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Title:Gèlèdé: metaphysics and gender in an African ritual play
Author:Layiwola, 'DeleISNI
Periodical:African Notes: Bulletin of the Institute of African Studies, University of Ibadan
Geographic term:Nigeria
Subjects:gender relations
mass media
Abstract:The art of the Gelede dance drama among the Yoruba of Nigeria, documenting the content, style, tradition, and folklore of this masking tradition has been well described. This paper concentrates instead on certain metaphysical conceptualizations. It is based on fieldwork among the Ijio community, in the Kajola local government area of Oyo state in 1991 and 1995 and the discussion arising from conversations about whether the carnival of wood carvings and the sculptural and kinetic celebrations of Gelede or Epa masquerades could properly be interpreted as religious worship. In this paper, the author concentrates only on the Gelede, of which the artists and devotees claim it is a festival and an aspect of religion. A whole host of questions is raised about whether the custodians of Gelede, in empowering women and making men serve them in performance, envisage a balance of justice by this contemporary reversal of roles. Will this be enough to humanize the polity and change orientations of equity and justice? Bibliogr.