Reintegration

By Allen F. Roberts
University of California, Los Angeles (formerly University of Iowa)

Mupala (ancestral mask), Luchazi peoples, Kawanda Village, Zambia, 1991. Photo by Manuel Jordán.

Celebrations at the end of boys' initiation may also be an occasion for gender theater. Among Luchazi, masks that have overseen initiation accompany the boys as they return home, where they dance during the festivities. Their engaging performance is received with teasing by women, however, who mock their virility while vaunting their own sexuality in hilarious entertainment. As masks execute complicated choreography, young women sing a background chorus and dance with the masks, but always outside arm's length, for the masker may react to their taunting by thrashing them with a switch. Sometimes a young woman will be a special target for this mistreatment, if men feel that her flirtatiousness exceeds community norms, but women are not without their own powers, and a dancer who is too brutal or clumsy will be set upon (Jordán 1993, 1998, 2006).