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One of the largest annual festivals among the Yoruba people of Nigeria is the Gèlèdè festival. It involves several aspects of the Yoruba culture and suggests the importance of the ancestors in the religion. Indeed, Gèlèdè establishes annually the significances of the women elders of the community, female ancestors, and the feminine spirit. They are collectively called “Our Mothers.”

Probably beginning in the 16th century, this festival highlights the importance of the matriarchy in African life. The fact that the Gèlèdè honors and celebrates women is a remarkable attribute of culture that demonstrates the relationship the society has to women elders.

The Yoruba prepare for the Gèlèdè festival by creating elaborate masks that are in actuality headdresses that are composed of two parts, a lower construction and ...

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