Puppet Masquerades in the Valley of the Niger

by Mary Jo Arnoldi
National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution

Sigi, the Bush Buffalo. Kirango, 1992. Photo by Mary Jo Arnoldi.


In this new version, the male buffalo appears alone. The lone male buffalo is a potent symbol of the elders and of tradition. The small puppets, which represent musicians and a dancer, become a performance within a performance and are an elegant statement of the inherent reflexivity of the theater itself. This new interpretation of Sigi stands as a vivid expression of the very essence of the youth association masquerade theater, which melds together the past and the present and the traditional and the innovative with an eye always on the future.