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Sola Olorunyomi

4. Idán, or a Carnivalesque

Texte intégral

  • 1 . From the poet’s unpublished collection Ghost Music, 1988.

I thought I had finally come to my land of bones
When the hellish birds of an evening
Drew out my ears
To the sublime path
That gave demons eternal voices
And since then, all evening
Gypsies have been making music from bones..
Sanya Osha1

1There is a definite preference here, as would have become obvious from the preceding chapters, for the use of the term “performance” in describing Fela’s overall artistic oeuvre. The term captures an all-inclusive framework within which Fela’s music is only a part, albeit a significant one, besides other instances, so to speak, of ‘stepping out of the self’ as shown through the nuances of the subtexts of dance, mime, gesture, costume and mask display—which add profound meaning and perspective to his song texts.

2The central concern here is how Fela transposes earlier forms of aesthetic experience, and in what ways such transformations express a ruptured cultural continuum from folk aesthetic to popular aesthetic practices of urban, industrial life. If ritual, for instance, is steeped in improvisation, how do we recognize the ritual continuum when reconstituted as in Fela’s performance? An avant-garde mask performance is obliged to reenact, as Fela continually demonstrates, at least some aspects of its constitutive form.

  • 2 . This clarification is made by Babatunde Lawal in The Gelede Spectacle: Art, Gender and Social Har (...)

3The intention is to demonstrate how Fela’s performance is a derivative of masking forms, including the less ritualized strand of Ègbádò efe-gelede performance traditions. Although a gelede masker, as suggested by Babatunde Lawal, is not a spirit medium like the Egúngún, it obviously has spiritual connections with it in the general sense of influence. It is this connection that Fela shows without suggesting that it is its essential character Besides, with Fela, the efe-gelede aesthetic is merely an appropriated form, for indeed he deconstructs the gelede ‘aspiration for social order’ by blessing reversal behavior in the context of an alternative cultural practice.2

  • 3 . This is as true for the Yorùbá as many other African mask experiences.

4The nature of transposition of the mask code needs not be direct because the mask—even as an ideational category—does not offer itself to a simple, literal interpretation. In other words, the undecoded mask is fossilized message, a single instance that is representative of other instances, other spaces and times. As a storehouse, it is a repository of ancient and current knowledge such as myth, legend and history which makes its language cryptic and its message diverse. Broadly speaking, there are two types of mask: one represents a living person and therefore serves profane uses of entertainment and amusement, while the other is employed for the purpose of ritual.3 What is exciting in the idan or carnivalesque experience of Fela’s Afrika Shrine, is the attempt to amalgamate these diverse sensibilities and moods.

  • 4 . Cite Harry Garuba’s “Mask and Meaning in Black Drama: Africa and the Diaspora.” (Ph.D. thesis in (...)

5The process of deriving meaning from the mask in a dramaturgic sense is such that once the mask has been foregrounded as the primary genre, as Harry Garuba notes, “a dramatic genre can then be constructed from its code.”4 Indeed, Garuba suggests that the mask in this sense serves as a crucial enabling conceptual metaphor of African and Black drama. The scenario captured below does not relate to Fela’s outdoor performance; rather, the aesthetic pronouncements are most evident during his ‘Divination Night’ and ‘Comprehensive Night’ Saturday shows on Pepple Street. Fela’s reenactment of ritual through song and drama is not an attempt to faithfully recapture those idioms in their pristine states. In his treatment, these events have been revised and transformed into modes of countercultural expressions of urban life.

Pepple Street

6At about 10 p.m. on Saturdays, Pepple Street—demarcated from the Nigerian Police Force College by a short fence— takes on an eerie mood. Located in the Ikeja suburb of Lagos, the street bears the burden of housing the Afrika Shrine where, besides the Sunday and Tuesday performances, Fela adds a ‘Divination Night,’ where the audience is treated to new musical compositions and a deviant ritual service. The ‘Comprehensive Show’ follows immediately after this. On normal days, Pepple is equally capable of looking just as sane as any other street. With only about two artisan shops, the street has bowed to the commercial pressure of the crowd that peaks on three days of the week: only confectionaries and bars dot this single lane bypass.

7That is, legally There is a myriad of other mobile trading in marijuana and other hard drugs. The ‘Big Boys’ (Omp n’lá) bring the ‘stuff,’ although they know that Fela is averse to the sale and consumption of hard drugs. Unlike cocaine and heroin, marijuana is not included in this classification because, according to Fela, “It is grass, it is medicinal.” Even the ‘Big Boys’ have to be careful of the policing ’Shrine Boys’. The Big Boy who is unsure of the field gets some urchin from the Pepple neighborhood to help spot potential junkies. “It is too expensive for the masses,” complained some of my interviewees, and so they would rather stick to the more economical marijuana. A sizable majority though, had bought into Fela’s validation of marijuana as herbal medicine and the exception he made for it in contrast to the other drugs. By the mid-eighties, the street price of ‘crack’ in the neighborhood was about sixty naira, while in the less industrialized city of Ibadan, it was going for about fifty five naira—though with the associated risk of being mixed with yam flour.

8Around the Shrine, contour-lined faces milling around the street corridor betray an unnamed anxiety Bands of youth in thick-coated lipsticks, baseball caps, fez caps, corduroys and denim jeans sway by, in swagger style. Christian Dior, Alicia Alonso—irreverent perfumes make frantic efforts to impact on the whiff but get wafted off by a teenager’s single puff of marijuana. The sky of Pepple Street on Saturdays is a momentary overcast of marijuana smoke. A youth conclave ranging from the ‘Yuppie’ to the serving ‘Youth Corper’ and the O’Level Awaiting Result candidate all unite in their search for laughter and by a singular wish to be relieved of the institutions of containment they have huddled through all the week long.

