Libation = Myth & Divinity…

              **Libation Is A Powerful Spiritual Science**

 Cultural survival is not about preservation, sequestering indigenous peoples in enclaves like some sort of zoological specimens. Change itself does not destroy a culture. All societies are constantly evolving. Indeed a culture survives when it has enough confidence in its past and enough say in its future to maintain its spirit and essence through all the changes it will inevitably undergo. 

“Pour libation for your Father and Mother who rest in the valley of the dead. God will witness your action and accept it. Do not forget to do this even when you are away from home. For as you do for your parents, your children will do for you also”

Libation in Africa is a ritual of heritage, a drink offering to honor and appease the Creator, the lesser divinities, our sacred Ancestors, humans present and not present, as well as the environment. This ritual is also practiced in many other parts of the world. The ritual achieves this objective by promoting and The ultimate purpose is to promote the cosmic order of oneness and balance of the beings and things in the universe. Safeguarding the correct relations among and between all the beings and things in existence. The origins of libation are so old that the first records of the ritual can be found in the legends, myths, sacred literatures.

Libation is found throughout the African world: The continent as well as the Americas, the Caribbean and other parts of the world where Africans dwell. The significance of this ritual transcends its distribution across the immense time & space correlation that is occupied by the African experience of life. In fact, this ritual is a marker of African identity. Its persistence across place and places, and time and times, says much about the origin of all Africans, about their relation to each other and about cultural transmission in general.

Divinities are the central characters in the worship, which is a parable on the maintenance of the entire cosmos, not just humanity. Most of the action takes place in the realm of divinity, for in the African worldview, it is ultimately here that power lies. Humanity is initially the active source of discord, but the human role very quickly becomes purely passive and is in fact outweighed by divine intervention, ultimately with libation to save the world.

The drink offering in this myth is literally as well as figuratively an exchange for the blood of humanity and the restoration and preservation of the cosmic order. The role of liquid offering is central in the ritual of libation, the ultimate meaning of which is the necessity for the restoration and maintenance of the cosmic order. The regular performance of this ritual drama is therefore made mandatory upon all African.

The central concept in almost all these meanings arises from the state of satisfaction and even pleasure that is born from the absence of discomfort induced by the cooling property of water. It is this basic meaning that is extended to embrace the many shades of meaning that arise in all of these words. Thus, aspects of the person, places and even actions may be cool, be in a cool state or be done in a cool manner. This notion represents the meaning and objective of libation, which is to ensure the oneness of all the beings and things in the cosmos through the maintenance of this divine cosmic order. The overall emphasis is upon maintaining the correct behavior towards all beings and things in the cosmos, and therefore the correct relationships with them.

A libation may be poured with any drinkable liquid, including water, milk, wine, beer, or strong spirits, though alcohol has been the dominant choice for some generations now, especially in West Africa and the West.

In African practice there is a sharp distinction between some things that are done with the right hand and other things that are to be done only with the left hand. Libation is poured with the right hand because this is the hand reserved by African tradition for such activity as offering, eating and drinking. A libation often accompanies offerings of food and other things considered good and worthy of the higher powers, but libation should not be confused with those other offerings or with entire ceremonies of which it may form a part. For example, from the earliest known times, libations are always poured as part of the rituals which mark the African cycle of life: Naming Ceremonies, Initiation Ceremonies, Marriage Ceremonies and Transition Ceremonies. Libation is also poured at other occasions, such as to mark the settlement of a dispute, before cutting down trees, at the Installment of Chiefs, at the many festivals in the African calendar, at the opening of Vodou, Candomblé and other African spiritual gatherings, and indeed in every ceremony and gathering in the African way of life.

The general purpose is to safeguard or make amends and seek forgiveness for infracting any of the relationships in the cosmic order, but the specific occasions and themes in libation may be many. If properly done, the person, the family, the clan, the community or those present and participating and or those on whose behalf the libation is poured may receive several benefits from a libation. They may benefit through being fortified by the renewal and or restoration which this ritual offers. They may also receive benefit through the security that comes from the knowledge of the spiritual connection and oneness with the Supreme One, with the divinities, with the Ancestors, among themselves singly and collectively, and with the physical environment. It is the preservation of these connections and the beneficial results of understanding and maintaining them that this ritual represents and promotes.

