Gelede: A Yoruba Masquerade

© Speed / Harper
30 minutes / Colour / 1970
Directed by
Frank Speed Peggy Harper

Country of production Nigeria United Kingdom

Among the Yoruba of Western Nigeria and Dahomey the Gelede cult honours the earth spirits, the ancestors and especially the Great Mother. The festival filmed here emphasises the status of women and placated their potentially dangerous mystic powers. The commentary emphasises that the annual Gelede festival serves a cathartic role by paying respect to women in a patriarchal society. During the course of the festival social tensions are brought out into the open and ridiculed; antagonism between the sexes is thus controlled and given a legitimate outlet. The film shows the preparation of masks and the climax of the festival in which the Great Mask appears at midnight. On the following day the lesser masks entertain, satirising the movements of women.

Language and subtitles English (no subtitles)

Region West Africa

Country Nigeria

Keywords Gender Role and Identity Ritual Festivals / Carnival Social Conflict