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(An international, peer-reviewed, e-journal on
African Musicology)
(Vol. 1, No. 1)
ISSN 1994 - 7712
Bureau for the Development of African Musicology (BDAM)
C/o H.O. Odwar, Department of Music, Maseno University, Kenya
(An international, peer-reviewed, e-journal on
African Musicology)
(Vol. 1, No. 1)
Bureau for the Development of African Musicology (BDAM)
C/o H.O. Odwar, Department of Music, Maseno University, Kenya.
African Musicology On-Line 1(1)
(An international, peer-reviewed e-journal on African Musicology)
is published by:
Bureau for the Development of African Musicology (BDAM)
C/o H.O. Odwar, Department of Music, Maseno University, Kenya.
© 2007. All Rights Reserved. BDAM.
The aims and objective of ‘African Musicology Online’ are as
- To serve as the voice of Africans at the international level in the
study of their own
- To publish original research papers and reviews by Africans on their
own music
(encompassing all categories of African music);
- To foster mutual co-operation among African scholars in the field of
- To promote and develop the concept and practice of African
Musicology, by Africans.
All Enquiries and correspondences should be directed to:
The Editor
African Musicology On-Line 1(1) iii
Editor in Chief
Dr. Hellen Otieno Odwar
Editorial Board
Prof. Akosua O. Addo (U.S.A)
Dr. Hellen O. Odwar (Kenya)
Dr. ‘Femi Adedeji (Nigeria)
Dr. Richard Amuah (Ghana)
Edward L. Morakeng (South-Africa)
Dr. John Baboukis (Egypt)
Prof. Minette Mans (Namibia)
Other Editors (Review)
Dr. William O. Anku (Ghana)
Dr. Zabana Kongo (Ghana)
Dr. C. E. Nbanugo (Nigeria)
Dr. A. A. Ogisi (Nigeria)
Dr. F. N. Miya (Kenya)
Dr. Joseph Ng’andu (Zambia)
Thembela Vokwana (South Africa)
Dr. B. S. Kigozi (Uganda)
International Editorial Advisers
Prof. Meki Nzewi (South Africa)
Prof. Daniel Avorgbedor (U.S.A)
Prof. Akin Euba (U.S.A)
Prof. Jonathan Stock (U.K)
Dr. Lucy Duran (U.K)
Prof. Richard Okafor (Nigeria)
Dr. Kimasi Browne (U.S.A)
Prof. Omibiyi-Obidike (Nigeria)
Prof. Emeritus J.H.K. Nketia (Ghana)
Administrative Manager
S. M. Quashie
African Musicology On-Line 1(1) iv
It is with great pleasure we introduce the maiden edition of African
Musicology On-Line. This edition which contains six articles features
works which were written by African music scholars on various
subjects. The articles essentially focused on the traditional and folk
music traditions of different African societies; examining their cultural
heritage, acculturative effects, educational values and organizational
patterns. Of importance to us is the fact that the articles were written
by ‘owners’ of the musical traditions. The expressions and analytical
approaches are also truly African. Our position is that true and
objective African musicology can only be developed by Africans
themselves as no outsider can fully comprehend the meaning of
African music than Africans themselves.
African Musicology On-Line 1(1) v
A. N. Masasabi teaches music in the Department of Creative &
Performing Arts, Maseno University, Maseno, Kenya. E-mail:
[email protected]
M. O. Olatunji, PhD, is a lecturer in the Department of Music,
Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria. E-mail:
[email protected]
H. A. Odwar, PhD, is a Senior Lecturer in Music in the
Department of Creative & Performing Arts, Maseno University,
Maseno, Kenya. E-mail: dragak@ swiftkisumu.com
‘Yomi Daramola, PhD, lectures in the Department of Music,
Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria. E-mail:
[email protected]
J. M. Mutuku is of the Department of Creative & Performing Arts,
Maseno University, Maseno, Kenya. E-mail: [email protected]
Yemi Olaniyan, PhD, is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of
Music, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria. E-mail:
[email protected]
C. O. Aluede lectures in the Depatment of Theatre & Media Arts,
Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma, Edo State, Nigeria. E-mail:
[email protected]; D. D. Aiyejina, PhD, lectures in the
Depatment of Theatre & Media Arts, Ambrose Alli University,
Ekpoma, Edo State, Nigeria. E-mail: [email protected]; and B.
