What is a masquerade?
Masquerade or mask is an individual dressed with masks to resemble an animal or some scary being. Masquerades are made with any of or a combination of clothes, papers, leaves, bark of tress, grass, horns of animals, sacks with decorated materials etc. Masquerades are more traditional amongst some ethnic groups e.g mandinka and Jola and with others like the wollof, masquerades are connected with celebrations. Mandinkas for example regard the kankurang as protectors of newly circumcised youths from evil spirits.
Masquerades which speak in deep voices and communicate their message in proverbs and riddles are important in our community because they:
-serve as entertainment for the public and for gracing occasions during certain times
-Masquerades assist in maintaining discipline and protecting members of the society from evil spirits and witches.
- Masquerades also serve as links between the human world and the spiritual world. During the time of making offerings and pouring of libation to the spiritual world, they become extremely functional for which great fear and respect are accorded to them by ordinary beings.
This masquerade belongs to the Aku ethnic group. Akus also called creoles are descendants of freed slaves who are based in the urban part of The Gambia. Sacks, mask, horns and sea shells are used in making it. Sometimes young palm fronts are used to beautify the masquerade.
It is purposely for entertainment during events like Christmas and New Year's