9Inside the Shrine, the Chief Priest of performance is yet to arrive and the band is filling in with a general intermission, sometimes, with guest artists. The restive crowd is caught between the performance and its own excitement. Someone in the corner is making a larger-than-life claim, and though his motley crowd seems to know better, it nods in agreement. Two figures in the dimly lit parts, a non-commissioned officer and his police sergeant accomplice, have abandoned their duty posts and are using precisely the same excuse to shunt a cue to purchase marijuana. One hawker takes the offensive, trying to convince her clients that her price is not outrageous, indeed, she blames government economic policy on the slight price variation of marijuana: “Dis gofment is bad. How come wey small wrap of Igbo dey cost three naira, me self fear o!” (This government is bad; how do you explain the fact of a small wrap of marijuana costing three naira; I’m indeed confounded too!) Not too far off, a similar disputation is going on; but it appears the hawker is charging at an elderly smoker for having tripped off his ‘market.’ Their voices come alive as the smoker retorts to an accusation of being ‘high’ on marijuana: “Sure, yes, it’s the only way to ensure that you are employed.” A potential source of emotional outburst suddenly dissolves as the crowd, including the accuser, bursts into laughter—agreeing that there was some logic in the defense.

10It is midnight and there is a sudden eruption at the gate as a small cluster of youngsters guide a figure in the direction of the stage, and the charged atmosphere yields to catcalls, whistling and shouts of “Baba Kuti,” “Fela Baba,” “Abàmì èdá,” “Augu-stine/o,” “’lénìyàn,”—some of Fela’s more familiar sobriquets. He does not mount the stage just yet, waiting for the finale of the intermission. Then Baba Ani, the oldest member of the group and now band leader, formally announces Fela’s arrival. The catcalls resume and the crowd is querying and accusing Fela of omnibus offenses. “Who the hell are you to keep us waiting?” “Any member of your household ever got a wrist-watch?” “Serves you right that the government detained you the last time!” It is an unending list of jibes and rude talk.

11The band leader is standing on the central stage, slightly elevated by about three feet. A neon light in blue background reflects a map of Africa in red contrast. Behind the band is inscribed the slogan: “Blackism—Force of the Mind.” The worship cubicle housing deities is on the left-hand corner, midway between the stage and the audience. The band leader follows all this motion, smiling, adding to the general swooning atmosphere through his one-liner replies, but generally trying to quiet the crowd. He seizes the microphone, tells a little anecdote about the African condition, on the need for fortitude in challenging dictatorship, and then, “introducing to you the one and only A-bà-mì-È-dá, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti,” coinciding with a spontaneous outburst of percussive rhythm, followed by brass instruments, guitar and all, in no particular order; they are let loose in a staccato fashion, now cresting, now troughing, swooning and swooning into the far night and without being anticipated: stops! Microphone in one hand, a long wrap of marijuana in the other: “Everybody say yee-ye,” here is Fela trying to give pep to the night’s performance.

On Whose Side are the (gods) Òrìsà?

12Properly speaking, the active incorporation of an indigenous form of worship in Fela’s performance predates the 1977 event of the burning of his Kalakuta residence, with his Afrika Shrine then located at the Empire Hotel, off Agege Motor Road, Lagos. It took until the Shrine moved to Pepple Street for a grandiose elaboration of the worship form, as an open opposition transcript for contesting normative religious practices, to take root. Livid with anger and protesting one of my questions in a 1992 interview, here is Fela’s reading of the Shrine as a conscious hermeneutical practice which, according to him, remains valid in spite of its peculiar circumstance of counter-cultural behavior. He also noted that all the basic elements of a worship experience is relived during his Divination Night:

  • 5 . This interview took place December 5, 1991 at Fela’s No. 7 Gbemisola Street residence.

Don’t African mothers expose their bodies in the shrine when they wear small dress? Even you see their (breast) Oyàn at the shrine? So, you don’t know? Don’t they have music at these shrines? Don’t they also have music in their churches? (That) When you have ritual dance... ladies dance semi-nude? I say in our traditional shrines, don’t they have naked ladies dancing? Don’t you know about it? That in Africa, they dance bare-breasted at shrines? Sometimes self, the woman go go completely naked? Oh, that is why I say you university people bore me.5

  • 6 . Margaret Drewal in Yorùbá Ritual: Play, Performance, Agency (Bloomington: Indiana University Pres (...)
  • 7 . See Martin Chanock’s paper, “Justice and Rights in Context,” delivered at the Centre for African (...)

13The description here, therefore, is one typical of the decade between 1987 and 1997. Before proceeding with this deviant worship style, it is necessary to note the abiding principle which informs the adaptive and transformational character of even formal ritual as a recreation of myth. Margaret Drewal captured this dynamism when she delineated a broad spectrum of ways by which improvisation can transform ritual through “psychic transformations or, of esoteric verses turned into narratives, spontaneous interpretations, recontextualization, drumming, dancing, chanting, parody ruses, reconstitution of conventions and individual interventions into the ritual event.”6 In the context of Yoruba rituals, for example, the basis for this self-renewal and reconstruction is in-built in the internal character of ritual’s epistemology This partly explains the survival of the Yoruba Òrìsà worship in the New World long after the middle passage. Besides, Òrìsà worship does not lend itself as a body of necessarily coherent, uniform, and orthodox doctrine but more as embedded cultural practices; this also informs the dictum to ritual which says “Baá rí ígún, á f’òbè s’ebo”—implying that if we cannot get a bat for sacrifice, we could as well be content with using a similar bird. Taking a continental overview; Martin Chanock has argued persuasively that “religious practices have nowhere been permanent, uniform and unchanging and both they and the doctrines produced through practice have constantly been in flux.”7

14In other words, attempts at representing one orthodoxy both on its merit and above other competing forms, may be no more than efforts to privilege a false sense of coherence and truism of a particular creed. A number of aphorisms in Yorùbá culture further lend weight to this attitude, besides showing the essential self-deconstructiveness of the cultural practice. For a culture whose sense of hierarchy emphasizes age difference, one of the cognomens (and aphorism too) of the creation of Ile Ife, its spiritual headquarters, is rendered thus:

Ọgbó ò pín sí bí kán
Ọmodé gbán Àgbà gbán, l’a fi dá Ilè Ífe

Knowledge is limitless
Ile-Ife is founded on the wisdom of the young and the elderly.