D. Ekewenu is of the Department of Music, Delta State University,
Abraka, Nigeria
African Musicology On-Line 1(1) vi
The Face of African Music in the Kenya Music Festival Foundation
- A. N. Masasabi - 1 - 13
The Influence of Indigenization on Military Music in Nigeria
- M. O. Olatunji, PhD - 14 - 29
School Music Education and the Kenyan Cultural Heritage
- Hellen Odwar, PhD - 30 - 46
Musical Symbolism of Colours: An Observation of Yoruba Sensibility
of Colours in Relation to Musical Behaviours
- ‘Yomi Daramola, PhD - 47 - 55
Emerging Trends in the Kamba Traditional Folk Music
-J.M. Mutuku - 56 - 65
Male/Female Dichotomy of African Drums: Guide to the Instrumental
Organization of Yoruba Drumming
- Yemi Olaniyan, PhD - 66 - 76
African Dance in the ‘Nigerian Christian Church’: An Appraisal
- C. O. Aluede, D. D. Aiyejina and B. D. Ekewenu
- 78 - 89
A. N. Masasabi
Traditional African music has suffered identity crisis in the last century.
This has been as a result of globalization that has seen the adaptation
and appropriation of African folk melodies. To a great extent the
present generation hardly attends to authentic African music that is
at crossroads: is it present, growing or fading away. In a bid to salvage
the situation, the Kenya Music Festival Foundation prepares annual
festivals in Kenya that feature performances of African music. It is
from this premise that this paper seeks to discuss the appearance of
African music presented in Kenya. First there is a brief description
of the Kenya Music Festival organization and its regulations regarding
the various categories of African music presented. This is followed
by a report on the four main categories of African music presentation
which include folksongs, folk dances, arrangements of African
melodies and authentic African instruments as exhibited at the festival.
In conclusion this paper highlights how much of African music is
known in Kenya.
African music is a general term referring to music across the
African continent. Agawu (2003: xiv) defines it as
a term best understood not as a finite repertoire but
as a potentiality…African music designates those
numerous repertoires of song and instrumental music
that originate in specific African communities, are
performed regularly as part of play, ritual and
African Musicology On-Line 1(1) 2
worship, and circulate most orally/aurally, within and
across language, ethnic, and cultural boundaries.
‘African music’ in this paper will be used in reference to Kenya in
particular and Africa in general as expressed in the Kenya Music
Festival Foundation (KMFF).
Kenya is a multi ethnic community comprising of four main
linguistic groupings: Bantus, Nilotes, Para-Nilotes and Cushites. Each
tribe has its own culture, music and had a system of governance. The
present society has undergone a lot of changes administratively, as a
result of the colonial rule. This saw the different communities come
together in a bid to have self governance. The introduction of Western
Education and Christianity also played a part in isolating some members
from their traditional beliefs and uniting them with those from diverse
communities. As such traditional music of the various ethnic groups
in Kenya is no longer performed as it used to be. The traditional
African society ensured the performance of music as part of every
day activity (Arnold 1983: 26). The present situation is that traditional
music is performed in weddings, some funerals, during national
holidays and during the Kenya Music Festival Foundation. Even
though there are some traces of traditional music in popular music
under the name Afro-pop, the younger generation does not perceive
it as such (Masasabi 2001: 11). African Popular music is widely
performed through mass media in Kenya. This music is made up of
fusions between African traditional musical elements and Euro-centric
styles (Masasabi 2005: 125).
Kenya Music Festival Foundation is one of the largest
music festivals in Africa. This festival is organized by the Ministry of
Education under the patronage of His Excellency, the President of
the Republic of Kenya. Festival officials include the Minister for
Education, Assistant Ministers together with the various Directors in
the Ministry of Education. There is a twenty two member executive
committee chaired by Prof. Emily Akuno that facilitates the functioning
of the festival. Its membership comprises musicians who are drawn
from various parts of the republic, appointed by the Minister for
Education. It is within this festival that the present generation enjoys
Masasabi. The Face of African Music 3
a wide performance of traditional music from across the country. It
has good objectives that have been achieved to a great extent. They
1. to encourage the study, practice and
development of music, elocution and
2. to provide a forum for the promising
performers of music, dance and elocution,
to expose their talents.
3. to promote the preservation of Kenya’s
rich cultural heritage.
4. to document and disseminate Kenya’s rich
artistic output.
5. to promote international awareness
through the performance of music, dance
and elocution.
