Gelede was an annual festival celebrated by the Yoruba in which womenfolk of all ages ” some pregnant, some carrying babies on their back dance spiritedly to Gelede music because its rhythm is thought to have a tonic effect on “body and soul”. Bubbling with filial love, the men mingle and dance freely among the women, all celebrating the sanctity of motherhood”. – The Gelede Spectacle: Art, Gender, and Social Harmony in an African Culture by Babatunde Lawal

 

 

 

Gelede Masquerade, Benin Wikimedia . Credit Ji-Elle
Gelede Masquerade, Benin
Wikimedia . Credit Ji-Elle

 

The Gelede spectacle of the Yoruba is a public display by colorful masks which combines art and ritual dance to amuse, educate and inspire worship.[1] Gelede celebrates “Mothers” (awon iya wa), a group that includes female ancestors and deities as well as the elderly women of the community, and the power and spiritual capacity these women have in society. However, this power may also be destructive and take the form of witchcraft; therefore, Gelede serves the function of appeasing this power, as well.[2] – Wikipedia

 

Photo credit - Wikimedia Ji-Elle
Photo credit – Wikimedia Ji-Elle

The Gelede headdress was worn by men who dressed as women and performed with singing dancing and drumming to entertain the women throughout the festival. “The festival begins with an all-night concert called efe, which features the Efe male mask, who uses satire to entertain and educate.” -Wikipedia

 

 

Photo credit - Wikimedia Ji-Elle
Photo credit – Wikimedia Ji-Elle
Gelede divinities voodoo Wikimedia credit: AuthorMICHAEL WITTMER; mik67
Gelede divinities voodoo
Wikimedia credit:
Author MICHAEL WITTMER; mik67

 

 

Gelede divinities voodoo Wikimedia credit: AuthorMICHAEL WITTMER; mik67 Copyright holder
Gelede divinities voodoo
Wikimedia credit:
Author MICHAEL WITTMER; 
Copyright holder

 

 

Sounds like a wonderful party! With the men doing all the entertaining! Another tradition that is in decline due to the forces of foreign religions . It has died out in most urban Yoruba communitites and among the “educated Elite” Yorubas, celebrating mothers is now a Western-type Christian affair . Indeed, most of the Gelede photos are taken now in Ketou area of the Republic of Benin, a Yoruba town. Sigh… hopefully every Mom , mom-to-be , stand-in-mom, small mommy, mummy 2 gets a card and some pampering on Mother’s Day. But hands up who would have preferred a night of men  gaily dressed up as women,  as they ( the men) dance , sing, play the drums , give satiric performances and food to the mothers of the house at every command?

On Gelede from the 1950s and 60s Sinatu said: “We used to watch gelede display as children they satirically displayed all forms of female shapes in their masqurade form especially big buttocks and heavy chests. The mask on their heads… carry different carvings depicting women with children etc. They wear anklets that make noise when they dance different styles this is the main attraction for children singing following them singing “Gelede tibobo. Tikatika tibobo” !!!! to the chimes of the anklets. Great childhood memories”

Awesome!

 

MOTHERS DAY GIFT IDEAS

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