The Egungun Masquerade festival is celebrated by adherents of the traditional religion in Southwest Nigeria, who believe that their ancestors reincarnate and pay them regular visits to bless them. The yearly festival is marked with pomp and pageantry. Egungun, as the ancestors are called, come decked in colorful costume, accompanied by loud drumbeats and song and speak in guttural voices to give the impression that they are not ordinary beings. People who are childless, sick or possessed of demons are prayed for. Farmers take their harvests to the king’s palace to be blessed by the Egungun before eating or selling them.
This project involves the creation of masquerade costumes and masks from traditional materials, incorporating symbols and patterns from cultures around the world including, but not limited to, Ghana (Adinkran), Nigeria (Uli, Arewa), South Africa (Ndebele), Cameroon (Bamuleke), Australia (Aboriginal), New Zealand (Mauri), and New Mexico (Pueblo).
The Egungun is an institution that has developed over time. Civilization has not eroded it from the culture of the land. Its appeal transcends time.
Olaniyi Rasheed Akindiya aka AKIRASH, was born in Lagos, Nigeria. His first received his BSC degree in Biochemistry from the University of Agriculture Abeokuta in Nigeria in 1991 and studied Fine and Applied Art at the Institute of Textile Technology Art and Design in Lagos, Nigeria in 1995. He now lives between Lagos, Nigeria and Pflugerville, Texas. Olaniyi was a recipient of the Innovative Artist Award from the Mid America Artist Alliance in 2017, Pollock Krasner Foundation Award 2016/17 & 2011, Cultural Initiative & Capacity Building Grant, Culture Alive from the city of Austin 2016/17, the Santo Foundation grant 2015, and the Commonwealth Connection Award UK 2011. Olaniyi’s work has been exhibited in the 12th edition of Dak’Art Biennale, Dakar- Senegal 2016. He has also participated in Chale Wote Street Festival Accra, Ghana in 2013, International Multimedia Festival Yagon-Myanmar in 2012, infecting the City Street Festival Cape Town, South Africa in 2012, and the East Africa Biennale (ESTAFAB), Dar Sallam, Tanzania in 2005 & 2007.