Saturday, 27 May 2017

How To Play African Tambourine

Egyptian tambourines are a popular musical instrument in Africa and the US both. People love them for their hand-made look and authentic Egyptian sound, along with the fact that they are very easy to play.

While many people know how to shake a tambourine, few know how to get the most out of this instrument.

So here is, how to play a tambourine :

Step #1 – Tone: A tambourine sounds most articulate when held in a horizontal orientation. When holding your tambourine, don't mindlessly hold it at the same angle for every situation! For example, hold a tambourine in a horizontal position (parallel to the floor) and tap the head. Now turn it to a vertical orientation (perpendicular to floor) and tap it again. Notice the great change in tone!

Step #2 – Cradling: Hold your hand open, palm face up and extend your fingers as though you were holding a basketball. Then place the tambourine on top of your fingertips. Lightly tap the edge of the head (it is OK to play directly on top of the rim). You will hear how articulate, dry and clear the resultant sound is.

Step #3 – Tambourine Rolls: There are several ways to achieve a tambourine roll. The easiest is to rapidly rotate the hand holding the tambourine back and forth, pivoting at the wrist.

Step #4 – Other Ways to Play: You can also play the tambourine by banging it on your knee or placing it on a stand and hitting it with a drumstick.

Friday, 26 May 2017

The Thumb Piano

The thumb piano, known as a kalimba, mbira, and by many other names, is a lamellaphone that uses prongs called tongues, keys, or tines that you pluck to generate acoustic vibrations. The length of the tine determines the pitch.

Generally, the thumb piano uses some kind of mechanism as an anchor that puts a great deal of pressure over the tines and across 2 bridges, leaving the free lengths of the tines room to vibrate. 

The tines are usually of the same material and gauge (thickness) to ensure that the pressure is distributed equally, holding everything in place and in tune.

The method shown here is simplified and wonderfully versatile. It allows the use of more fragile, delicate, and unusual materials for the body of the instrument, and it provides a way to use oddly shaped tines of different materials while at the same time permitting the tines to be swapped out and tuned with ease.

I've included 2 materials lists: a generic list and one that is specific to the salad bowl kalimba shown here. Experiment, explore, and find configurations that work for you.

The tines in the video are made of (from left to right): blue tempered spring steel, hairpin, street sweeper bristle, unknown steel lattice debris, electrician's snake, knitting needle, street sweeper bristle, bicycle spoke, spring steel, umbrella rib, plastic hobby/craft brush, and plain steel wire with the end splayed by hammering.

The length of a tine determines its pitch. To tune a tine, loosen its screw, scoot it forward or backward a bit, retighten, and plunk.

Thursday, 25 May 2017

African Djembe Drum And Its Unique Symbolism


The African D'Jembe drum is one of Africa's most signature pieces of artwork, culture, and music. It was used to communicate, to celebrate, and to mourn. It's significance is interwoven throughout the culture of Africa, particularly West Africa and the country of Mali.

The djembe is said to contain three spirits: the spirit of the tree, the spirit of the animal of which the drum head is made, and the spirit of the instrument maker. One legend states that the djembe and the tree from which it is created was a gift from a Djinn or malevolent demigod, or Genie.

Properly crafted djembe drums are carved in one single piece from hollowed-out trees called Dimba, or Devil Wood. Drums made from slats or segments of wood glued together are considered by traditionalists to have no soul of the tree. 

Properly made drums are not smooth on the inside but have a series of teardrop shaped divots inside that enhances the tonal qualities.

The Djembe drum heads are made from goatskin. In all cases the female is preferred and an adult cow is never used. In earlier times djembe were used to send messages over long distances. In many rural areas they still are today.

The African Shekere - A Unique Piece Of African Culture

In Africa, one of the most popular instruments is the shekere. Throughout the continent it is called different things, such as the lilolo, axatse (Ghana), and chequere. It is predominantly called shekere in Nigeria. Musicians dance and sing while they shake a shekere or bang it on their knees.

The shekere is a percussion instrument made from a gourd with a beaded skirt. The instrument was originally from Africa but is now used in Afro-Caribbean, Jazz, Salsa, and other popular music.

A shekere is made by drying the gourd for several months then removing the pulp and seeds. After it is scrubbed, skillful bead work is added as well as colour.

The instrument is used for folklore as well as some of the popular music. Considered highly personal, it is never loaned or shared, even with family members. However, a son who is a professional musician may inherit his father's shekere. Shekeres among the Yoruba of Nigeria are often connected with religion, given great respect, and play a very important role in traditional music.

When African slaves were taken to the "New World," they carried with them many of these rich musical traditions, which took root in varying degrees in different parts of the Americas and the Caribbean. In Cuba, Yoruba religious traditions using drums and shekeres are found almost completely intact – with similar rhythmic patterns, names of instruments and accompanying chants.

Brazilians sometimes use a beaded coconut called "afuxe" similar in name and style to the Ghanian shekere. In the United States the shekere and other African related instruments continue to grow in popularity and are quickly becoming part of our contemporary musical expression.