6. to promote the quality of performance in
music, dance and elocution.
7. to encourage creativity that will embrace
emerging issues.
8. to provide a forum for cultural interaction
that will foster national unity.
9. to promote opportunities for career development.
(Kenya Music Festival, 2007:5).
It is conducted once a year and draws participants from all
educational institutions. Each year teams of adjudicators are selected
to judge music at various levels of competition. These levels are
derived from the administrative structure of the country’s local
government. The country is divided into eight provinces each with
subdivisions of districts. The festival subdivides the districts into zones
African Musicology On-Line 1(1) 4
which form the lowest and first levels of festival competition. The
next level of the festival is the district, followed by the provincial and
finally the national level. At each level, some teams drop out due to
the values placed upon the performances by the various adjudicators
as what constitutes a good musical performance. Tradition, according
to Kidula (1999a: 2),
consists of sedimentation through reinforcement of
those values that affirm coherence and
meaningfulness, constantly layered with new values
etc brought about by new people and experiences.
Experiences by the participants are layered on their previous ones,
creating a tradition at the festival. The adjudicators through their
judgment reinforce certain values that are meaningful to the
performances of indigenous African music in new contexts such as
the festival.
For the purposes of this paper, I will confine myself to the
performances of African traditional music as prescribed in the Kenya
Music Festival Foundation. These falls under four broad categories;
Folksongs, Folkdances, Authentic African instruments and the
Adaptation of African melodies. These categories are organized in
such a way that nursery schools, primary schools, secondary schools,
colleges, technical institutions, universities and teachers/ lecturers,
are each adjudicated separately.
With the above, performances of African traditional music have been
affected in various ways. First of all, as already mentioned earlier, the
performances have been subdivided into Folksongs, dances and
instrumental performances.
“In Kenya there is hardly any song without dancing.” Zake
(1986: 13). On the same, Nketia (1988: 206) says that
Although purely contemplative music which is not
designated for dance or drama, is practiced in African
societies in restricted contexts, the cultivation of music
that is integrated with dance or music that stimulates
affective motor response is much more prevalent.
Masasabi. The Face of African Music 5
Small (1987:28) asserts that “music and dance interpenetrate…it is
not just a matter of musicians playing while dancers dance, but
musicians dancing as they play and of dancers contributing to the
music and both responding to one another on equal terms, in doing
so contributing to the meaning of the occasion.” This means that the
traditional context saw a unified musical performance that even
incorporated dramatization together with singing, dancing and
instrumental accompaniment. What the KMFF has done is to re-
interpret African performances in order to emphasis different aspects
of the performances, such as singing, dancing, instrumental
performance skills, all of which are a part of the whole musical
Folksongs are subdivided into various clusters. For example,
songs of the Luo and Luhya in one cluster, Kisii- Kuria in another,
Somali-Borana in another and so on. Each cluster is identified by a
class number. The numbers include 271B- 278B for the different
clusters of Kenyan folksongs, 281B for folksongs from the rest of
Africa, and 291B for sacred folksongs (Kenya Music Festival
2007:50-51). The first digit of the class number denotes the level of
educational institution. That is,
Code 2- Primary and Nursery schools
Code 3- Secondary Schools
Code 4- Teachers Colleges & Technical Institutes
Code 5- Youth Polytechnics & National Youth Services
Code 6- University Colleges
Code 7- Teachers Clubs (ibid, 39).
This means that 271B is a folksong from the Luo or Luhya community
performed by Primary and /or Nursery schools, 371B is a folksong
from the same communities performed by secondary schools and so
on. “Folksongs” are indicated by the letter ‘B’ after the class number”
(ibid, 22).
In their performances, girls for example, perform songs that
were traditionally for older women. The same goes for boys. It was
customary for each age group in society to perform their prescribed
African Musicology On-Line 1(1) 6
songs for purposes of continuity and balance. Context was just as
important; for no wedding song would be performed during a
circumcision ceremony, for example. Likewise some performances
were restricted only to those involved in the ceremony, and in the
confines of that ceremony. A case in point is the performance of
Bukusu and Tiriki Circumcision songs. It was a taboo for non-initiates
to sing certain songs especially those sung by initiates at periods of
seclusions. This, Kidula (1999b: 91-92) explains,
Only at certain stages do women and children sing
or even dance; and only those with relatives
undergoing this ritual can actively participate. The
rest of the time, only the initiates, those attending to
them (vadiri), and those who have undergone the
ritual in the Tiriki manner are allowed to sing or even
imitate the dance movements.
