The University of Iowa University of Iowa

Yoruba Gelede Masquerade

by Henry J. Drewal
University of Wisconsin, Madison

Oro Efe in performance, Ketu-Yoruba, Nigeria, 1971. Photo by H.J. Drewal and M.T. Drewal. Submitted by Henry Drewal.


The grandeur of his ensemble, the stateliness of his dance, and the poetic imagery of his songs evoke a masculine authority sanctioned by the powerful women who are the honored guests and patrons of the performance.  The songs, which last until the first light of dawn, comment on diverse matters both sacred and secular.  Oro Efe critiques antisocial persons and events, and praises those who have worked positively for the community.  Oro Efe, as transcendent voice and powerful apparition, works to shape society using the aesthetic power of the arts.