15In an explicit acknowledgment of the vicissitudes of life and the unstable character of casual ‘truth,’ even the Babalawo reechoes the tradition by affirming that:

Bi òní tirí
Ọlá le má ríbé
Ló mú Babaláwo d’Ìfá Ọroún

  • 8 . The Yorùba have a five-day week.

As things are today
They may not be the same by tomorrow
This explains why the Babalawo consults the Ifa oracle every

16And these are by no means occasional or chance remarks, for there are innumerable instances of other contexts, be they of gender or general power relations, in which the power of language to posit an alternative outlook is brought to the fore.

17Back to the ritual paraphernalia at the Shrine, the statuettes and other iconic representations of Yorùbá mythological divinities include Èsù—trickster and divine interpreter; Sàngó—god of thunder and progenitor of the egúngún masquerade performance; Ògùn—god of metallurgy creativity and patron of the blacksmith; ere ìbéjí—a symbol of fertility and of twins. Also adorning the worship cubicle are portraits of black figures including Malcolm X, Kwame Nkrumah, Patrice Lumumba and Funmilayo Ransome Kuti. There is also the Asante stool, a symbol from the Asante of Ghana. There are earthen mounds containing honey a palm-oil-soaked wick and cowry shells. Some kola nuts are placed in a covered calabash, while a keg of palm-wine and three botdes of Gordon’s Gin are tucked in a corner. A sacrificial fowl in the cubicle watches with distrust. The accompanying musical instruments for divination rites, mainly the percussion, are the metal gong, occasionally interchanged with sticks, the bass drum and its set with cymbals. The cubicle is lighted with red, blue and green bulbs.

18Worship commences with the lighting of the wick by an acolyte and, simultaneously the ritual rhythm starts with an interlocking clanging of the metal gong and sticks. Then the bass drum and cymbals are unleashed in an upbeat and fast pace. For a while it is repetitive, with the metal gong defining the time line, but suddenly takes a faster pace, reaching its crescendo just about the same time the rising smoke from the burning wick gets to a peak. At that moment, Fela emerges with a few votaries—all masked in white (traditional chalk) powder on their faces. Like the other worshippers, he is not wearing any top.

19The repetitive rhythm is maintained in the background with occasional sharp and intruding antiphonal trap-drum beats. Fela leads his fellow worshippers to the cubicle. He assumes a crouching position, picks up some cowry shells and lobes of kola nut, throws them on a tray and begins to observe intently His brows betray different moods from anxiety and perplexity to elation and satisfaction. He takes a bite of the kola nut and dips his left fingers into the honey pot for a taste. Some Gordon’s Gin is sprinkled on the floor, for deity appeasement, after which he empties the contents of the bottle in the four fire points earlier lit. Infused with methanol, the flame rises, bathing the Chief Priest from torso up, but he does not move.

20He grabs the fowl and rips it at the neck with bare hands. He stands up gradually with the fowl, raises it slightly above his head and opens his mouth to start sucking the dripping blood. His body is covered with sweat; his eyes, thunder-shot, are glittering; his teeth, blood-red, are grating. He merely glares into space, momentarily suspended in the middle of nowhere. He is seemingly attempting to move but somehow restrained by what the rest of us cannot see. His biceps are enlarged in this mimetic struggle to break off; his head gradually drops to the right and he starts to chant or mumble, but it is still incomprehensible.

21With unsteady steps, he moves to the right of the cubicle and picks a shredded canvas which has been soaked in water. Gripping it with two hands, he swirls it round, moving backwards some seven steps but with head thrust forward and eyes intent on the deities. He repeats this motion and then replaces the canvas. He finally pours some palm-wine into a calabash and takes a sip, after which he gradually seems to gain consciousness of his immediate surroundings.

22The remaining content and an extra calabash are handed over to the libation assistant, who also receives the content in a diagonal cross-hand-stretch, takes a sip and then goes upstage with the two calabashes of palm-wine to ‘feed’ the remaining members of the band. Back on stage, Fela is handed a nine centimeter joint of marijuana. He takes a long drag, as if it is some oxygen survival dose. He emits the smoke in one cloud-cluster and his head momentarily disappears into it. He emerges to start prophesying: his ambience is of one who has just returned from a distant journey Is this worship or performance; is this ritual or play?

23These posers on the dramatic experience have indeed preoccupied the attention of earlier critics like Ossie Enekwe who suggests that:

  • 9 . Ossie Enekwe, “Myth, Ritual and Drama in Igboland,” in Yemi Ogunbivi (ed.), Drama and Theatre in (...)

Function determines the nature of drama in every culture. In 5th century B.C. Greece, for instance, poetry was central to drama because for the Greeks it was the most desirable and perfect art form. In Asia and Africa, on the other hand, mime and music are of the essence in the theatre. While the mainstream European theatre is syllogistic in form, the Asian and African theatres are ritualistic. In Greek tragedy where moral rhetoric is emphasized, the moral order must be reflected by the order of events—“the right of the story.”9

  • 10 . Ibid., p. 155.

24Enekwe goes a step further to suggest that, “A ritual can become entertainment once it is outside its original context or when the belief that sustains it has lost its potency”10 Posing the question of the character of Fela’s performance as an either-or situation, indeed, amounts to creating an artificial dichotomy; and one that can only yield a binary mind-set incapable of appreciating textual conflation. The validity and continuity of ritual need not be based always on its efficacy or otherwise, and this can be said of all religious experiences. Inhered in this practice is an internal mechanism for explaining ritual success or failure based on the twin factors of eternal hope and belief in a causal agency There is always a ‘reason’ or ‘cause’ for a failed ritual, a burden which is invariably borne by a ritual scapegoat. This point can be illustrated with a 1996 ritual slippage at the Shrine. On that occasion, Fela reached out for a fowl, as he. had always done, severed its head, but there was hardly any blood dripping down. Confounded, the ritual assistant sent for another one, but the experience replayed itself in a similar fashion. This was the last occasion a fowl was sacrificed at the Shrine, but that was not all.

