Houston is ushering in Nigerian Independence Day by opening the third edition of the Nigerian Masquerade Exhibition presented by WeLead Inc. and SixSense Entertainment on Sept. 28-29 at the A.D Players at The George Theater.

The exhibit will showcase authentic masquerades from Nigeria representing key tribal groups. There are more than 300 languages and 200 tribes with different cultures and customs. Masquerades are known to appear during festivals, ceremonies, rituals and funerals, and now the Houston community can enjoy the elaborate installations as an introduction leading up to the annual Nigerian Cultural Parade and Festival on Oct. 1

Local artists featured are Oluseyi Soyege, a sculptor and painter, and Chukwunonso Ofili of Ofilidesigns. 

The featured masquerades from three areas of Nigeria will include the Ekpe Masquerade from Efik/Ibibio culture (Southern region), Egungun and Eyo Masquerade from Yorubaland (Western region) and Okonko Masquerade from Igboland (Southeast region).

“The exhibition’s significance to the Black community is very important, especially to those seeking to connect to their roots or cultural understanding of the largest West African community [in Houston]. The exhibition educates on the origin of ‘secret societies’ in Black communities, which have evolved through the various fraternities and sororities at HBCUs and have become major platforms for members and alumni. Initiation for masquerades is key to the various tribes and regions represented at the exhibition,” said Linda Anukwuem, executive director of WeLead.

“Most importantly, the exhibition exudes importance because it is the ‘first of its kind.’ You will not find a full display of West African masquerades across the United States, even in the most prominent museums across the [country]. We are bringing Nigeria to Houston in the most authentic form possible.”

Masquerades, depending on the culture, are seen as superior beings. They have to be treated with respect because of the belief that they embody both the spirit and human worlds. Some also believe that they represent the ancestors. The act of masquerading may include a solo act or a team of multiple people with a vocalist who praises the masquerades and the instrumentalists. They come in all different sizes, colors, shapes and district attributes. 

For more information, visit their website

Full program below.

Sept. 28 (Opening Reception) | RSVP Required

Sept. 29 (Exhibit Showing) | RSVP Required

Oct. 1 | Nigeria Cultural Parade & Festival (Downtown Houston)

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Laura Onyeneho

I cover Houston's education system as it relates to the Black community for the Defender as a Report for America corps member. I'm a multimedia journalist and have reported on social, cultural, lifestyle,...