The Escorts

The Escort

THE ESCORTS: In this photo, I am with my big brother Tercelin, surrounded by mask escorts of the Guere tribe in the Ivory Coast. (Soon thereafter, I was kidnapped by the mask of comedy). The escorts warn the arrival of a mask to the villagers by conducting cartwheels and other acrobatics.

The escort has a crucial role.  He oversees the safety of the mask, and serves as the mask’s interpreter given that he alone has the right to speak to the mask.  The number of escorts depends on the importance of the mask.

Photo by Michael and Aubine Kirtley, my parents, who were on assignment for Jeune Afrique.