Masks & Masquerades
In Maske photo essay, Phyllis Galembo provides a visual platform to enter everyday African life through the politics behind masquerades. There are many functions of masking nowadays: planting and harvesting (Chi Wara masks, Bamana people); juridical functions (Glewa masks, Dan people); boyhood initiation rites, memorials after their owners’ deaths (Lukwakongo masks, Lega people); fostering gender and social harmony (Yoruba people).
But they also function as a way of protest in contemporary culture. In some cases, masks have been used as a means of complaint against enriched citizens abusing of power, oppressed people sending the most terrifying masks to their homes. As Okeke-Agulu describes it: “masks as agents of law enforcement and coercion”. In patriarchal communities, female masqueraders take the chance to reveal against imposed hierarchies through their costumes.