Yet we find these performances for a larger audience on non-
circumcision years1. As folksongs were traditionally performed, their
lengths were not well defined, but varied greatly. The KMFF has
regulated the length of songs as being not more than four minutes.
This means that innovation and improvisatory skills are limited in
their execution. Furthermore, there has been a tendency of mixing or
singing a number of songs in succession to make a performance.
This is justified in the festival in terms of rhythmic variety, dynamic
contrast with a built climax and so on. Definitely these are Euro-
centric concepts, as folksongs are generally short and repetitive.
Another conspicuous issue from this is that songs performed
traditionally at different stages of a given ceremony find themselves
together irrespective of the order. For example a circumcision
ceremony took several days with various stages. Each stage had
specified songs. All these songs being performed together one after
the other is rather new and very strange to the older generation,
some of whom shake their heads in discontentment. Such kinds of
song organizations have become the norm and an acceptable
performance practice at the festival, in order to fit into the time limit
Masasabi. The Face of African Music 7
Separation of sacred song from secular ones has been well
maintained in the festival. Even though the two groups have similar
conditions and rules of performance, folksongs with sacred texts are
performed in a totally different category. In their contextual
performances, sacred folksongs are basically from African
Independent churches such as African Divine Church and Israeli
Nineveh to mention a few. Their Ceremonies of worship involve
moving from one place to another. As they do this, people beat their
drums, play musical instruments, dance and rejoice. ‘Some of the
dancing and singing sessions which accompany communal worship
may last the whole day or even several days’ (Mbiti, 1975:61).
Ecstatic singing is a common characteristic as the Holy Spirit guides
their services. This leads to trance like states enacted with prophecy
and casting out of demons, as part of the worship service. Presentation
of this kind is not viable on a stage. Space and time given are limiting.
The enactments are discouraged since the folksongs are under a singing
With the folkdances emphasis is placed on the dance aspect.
In this festival they are referred to as African Traditional Cultural Group
Dances. These dances are classified according to ethnicity similar to
that of the folksongs, making up a total of eight different ethnic
groupings. Their numbers begin from 811-818. The letters G, H, J, K
and L are used after the class number to designate Nursery schools,
Primary schools, secondary schools, Teachers Colleges and technical
Institutes, University Colleges and Teacher/ Lecturers clubs
respectively. The last two categories share the letter L. Apart from
the above, are dances with acrobatic effects (Kamba style) 821,
dances for the Hearing Impaired 831, dances for the Physically
Handicapped 832, dances for Multiple Impaired 833, and dances
from the rest of Africa 841 (Kenya Music Festival 2007: 53-54).
Definitely there is some singing and instrumental accompaniment.
“There are no dances within Kenya which lack some form of
accompaniment. Even in Maasai, where dances are unaccompanied,
African Musicology On-line 1(1) 8
dancers shake their paraphernalia (the jewelry of women) rhythmically”
(Kavyu 1977: 61). Expected here are authentic dance movements,
creative patterns, good stage management and so on. In as much as
authenticity is emphasized, there are elements of borrowed dance
movements within given cultural representations. This could be
attributed to the dynamic nature of culture.
African dances find their visual appeal partly through the choice
of costumes, make-up and body painting together with other artifacts
that complement the dressing. Every Kenyan community had its own
traditional costume acceptable at a specified social activity.
This is to say that the social function guided the kind of
costumes to be utilized in any ethnic community. In some communities,
dance costumes were made of bare chests with some sisal skirts to
cover the lower parts of the body. The same applies to communities
in the South and West of Africa. Nketia 1988:227 shows a photograph
of such costuming.
Due to obvious moral standards such dances were performed originally
in the festival using improvised Khangas or bed sheets tied to cover
the upper part of the body. As the dances ensued and the dancers
were carried away in the dance spirit, some of their costumes would
fall (those not well fastened). This created a sense of shame that would
Masasabi. The Face of African Music 9
fill the audience, adjudicators and even the dancers, inhibiting their
otherwise good performance. In their comments the adjudicators
would then mention such incidences advising the use of better secured
costuming. As a result, the use of tailor made costumes with several
frills that enhance dance movements, have replaced some of the original
sisal skirts. The upper part is a sleeveless blouse with frills at the
armhole and around the neckline.