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Festival Of The Sahara In Douz : Tunisia's Legendary Event

The Festival was a breathtaking and exhilarating event which lasted four days — just right to see you through the New Year. It's not very well known outside North Africa, particularly from the cultural point of view, even though the location (an important hub for desert travel) is quite well-known by jeep and motor bike holidaymakers.

I'm almost a little reticent to publicize the Festival as I feel it's important to maintain its cultural, historical, and ethnic characteristics. Participation means getting a real insight into desert way of life, as well as mingling with the thousands of people who gather from far and wide to see it.

From dancing to dog racing: festival events

Events vary from poetry-reading (the oral tradition is still strong) to exciting dances by Tunisian, Palestinian, and Algerian companies in the evening; while during the day in the town horse and camel riders in traditional dress parade through the streets.

In the afternoon the Festival moves down to the dunes where there are spectacular performances of camel marathons, greyhounds catching rabbits, acrobats, and jugglers as well as a Berber wedding. The people were incredibly friendly and it seemed as if I had known them for years.

Douz has more to offer than the festival

Every Thursday there's a big general market in the square and a livestock market nearby. The surrounding environment envelops the visitor in kilometres of palm groves. In December you can still see families collecting dates, which provide staple food for camels and tortoises alike in Douz's zoo!


Another really interesting place to see is the museum. It's small but very well-organized around the theme of desert life. The small Douz Museum has an interesting collection portraying traditional Saharan life. Entrance TD 1.100. Open 9:30-4:30 Closed Mondays.

Getting to Douz

Obviously getting there needs some organization. Personally I took a coach from Tunis to Douz which took nine hours but is a reliable service. Otherwise there's an airport in Tozeur or Jerba and you can take a group taxi to Douz. It's easy to find small hotels to sleep in but one must book early at Festival time.

Getting There and Away

There are direct buses to and from
Tunis twice daily. Frequent buses and
louages run between Douz and Kebili
(25 km.). There are connections to all major cities from Kebili, but These can be difficult to secure during the festival when demand is high. Trains run twice daily from Tunis to Gafsa . From Gafsa it is possible to visit the famous oasis town of Tozeur and then continue by bus or louage to Kebili and Douz .

*culed from www.gonomad.com

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Kuala Lumpur Festivals - Biggest, Multi racial And Traditional Celebrations!

Kuala Lumpur is a multi-racial city. The healthy racial mix provides pleasant excuses to celebrate a wide range of festivals all year round!

" The biggest celebrations are the Hari Raya (Muslims), Chinese New Year (Buddhist) and Deepavali (Hindus) with other small,
traditional occasions in between. While Chinese New Year and Deepavali months of celebration are rather the same each year, the Hari Raya is sort of a "floating" celebration. " This is because Hari Raya marks the end of Ramadhan (the fasting month) which is based on Islamic lunar years, which normally do not coincide with the Roman calendar.

Sometimes this "floating" celebration happens together (or a few days apart) with either Chinese New Year or Deepavali. This give rise to joint celebrations known as Kongsi Raya (Chinese New Year & Hari Raya), and Deepa Raya (Deepavali & Hari Raya).

Hari Raya Aidilfitri

Muslims around the world celebrate Hari Raya Aidilfitri (also known as Idul Fitri or Idil Fitri in other countries). Aidilfitri literally translates to Celebration Day, after a month of holy fasting, which is referred to as Ramadhan month.

Chinese New Year

The Chinese New Year festival begins on the first day of the Chinese Lunar calendar, and lasts for 15 days. This festival is filled with much fan-fare, shopping and events around the city.

Deepavali

Also known as the Festival of the Lights, Deepavali (or Diwali) is celebrated by all Hindus in Kuala Lumpur and the rest of Malaysia. This festival symbolizes the triumph of good over evil, the victory of light over dark.

National Day

On August 31, 1957, the Union Jack was lowered and the Malayan flag hoisted up the flagpole at Dataran Merdeka field in Kuala Lumpur, signalling the birth of a new nation.

Mid-Autumn Festival

The Mid-Autumn Festival is also known as the Moon Cake or Lantern Festival, originating from a time of conflict in 14th-Century China.

Christmas

Christmas Celebration is always associated with Santa Claus, shopping, snowmen, jingle bells, pine trees and certainly presents. But, it is actually to remember the birth of Jesus Christ.

Hari Raya Aidil Adha

Also known as Hari Raya Haji (or Hari Raya Korban), this festival is celebrated by Muslims to mark the 10th day of the month of Dzulhijjah, which is the 12th month of the Islamic calendar. This is the time when pilgrims complete their pilgrimage in Mecca.

Federal Territory Day

The federal territories of Kuala Lumpur, Labuan and Putrajaya celebrate Federal Territory Day with exciting parades, fireworks display, exhibitions and cultural shows. Most events are open to the public and do not charge any entrance fees.

Thaipusam

Thaipusam is an annual Hindu festival which is a day of penance and thanksgiving for Hindu devotees to commemorate the day Lord Siva's consort, the powerful goddess Parvathi, gives her son, Murugan, the vel (lance) to vanquish three demons and their large army which were plaguing the world.

Saturday, 20 May 2017

The Banjo

The Banjo

The banjo is a four to five (or occasionally six) stringed instrument with a thin membrane stretched over a frame or cavity as a resonator. The membrane is typically a piece of animal skin or plastic, and the frame is typically circular.