Libation, like any activity that is at once both sacred and communal, is useful and important because it helps to overcome fears, anxieties and frustrations. It promotes knowledge of and respect for Elders and the Ancestors, hope and healing, unity and harmony, all through the reinforcement of common bonds. It also lends itself towards the achievement of solidarity, which results from common participation in any such communal activity. Libation also functions beneficially by helping those present to be psychologically prepared for a task at hand, especially through the self-confidence that grows from the knowledge – not only that all is well in their relationships with the higher and lesser powers in the cosmic order, but also by becoming focused upon what is to be done during a specific forthcoming undertaking.

Oduduwa Templo Dos Orixás Brazil

Libation is founded upon the oneness of the universe and the relation and interdependence of all beings and things therein. Its function is to maintain: the harmony, balance and unity of the cosmos through maintaining the optimum relations among the various beings and things, preventing any of these relations from being impaired, or nullifying the threat of such impairment. The significance of libation transcends the ritual itself…

The truth is that both people and culture have made this immensely long journey, for when a people migrate, or are made to migrate, they do not leave their culture behind. That is not possible, for culture is a defining characteristic of a people and inseparable from its agents. Libation is therefore, in the terms of, both ‘trans-generational and transcontinental’. Since libation defines the temporal and physical boundaries of the African world, it may therefore help to define the boundaries of African Studies, the study of the African world.

!!! On the matter of what to offer the Ancestor or Deities, we have the choice of Water, Wine and “Hard” Liquor. The choice of liquid depends on the nature of the libation and prayer and what your aim is in invoking (awakening) the Ancestors.

Water is for cooling and healing and creating or reconciling relationships. Liquor is fiery and is usually used to rouse, cement, ignite, protect and perform strong purification. Wine is mid-way between the two and is good for friendly relations, between man and spirit. This is an important matter as many of us do not realize that when you pour libation you are awakening the Ancestors.

Ideally, once you have poured libation you should be talking to the Ancestors like you talk to any other living person. You should converse and build the relationship. Over time, you will hear messages in distinct ways. Sometimes several people will hear the message or hear parts of the message that then can be pieced together to make one complete communication from the Ancestors.

Ejubona Ijebu Ogun State Nigeria Awo “Ogunda-Ogbe” Efuwape Olatunji

** The person officiating Libation must possess the spiritual force to open the way to Spiritual communication. We go with the safest route during this occasion and choose to allow those that are older, trained or more versed than us conduct such affairs. “Libation is a powerful spiritual science. Learn the steps well”

 

BELLS = Points Of Passage

BELLS = SUPERNATURAL ENCHANTMENT….

From very early times, there has been a link in myths and legends between bells, water and spirits.  Water was seen as the element that joined the world of the living and the world of the dead. Spirits could make contact through water and the idea of spirits coming out of the sea would not have seemed strange. It was also believed that the spirits of people who died suddenly or violently, or who had not had a proper burial, would not rest and would wander the earth. This included the many sailors who were drowned in stormy seas; their bodies were often never found.

This may have come from their use in real life, to be rung for good or bad times. Bells were used in celebrations such as weddings or to call people to pray. From Celtic times, they were thought to contain magic. The Celtic priests would throw bells into rivers, streams or springs to get rid of bad spirits and make the water pure. Throughout history, bells have also been used to signal good or bad news. Bells were rung at funerals or as a warning of invaders or war. They were even rung in times of plague, to tell people to bring out their dead. There are many stories of ghostly bells heard at sea or near to the sea and they are nearly always a sign of bad luck or a warning of a storm or disaster.

