Adamma is a contemporary Igbo maiden spirit masquerade. The name »Adamma« means »beautiful first daughter« in Igbo language. Igbo people are an ethnic group that live chiefly in the south-eastern part of Nigeria and speak the Igbo language. The masquerade is a public presentation of Igbo femininity by Igbo men. Through the performance of ADAMMA, femininity is publicly criticized and then idealized, and finally, playfully indulged in. Some men apparently perceive of gender identity as fluid and in need of stabilization, yet the Adamma masquerade does not offer this stability of gender experience that they seek.
Danced and incarnated by men, the lead character is represented as simultaneously female and male. In their futile search for a stable and morally controlled Igbo femininity, these men are allowed to participate in femininity, which is a domain normally off limits to men in Igbo culture - with one exceptions: in the performance of humorous parodies of women or the maiden-spirit masquerades that honor virtuous female ancestors.
By repeating this ritual, Emmanuel Ndefo investigates the significance of embodied, sensorial experience, and how his personal variation of this public play can function as a starting point for an artistic investigation into his own gender performance.