The banjo was invented and widely used in ancient Mauritania, the Sahel and the Coast of Guinea.
This instrument is similar to the North African Moorish guitarro. The Moors of West Africa, the Mauritanians, and the African slaves who were sent to the Americas during the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade re-created the banjo into what we know today as the guitar.

According to Thomas Jefferson, "The instrument proper to them (i.e. the slaves) is the Banjar [Banjo], which they brought hither from Africa."

Banjo was widely used in American folk music until the Depression of 1929, when historians remarked that its happy notes were replaced by the more sombre notes of the guitar.

Friday, 19 May 2017

The Double Bass/Bass Guitar

The double bass, also called the string bass, upright bass, bass fiddle, bass violin, doghouse bass, contrabass, bass viol, stand-up bass or bull fiddle, is the largest and lowest-pitched bowed string instrument of the violin family.

It was part of the innovative musical traditions that the North African Moorish musicians brought to Europe in the 15th century.

In the 1930s, musician and inventor Paul Tutmarc from Seattle, Washington, developed the first electric string bass in its modern form, a fretted instrument designed to be held and played horizontally. It was marketed as "Model 736 Bass Fiddle."

In the 1950s, Leo Fender, with the help of his employee George Fullerton, developed the first mass-produced electric bass.
Africa it's    undoubtedly the home of modern civilization. However, the continent almost lost its claim to these rich elements of civilization due to our inability to fully develop and market them. With little literature preserving our rich history, some of our greatest achievements have either been forgotten or attributed to others.

But we should use the pride that we feel in rediscovering our ancestors' accomplishments to once again become innovators in the world. And with modern innovation, our work must be well documented, rights to inventions must be protected, and patents must be effectively developed and marketed, so that no one ever again can claim for themselves what we as Africans first did.

The Harp Guitar

Musical Instruments Originated In Africa.
The West has long dominated global music along with the instruments that create those soothing sounds.

While this is true, the origin of these musical instruments has also been associated with the West. But anthropological studies show otherwise. From violins to drums, musical instruments originated in Africa.

Depending on their nature and place of origin, these instruments have various African names and are archetypes for contemporary Western ones.

Though most of these original African instruments are out of use, a number of them are still part of the acts of contemporary African artistes.

Ghana's King Ayisoba still uses the Goje (African violin) in all his stage performances, while Western Sahara's Aziza Brahim can't part ways with her Tuareg drums.

We share with you the African origin and evolution of some contemporary musical instruments.

The Harp (Guitar)

Some of the earliest forms of guitar can be found in Ethiopia, where it is known as Krar Harp. In India, there also exists the Sitar, another early form of guitar.

The Krar harp, or one of its variations, developed into the guitarro, the direct ancestor of the guitar which was used widely in ancient Mauritania.

Guitarro was introduced to Spain by African Moors in the 9th century AD. Soon, the whole of Spain, southern Italy, and southern France, became avid users of the guitarro.

By the time the Moors fell from power, the guitarro had already become an integral part of Iberian (Spain and Portugal) music.
The Moors, many of whom migrated to the Americas, brought their guitarro with them.

The guitarro was widely played in the Spanish colonies, since it was the Spaniards and the Portuguese who conquered and shared the Moorish lands in America between them.

Although widely played in Latin America in the 17th and 18th century, it only came to be known in the southern region of the United States in the 19th century. Its use was not widespread until the early 20th century when it was used by popular professional musicians like the Carter Family and Jimmie Rodgers.

*culled from www.infoboxdaily.com

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Goje Musical Instrument

The Violin (Goje)

The violin is an instrument used all over the world, especially in Europe.
This instrument is erroneously traced to Ancient Europe's Byzantine Empire. But this is far from true. According to historians, these traditional fiddles can be traced to Stone-Age Africa.

They were probably taken into Europe by the Moors when they ruled and occupied the Iberian Peninsula and planted their populations and culture in the European landscape from 711 AD to the 15th century.

The modern Violin

In Africa, the violin is popularly referred to as goje (Hausa name for the instrument). The goje is almost exclusively played by ethnic groups inhabiting the Sahel, Sudan and Sub-Saharan Africa.

Snake or lizard skin covers a gourd bowl. A horsehair string is suspended on the bridge, and the goje is ready to be played with a bowstring.

The goje is commonly used to accompany songs. It can also be played as a solo instrument, and it features prominently in an ensemble with other West African string, wind or percussion instruments.

The various names by which the goje is known include goge (Hausa, Zarma in Nigeria), gonjey (Dagomba, Gurunsi in Ghana), Ggonje, (Mamprusi, Dagomba in Ghana), njarka (Songhay in Mali), and n'ko (Bambara, Mandinka and other Mande languages in the Sahel Regions).

The goje is still in use in many parts of Africa.

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

The Mystique Of The Kakaki

The kakaki is a ten-foot royal trumpet utilized in traditional African music.
It is referred to as a "kakaki" in Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Burkina Faso, but called a "waza" in parts of Chad and Sudan, and a "malakat" in Ethiopia. The kakaki is blown by only by men in Hausa societies, and it is generally reserved for specific occasions, such as a ceremony at the emir's palace.