25This event was considered ominous enough for Fela to further appease the warring deities shortly after Divination Night. Joined by fellow worshippers, they reached for the crossroads between Pepple Street and the Ikeja intersection and according to Dare Jejeleko, an acolyte and resident of Kalakuta:

Fela come make etutu, chant some incantation, turn the chicken round and round above his head, and come flung am away I think you understand? After this, he come start to walk towards the car to go home, but he no look back at the ètùtù.

Fela made a ritual propitiation, chanted some incantation, swirled the fowl over his head and flung it away. I hope you understand? After this, he walked toward the car without glancing backwards.

26When I returned to Jejeleko shortly after Fela’s death, he had an explanation for the slippage. He still did not think the event was merely accidental. Rather, for him, the event ought to have been apprehended as a ritual foreboding by Africa’s ancestors, who were warning the country through Fela, of the final clampdown on the opposition by the General Sani Abacha regime. When I called his attention to the fact that the regime had already jailed several opposition figures before the event, he simply went on to the second explanation—the fact that the event was also a signal from the ancestors to Fela to come home and rest; and concluding, he added:

You know sey Fela no fit just die like dat, the spirit must to show am for eyes korokoro. Dat is why when Fela just dey laugh and shake him head for stage, we no know say him don see ìdán for face... aaah Abami himself]

You know that Tela couldn’t just have died without the spirits forewarning him. That was why Fela shook his head and smiled on stage, we didn’t know that he was actually communicating with these spirits... aaah the unfathomable himself.

27Jejeleko apart, most Kalakuta residents also share this view and are quick to point out several instances where ritual’s efficacy had assisted them to thwart unwholesome designs of state policy against their Republic. It is also instructive to note that the event of the slippage did not stop the continuation of ritual worship at the Shrine; it continued, albeit in a modified and self-renewed form. This appears consistent with the manner in which religious groups attempt to contain new experiences. There appears to be a similarity here with how the hippies of the early seventies explained away their inability to make the physical structure of the American White House collapse after weeks of levitation, or how the spiritual is substituted for the material by religious groups in order to resolve the experiential.

28The moment of ègùn (trance possession) transforms the player in a ritual drama, who may take up features of the deity being celebrated. Even when the context of ritual is altered, residues of its origin may still subsist as we also find among commuter drivers in Yorùbá land, who, in an attempt to recreate the bacchanalian ambience of their patron deity, Ògún, drive exuberantly during the deity’s festivals. I inquired from Baba Bogunbe, the Babaláwo in charge of Ifá Oséméjì Shrine in Ibadan, if there was no safer way the drivers could conduct their celebration, and his reply was, èwù Ògún ni wán wò— “they have donned Ògún’s toga.” Elements of such residues, actively inform the ritual practice at the Afrika Shrine.

  • 11 . Babatunde Lawal in The Gelede Spectacle: Art, Gender and Social Harmony in an African Culture (Lo (...)
  • 12 . B.M Ibitokun’s Dance as Ritual Drama and Entertainment in the Gelede of the Ketu-Africa Yorùbá Su (...)
  • 13 . Babatunde Lawal’s The Gelede Spectacle, p. 113.

29In analyzing the outlined ritual process, it is essential to keep in mind that folk aesthetic form is what is being transformed into a multi-ethnic, multinational, urban context here—with its rippling changes in meaning and figural devices. A number of West African performance traditions foreground the practice we have just described. However, it is the èfègèlèdé practice of the Égbádò Yorùbá that is most prevalent, serving, more or less, as its authorizing metaphor. Èfè and gèlèdé are intertwined. Èfè is primarily a satirical form, and it is the high point of the bòlòjò season when the gèlède masquerade makes an outing. According to Lawal, during the gelede performance, the eléfè (humorist) prays for the collective well-being of the society and satirizes social misfits in the community He “represents the collective voice of the people... and can even ridicule the Oba (king) of the town during his performance with no fear of reprisal.”11 Noting that it is more elaborate than gelede, Benedict Ibitokun further suggests that efe relates more to the liturgical and could, like g èlèdé, emphasize the fustian, hilarious and grotesque.12 The term èfè itself refers, first, to the mask; second, to the mask’s songs, poems, and actions; and third, to the entire concert.13 An additional contemporary usage of efe is to equate it to a joke. Gèlèdé, on the other hand, is essentially a female mask primarily concerned with the ethics of guaranteeing social peace and order.

  • 14 . See Edmund Leach, Culture and Communication (New-York: Cambridge University Press, 1976), p. 41.

30Participants in a ritual, in the words of Edmund Leach, share “communicative experiences through many different sensory channels simultaneously... verbal, musical, choreographic and visual-aesthetic ‘dimensions’ are all likely to form components of the total message.”14 This experience is particularly true of the èfè-gèlèdè event as well as the carnivalesque atmosphere of the Afrika Shrine. Apart from the songs, which were always pouring forth as a background refrain in an efe performance, a visual countenance is added to the carnival with the display of the mask. The akunbe or amuti plays the painter, and (wood carrier) arugi refers to the masker. The efe is also a site for a ribald encounter, where what in normal day-to-day expression would be considered obscene is allowed free play The efe of Ilaro, according to Lawal, when paying homage to È sù, a divine messenger, describes the latter as “the one with the big penis and big scrotum.” At other times it tells allegorical stories. As with all Yorùbá masks, it gives pre-eminence to the ‘mothers,’ a term not quite captured by the English ’witch.’

31Either in their traditional context or in Fela’s reinterpretation of this tradition, ritual symbols are neither meaningless nor arbitrary Going through the ritual motions of the Afrika Shrine just described, it would be noticed that the impact of the repetitive clanging here, as in many traditional worship, is largely invocative—a device by which elements of the ethereal world are invited into ritual proceedings. As in many other religious experiences, this sort of repetitiveness momentarily numbs a ritual agent and prepares him or her for trance possession.

