Hello fam’, how ?
Juju dance is a masked dance which performed by Jujus, members of Juju secret societies. In fact, a juju is a secret society that is culturally accessible only to the male members of the society, though females may enjoy the music and dance side by side without touching or conversing with it. It functions are varied and changes as need arises.
A dance of a mask society during a death ceremony in Mboh Oku, Northwest Province of Cameroon. Photo by Hans-Joachim Koloss.
Who are the Juju dancers?
Juju societies are taking part in numerous villages in North West just as Oku. They are found in each family and Jujus (members of Juju societies) act as “traditional law officers”. In fact, they are performing unpopular activities such as beat up the wrongdoers in the community or even mobilizing people to work during communal labor on non-working days or public holidays etc. Plus, they also have the role of fire fighters. During the dry season, they will move from one house to another and from one farm to another putting off uncontrolled fires.Finally, some curative Jujus are capable of carrying about communal medicine activities prepared in juju houses. Women are not authorized to enter the juju houses because of the rituals that goes on in the juju society. Some Jujus are more powerful than others, and the more powerful the Juju is, the more the people respect it. (1)
JUJU DANCE, CAMEROON. Mount Oku, Bamenda Highlands
By its their beautiful and wealthy outfit, Juju dancers entertain their spectators during death celebrations. Every juju has its own brand of music. The latter is entirely used during ceremonies. The songs that are sung vocally while they are dancing recount a whole history of the lineage, clan, village, and/or tribe. (Just like the Mvett… isn’t it? You can read the article about it right here: https://o-kamerun.com/2021/05/28/le-mvett-chant-et-instrument-epique/). The instruments used in the Juju dance include xylophone, rattles, local trumpet but also gongs.
Click here to get thrilled with the spectacular dance moves of Juju dancers : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OIurLqEJxQk
The power of Jujus
It must be understood that Juju dancers acts like supernatural beings. In fact, the masks that juju dancers are always wearing are giving them mystical forces which allow them to separate from the physical persons (who wear them). Not only their faces but also their bodies are covered what making that them less recognizable. Their head masks represent the ornithological as well as the fauna diversity of the mountain forest some of which have been extinct. The traditional attire of a juju dancers especially the head mask is giving people of recent generations an idea of the fauna that existed hundreds of years ago. They also put on masks to express the Oneness of His creation and to show that humans and animals should live in peace and harmony. (2)
Babungo Kingdom in Cameroon
Juju is an intrinsic part of the Grassland and Cameroonian culture and promotes a powerful message during ceremonies.
Hope you enjoyed this article! Have you ever been to a Juju dance performance ?
¹ « Culture in Oku », https://oku-ecotourism.myfreesites.net/culture
² « OKU-Dance INTRODUCTION », http://www.africanfolkdance.com/en/site/showPage/11