At last he yielded to his daughter’s persistent request. Her hair was shaved before she was dressed up in boy clothes. By sundown the pair left for the village square.
Music was the breeze that flowed through the oja* and drums of the festival. The masquerades were swift, their dance energetic. While everyone chanted their names, the little girl begged to see more. He obliged, placing her on his shoulder. That was when the music and dancing stopped.
The masquerades could sense a female in the crowd. They drew their shiny daggers and stepped towards the man and his daughter.
Some Igbo musical instruments
In some parts of Igbo land (before the advent of the Brits) it’s against the tradition for a woman/girl to come anywhere near a masquerade. It’s believed that this woman or girl would “bite” (reveal) the one who wore the mask. Masquerades like Agaba were among the deadliest/most brutal performers who wouldn’t hesitate to kill a woman/girl (offender) on the spot.
(*) oja is a small flute which takes a great deal of energy and skill to blow. It makes a wonderful melody.