Unmasking the Cruel Masquerade

By Ken Saro-Wiwa

The image of the masquerade dancing in a public arena is one which an African can relate quite easily. In the masquerade is a man, an ordinary human being subject to the usual humors which afflict humanity. Yet, once he wears a mask, he is transformed into something else, something dangerous.

The masquerade can perpetuate evil, hurt spectators. And that is why when a masquerade engages in more than its share of evil, brave spectators are allowed to disrobe it. The mask falls from its wearer and the puny man in the masquerade is seen for what he truly is: all flesh and blood, the son of so-and-so. This unmasking of the cruel masquerade is very important. But it is a difficult task.

[Ken Saro-Wiwa (1995), A Month and a Day: A Detention Diary. Ibadan: Spectrum Books, p 186]

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