32A Divination Night performance exhibits several dimensions of time of the ‘worlds’ later described. Time present, past, and future dialogue and compete for attention. An aspect of this is evident in the display of ancestral masks which trigger this dialogue with the past, and graffiti which compel one to acknowledge the present. Through their simultaneous evocation of several dimensions of time, realized in the congealed narratives of these figural sculptures of condensed myths, current discourses, and a power to prognosticate, the masks suggest a multimedia event. Even in their supposed inert state, they compel a visual discourse and an aural testimony through their acolyte to their concealed messages. Of these qualities of the mask, Harry Garuba notes:

  • 15 . Harry Garuba’s “Mask and Meaning in Black Drama: Africa and the Diaspora.” (Ph.D. Thesis in the E (...)

The mask play itself often exercises an anarchic force upon our perceptions, breaking down our compartmentalizing categories by being able to move uninhibited between reality and ritual, the referential and the semiotic.15

  • 16 . Ibid.

33This practice finds eloquent affirmation particularly in the West African theatrical tradition, an aspect of which has found its way into the black Diaspora. At the literary level, an aesthetic continuum has been demonstrated by Garuba through Wole Soyinka’s A Dance of the Forests, Derek Walcott’s Dream on Monkey Mountain, and Amiri Baraka’s Dutchman.16 Time-space is ‘fused’ and ‘expanded’ quite dramatically in these works. Garuba further notes that their stage eschew the linear, Aristotelian, unified plot structure based on causality Time-space is ruptured as we find in Soyinka’s A Dance, whose world alternates between a world of the living and the dead. Characters in Walcott’s Dream step out of socially acknowledged realities into the supersensible world; in this sense, they affirm the validity of a cultural continuum.

34The structure of performance at the Afrika Shrine also exhibits a unique time-space with the different, progressive segments such as dance (actual and virtual) time, and ritual (virtual and actual) time. Even with both, Divination Night can hardly adhere to a set time, partly also because of the improvisational character of performance. Divination Night does not quite have a beginning, middle, or an end in the strict sense. The night’s performance ‘starts’ with an intermission, ‘starts’ again with Fela’s first number, then there is the ritual interlude after which Fela talks about ‘starting’ the show proper Yet, after the finale, Fela talks about having a ‘short break,’ which suggests that the day’s performance is concluded, while also affirming the continuity of the musical form.

35The ritual paraphernalia and cosmic players represented at the Afrika Shrine denote a specific rung of ritual participation in a mode similar to Ifa divination practice earlier described in Chapter One. However, in spite of its attempt at achieving determinacy through numerical combinations, an epistemological inclination also noted of the Pythagoreans of ancient Greece, the Ifa corpus exhibits an interesting ambivalence: its determinacy is unstable. Inhered in Ifa’s narrative verses are suggestions of textual instability and plurality of meaning, a factor which has tremendously aided its process of reconstitution without losing relevance over the period. It is precisely this potential afforded by the latter that Fela seized upon to redirect the energies of the gods, dragging them to do his random battles and battles of other victims of dominant powers that people his diverse narrative texts. This phenomenon of man ‘making’ and reconstructing god is prevalent in West Africa, and Karin Barber notes this attitude of the Yorùbá toward their Òrìsà.

  • 17 . This is the overall tone of Karin Barber’s “How Man Makes God in West Africa: Yorùba Attitudes To (...)

36Relations between humans and Òrì Sà are in some sense a projection of relations between people in society… if the Yoriiba see the Òrì sa’s power as being maintained and augmented by human attention, this is because they live in a kind of society where it is very clear that human individual’s power depends in the long run on the attention and acknowledgment of his fellow man.17

37Fela’s ritual assemblage obviously falls short of a babaláwo’s repertoire (a Babaláwo is not just a diviner but also an oracular priest of Ifa, the primeval diviner), but approximates to other lower rungs of divination practices, such as those of the Onísègùn and the Adáhunse. But Fela did not set out in the first place to faithfully recreate any such structure; it was just sufficient if his practice testified to an alternative outlook in a society where both the colonial and independence elite denigrated indigenous worship forms. He was only too content if his practice achieved, or at least encouraged, a heterodox discourse.

38Absent in the cubicle of this unorthodox worship are the Ifá sacred nuts (ikín Ifá) and a staff for tapping the divination tray (ìróké), two important items for a babaláwo. The four divinities chosen by Fela for this counterculture worship are of both aesthetic and ideological significance. Èsù, for instance, is a pre-eminent player in Yorùbá cosmic drama, particularly because while others are invoked, it is appeased. While the other divinities are not essential to every divination, Èsù is— which explains why it is first appeased (as Fela also does) before proceeding with a ritual event. This is also borne out of the fact that Èsù is a potential spanner in the works. Aside from its legendary trickery multivocal, and polysemic attributes, È sù is also the keeper of asé—utterance-efficacy—that which enables what is appeased or/and invoked to come to pass. While the palm-wine in the two calabashes that Fela hands over to other votaries may symbolize the bacchanal diet of Ògún, the diagonal-cross-formation in handing them over has greater bearing to Èsù whose favorite abode is the crossroads. One of his encomiastic verses testifies to this: Èsù onílé oríta, that is, “È sù of the crossroads.” What better setting to commit mischief by the legendary trickster! Nicholas Ajimele, a band member and one of the libation bearers, explained that the diagonal-cross-hand-stretch was also meant to denote the crossroads, as the point where ritual offerings are placed and expected to be dispersed in order to be efficacious.

  • 18 . See Henry Louis Gates’ The Signifying Monkey: A Theory of Afro-American Literary Criticism (New Y (...)

