The Africans belief that the unseen controls what could be seen. African belief system believes that the end to physical life is not the end of the human life. Life continues in the spiritual realm after the physical death of a person.
It is believed in some African societies that the deceased has the power to visit his family after death. Hence, the importance of Egungun.
Some religion believes that after death, the dead is no more conscious.
I have a personal experience. Before I knew of my fathers death, i dreamt of him. He appeared to me in a dream. In the dream, we were walking together and chatting. He told me he was going on a journey and i did not want him to travel. I did not know what transpired as i began to cry that he should stay with us. I woke up crying and my phone was ringing. I picked the call and my junior brother, Tunde told me that my dad died the previous day.
Egungun festivals are celebrated by families, and a times by the whole town to remember and welcome home the visiting but physically deceased ancestors back in their mist for a while.
It is in the unwritten tenets and in the character of Africans that children must respect their parents. The reason why Black Africa recognizes the youths and have ceremonies to usher them into adulthood is because of the respect for the knowledge and intelligence of young people.
Ceremonies are performed during Egungun festivals and it usually lasts for certain period of time. The celebration comes with food, drink, dance, drama and different funfare. Homage is paid to the king who is the main host. Homage is also paid to different families and chiefs.
Most African societies also employ their spiritual gifts to maintain peace and order in their communities. In this respect, the Akan and Yoruba Oro societies are worthy of study.
In the days of old, African markets especially West Africa hardly received attacks from thieves and armed robbers. There may be instances but it was very rare. In fact, sellers may not be at their stall or shop and customers will buy their products and leave money at certain spot. There are symbols that are placed near the products to determine their prices. It was unusual for anyone to steal.
People were contented with what they have at the time and the believe that there are unseen forces watching the actions of everyone was strong.
Egungun and Zangbeto are similar but not the same. They are both masquerades but with different functions and beliefs.
The origin of Zangbeto is Aja-Tado in Republic of Benin. It has it's head quarters in Porto Novo.
The Egungun is a concept that the ancestors comes back to be with the people at certain times momentarily.
The origin of Egungun Masquerade is as old as the origin of the Yoruba race. The Egungun is found across West Africa and the Americas but the origin is Yoruba land. The descendants of the enslaved Yorubas in the Americas took the knowledge with them.
The Egungun system is the way West Africans remember their parents who had passed on to become ancestors.
Zangbeto like we know have two functions. The second function evolved later. Originally, it served as a system of community policing/security and later the social aspect evolved and you see them in festivals performing magical stunts that comes with music and entertainment.
The Egungun and Zangbeto is a society that have members. These members have certain roles in the administration of the group and functions to the society.
The fear and respect for Zangbeto encourages peace and tranquility in the society.
Membership into Egungun and Zangbeto groups could be hereditary or voluntary.
|Egungun and the Amusan (photo credit: Anago Osho)|
|Anago James Akeem Osho explaining Zangbeto to Brazilian Tourists|