Accepted paper:

Optimism and Hope in Epa-Type masquerade.


Will Rea (Leeds University)

Paper short abstract:

This paper will offer a re-evaluation of the Epa-type masquerades of Ekiti. While much has been made of the visual impact of these masks, little attention has been paid to the actual form of the ritual (the exception being Ojo, 1978). This paper will detail the relationships of enchantment that surround the central figure of these festivals, the Imole (the Ekiti version of Orisha, as well as the practical politics of revealed town relationships. The central aim is detail the structural form of these rituals in relation to a wider moral economy of hope and anticipation.

Paper long abstract:

This paper reviews the temporal structure of Epa-type festivals within the Yoruba communities of the Ekiti region. Often related to the past historical turbulence of this region, the paper seeks to understand the cultural specifics the might underpin what Guyer has termed the moral economy of hope. Guyer's attempt is to understand the parameters of optimism that she describes in Western Nigeria - here the attempt is to look to the ritual structure and material manifestations that may structure those parameters (at least in Ekiti). The bi-annual structure of the rituals, the petition to a very real material manifestation of enchantment and the sense of abeyance and anticipation all suggest an epistemological structure underlying the wider sense of everyday optimism that Guyer describes. This paper thus looks to the way in which an art history of particular material forms may intersect with a wider anthropology of the Nigerian condition; looking to the way in which 'enchanted' traditions still persist and inform day to day experience within the modern state.

panel P012
Dis/enchantment and the popular arts in Nigeria