39During ritual motions, Fela performs with and interprets the dialogues of characters in the ritual text in a manner that is similar to Èsù’s capacity for role conflation. These are roles that cast him as both performer and critic in the mould of the traditional griot. And it is worthwhile to relate this to the reading which has been given to the Èsù figure in Louis Henry Gates’seminal work, The Signifying Monkey: A Theory of Afro-American Literary Criticism.18 Gates makes an implicit binary differentiation of Esu as an interpreter rather than a performer. He somewhat arrived at this conclusion by suggesting that Èsù is contiguous with Ògún—in the sense that the former stands for the critic’s muse in the same way that the latter represents the artist’s creative muse. However, drawing such a watertight boundary in the context of oral and folk performance renders such a claim inadequate, primarily because in this context, and even when such is reconstituted as Fela does, critic and artist are fused. My suspicion is that Gates may be relating to the dispassionate qualities of Èsù, which indeed buttresses the argument of a critic’s muse more or less. That is, the critic as a supposedly detached interpreter. But then, those qualities are more of Èsù’s juridical attributes. While not denying salient and overt features of the critic in this divinity we misread cos-mological narratives by denying Èsù his role as performer in the cosmic drama. Èsù is also not just a performer, but indeed the agency for dramatic conflict and the essence of denouement. This role of “unknotting” contradictions and conflict, Gates himself acknowledges, is the most universal attribute of the divinity’s encomiastic verses from Africa to the New World.

  • 19 . See Isidore Okpewho in Myth in Africa (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983), p. 69.

40Fela’s sculptural representation of the four divinities as against the deification of Nkrumah, Lumumba, Malcolm X and Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti in pictorial representation, appears to reinforce the distinction made by earlier scholars between “historical” and “romantic” legends especially as proposed in Okpewho’s “qualitative approach.”19 This approach attempts to classify and qualify these terms on the basis of scientific recognition of the relative weights of fact and fiction. The historical legend, in this sense, bears greater evidence of fact and of lived experience, while the romantic legend lends itself to the fictive, that is, the mythical legend.

41Òrìsá Ibeji is exceptional in this configuration in that it has no particular human referent, either immediate or distant. Like sacred sculptures of woman-on-her-knees, it is deemed to bring good luck and prosperity and this is captured as—Èjìré so alákisà di onígba aso—“the twin transforms the pauper to the prosperous.” Along with Òrìsá Ìbéjì, Èsù undisputedly falls into the mythic sphere farther than “Ògún who belongs to the sphere of the romantic legend. With Sàngó, we have a more historical time frame. As a hermeneutics of cultural practice, Fela invokes personages of the mythic and ‘romantic’ legend to validate the truth of his art and claim, as we find in TTT.

  • 20 . See George Thompson’s “Anatomy of Poetry” in David Craig (ed.) Marxists on Literature: An Antholo (...)

42By calling his performance venue a Shrine, Fela obviously intended it to be more than a night club; a factor which informed the fact that he anticipated it as a place of communal celebration and worship. Hence, he prophesied, which, according to George Thompson (1975), is a development of trance possession. Drewal suggests that chanting and drumming performed prior to the outset of possession trance invoke the deity bringing him into contact with the priest. In this circumstance, the priest becomes possessed and starts to pronounce the will of the gods.20 The voice of the god(s) that we get to hear at the Afrika Shrine is a class-conscious one, and one that is unapologetic in its partisanship on behalf of marginalized classes, oppressed nationalities and even the aesthetic subculture.

  • 21 . This is how members of the Egypt ’80 Band interpret this device; a confirmation was also made by (...)
  • 22 . Translation by the author from C.L. Adeoye’s Igbagbo ati Esin Yorùbá (Ibadan: Evans Brothers, 198 (...)

43The white (traditional chalk) powder face-masking of some band members and acolytes at the beginning of the worship relates to the symbol of man conquering death in Yorùbá ritual drama,21 while Fela’s communion with the past is a sort of ritual device to affirm presence with the ancestors, deemed to be capable of intervening in the affairs of man. This also somewhat complements Fela’s last names—Aníkulápó-Kútì, which mean “I have got death in my pouch,” and “the one who never dies,” respectively, cultural signifiers that refer to this same concept of continuity For the Yorùbá, it is not simply an ideational category because by the power of the mask, a person could be ‘bathed’ so as to assist him or her to overcome the vicissitudes of life. What is evident from the foregoing is that Fela’s role in the ritual drama is quite diverse. A number of cosmic players whom Fela interacted with inhabit the settings and ‘worlds’ as the following, among others: Aiyé Àirí (Unseen world), Aiyé Okún (the Ocean), Oòrùn (the sun), Òsùpá (the moon), Aiyé Kurúkurú (the void) Orún (the skyey heavens).22 Invariably, therefore, by associating his dance with a mode of worship, he plays medium; by intervening in dialogue with characters of the supernatural world, he plays medium spirit; but above all, he personifies message ultra vires, by virtue of transmitting to his audience his ritual journeys and encounters with the extra-terrestrial.

44A generic description of this performance as idán or a carnivalesque is merely an attempt to approximate an experience that sometimes defy such classification. What we have here, among others, is a rippling hybrid of ritual, spectacle, music, song, dance, ruse, pun, and irony Fela’s attitude to ritual is dual in the following sense: one, while not recreating it in situ, he believed in its potency; second, he needed to revalidate the myth, hence he recreated cosmological tales in ritual, for what is a ritual but an active myth? If the myth is inert, without repeaters, without its rituals; then it would simply become metaphors as Greek myths are today or worse still—forgotten. Fela did not want to see this happen for two basic reasons. First, he wished to use Òrìsà worship as a cultural statement for identity validation and, in the process, to contest the dominance of Islam and Christianity on the continent, especially since the colonial and post-independence elite has treated all other spiritual experiences as ludicrous. Second, as a means of averting the effacement of a cultural identity: He argued that many of Africa’s political elite have justified their looting of the public treasury and emasculation of public opinion by affective appeal to the authorities of the Koran and the Bible.

