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Okumkpo Masquerade Display, 1993

Okumkpo masquerade performing solo dance in Ogo Amikpo, Ozizza, Afikpo

Okumkpo masquerade performing solo dance in Ogo Amikpo, Ozizza, Afikpo

On January 17, 1993, a group of Okumkpo masquerades numbering in their hundreds assembled to deliver a historic cultural performance, the likes of which have not been seen in over 30 years.

The venue was Ogo Amikpo in Ozizza, Afikpo. The occasion was the re-enactment of a long-standing tradition of fielding a large number of Okumkpo masquerades in Afikpo every 15 years or so.

The masquerades entertained spectators with song and dance as well as re-enactments of past misdeeds by towns people deemed to have violated community norms. The song lyrics also contained social commentary that named and shamed unethical behavior in the community and specific individuals found lacking.

The star performers consisted of various members of the Okumkpo group of masquerades. The sub-groups of Okumkpo masquerades included Horii, Nnade Okumkpo, Otaka Ekpa and others. These sub-groups were distinguishable by the type of masks they wore and their style of dancing.

Some of the masquerades (as seen in the video below) performed carefully synchronized dance steps that had to exactly match predetermined dance step sequences in order to receive the applause of the spectators. The masquerade performers practiced these steps for months in advance in order to perfect them.

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