The Gelede ceremony, held in honour of the primordial mother Iyà Nlà, is directed by women, reflecting their important role in Yoruba life. After weeks of preparations, singers and drummers open the night-time ceremony, followed by an orchestra and masked dancers wearing splendid costumes.
The project aims at safeguarding the Gelede tradition in communities across Benin, Nigeria and Togo. Following the initiatives of the government of Benin, which has constructed the International House of Gelede, the project encompasses: awareness-raising campaigns; training workshops for young people and seminars for master practitioners devoted to dance, choreography, sculptural techniques and costume making; publications on the Gelede cultural tradition and an international symposium.
To date, awareness-raising and information campaigns have been carried out in various communities in Benin, Nigeria and Togo, supported by promotional radio programmes. A partnership between the Association Groupe Gèlèdè de Savè and the University of Ifè in Nigeria has been established, and the first training workshops for masters and apprentices have been carried out in Kétou and Kilibo (Benin), generating an increased community interest for further training programmes.