COVID-19: Nigeria’s biggest city, Ibadan, bans ancestral Masquerades, orders stay-at-home rituals


  • Masquerades live in heavens, only descend for annual rituals, according to African folklore


The novel Coronavirus pandemic took a new twist in Ibadan, Nigeria’s biggest city, as ancestral Masquerades, believed by the Yoruba and some Africans’ folklore to come from heavens, were banned from annual dance to the Palace of the monarch and other chiefs.

Olubadan of Ibadan, Oba Saliu Adetunji, who ordered the ban, declared a sit-at-home rituals for the masquarades popularly called “Ara-Orun” this year.

Masquerades live in heavens, only descend for (annual) rituals, according to African folklore, but here is how the novel Coronavirus is altering this mythology in Ibadan.

There won’t be masquerades’ dance to the palace and other chiefs’ during the 2020 Egungun Festival due to the raging COVID-19 disease, Olubadan announced in a statement signed by his Director of Media and Publicity, Mr Adeola Oloko on Sunday.

The monarch directed the traditional masquerades to observe their rituals from their respective “homes” and pray for the speedy end to COVID-19.

According to him, the decision not to have long procession this year was due to the COVID-19 pandemic in the country and the associated need to observe rules on social distancing.

Oba Adetunji added that the nature of the festival has made it imperative for all masqueraders to stay at home and perform all necessary rites until the authorities declare otherwise.

He said the decision to ban the dance was taken after extensive consultation with the relevant authorities and stakeholders in the city.

The monarch advised the people to wash their hands, use face masks and maintain social distancing at all times to curb the spread of the virus.


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