What about the arena of these dances? The imposition of a
stage has greatly inhibited a number of dances. Traditionally, there
were dances meant for solo performance, those for a small group of
performers and those for a large group. In dance ensembles, dancers
could dance freely with each member executing their own movements
within a particular context. Furthermore, there were organized dance
movements and patterns for the ensemble. The number of performers
would guide the space utilized by the dancers, yet space availed during
the KMFF limits the number of performers, even as is described in
the syllabus as being not more than Twenty-four performers. Their
dance execution is thus limited to that small space even when such a
dance required a wider area of performance.
The length of these dances has also been reduced to not more
than five minutes yet some of the dances took longer times. An example
is the Isukuti dance for entertainment, praise or wedding ceremonies.
This dance goes on and on as the instrumentalists move around the
venue in performance, or even a kilometer away and back, as
traditionally performed. These changes in dance presentation have
affected their execution as longer periods of dancing could sometimes
get the dancers carried away in a trance like state.
Traditional dance movements have undergone innovation as
the present generation learns them. With specific reference to the
Isukuti dance, Mindoti (2005: 41) explains that:
traditional Isukuti performance was initially slow,
graceful, dignified. The entire community, thus young
and old, male and female, performed it. However
towards the end of the 20th century, the school
choreographed Isukuti performance has led to rapid
tempo, with variations in dance patterns and
African musicology on-line 1(1) 10
formations. This is for the purpose of competition at
the Kenya Music Festivals.2
Authentic African instruments
“Instruments in Africa could be performed solo, as an ensemble on
their own, accompany vocal performance and also serve as message
transmitters” (Arnold 1983:31). As a solo performance, “the voice
and the instrument frequently imitate each other, borrowing from and
supplementing each other” (Sadie 1980: 150). This means that the
voice has a significant role in that performance. In instrumental
ensembles different combinations of instrumental groupings
(Membranophones, Idiophones, Chordophones and Aerophones)
are functional.
The performance of authentic African instruments has a place
in the KMFF, under eleven categories. These include solo and
ensemble performances of percussions, wind, drums and string
instruments. Here cultural continuity is evident in performances at the
festival as emphasis is placed on having each instrument play its
authentic role in an ensemble. Of course innovation is unavoidable.
Of interest is one category ‘941’ made up of African and western
instrumental ensemble. These instruments are supposed to
complement each other in an ensemble creating newer sounds as
each instrument has its own distinctive timbre. Commonly performed
Eurocentric instruments here include the Piano, Synthesizer, Guitar,
Recorder, and Accordion. The African ones include among others,
Isiriri, Isukuti, Mabumbumbu, Obokano, and Chivoti.
It is expected that the authentic African instrument retain their
traditional roles. That is, for example, a marimba being a melodic
instrument must play melodies, drums should play varied rhythmic
patterns and so on. A lot of creativity is needed in the execution of
various rhythmic variations against an authentic rhythmic structure, in
not more than four minutes. Some of the authentic African instruments
have been modified to suit this new context of performance. For
example, the Bukusu Litungu’s tunning was as follows traditionally, d
r m f s l d’. “Some instruments studied were found to be having the
Masasabi. The Face of African Music 11
leading tone and the higher re both of which are not found in the
tuning of the traditional litungu” (Shitubi 2001: 8)
Different kinds of melodies are played on the instruments
ranging from traditional folk melodies, popular sacred to popular
secular melodies. In this case not only traditional tunes can be heard,
but a number of melodies borrowed from different cultures within
and without Kenya. This differs from the traditional contexts that
ensured the performance of each ethnic community’s melodies on
their own authentic instruments.
Adaptations and arrangements of African music
The other category of African music presentation in this festival
is the adaptation and arrangement of African melodies. The festival
requirements as stipulated in the manual are as follows:
It is an adaptation and development of an existing
African folk melody.
The challenge is in the treatment of musical elements
consistent with appropriate idiom...the following
information is important to the performing teams:
(a) The name of the arranger, the title and translation
of the song must be given. The score should be
clearly and accurately written out, preferably in
staff notation… (Kenya Music Festival 2007:
Here the most outstanding musical form that is exhibited is
Theme and Variation. The melody is stated and varied using a number
of compositional techniques, including tempo changes, key changes,
augmentation, inversions, sequences, counterpoint, and so forth. These
techniques are foreign to the African musical concept. Musical
characteristics of a given community need to be understood in order
to have a better composition. It is no wonder that the regulations, as
stated above, require the use of elements that are consistent with the
idiom. The melodies are to take not more than four minutes, being
challenging and competitive enough. This category has portrayed the
ingenious of the various composers that this country (Kenya) has. In
African Musicology On-line 1(1) 11
a bid to arrange African melodies, there is some distortion of the natural
inflection of words especially in tonal language.