Bells are used in a wide variety of contexts. You probably associate bells with religious activity, and rightly so, because they’re often ordained for some spiritual purpose. While some bells are merely decorative or serve some benign practical function, their appearance and use usually involves idolatry and magical enchantments. The value in this study is in helping you correctly interpret the influences of the familiar world around you. Bells, chimes, jingles, cymbals and gongs are commonly said to be good luck and are often used to ward off evil spirits. Could the ringing of bells really exercise spiritual power, enabling some supernatural influence in the natural realm.

Any spiritual significance of any bell comes from the hearer of the bell, rather than the bell itself. A case in point is bells rung on Sunday morning, and other times of the week. To some, the bells are calls to prayer, and sometimes for some people, a bell at a specific time is a call to a specific prayer. To others hearing the same sounds, the bells simply denote the time of day, and to still others, they sometimes are only a nuisance to be endured.

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“BELLS GEOGRAPHICALLY widely distributed and usually possess a clearly defined cultural status.  Legends surround them, and beliefs abound concerning their special powers to induce rain or to dissolve storm clouds; to thwart demons when worn as amulets or when placed on animals, buildings, or conveyances; or to invoke curses and lift spells. The concept of their purifying action is ancient, as is their use in ritual, especially in the religions of eastern and southern Asia. Chinese rang bells to communicate directly with spirits. East Asia, the fading tone of the bell is considered spiritually significant. Russian Orthodoxy, bells directly addressed the deity–hence, huge ones were cast by both peoples to lend greater authority.

Bells are consecrated before being used liturgically. Bells symbolize paradise and the voice of God. Among the most basic and widespread uses of bells is signaling–marking significant points of ritual, calling to worship, tolling the hours, announcing events, rejoicing, warning, and mourning. It’s common around the globe to find the belling of livestock and horses. “In folk-magic brass is used to effectively repel witches and evil spirits. The protection is thought to be similar to that given by iron. It is used to make various kinds of amulets. Brass bells are hung around the necks of horses, cows and other animals to protect them against the evil eye.” The Hebrews wore crescent moons to ward off the evil eye and they attached bells to their garments to ward off evil spirits.

 In the Middle Ages the supernatural world was believed to be very real and close. Special protective powers were desired by the superstitious and were attributed to certain objects, including bells. The Church itself condoned the use of bells to frighten away evil spirits and this ensured its survival and development. Bells were actually baptized, and once baptized had the power to ward off evil spells and spirits. The use of the dead bell was typical of this belief, rung for the recently deceased to keep evil spirits from molesting the body.

       The dead bell was therefore originally rung for two reasons
Firstly to seek the prayers of all Christians for a soul just departing; Secondly to drive away the evil spirits who stood at the bed’s foot and about the house, ready to seize their prey, or at least to molest and terrify the soul in its passage; but, by the ringing of the bell evil spirits are afraid of the sounds of bells, they were kept away; and the soul, like a hunted hare, gained the head start.”

Passing Bell – The name given to the bell which is rung in the church when a person is near to death; it is said to have the effect of frightening away the evil spirits which are ready to take the soul as it passes from the body. In the medieval period, bells were sometimes rung to destroy witches, as it was supposed that the sound of bells threw them off their night flight and rendered their diabolic magic ineffective. The ringing of bells is also associated with funerals, so sounds mimicking bells were thought to forecast death. The ringing of a wine glass was such a sound, and had to be stopped before its reverberation ended. Ship’s bells were exempted from this superstition, because they signaled time and the changing of watch duties. But if they rang of their own accord, as in a storm, somebody was going to die.

Tones have a healing effect on our bodies, calm our minds and awaken our spirits. The resonance and vibration of sound releases stress and emotional blockages in the body and calms the mind. The calming of mind expands conscious awareness and connection with spirit. Wind chimes thereby help enhance the mind/body/spirit connection bringing us a sense of peace and well being.

 A clock is an instrument for measuring, indicating and maintaining the time. The word “Clock” is derived ultimately from the Celtic words Clagan and Clocca meaning “bell”. For horologists and other specialists the term “Clock” continues to mean exclusively a device with a striking mechanism for announcing intervals of time acoustically, by ringing a bell, a set of chimes, or a gong.