It originally comes from Songhai cavalry around 15th century when the once-imposing empire founded by Askia Muhammad ruled over the Hausa states of Kano, Zazzau, Katsina and Gobir. The kakaki sound is associated with royalty and it is only played at events at the palace of the emir or chief in Hausa societies. It is used as part of the sara, a weekly statement of power and authority, usually on Thursday nights.

The kakaki alongside other side-blown ivory or horn instruments such as algaita, farai and kaho transmit verbal praises of chiefs and emirs. All these instruments fulfill this role in combination with drums.

During coronations and high-caste ceremonies, the kakaki is blown as a talking trumpet at the palace to herald the arrival of some senior council members, district heads, princes and top palace officials or serve for signaling the entry of the emir and his retinue.

Ostensibly, this metal instrument which is a bequest from Songhay to the people of northern Nigeria over six centuries ago had found its abode in the ancient city of Zaria, the headquarters of Zazzau Emirate.

News Royale learnt that the Kakaki quarters, an enclave within the ancient city, has been existing for over six hundred years, nearly as old as the city itself. It was originally the place of residence for Sarkin Kakaki (chief of the trumpeters) and other royal trumpeters and praise singers during the reign of Habe dynasty.

But Kakaki quarters witnessed a huge transformation after the settlement of Madakin Zazzau Albarka, son of Muhammadu Makau, and Malam Ibrahim Mai Borno, a Kanuri man, who came from Kukawa via Kajuru, shortly after the jihad in 1805. The area where they settled came to be known as Albarkawa. From the lineage of Malam Ibahim Mai Borno, popularly known as "Tsoho" came some illustrious sons of Zazzau such as Waziri Umaru, Salanke Iyal and Ma'aji Isyaku among others.

There had been at least five Sarkin Kakaki (chief of trumpeters) before a certain Abubakar was appointed Sarkin Kakaki by the Habe ruler of Zazzau, Muhammadu Makau in 1804. Sarkin Kakaki Abubakar lived in the Kakaki quarters with his family and begot a son named Muhammadu Kauran Busa.

But Abubakar was succeeded by one Sama, who came from Katsina and was appointed by Emir of Zazzau Malam Sambo. When Sama died he was succeeded as Sarkin Kakaki by Tanimu, a grandson of Abubakar through Muhammadu Kauran Busa. However, Tanimu was not followed to the title by his son, Madakin Kakaki Muhammadu Qaniyati rather by Ibrahim, son of Sama.

At the emir's palace in Zaria, the kakaki and farai are sounded as the emir enters the inner royal chamber. The royal trumpeters led by Sarkin Kakaki will herald the arrival of the emir with the epithet: "Bijimi! (thrice). Ga shi a fili, ga shi a sarari. Allah Ka taya maka. Annabi ka taya maka. Kai kadai ka ke Sarki; kai kadai ka ke Bijimi; ga adalin Sarki!"

A succession of council members, princes and courtiers approach him, now seated on his throne, to pay their respects. The trumpeters will greet each dignitary with a particular appellation. Like in the case of Waziri, the kakaki would sound: "Chediyar da babu kaya, Waziri babban gwadabe, Waziri ka fi mai abu iko!" or, as for Galadima, "Babba! (thrice). Daudu Galadima, shawaran gari wuce kunya. Babba sha guna guni. Daudu karfin birni, Daudu rana da hazo!" For the Madaki, the sobriquet is: "Goje uban fadawa, kaura rabin gari!" while others like Sarkin Fada and Sarkin Yaki have "takuma gigita maza, takuma ko gidan mutm kafi shi!" and "Kura ba jini zuba, kaure goma, zabuwa goma!" as their epithet.

Monday, 15 May 2017

10 Festivals You Should Experience In Jamaica In 2017

Culture Calendar for Jamaica 2017

When it comes to reasons to travel to
Jamaica, few people need any persuasion. Our experts know the intriguing island inside out and can curate a trip to take you deep into the heart and soul of the place; from exploring its highlights to enjoying the hidden little restaurants and knowing the best bars to watch local reggae bands. However, what time of year to go to Jamaica can be a tough decision, so we hope this exciting selection of the top 10 festivals & events you should experience in 2017 provides some food for thought:

1. Accompong Maroon Festival

Venture off the beaten track for an important annual festival in this rural town, 'a nation within a nation', with a fascinating history. Celebrating over 200 years since the signing of the peace treaty between the Maroon slaves and the British, the sleepy town of Accompong comes alive every January, when its annual party is the
place to be on the island. This is a little known festival that gives a real insight into local life with singing, dancing, storytelling and that fiery home cooking that we just love Jamaica for.

Dates: 6 January

2. Bob Marley's Birthday Bash

Jamaica's musical heart beats to double time as it becomes the life and soul of the Caribbean during one of the most important celebrations of the year, in honour of the island's adored musical legend, Bob Marley, on his birthday. Rastafarian flags colour the streets and sweet reggae sounds rumble the crowds, drawing in fans from near and far in remembrance of the Jamaican icon. The revelry involves incredible artists' performances all across the island with shows, art exhibitions and live music concerts – all in heartfelt tribute to the wildly influential local boy who preached 'One Love'.

