The Lost Okoroshi

Nigerian low-budget film The Lost Okoroshi delves into the complex personal and societal ramifications of modernization as traditional animistic customs are lost or forgotten. A man who was feeling disconnected from urban life is possessed by an ancestor spirit manifesting as a “masquerade” – a masked, costumed, ritual figure that dances through the city of Lagos.

Now, not every masked figure is directly related to mumming of course, but the filmmaker himself ties this into the larger realm of mumming at the very end of the movie, where he provides a slideshow of photographs featuring mummers from all over the world (many of them taken by the esteemed Charles Freger). As one review states, “The tacit implication is that central Africa isn’t the only place where ancient knowledge and technology-driven civilization are in disharmony, and that things are going to get weirder until cultures everywhere do a better job reconciling modern preoccupations with timeless concerns.”

The dream sequences that begin the film are especially powerful, and you can feel the strong pull of these traditional spirit dancers even a world away from their original culture.


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