African folksongs were originally not notated; they were orally
transmitted through imitation from person to person. They were short
and performed repeatedly with some innovation to lengthen them. Lenon
(2002) expects new innovations when he writes:
The notion that artists in Africa are anonymous figures
reproducing fixed tribal styles is similarly misleading and
outdated. As elsewhere, artists work within a social
context and as part of a tradition that allows for personal
This festival has been a breeding ground for art music
composers whose task is to arrange African melodies. It has also been
an opportunity to portray African musical performances especially those
from Kenya. Various aspects of traditional African musical practices
are executed through wholesale borrowing from African tradition and
have been assimilated into the festival. Although the music is tagged
African, it is indeed Kenyan traditional music with few performances
from Uganda and South Africa. It has served its purpose of allowing
the performance of African traditional music for the younger generation.
African music is now performed on stage. When a good musical
item wins, participants from other parts of the country work towards
learning it. This has its strengths and weaknesses: it is good since a
traditional performance is distributed throughout the country for all to
enjoy it, the new group performing it may come up with an excellent
rendition. On the other hand where such a performance is not well
mastered, the resultant is a mess. This festival remains a big and significant
event in the country’s educational calendar, an event that many look
forward to.
Agawu, Koffi.2003. Representing African Music. New York&
London: Routledge.
Masasabi. The Face of African Music 12
Arnold, Denis, ed. 1983. “African Music”. The New Oxford
Companion to Music. Vol. 1.
New York: Oxford University Press.
Kavyu, P.N.1977. An Introduction to Kamba Music. Nairobi: East
African Literature Bureau.
Kenya Music Festival Foundation Syllabus. 2007. Nairobi: Kenya
Music Festival.
Kidula, Jean Ngoya. 1999a.Where Is Your Tradition? On The
Problematics Of An
African Ethnomusicologist Research on Christian Musics.
Unpublished paper.
SERAS Fall Conference. GA.
Kidula, Jean Ngoya. 1999b. “Ingolole: Then We Shall See” In Turn
Up the Volume: A
Celebration of African Music. Los Angeles: UCLA Fowler
Museum of Cultural
History. 90-97.
Lenon, Martha. 2002. “African Art and Architecture” In Microsoft
Encarta Encyclopedia.
USA: Microsoft Corporation.
Masasabi, N. Abigael. 2001. Listening Habits of Urban youth to
Kenyan Traditional
Music: A Case of Madaraka Estate and Nairobi West Youth
Between Ages 13-25. Kenyatta University: Unpublished
MA Project.
Masasabi, N. Abigael. 2005. “Afro-Pop As Defined in Kenya’s Print
Media” in Akuno, Emily Ed. Refocusing
Indigenous Music in Music Education:
African Musicology On-line 1(1) 13
Proceedings of the East African Symposium on Music
Education. pp.123-128. Kenyatta University: Emak Music
Mbiti, John S. 1975. Introduction to African Religion. London:
Heinemann Educational Books Ltd.
Mindoti, Kaskon W. 2005. “Trends in Isukuti Performance” in Akuno,
Emily Ed. Refocusing Indigenous Music in Music
Education: Proceedings of the East African Symposium
on Music Education. pp.40-43. Kenyatta University:
Emak Music Services.
Nketia, J N. 1988.The Music of Africa. London: Victor Gollancz
Shitubi, Isaac. 2001. External Influences on Litungu Traditional
Popular Music of the Bukusu. Kenyatta University:
Unpublished MA Project.
Small, C. 1987. Music of the Common Tongue. New York: River
Run Press
Zake, George. 1986. Folk Music of Kenya. Nairobi: Uzima Press
M. O. Olatunji, PhD
This paper examines the development of European styled military
music in Nigeria with regard to the influence of its indigenization
processes by its practitioners in Nigeria. This is viewed from the
perspective of the emergence of different new occasions for
performance, which obviously has resulted in new contents for
performance, and performance practices. Other areas in which the
influence is discussed include the new roles and functions of
performance as well as the overall institution of military music in
Nigeria. The paper concludes inter alia that, by virtue of its new
contexts of performance and performance structure, Nigerian military
music has moved from being a substratum of the European music
tradition in Nigeria to being a substratum of contemporary music in
the Nigerian music scene.