In the Middle Ages, however, members of religious orders were expected to pray at definite times. Failure to maintain godly habits because of cloudiness or variable flames was not acceptable. The monks and nuns were summoned to prayer by a bell. Soon someone realized that the elaborate astronomical model was not needed; a system of striking the hour with a series of rings of the bell was sufficient. Sometime after that, people added a dial to show the hours with a pointer (hand). A similar pointer for minutes was not needed until clocks greatly improved in accuracy. Although the first clocks were installed for use in religion, within a few years people began to keep time by the hours, since the ringing of the bell often could be heard or the dial seen all over a village.

The Agogo/ Gankogui is comprised of two conical-shaped flange bells of differing size joined at their apexes. Each bell is made from two arched pieces of sheet iron with a pronounced tapering so that when their edges are welded together a deep cone-shaped vessel results. The larger bell is approximately twice as long as the smaller one. The apex of each bell is welded to the flared end of an elongated piece of iron that serves as the bell’s handle. A wood stick is used to strike the rims of the bells, which are what vibrates most energetically when the bells are played. The Agogo/Gankogui player holds the handle of the bell in one hand with the bells facing either upwards or downwards. The wood beater used to strike the bells near their rims is held in the player’s other hand. Each bell produces one basic pitch, and the larger bell is noticeably lower in pitch than the smaller one. When held facing downwards, a seated player can, in addition to allowing the larger bell to ring at full volume, also press it against her/his thigh to achieve subtle timbres effects.  

The Agogo/Gankogui is sometimes referred to as Gapkanvi, or “forged iron carrying a child”. The larger bell is considered to be the parent of the smaller one. The larger bell of the Agogo/Gankogui is tuned approximately one octave (Tin) below the smaller one (Go) – The person playing Agogo/Gankogui must have excellent time and not be distracted easily.

The Atoke/Apitua bell, also known as a banana bell, is common throughout West Africa. It is made from hand-forged iron and resembles a small boat or, as its other name suggests, a banana. The bell is held in the palm of one hand, and sound is produced by striking it with a metal stick. Think of the characteristics associated with bells. They usually were associated with carrying messages through the air and over distances. Clearing the air…changing the frequency in the air…clear messages as associated with the prophetic…these are the main ones that I connect with when it comes to bells.

TimeKeepersIn our dream we may see bells, or hear them or both. Bells are important to many religions and cultures around the world. They may be deep and resonant, light and joyous, sad or celebration. Bells are not things we see or hear as often as we might have in previous generations, but their symbolic significance still holds a profound sway over many of us. And while we may not see actual bells so often in day to day life, we still have more abstract bells around us in many forms – door bells, the “ring tones” on our phones, the alarm clock and so on.
   The Meaning of a Bell in a Dream…  Bells call us to prayer, so in a dream they may symbolize a spiritual calling, or even a special message we are about to receive. Bells are used by town criers to announce important events, so in a dream we may hear bells when our subconscious is trying to ensure we pay attention to an important piece of information it is trying to impart.

Bells at their most celebration signal an end to war, the highest of holy days or a wedding. To dream of such joyous bells as this is a wonderful sign of exceptional and blessed transition. It may be an end to warning parts of our own personalities, a sign that we are reconciling deeply held internal conflicts. Dreams of such celebration bells may signify a sacred union, a merging of our opposing male and female sides. These dreams can remind us of the very best that being alive is about. Bells can be joyous, celebration or even sacred. But bells can be warnings, a call to action, a call for help or a symbol of passing. Bells help communicate between the world of matter and the world of spirit. If we dream of bells we would do well to heed their message, whatever it may be. The ringing of a bell or bells can represent a message being delivered. For example, the ringing of a school bell sends the message that class is beginning or ending. The ringing of church bells sends a message that a significant event has occurred. The ringing of a delicate bell or chime could mean there’s a message you need to pay attention to, either in the dream or in real life.

Throughout society and culture around the world, bells have a multitude of meanings and purposes. Bells symbolize beginnings and endings. Bells are rung at weddings, funerals and to kick off boxing rounds. Church bells gather people by summoning them to church or events. Bells announce that someone’s at the door or on the phone and warn us not to cross railroad tracks. Chimes tinkling in the breeze can relax us and help us guess the speed of the wind. Bells even have the power to tell us what to do! Alarm clocks tell us to wake up and school bells tell us to get to class.