Dates: 1-6 February

3. Saint Ann Kite Festival

The skies over Saint Ann's beach will be awash with colour at this family friendly festival. Spend the day on the sand, enjoying the display of kites of all shapes and sizes soaring through the air amidst magnificent colours. With a lively music concert to bring the day to a close, this promises to be an excellent occasion for the whole family to enjoy on holiday in Jamaica.

Dates: 28 March

4. Jamaica's Carnival (Bacchanal)

Jamaica's annual carnival is a spectacle of shimmering sequin costumes, vivacious dancers and delectable Soca sounds, culminating in the most friendly and vibrant festival of the year. This is an amazing way to experience the fiery flavour of a Caribbean fiesta, where locals and travellers join together in celebration as the technicoloured processions sweep through the streets to the charge of pounding steel drums. Carnival has become a world renowned phenomenon, teasing countries from across the globe with its exuberance, soul and sense of freedom – the atmosphere is euphoric and the rhythm infectious. This is an absolute must for anyone in search of a true Caribbean experience where you'll be jamin' 'til the sun comes up.

Dates: 15 -23 April

5. Montego Bay Yacht Club Easter Regatta

Whether you're a keen sailor or simply enjoy peacefully watching the white sails glide by from a comfy spot on the shore, the famous Easter Regatta brings a buzzing atmosphere to the beautiful Montego Bay, one of our favourite places to stay on the island, with several races taking place along the North coast over 4 days. Visitors are encouraged to take part in this exciting event along with locals from the yacht club.

Dates: March/April

6. Ocho Rios Jazz Festival
Ocho Rios is a distinguished international festival celebrating Caribbean jazz musicians and promoting 'Classical Black Music and America's First Art Form'. Stunning performances from some of the greatest artists in the Caribbean are well worth booking in advance for your holiday, and in such a fabulous setting, the smooth sounds will leave you wanting to stay in Jamaica forever.

Dates: 28 May – 4 June

7. Reggae Sumfest

Reggae Sumfest is a musical sensation taking place in Montego Bay in Jamaica. Coined as 'The greatest reggae show on Earth' – we couldn't agree more, and what a beautiful setting for it to take place. Each evening the tremendous parties take on a different theme and the event hosts some of the best reggae stars from far and wide, making the line-up world-class. This is a fantastic and intrinsically Jamaican experience with an amazing energy that any music lovers and visitors to the island will revel in.

Dates: 16-22 July

8. Independence Weekend – Dream Weekend

A wonderful weekend to see the very best of Jamaica; locals come together over their Independence holidays to showcase their spectacular musical talent from local artists, delicious food and fiery liquor, all enjoyed on the stunning white sand beaches of Negril. Sponsored by Jamaica's revered Appleton Rum, this promises to be a weekend of serious fun.

Dates: 28 July – 1 August

9. New Year's Eve Harbour Fest and Fireworks on the Waterfront

There is no cooler place to toast in a New Year than on the soft sandy shores of Jamaica with an Appleton Rum cocktail in hand and some good old school reggae as your soundtrack. Celebrate alongside the islanders at midnight as the harbour puts on a fantastic display of New Year's Eve fireworks to really get the party started.

Dates: 31 December

10. Calabash International Literary Festival (2018 – but worth noting in the diary already!)

One of the most respected cultural event in the Jamaican calendar (biennially); Calabash rivals the likes of Cheltenham and Bath literary festivals, and is hugely attractive for its spectacular exotic location, held in the village of Treasure Beach. This promises to be a magical experience for culture lovers to indulge in the numerous fantastic talks from novelists to poets, all celebrating the English language and its great masters.

Dates: May 2018

Where to Stay

Jamaica is the perfect destination for anyone looking to combine a relaxing beach holiday with a little bit of culture. There are a number of fantastic luxury hotels on the island and our experts will help to find the one that fits you perfectly. If you're travelling with the family then Round Hill Hotel is a lovely option with lots of exciting activities and a kids club to keep the little ones busy. GoldenEye is in a fabulously romantic setting for honeymooners looking for an intimate escape, and
Jamaica Inn remains a firm favourite for a luxurious retreat with its amazing Ocean Front Spa.

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Nigerian Musical Instruments

There are several Nigerian Instruments for music, several of which are locally made and operated mostly by Nigerians who are very good at playing them.

Many of the instruments which originated from Nigeria are already gaining wide and international acceptance, they are already being used all over the world for music... like the Talking drum.

The Igbos occupying the eastern part of the country play varieties of instrument for different purposes, The Ogene almost Originated from that region...used mostly in the early nineties by town criers to pass across information or relay the king's massage. The ogene, one of the most relevant instrument of music in Nigeria is also widely used by the masquerades.

Here is one of the first earliest instruments used for music in Nigeria, This is the multi purpose Ogene, which its use has of course minimized because of the advent of western instruments.

There is scarcely any town without an Ogene in the Early Nineties Because like I said, it Is used by the town crier to disseminate information and it is used for several other traditional music, Palm wine Music and several others.

This is the Nigeria flute used for music, Although several of these instrument were used in the early nineties, they were an integral part of the life of the Nigeria People, the flute is one of Nigeria instruments used for solo music.