45Often, at the Shrine, Fela would cite how after many years of iron-handed rule, the late Houphuet Boigny of Cote d’lvoire built a basillica in the eighties to placate Ivorians, who are predominantly Catholic. A Nigerian corollary exists in General Ibrahim Babangida who, having annulled the 1993 election, invoked the phrase in-sha-Allah as an explanation of the first cause, ostensibly implying that the incident was a deft engineering of an almighty God. If the Koran and the Bible are constandy used to validate the oppression visited on the continent, Fela reasoned that such references could not be a tool to salvage the African people. Yet, his ritual experience is also of an aesthetic value, in the sense that a central conception of traditional ritual is also the possibility of using aesthetics to neutralize evil. No doubt, the dramatic canvas of the Afrika Shrine is wide and its figural devices deep.

46In relation to the historical ancestor, over the period, a gradual process of semiotic ‘overcoding’ of Kwame Nkrumah began to take place, both at the Afrika Shrine, and in Fela’s lyrics, as Nkrumah came to be presented and identified as the most notable figure of all the other contemporary ancestors. What followed was his deification as a symbol of Africa’s gestate alternative. This is precisely what Soyinka does with the deity—Ògún—in his works by making him straddle the mythosphere like a colossus, and Ògún begins to appear like the representative of the other deities. It is in this dual sense that the Shrine is home to both visible and invisible dramatis personae, a factor that informed Fela’s constant allusion to the Òrìsà and other African divinities. If Fela shows reverence to the ’mothers’—the àj e (Iyá Òsòròngà or the so-called witches),—by constandy alluding to their power, it is borne out of a cultural knowledge that they could stand a shade higher than even the Òrìsà. This point is buttressed by an Ifá divination verse, Odú Osá Méjì, which narrates the àjé, on arrival to the earth, as putting to test the wits of Òrúnmìlà—one of the highest of Yorùbá divinities.

47For the Yoriibá, the dramatic, conflictual, and aesthetic qualities of the intervention of supernaturals in the affairs of man derive from the character of the ritual text itself. The Yorùbá ‘supreme’ God hardly expresses an authoritarian attitude over its ‘subjects,’ although there is a basic human attribute to the deities and a certain life-nearness to their constitution which make interaction cordial and mutually respectful with their followers. This conclusion derives from my study of the nature of diets on which deities and divinities are fed. In the case of Ọsún—a river goddess and goddess of watery presence—her diets are basically the sort of meal that is environmentally friendly not only to fishes but aquatic life as well. Another instance of man ‘making’ god?

48A prophetic tinge seems to lace Fela’s later practice. His own journey into ancestorhood had been preceded by securing a space for himself in the worship cubicle at the Shrine; this self-representation was in the form of a carving of Fela, blowing into a saxophone on a world map. This carving had been presented to him by the Sigma Club of the University of Ibadan in 1992. Lyrics composed about this period, an example of which is Clear Road, also buttress an increasing preoccupation with Orisà worship and a gradual deification of the self. The song text talks of a Fela just returning from prison, and as it is usual with him, he does not allow the prison environment to fetter his imagination. As with Akunakuna, which he composed in Maiduguri prison, or the introduction of the second bass guitar—conceived of in Benin prison—here again, Fela gets new insight from prison. He talks of his spirit “just dey rise dey go,” he, “Onílé Òrì sà of Africa.” (My spirit is on the ascent, I, a custodian and priest of the Orisa.) Then he becomes a medium spirit: “With my eyes wey dey for back/I see say Nigeria don dey change... (With my hind eyes/I can see Nigeria changing...)

49The song narrates Fela as having achieved a prophetic and multiple vision. This vision had given him the privilege of clearer insight with which he had then concluded that the continent was at the brink of catastrophe, by virtue of the betrayal of its political elite. He sees Nigeria, for instance, going “From positive to negative From the land of living to land of death.” But for Africa not to “die”, and “scatter,” he invokes the intervention of the ancestors, as he is confident that “Our ancestors dem no dey sleep o/Our ancestors dem no go gree o.” (“Our ancestors are not asleep; besides, our ancestors will not sit back while the continent is being destroyed.”) Whatever form the cultural code of performance and composition might take, Fela’s abiding aspiration was always to narrate and put the deities in the service of society’s underdogs.

Music, Audience and Yabbis

50With the worship session over, the band commences the ‘final’ phase of the Comprehensive Night Show In between the two, Fela resumes Yabbis, during which time he reveals more prophecies, yielding clearer insights into instructions ostensibly received from the ancestors. The revelations convey hope, while at the same time they are expressed in registers of pun and anger A particular revelation may require the Chief Priest to instruct fans and acolytes to boycott an election, support a political cause or predict the fall of a military dictator in the continent.

51His audience does not necessarily agree with all of his observations, and in such instances members exercise their right of dissent. The general debate may become so intense and inconclusive as to spill into the next performance. A fan who feels sufficiently opposed to a viewpoint may mount the podium, take the microphone from Fela and express his or her opinion. If the crowd can relate to his views, they applaud him, otherwise he or she gets a jeer. Although not given to merely playing to the gallery with his fans on issues of political and ideological conviction, Fela nonetheless uses this open parliament to judge their mood and get feedback on his own political practice.

52There are four fish-net-draped dance daises located within the Shrine for individual dancers. Each of the dancers takes a turn, as the performance progresses, to mount the central stage for a solo dance. Toward the end of the day’s performance, again, they mount the stage for the group’s choreography Like other members of the band, they might be masked. Their hairdo is often plaited or woven; ‘perming,’ that is, chemically relaxing the hair, by an unwritten law of the group, is considered an expression of inferiority complex and an attempt to ape Caucasian values. Dancers are highly ornated and don synthetic raffia, over which beads hang somewhat loosely around their waist. Male members of the band are costumed in Fela’s favorite orange color soft cotton, though this is only one of the many colors of the band’s histrionics. Embossed on the outer edge of each trouser and shirt is a map of Africa with designs in linear motifs.

53Since the audience can exercise its preference for what track is to be played, on this particular night, Akunakuna is in popular request, and I shall be using this performance as an example of a typical ‘Comprehensive Show’ at the Shrine. Inferences will also be drawn from other performances. A rather racy beat on a conga drum sets the tone of the rhythm, interlocking with another contrapuntal conga rhythm. The cantor comes alive in Fela, who at the moment is trying to explain the background drum pattern.

