú-òrìṣà (Ẹ̀yọ̀), Ìgunnu; a tall masquerade which is up to 10 feet or above originates from Tápà

There is a very magical egúngún Àgan-òòṣà which is revered for its hopping steps when it walks. 

You may not know that, certain rituals are carried out in the 
egúngún groove on eégún festivals; onírúurú ètùtù la ń ṣe lọ́jọ́ ọdún eégún ní igbó ìgbàlẹ̀.

Eégún are good dancers, they dance from house to house to collect gifts from the living. Anyone who refuse to give gifts will be flogged with ẹgba pàsán/àtòrí

Aside from dancing about on festival days, eégún's are used to break news of a dead person in the community. Once a renowned men die, 
egúngún will be seen in the streets speaking ewì  to inform the world that someone has joined the dead. And days before the burial, the egúngún comes out again to tell the family of the deceased that their loved one has arrived ọ̀run safely, after-which he will be presented food; oúnjẹ and wine; ẹmu.

Not just when someone dies, egúngún also comes out when a famous indigene celebrates an important event, when a king is enthroned, during chieftaincy ceremony and so on. 
Generally, we celebrate festival ọdún eégún from the 6th month Òkúdù through the 10th Ọ̀wàrà of the year, similar to Halloween.

Egúngún o ni ìwọ́ mọ̀? Apá ibo ló sì ti wá?

There are so many Yorùbá masquerade, do you know any and from where?