It is used to make emotional music, the saxophone is gradually taking the place of the flute in the field of music The flute is a wind instrument, a sound is made by blowing air into it and controlling the air outlet with the fingers.

Several years back in the village we fight to get a turn to play this instrument, then is was the most popular and loudest musical instrument we had.

The Ekwe as it is fondly called is used in prayer houses for the making of music, It is a simple carved wood that produces different sounds and it is also used to gather the elders...to call a meeting...the sound of the ekwe early in the morning is a notice that the king wants to meet with the villagers.

There are several other musical instruments used for music in Nigeria, There are over hundred different Nigerian instruments as different parts of the country deal on different instruments. The Hausa use instruments like the talking drum, armpit drum, and ivory horn.

Although the Western instruments have not fully taken over the Nigeria musical scenes, it has gained plausible space in Nigeria music industries. Nigeria high life, reggae, hip hop, and several genres of music played in Nigeria now make use of western instruments.

These are the few of the Nigerian Instruments, many of them are not listed here. Hopefully, many more will be added to this page if and when they get discovered by me. 

There are lots of other instruments that was very popular in the northern part of the country that had probably gone into extinction.

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Equatorial Guinea : Holidays and Celebrations

New Years Day.  January 1. Most people celebrate it like the rest of the world.
The Ministry of Information, Culture, and Tourism put on a fabulous fireworks display. It's free and broadcast throughout the country.

Good Friday / Easter. Varies. Good Friday goes by several names (Mourning Friday or Black Friday); it represents the day Christians believe Jesus was crucified on the cross. Most Christians will attend a special Good Friday mass and spend the day in solemnity. Easter is considered the most important holiday for Equatoguinean Christians. Since this is the day that Christians celebrate Jesus being resurrected from the dead, many people spend the day (or at least morning) in church services and visiting family and friends later.

Labour Day.  May 1. Also called International Worker's Day, this holiday is designed to celebrate the worker and discuss labor issues. Both public and private businesses are closed on this day.

Africa Day. May 25. This holiday was created in 1963 with the creation of the African Union. The African Union itself was designed to bring all 53 member states together to deal with issues regarding economic issues, crime and trafficking issues, and poverty that affects everyone in the African community. It's also designed to celebrate the spirit and vivacity of Africa. Celebrations vary, but it is celebrated in both Africa and its Diaspora with games, music, food, and dances for all. Seminars and panel discussions are often held during this time to discuss pressing affairs.

Corpus Christi.  May 30. Corpus Christi is the Christian celebration of the Holy Eucharist, or Holy Communion. Many Equatoguinean Christians will attend a special mass on this day.

President's Day. June 5. This is the birthday of President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo. In 1979, he led a successful coup d'├ętat to oust his uncle, the first president of the country. Large celebrations are held in his honor, including lavish meals and cultural programs.

Armed Forces Day. August 3. This holiday commemorates the historic coup led by now President Mbasogo. It also honors the members of the country's military (army, navy, and air force). Most often, this day includes military parades and memorials to its veterans.

Constitution Day.  August 15. The original constitution was drafted and accepted in 1982, identifying the country as a one-party state. The president's term is seven years, and the legislators' terms are for a period of five years. However, in 1991, they added an important referendum to the constitution making the country a multi-party state.

Independence Day. October 12.  This day commemorates Equatorial Guinea's independence from Spain in 1968. They changed their name from Spanish Guinea to Republic of New Guinea, and then again to Equatorial Guinea. One of the key events is the president's address, honoring all of the nation's fallen soldiers. Military parades and cultural displays of music, dance, and art are presented in towns and cities across the country.

Christmas Day. December 25.
Equatoguinean Christians start shopping well in advance, like many other countries do. They decorate their homes for the season in lights, ribbons, and balloons. Christmas Eve is a big night: people attend a special mass, which includes a lot of singing that carries over long after the service is over. People sing and dance their way to the early hours of the morning.  Christmas Day itself is spent visiting family and friends and exchanging gifts and sharing meals.

Traditional music and dance is often incorporated into the holiday celebrations.

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Traditional Weddings in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone wedding traditions differ according to their tribes. Even though they differ in their wedding traditions a wedding starts when a man is able to assemble enough bride price (often a mixture of money and other gifts) to give to the prospective bride and her family. 

Marriages are arranged between families, sometimes when the girl is still young. But, love marriages are also common, especially among those who have been to school.

Here are 7 of the most common Sierra Leone wedding traditions that couples can incorporate in their wedding occasion.

Mboya. A boy's family can choose a future wife for him from childhood. However, if the girl does not agree to choice when she is of age, she has the opportunity to refuse marriage (to the young man that is… not necessarily to marriage altogether). If she goes through with the marriage without her consent however, the man's family will be required to pay her parents a bride price known as Mboya. If the bride price is not paid, any children they have will be considered to be the "property" of the woman's family. Part of the Mboya or bridal payment includes rice, salt, palm oil, and fabric for making clothes.

Tying the Knot. In some African wedding traditions, the bride and groom have their wrists tied together with cloth or braided grass to represent their marriage. Today's modern couples may choose to have the officiant or a close friend tie their wrists together with a piece of kente cloth or a strand of cowrie shells during the ceremony while stating the wedding vow.