 

EGUNGUN: Ancestral Spirits…

                    Egungun  =   Life After Death    

                  Light as a feather! This is how softly your Ancestors might speak to you. And this is why you must listen intently – not just with your ears, but with every fiber in your being. They spoke to you yesterday, they speak to you today, they will speak to you tomorrow and they are speaking to you right now. But you’ll never hear them unless you are willing to sit in silence, to hear the powerful messages that are landing as gently as feathers.

Opa Iku

Egungun is regarded as the collective spirits of the Ancestors who occupy a space in heaven, hence they are called dwellers of heaven. These Ancestral spirits are believed to be in constant watch of their survivors on Earth. 

 Egungun DanXome Fon...

Egun (Ancestor) = To die Of Natural Causes At An Advanced Age, Leaving Behind Numerous Progeny, Like A Tree Bent From The Weight Of Its Fruits & In Harmony With the Divinities & The Ancestors – To Be Buried With The Performance Of All The Rites That Mark The Tradition Which Permit One To Enter Orun. Where One Is Reunited With The Ancestors Of One’s Lineage (Isheshe) to be Later Reincarnated Constitute For Yoruba The Good death.

 Egungun DanXome Fon...

Egungun = Ancestor Masquerade – We are born with death = Without the death of the flesh, there is no resurrection, no immortality. Every birth is the rebirth of an ancestor. The spirits could be invoked collectively and individually in time of need. The place of call is usually on the grave of the Ancestors, the family shrine, or the community grove. The Ancestral spirits have collective functions that cut across lineage and family loyalty. They collectively protect the community against evil spirits, epidemics, famine, ensuring the well being, prosperity, and productivity of the general community.

 Egungun DanXome Fon...

Although it is regarded dangerous for the Ancestral spirits to dominate day to day activities of the people on Earth, occasional physical appearances of Egungun/masquerades visibly demonstrate the closeness of the ancestor to their survivors. The lineage or family ties become strengthened as each member displays his or her loyalty. The coming out of the lineage Egungun is a source of blessing and pride to the family. Egungun appearance is a time of festivity and entertainment, a time of apprehension of forces of evil and of engendering deep belief in divine guidance and protection. Above all, having an Egungun is a way of immortalizing one’s name because anytime the Egungun comes out, the drummers and women of the family sing in praise of one, recounting the heroic deeds of the family.

 Egungun DanXome Fon...

To understand Egungun mysteries one needs to understand the historical development of the cults. Every member of a community seems to be involved in the worship of Egungun, since everybody has at least one Ancestor to call upon.

 Egungun DanXome Fon...

In African culture it is common for the uninitiated to make direct contract with Ancestor spirits. The most prevalent process of communication is through dreams. Communication also occurs during participation in annual Ancestor festivals. Because such festivals are not common in this country. Worshipers in the West have created several viable alternatives. Using these alternative methods, the first step in the process of honoring the Ancestors is the construction of an Ancestor shrine used as a focal point for prayer and meditation. There are a number of traditional African methods for building an Ancestor shrine, some of which are very complex and require personal training. For example it is common in traditional African culture to bury revered Ancestors under the floors of the family home. The tomb of the Ancestor is the foundation of the Ancestral shrine.

 Egungun DanXome Fon...

ANCESTRAL SHRINES… The power to effectively invoke Spirits comes as a result of initiation and the training that is sanctioned by initiation. The exception to this rule is Egun (Ancestor spirits).  Ancestor initiations (Egungun, Isegun, Ato), but everyone is believed to have the power and the ability to communicate with the spirit of those blood relatives who have passed beyond this life.

