Egungun be Careful: Reconciling Yoruba Culture and Contemporary Nigerian Law on the Status, Powers and Immunity of the Indigenous African Masquerade


In inborn societal structure, educational norms authorize the masquerade as a persona accompanying remarkable rank and powers. By virtue of its capacities and status, a masquerade retains some indulgences, including trespassing on the rights of other persons, outside facing allowable sanctions.By and large, modernity has not radically changed the traditional idea of the masquerade in terms of its ordinarily imbued capacities and status. However, unlike in the pre-pioneering past where customs authorized the bedrock of the standard, conducts in the contemporary settings are contingent a complex web of non-established laws which contain the constitution, accomplished statutes and judge-made laws.With existing law operating on the principle of ‘egalitarianism before the law’ or ‘nobody is above the law’, conducts of the masquerade, necessarily, hopeful appraised and adjudged inside the general legal foundation operating in the society. Thus stands the question whether the indulgences, immunity and connected exceptions availed the masquerade under native systems are still functioning, and to what extent, if so, under contemporary Nigerian allowable system. This paper engrosses this question and related issues, with the practice with the Yoruba tribe of South-westerly Nigeria as focal point.

Author(s) Details:

Babafemi Odunsi,
Faculty of Law, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria and Faculty of Law, Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye, Nigeria and Faculty of Law, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada.

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Keywords: Masquerade, culture, powers, immunity, sanctions, Yoruba

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