Contextual Elements of Vicious Performance: Focus on a Category of Audience-Orientated Physical Contest

Aniago, Peter Emeka
September 2010
African Performance Review;2010, Vol. 4 Issue 2, p81
Academic Journal
In the process of researching the Fulani cultural performance of soro (flogging contest) in Nigeria, I discovered that this performance presents certain contextual elements that quality it as a participatory performance; as an example of cultural theatrical practice; as a form of extreme and gruelling performance in which spectators enthusiastically encourage contestants to intensely inflict the maximum amount of physically damaging force (i.e. whipping) by stipulated means on their opponents; is enjoyed as a form of entertainment by the community and serves as an important rite for the male youths who voluntarily partake as contestants. These qualities that I have found existing within soro also apply to a number of other performances such as boxing, dambe, (a Hausa bare-knuckle kick-boxing) and ipia-agba (an Igbo ceremonial flogging contest), whereby the nature of the physically damaging force allowed can range from boxing, to kickboxing, and whipping respectively. Consequently, this study assesses these common qualities which exist within a variety of performances under the categorisation of vicious performance as an analytical frame conceptually represent and how to apply this concept in order to examine the subsumed notions in the following question about a soro flogging bout: 'Why would anyone want to go through this ordeal?'


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