In its verb form, indigenization means “to cause to have
indigenous characteristics: adapt to indigenous conditions of practices
(an excellent way of indigenizing what would otherwise remain a foreign
system)…3 Hence, indigenization is defined as the action or process
of substituting a previously foreign system with a local one. In the
context of this study, indigenization does not mean a total abandonment
of the forms of the European military music in Nigeria. Rather, while
the forms remain, the contents as well as the processes are adopted
to suit the African and indeed Nigerian
African Musicology On-line 1(1) 15
musical traditions. When viewed from this perspective, indigenized
military music in Nigeria could be said to have a strong affinity with
Nigerian contemporary art music.
The Overall Institution of Military Music in Contemporary
Since its inception on the Nigerian soil in 1863, the military
institution, with everything it represents, has carved a class-
consciousness status for itself. A class associated with the ruling colonial
masters at pre-independence era and the civilian government officials
during the post-independence era in Nigeria. The advent of the Military
Government in the 1960s and its long duration in office has further
worsened the prejudice and animosity nursed against the military
institution it by a larger percentage of Nigerian citizens4.
However, this negative aspect of the civilian-military
relationship is not diffused to the musical aspect of the Nigerian military.
We have stated elsewhere that in the 1980s, the Navy Dance Band
played the instrumental accompaniment to the songs of some Nigerian
popular musicians such as Christy Essien-Ugbokwe, The Lijadu
Sisters, Uche Ubeto, and several others.5 It is a fact that the Nigerian
military bands and their music have always enjoyed a better patronage
and relationship with the Nigerian civilian populace from all walks of
life. Many organizations in the business communities such as banks
and insurance houses, manufacturing companies, and various categories
of educational institutions as well as religious organizations now
patronize the Nigerian military bands at various occasions.
Some other factors that have tremendously affected the performance
practices of the military musicians include the following:
Increase in Number of Indigenized Music Arrangements
Since the mid 1980’s, concerted efforts have been made by
most bandmasters of several military bands in Nigeria to allot a greater
percentage to the indigenized Nigerian tune arrangements in their
various performances such as military parades, concerts and command
Olatunji. The Influence of Indigenization 16
Specifically, for the present study, we have endeavoured to
cover both the Nigerian Independence (National) and Nigerian
Defence Academy (NDA) Parades from 1999 to 2004. We have
also observed some major events, both at national and international
levels, which took place in, or hosted by Nigeria during this time
period. Some of these events include the Federation International
Football Association (FIFA) World Youth Championship hosted by
Nigeria in 1999, the handing-over ceremony to the civilian government
in May 1999 and the 8th All African Games tagged Coja 2003.
All the data collected during these events, especially the audio
and video recordings as well as the bandmasters’ order of music
performance, revealed that about eighty percent (80%) of the music
performed at each of these occasions were arrangements of traditional
tunes of several Nigerian ethnic groups done by Nigerian military
musicians. However, it was noted that the performance of military
music during the Coja 2003 witnessed an inclusion of some
arrangements by non-military musicians.
Arrangement of Tunes from other African Countries
It is instructive to state that, sometimes, the search for the
raw materials for the indigenized military music sometimes goes beyond
the shores of Nigeria. Today, the Nigerian military musicians now
arrange tunes of renowned urban popular musicians from other African
countries. Such tunes, which might have been made popular by the
electronic media houses, such as radio and television, are arranged
or at times re-arranged as marches, selections or concert music.
Notable examples of this kind of music include Maria Elena and
Mariam Makeba’s Malaika arranged as selections by Major B.
Also, during the 8th All Africa Games, it was observed that
the man who headed the music sub-committee of the festival, Mr.
Steve Rhodes, who, probably, because of his limited knowledge of
the military band orchestration, gave the assignment to Ayo Bankole
Junior, a Nigerian art musician. The latter did the arrangement and
orchestration of the music for the calisthenics displays for the festival.
Some of the music performed for the callisthenic displays were
Umqomboti (originally done by Evelyn Chakachaka) and Gau
African Musicology On-line 1(1)
(originally done by Awilo), to mention just a few. These were performed

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