Jumping the Broom. This is a well-known tradition whose origin is up for debate. Today, this ritual's significance is agreed upon to be a symbol for the start of the couple making a home together. The broom, often handmade and beautifully decorated, can be displayed in the couple's home after the wedding.

Ijogolo. In addition to the rings, married women also wore a five-fingered apron (called an ijogolo) to mark the culmination of the marriage, which only takes place after the birth of the first child.

Kola Nut. The Kola nut is most often used for medicinal purposes in Africa. It is also essential in most African weddings. The Kola nut symbolizes the couple's willingness to always help heal each other. The ceremony is not complete until a kola nut is shared between the couple and their parents. Many couples incorporate the sharing of a kola nut into their ceremonies, and then keep the nut in their home afterwards as a reminder to always work at healing any problems they encounter.

Amacubi. A married woman always wore some form of head covering as a sign of respect for her husband. These ranged from a simple beaded headband or a knitted cap to elaborate beaded headdresses or the amacubi. Long beaded strips signified that the woman's son was undergoing the initiation ceremony and indicated that the woman had now attained a higher status in the society. It symbolized joy because her son had achieved manhood as well as the sorrow at losing him to the adult world.

Cowrie Shells. Cowrie shells, indigenous to West Africa represent fertility and prosperity. Cowrie shells are a significant favorite used in bridal attire. Use of the shell design in favors, food serving, cakes and decoration or table centerpieces express the tradition.

Monday, 8 May 2017

EVALA INITIATION WRESTING IN TOGO

Evala, an initiation ritual, is a crucial stage in the growth of the young man in the Kabye ethnic group in Togo, West Africa.

In the Kozah province, 260 miles from Lome, Togo's capital, a die-hard ancestral tradition attracts huge crowds from all over the world in the month of July every year: the evala traditional wrestling among the Kabyes. This is both a sport competition and an initiation ritual that stands as a required passage in the young man's growth into adulthood and a full-fledged member of his community.

According to the legend, the evala traditional wrestling among the Kabyes grew out of an ancestral sport practiced with sticks. 

Competitors used to throw their opponents on the ground using a baton until the day the batons fell off the hands of two competitors who decided to finish it up by grabbing each other vigorously. 

Thus was born evala which, over the years, became an exercise aimed at preparing the young Kabye man physically and mentally and to open for him the door to adulthood.

The young Kabye man does not become a member of his community unless he goes through an initiation ritual. This is a crucial stage, among others, in a long process that forges, shapes and models the individual in his preparation for adult-age responsibilities, says Kao Blanzoua, a journalist-anthropologist and a Kabye studies expert. One is not born an evalon (the singular for evala), one becomes it. To do so, one has to go through the initiation process, he stresses.

Evala as a sport competition

As a sport, the evala wrestling helps test the physical strength, the endurance and the agility of the initiated over a one-week time span. On the wrestling field, each team forms several rows of wrestlers, with the best in the front row. The most valuable ones are energized by the crowd of fans gathered around the arenas cheering them to the tune of drums, flutes and other instruments.

So this is how the Kabye young man shows his ability to defend his community by beating his opponent, and, this being a sport after all, his ability to remain dignified in defeat.

Dog meat consumption, the evala's secret to endurance and agility

The consumption of dog meat is an important aspect in the course of the three-year initiation process, the dog being considered cunning, enduring, courageous, smart and faithful, all of which qualities the evalon needs to be able to defeat his opponents during the fights.

During the week preceding the competition, the evala get ready by going in isolation and by stuffing themselves with dog meat. They refrain from shaking hands with girls and from having sex, in an effort to keep their physical and psychological potentials to the maximum. After the three-year initiation, the evala must never eat dog meat again.

Evala as the doorway to adulthood

Beyond the tough physical confrontations, the formidable shock of muscles flexing and unflexing in the arenas to the rhythm of the fans' cheers, the young evalon earns via wrestling his key to the adult class where he can enjoy several privileges. In addition to the respect of his community, he now has the right to consult a witchcraft doctor in case of a loved one sickness; to take up arms to defend the community in case of enemy attack; to get married and raise a family, or, when he dies, to be buried in an adult's tomb, which is different from the children's, says Blanzoua, the Kaby studies expert quoted earlier.

And the tradition goes universal

The Kabye people's evala initiation wrestling has now grown larger than a meeting among natives of the Kozah area. It is now an annual event that attracts a diverse crowd, an expression of the quest to preserve the cultural tradition, and, at the same time, a business opportunity, given the many tourists that attend it.

Initially practiced in the nine Kabye districts, the evala wrestling has crossed the borders of the Kozah province. The Yaka district in the Doufelgou province also practices it, now, not to mention at least 13 other districts: Lama, Pya, Tchitchao, Yad, Bohou, Kouma, Sarakawa, Landa, Djamd, Yaka, Tchar, Soumdina and Lassa.

To some, this expansion signals a guarantee for the survival of the practice, while others feel that the time has probably come to consider modernizing this wrestling so it can become professional, thereby opening it to other cultures.

