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Masking Traditions and Their Behavioral Functions in Accounting for Stability and Order: A Critical Exposition of Select Study of West, East and Central African Masks

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DOI: 10.4236/ojps.2015.52014    2,444 Downloads   2,812 Views   Citations


Development in Africa is both material and non-material; cultural and non-cultural regarding the modern state in Africa. One of the reasons why some Western aspects of development fail to work in Africa derive from the stubbornness of the indigenous people to let go of a tradition that has defined them and identified them as a cultural group. One of these defining traditions is the masking trends that account for the different masquerades and esoteric cultures that explain law and order in Africa. We will not go into why development plans fail in Africa; but by going into the masking traditions of Africans, we can understand why certain behaviors are exhibited by Africans that account for the clash of modernity and tradition. Since this is a paradigm seeking edition, we have gone on a brief study of the masking traditions of West, East and Central Africa with a view to understanding and appreciating their functions in their base societies. We gather that there is a preponderance of ancestral consciousness in all of the masks studied. For example, Mossi masks appear most frequently at funerals. Kuba masks are used by sorcerers to call upon primordial ancestors for purposes of social control. These functions of masking traditions reveal the desire to enforce law and bring about order in the society. They show that the role of the masquerade is within the same purview as the police of today and the involvement of spiritual “realities” bring about fear and reverence.

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The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Cite this paper

Casimir, K. , Nwakego, O. and Umezinwa, E. (2015) Masking Traditions and Their Behavioral Functions in Accounting for Stability and Order: A Critical Exposition of Select Study of West, East and Central African Masks. Open Journal of Political Science, 5, 115-127. doi: 10.4236/ojps.2015.52014.


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