islamic Relief in a North Malian Enclave

I thought this article was very interesting in the way in which it described the interaction of Islamic Relief as a non governmental organisation having an influence in an African state.

Summarised the article discussed the modernisation of this state through Islamic Aid in the running of water, roads, electricity, public transport and telephones. It discusses the poor conditions this state faced before this NGO’s intervention and the innovative programmed Islamic Relief offered.

The article also captures the obstacles the NGO had faced, the main being finding a way to help the poor and socially excluded. It also discusses how the organisation separated religion from development, eg, they did not build masjids etc.

I think this article is very effective in conveying hoe such non governmental external organisations have had such a driving force in changing and improving conditions in African states.


“Igbo Ijele Mask”

After reading ‘Igbo Ijele Mask’ there were a number of things I found fascinating, but the most interesting for me was the ritual that takes place when the mask makes an appearance, this ritual is seen as magnificent.

I would like to give a summary of the ritual, hopefully this would convey the nature and importance of this mask as well as emphasize the significance given to it. The mask is very large, its 4-6 meters in height and 3 meters in diameter, so for this a fairly tall wooden framework is made, tall enough for a man wearing this mask to enter, the performance takes place in an enclosure, made out of horizontal and vertical poles lashed together, plaited with palm leaves. Here, before the Injele is revealed elders and priests prepare the hundreds of ijbo spectators. (some who have traveled very far to see this performance) An atmosphere of great excitement and festivity is created and glimpses of the the top of the mask are shown, creating cheers and even more excitement, the orchestra then plays and sometimes other masks perform to create a build-up to the main, magnificent mask. The Ijele mask then makes an appearance alongside the tune of the orchestra and dances back and fourth, creating a sense of urgency from the audience. The man wearing the Injele mask walks very slow, magnifying the importance and significant presence of the mask, around him there are many men, who symbolize spirits.

The fact the performance is so great shows the magnificence of the mask. The mask only makes an appearance once every twenty five years, the rarity of its appearance emphasizes its greatness.


‘Becoming Maasai, Being in Time’

There are a number of things i found interesting in this text, one particularly interesting part was the ways in which the Masaai society were so distinct in thought. They have a culturally defined sense of time and firmly believe in age sets and use this as a way to identify their social status. I found it interesting there are many different models applying to the different process of ageing in Masaai society.

The most interesting type was the geocentric model. I thought it was extremely odd how women did not belong to any age sets, but when they were married they were promoted to a higher age grade. It is almost as though the Masaai consider women worthless alone, and only when they’re dependent on husbands do they gain a real status. At the top of this Masaai hierachy are the elders, they are extremely powerful and retain their monopoly of power by delaying the marriages of younger men, by doing this they are creating a surplus of younger women willing to become wives of elder men. The geocentric model of Masaai appears to be very backward and older men appear very sly, using their power for polygamy.