A couple of weeks ago I had a post up on Tumblr talking about the dearth in masquerade displays in my corner of Nigeria. Well maybe that dearth has been greatly exaggerated, by me. Just maybe.
On New Year’s Day I got invited for two displays in two different locations. One was in Isiokpo and the other in my hometown, Bakana. So I chose Bakana since I do not visit my hometown as much as I should. It did not look like a great choice when my friend called before 12pm to say some masquerades were at his house performing for his dad. Getting to Bakana before 2pm only to find out that the display wasn’t going to start until 5pm didn’t help either. Bear in mind that’s 5pm Nigerian time. It didn’t even start by 6pm.
Luckily for me, a separate display was also holding in Bakana. I was told by my dad that this was an Ekpo masquerade display. A masquerade of the Ibibios but now also popular with other ethnic nationalities in southern Nigeria. So essentially a Kalabari modified version of the Ibibio Ekpo masquerade.
After showing some of the pictures to a friend who is Ibibio she told me that Ekpo means the devil, juju or masquerade in Ibibio. She added that some of the masquerades in the photos the Ibibio’s actually call Tinkorikor. Another friend agreed with the above but added that the masquerade is actually Efik and that the one that is a guy covered in black charcoal is the one that’s called Ekpo. And that Ekpo actually means ghost. I remember seeing a lot of this particular masquerade while growing up. Growing up in Port Harcourt as kids when ever we saw a masquerade we used to chant “ojuju calabar” which would mean Calabar’s masquerade. I guess masquerades from the old Cross River State must have been popular in Port Harcourt.
So I basically need help with getting the facts right. If you know more about the masquerades please add the info in the comments below. And don’t tell me Google is my friend 🙂
I managed to get a few shots off before leaving. Hope you like them.