The Asamba Dance, which has been famously displayed within and without the Twin Cities of Minnesota by the Mankon community, has its roots, manifestations and importance far beyond America.
The Madi People
Madi people live in Pageri County in South Sudan, and the districts of Adjumani and Moyo in Uganda. Most Madi in Minnesota migrate in early 1994 to present from South Sudan due to war between North and South Sudan.
Nton Masked Dance
The Nton masked dance is one of the many masquerades that permeate the traditional entertainment landscape of Nso culture and many other African ethnic societies. This dance group has a wide secrecy and ritualistic spectrum. In some villages and clans within Bui Division, some variations of Nton are owned by children and young adults. These typically would come out during mass community celebrations as well as operate on the fringes of these events for entertainment purposes only. That’s the lower end.
On the upper end of the spectrum, is the adult version like the one that was performed during the Fred Yiran African Arts Day. The Nton that was witnessed has the power and potential to adopt high spiritual and ritualistic elements that would allow communications across different realms – the living and the dead. Sometimes during its ritual dramatic performance, it may go after an individual it considers its elder and tries “to catch him” – in other words – recruit the elder to do its bidding, like giving the Nton more chickens, palm wine, and other exotic gifts. The very act of making sure the elder falls on the ground is a symbolic depiction of the preeminence of culture over everything else, including traditional titles, rank in the community, age, etc.
Overall, the Nton is truly out to celebrate and evoke with its performance the importance of balance and continuous unity between the worlds of the living and those inhabited by the gods and our ancestors.