Communication with your own Ancestors is a birthright. At times this communication can simply involve remembering a revered Ancestor and making use of the memory as a basis for making life decisions. In many ways Ancestor communication is an extension of the training and wisdom we receive from our parents.  You cannot know who you are if you cannot call the names of your Ancestors going back seven generations. Remembering names is more than reciting a genealogy, it is preserving the history of a family lineage and the memory of those good deeds that allowed to the family to survive and create a home for the continued cycle of reincarnation.

Before a shrine to the Ancestors can be assembled, several preliminary steps need to occur. First the room should be clean and neat. After the altar is built it should stay as clean as possible.  Dirt and disorder can attract unwanted spiritual forces. This may seem simplistic, but in my experience it is a very important consideration. Our external environment reflects our internal state of being and either supports resistance to change or growth. The idea that if you are confused about anything, remove the clutter and disorder from your home and clarity will surface from the newly transformed physical environment. The boundaries which divide life from death are at best shadowed and vague. Who shall say where the one ends and where the other begins. 

The Yoruba afterlife consists of Reincarnation. However, Africans explain that you reincarnate from your Ancestors and into your descendants. 
The truth is that you can only reincarnate thru your clan or extended-family descendants. It doesn’t have to be your direct great grandchild. It just has to have enough of your DNA code for you to transfer your spirit into it. In theory, you can transfer to anyone who shares your ethnic group DNA code. However, most genetic DNA theories are racist manipulation of science. DNA is not just a physical code but like a keyhole lows you to open doors in the next reincarnation.This is why many Yoruba names point to the reincarnation of people, but always thru the extended-family. Names like Babatunde – father has returned reflect the Yoruba notion that reincarnation is a family affair.


This is why Ancestral veneration is important in Yoruba. You are not just talking to dead people; you are remembering and learning from your past. If you do not learn from your past, in this life and in former ones you will repeat mistakes. That is the purpose of Ancestral veneration – Egungun) in Ifa. The Odu Ifa tells us that we will all reincarnate until every single human has reached enlightenment. We are a communal species.


When you don’t understand this truth about reincarnation, you will not take efforts to improve the conditions of your clan or ethnic group because you think you will escape it in death’s heaven or join another ethnic group in reincarnation. Then when you return to Earth in the same oppressed ethnic group, you complain even though in your former life you did not fight to liberate your ethnic group. 
This is why their clans establish strong dynasties and they accumulate wealth not just for them, but for the next three generations after them. They know they are coming back and they want to be wealthy while they sell you the lie that you can die and go to heaven to escape this cycle. A true devotee of the Egungun plans for the next 16 generations of prosperity.

It Is Only After Separation With The Flesh Can Man/Woman The Creation Of God, See God Face To Face. It Is Forbidden To Unmask Any Egungun Masquerade. The Face Of The Spirit Is for the Spirit To See, Not The Human Eyes…

ZANGBETO = Enforcement & Order…

 Zangbeto Masquerade Have Supernatural Powers

Zangbeto are the traditional Vodun guardians of the night in the Yoruba religion of Benin and Togo which are known as the “Night- Watchmen”. As a nominal, it represents a group of men who are involved in policing the community and who also double as members of Zangbeto as a cultural masquerade group during public performances. Zangbeto is also used to convey the notion of a socio-cultural phenomenon made up of a series of beliefs and practices. As an institution, it is backed by an oral history that accentuates its origin as an Egun concept, not an alien or imported one. Sources consulted on the origin and history of Zangbeto asserts that it has existed before we were born and was handed down to us by our forefathers .

In centuries past, The Zangbeto masquerade provided security for the community and ensured discipline among the Egun society (the people of Badagry), and although it is no longer relied on to play these roles, it is still a cherished cultural icon in Badagry, particularly in Ajido-Zangbeto festival is celebrated every three or four years, during which the Zangbeto appease the gods, pray for the immediate community and generally offer good wishes for all households, after which the people expect to reap a plentiful harvest, farmers and fishermen alike. The Zangbeto masquerade is clothed in Asho-Gbeto, made from locally sourced palm fronds and is dedicated to breathtaking showmanship, dazzling its audiences with spirited and ‘magical’ displays. During a Zangbeto performance, you are likely to see fire burn in dry sand or white cloth sprout from underground!. Watching the Zangbeto wade through the water, spinning and shuffling is a rare thrill in itself. Zangbeto never walk alone and are always accompanied by minders know as Kregbeto, whose role it is to guide the masquerade’s every step.

