Over the years, Indigenous African culture and other parts of the world have been associated with masquerade which has transformed, muted and evolved in eurocentric culture as mascots. Though some culture of Africa still maintain the masquerade as prestine entertainment form,one of them are the Igbo ethnic group of Sub Saharan Africa.. The finest masquerade to even come from this part of Africa is known as Ijele.
With her regal moves and accolites gaining accolades, Ijele masquerade is an indigenous Igbo Masquerade which has it’s origin from Aguleri and Umueri and other communities in Anambra state,this masquerade is said to be the finest level of indigenous igbo culture which is an export.
This masquerade emanated from Aguleri Dance Group called ‘AkWUNECHENYI’ which belongs to Igboezunu Aguler, Umudiana village of Ikenga Umueri and Umuatuolu village of Umueri. This masquerade later spread to othe parts of Igbo land including igbo parts of Idah and Ibaji.
The masquerade is said to be the largest masquerade in Sub-Saharan Africa, in fact UNESCO recognized Ijele masquerade nd also listed it as one of the cultural elements that needs to be safeguarded. Most times it is reffered as the ‘KING OF ALL MASQUERADES’ by Igbo people, in the ancient days forty five other masquerades performed on top of Ijele, this signifies kingship. But today these masquerade are represented with forty five figures. It takes hundred men to put Ijele custune in order and it’s height is 12ft -15ft.
Some persons among the Igbo people have taken the title Ijele, in fact till today the indigenous igbos of Ibaji and and Idah still retained the IJELE TITLESHIP.
Ogochi O Enechi and Anthony Emeka Nwosu