In any case, if you plan to spend your vacation in Togo, you would be well advised to come in the month of July and head to the Kara region where you can enjoy thrilling moments.

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Ewa Aganyin : Popular Lagos Street Food

A first-time visitor to Lagos is sure to be welcomed with shouts from young ladies with small pots and plastic containers on their head calling for customers to buy their delicious 'Ewa Aganyin'.

Ewa Aganyin is a popular street food in Lagos and not many people prepare it at home. For Remi, a delighted customer, she says: "Home-cooked Ewa Aganyin never tastes as good as the one on the street." Vendors of the delicacy usually walk around in groups, with accompanying bread.

The beans is cooked until really soft and usually served mashed and served with special stew, mainly made of palm oil, pepper, onions and seasoning.

Moji, who sells Ewa Aganyin, says most people don't like beans that much, but they become addicted when they begin to eat the delicacy. "I have been selling this dish for the past five years and have never regretted it. With this business I have been able to cater for my parents and younger ones. To be precise, I inherited this business from my mother, though she started it late because we moved to Lagos some years ago. After looking for petty jobs without much success, I decided to take over from my mum when she fell ill."

Moji explained that the business has sustained her family and kept her busy. She also testifies that there is great profit in the business, which is experiencing fast-rising popularity at the moment. "I started off by cooking just two mudus of beans but today I cook up six to seven mudus. I used to take it out myself on my head to hawk but today people come to me in the house to buy and place orders.

Lagos is a very busy place so many people do not have the time and energy to prepare their meals and have breakfast before they leave for work. I get orders a day before from workers; they pick it on their way to work. Ewa Aganyin is filling and energizing, I guess that is why they always want it in the mornings."

Many have said this tasty dish is the perfect way for those who do not like beans to enjoy it. A customer who simply gave his name as Ifeanyi, while having his share of the tasty dish, said "I had never liked beans until I tasted this, and since then I have been hooked.
I first tasted it at my place of work when a colleague offered me and since them I make sure I have my fill every morning as I can never get enough of Ewa Aganyin. It's not something common in our culture but because of the way it is cooked, and the spicy stew that comes with it, I have been able to introduce it to my siblings. My sister enjoys it with bread. She has tried to learn to cook it but never gets it right, so has rested her case by just buying it from the experts."

Kafayat Olusola, a banker, is also an Ewa Aganyin enthusiast, and she says it is something she has always enjoyed from childhood. "So it is routine for me. Most times if I don't have it in the morning I make sure I buy takeout and save it up for evening. This meal is one that makes Lagos unique."

Ewa Aganyin is an affordable meal, with three small servings selling for twenty naira. To get a satisfying meal, one would need to buy a hundred naira's worth, though. There is also an option of toppings like beef, fish or kpomo.

"Ewa" means Beans in Yoruba language, while "Aganyin" is a term used to describe people from neighboring countries such as Benin republic "Cotonu" and Togo, who came into Nigeria to settle as far back as the 60s, hence the name, which simply means "Beans of the Aganyin people". It's not uncommon to find "Aganyin" women carrying their iron pots on their heads hawking the delicacy on the streets of Lagos. It is a very oil dish, but those who enjoy it agree that it is definitely worth the extra calories.

So when next you are in Lagos and see a long queue with the lady who is the focal point shouting out to customers to come and buy Ewa Aganyin, you just might want to join the queue and give your taste buds a treat.

Saturday, 6 May 2017

African Epe Ekpe Voodoo Festival

Voodoo parishioners from the Guen tribe worship at the annual Epe Ekpe festival in Togo. African voodoo is the world's oldest known traditional religion and an important part of African cultural heritage.

For one week each year in September the small town of Glidji located in the Southern most region of Togo, hundreds of voodoo or vodun worshipers make a pilgrimage to the scared village. The small town spills over with people and comes alive with the celebration of the voodoo New Year. Members of the Guen tribe travel great distances and gather together for the Epe Ekpe festival to purify themselves, worship, dance, sing and offer sacrifices. The Epe Ekpe Voodoo Festival has been celebrated in the same area of Southern Togo for over 320 years.

Ekpe means stone and the climax of the festival is the unveiling of the color of the sacred stone. The scared stone is searched for by a priest within a sacred stone forest. The stone's color foretells the fortunes of the coming year, red means, danger, white or blue represents prosperity. A priest then sprinkles and blesses the voodoo followers with holy water for cleansing, protection, and blessing until the following year. Water plays a major role to the voodoo worshipers in the Epe Ekpe festival.

Not everyone who practices Voodoo does it in exactly the same way or agrees on exactly the same things. Voodoo is a religion that originated in Africa and is practiced around the world by millions of voodoo practitioners or Voodooists. Voodoo is as much a part of African heritage as Buddhism is to Asia. Voodoo is not a practice intended to hurt or control others and makes them into zombies. Voodoo isn't brutal nor is it the religious version characterized by TV and movies, voodoo is a nature based religion.

The Epe Ekpe festival has been celebrated in the same area of Togo for over 320 years and will continue to influence the lives of voodoo followers for another 300 years and beyond. It is safe to say African voodoo will not play a role in the zombie plague or zombie apocalypse. African voodoo is the world's oldest known traditional religion and an important part of African cultural heritage.

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