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Zangbeto is believed to have supernatural powers, and is communal, rather than the initiative of private individuals or a self-defined group. Its origins lie in the pre-colonial history of the Egun people of Badagry and the coastal region of PortoNovo in neighbouring Benin.

*** One of the responses given by the head of the group in Yeketome, Badagry, is that Zangbeto dates back several centuries to when an Egun man was said to have been pursued by his enemies and needed to flee from his hometown unnoticed in the night. Using supernatural powers, he disguised himself by covering his body with dried leaves and raffia and by making scary sounds with the horn of an animal. Thus he was eventually able to leave the town unharmed and undetected by his enemies. He later founded a settlement, which he named Hugbonu (Porto Novo, Benin) and subsequently had the men with him dress in a similar manner and keep watch over the new settlement by night to ensure that his enemies did not attack him in his new home. Since then, Zangbeto has been used to keep watch over settlements and towns of the Egun community.***

As regards traditional precolonial ‘night watch’ institutions, the Oro and Egun cults of the Yoruba are the closest masquerade groups to Zangbeto. Earlier studies of both institutions have shown that in precolonial times, in addition to other cultural and religious functions, they were also security outfits mandated to guard the community against foreign or enemy invasion. They are also both regarded in their respective communities as personified representations of ancestral spirits, and their presence is an assurance of the ever-protective and supportive help of the ancestors for their descendants. The Ancestral spirits have collective functions that cut across lineage and family loyalty. They collectively protect the community against evil spirits, epidemics, famine, witchcraft and evildoers, ensuring the well-being, prosperity, and productivity of the whole community generally.

Form and Content of Zangbeto In contemporary Badagry, including the Egun villages surrounding the coastal town, the Zangbeto society is headed by the Zanga, a highly respected elderly man who is well tested and reliable. The Zanga occupies a position of responsibility in dealing with sensitive issues affecting individuals, families and the larger community. Zanga is not just the head of the Zangbeto group, but is also a representative of the people. The Zanga is in effect a traditional chief who functions within the Zangbeto group and in the larger community.

Traditionally, the Zangbeto were the policemen of Benin and were the main guardians of law in the country before the official law establishment. They are said to form a secret society which can only be strictly attended by Zangbeto, and when in a trance are said to have magical abilities such as swallowing splinters of glass without coming to any harm and scaring away even witches.

Zangbeto as spirit and messenger; Zangbeto as peacemaker, moral spokesperson and custodian of Egun culture; Zangbeto as an indivisible whole; Zangbeto as a non-religious group; and Zanga as the honorable one. It is important to note that Zangbeto songs are contributed at different times by members of the group. As with most songs in African oral literature, no single person can claim sole authorship: songs are considered as creations of the group. Moreover, these songs do not possess a singular theme, but themes that underline the circumstances of the creation of such songs and their performance.

The appearance of Zangbeto masquerades during cultural festivals or public performances is usually announced by short but pungent praise. This is a kind of formulaic verse that is not so flexible, in the sense that the words and phrases used retain their structure and content in most performances. The chanter, usually a woman, stays at a distance neither too close nor too far from the masquerade.

The opening chant is translated thus: He wishes to be heard, But the horn would not let him, The horn that makes sounds, the horn that breathes. This introduces Zangbeto as a being with a ‘horn’ and a desire. The horn, located at the tip of the mask and is used to symbolise the position of Zangbeto as a leading group in the community. The masquerade is only a constitutive part of a whole. Zangbeto is a group, an institution, and even a way of life that is represented in physical form by the mask. ‘He’ is then used to represent the form under this mask.

*** Zangbeto may be chiefly about social order within traditional Egun society, using oral forms of art, rituals and cultural practices, some of which have been adapted to the security needs of the town’s inhabitants in the face of the state security agencies’ inability to satisfy the demands of law enforcement and order.