Basden’s footage of Igbo masquerades and dances (1920s-1930s)

Basden Igbo dances movie

George Thomas Basden (1873-1944), who held a Church Missionary Society post in the Igbo town of Onitsha from 1900 until 1935, is especially known for the two large volumes on Igbo culture which he published (Among the Ibos of Nigeria, 1921 – which you can read here, and Niger Ibos, 1938). Less known is that The Bristol Record Office holds 10 reels filmed on 16mm during the 1920s and 30s by Basden among the Igbo. You can watch 17 minutes of one of the reels here. It features very rare footage of dancing competitions, various masks (Umu-Chuku, Mbaku & Amanuke. Grandfather Maw, Enu-Ugwu-Abaw; Spirit maidens (Aghogho Mmonwui); District Officer masks (Onyeocha); Native Police masks. Nibo. Umu-Chuku Maws & Mgbedike masks) and two figures being danced. Unfortunately the films are silent, but it’s quite a spectacle to see nevertheless.

Basden Igbo dances figure masks film