Dem just transfer me from Kirikiri prison to Maiduguri, no break no jam. So I come reach Maiduguri prison now and for night I come dey hear dis sound, I dey hear am: ‘ki-jim-ki-jim-jim-jim, ki-jim-ki-jim-jim.’ I come ask of the sound from my cell mate, Alhaji Buka. Alhaji Buka come say Fela, na di sound wey dem dey play when dem wan go dash woman to man at night.

I had just been transferred from Kirikiri prison to Maiduguri Prison. Once at night in Maiduguri prison, I started hearing the sound ’ki-jim-ki-jim-jim-jim, ki-jim-ki-jim-jim’. I then asked my cell mate, Alhaji Buka, what the rhythm meant and he said it was the music played on betrothing a maid to her husband.

54“Brothers and sisters” (meanwhile the background beat is still steady while Fela is making all of this comment), “this is called Akunakun —Senior Brother of Perambulator.” Band members are gradually keying in: sticks, metal gong, bass drum, then in quick succession the other instruments. Fela is still prancing around the stage, now and again pulling a joke at the expense of his audience or simply yabbing. At times he buys time this way when, as often happens, an instrument or equipment has broken down and maintenance hands are trying to fix it. Satisfied that everything is in place, he faces the band, indicating a countdown with his fingers and at count zero, the rhythm guitar slides in, and after a while, short riffs can be heard on the keyboard. The wind ensemble comes next as the trumpet, baritone, and tenor saxophones begin to alternate against the defining rhythm of the larger section. Other individual instruments are pitched against the basic rhythm in this order for a while, and the singers begin their chorus line.

55As frequently happens in his performance, the trumpet pioneers the short solo improvisatory call and response with the wind section. The trumpeter is also keying in, for the vocal’s mnemonic benefit, the introductory notes of Akunakuna. Fela begins the song in a speech mode by requesting a chorus line from his back-up singers and the audience, “For dis one you go help me answer say ‘ka-chire,’ that means commot your dress (get undressed). Are you ready now, oya let’s go.” The audience joins in this chorus. By now, the later night ‘crawlers’ are trooping in trying to secure seats. Fela continues improvising on this for a while, suggesting new dance steps which he says are “better than your funny disco dance; na so our correct people dey dance am for village.” “That is how African people in the villages—uncorrupted by modern ways —dance. ” He suddenly notices one of the dancers who, apparently had ‘permed’ her hair and he retorts: “See dis copy copy woman wey go perm im hair...I beg na so una dey spoil Africa.” (See this woman who is blindly imitating foreign ways by using a chemical relaxer on her hair; this is not a proper African orientation.) His mind flicks to an advertisement on hair relaxer and he adds: “Na so one useless man for inside TV dey go perm im hair too with Afrosheen, which kain man be dat sef?” (I saw a man on TV applying Afrosheen to perm his hair—what manner of a man is that?) Another countdown and he is at the edge of the stage, singing:

E no easy, e no easy o, e no easy to be Nigerian...
E no easy if e Head of State e no be citizen at any time

It isn’t easy to be a Nigerian
It isn’t easy if the Head of State is not a citizen

56Then he goes into another interlude during which only the percussion section is supplying the background rhythm in anticipation of the cantor’s commentary He is trying to narrate the audience reaction to some desultory registers contained in one of his songs during a tour of the predominandy Islamic city of Kano.

I go play for Kano na im somebody tell me say make I no sing dis kain song because small pickin dey there. I come reply say wait, my pikin wey sing for you now self na small pikin.

Once on my musical tour to Kano, someone challenged me for singing a song whose lyrics were sexually explicit because it could corrupt minors. I told the person that my child who had just sung for the audience was also a minor

57Some fans retort that he should justify the claim, to which he replies:

My pikin? I don teach am everything. Fuck o, woman o, as e dey there e know everything because I no believe say di tin wey person must know for future, you must hide am from am when e small. [There is a mix bag of audience roar, cat-calls and all.] Na im be sense, because if God no want make we know, e for no put am there. Then some Christian-Muslim go go hide am say ‘it is immoral.’ How can di sweetest tin be immoral? Dem dey craze, everybody say yeeyee.

I have educated my child on the issue of love making, because I do not subscribe to the idea of shrouding information from a minor—especially since they are bound to confront this reality later [There is a mix bag of audience roar, cat-calls and all.] That seems the sensible thing to do, for, if the creator preferred us to be ignorant of sexual matters, he would not have created humans with sexual organs so visible. Why should some Christians and Muslims say such knowledge is immoral? How can the sweetest thing be immoral? They must be crazy. Everybody say yeeyee.

58With ripples of the digression yet unsettled within the audience, and without glancing backwards, he signals with a raised thumb and a battery of horns blares back as he bends into the microphone to sing:

In dis case of Nigeria, we get important places/One of di important places, we get court of law and justice/In dis court of law and justice, serious people dem dey thereeee— / Make you hear di nonsense tin dis serious people dem dey do / Make you hear di yeye tin dis serious people dem dey do.
In Nigeria, we have important places/One of the important places, is the court of law and justice/ There are supposedly serious people in these institutions/ Just listen to the nonsensical things these supposedly serious people are doing.

59Henceforth, the horn section assumes a responsorial interchange with the cantor, overlapping into his melodic line. But immediately after the first attempt, the audience embosses its own meaning on the horn interlude, reconfiguring the trisyllabic musical notes as “O-jo-ro,” a pidgin phrase implying a fraudulent act.

Vocal: Police go go arrest people for road for wandering
Audience: Ojoro
Vocal: Police wey no get destination
Audience: Ojoro
Vocal: Police wey dey waka parambulating
Audience: Ojoro
Vocal: Police wey dey wander about di street
Audience: Ojoro
Vocal: Police go stop somebody for road
Audience: Ojoro
Vocal: Just because im get gun-authority
Audience: Ojoro
Vocal: Harassing di man wey get destination
Audience: Ojoro
Vocal: Harassing di woman wey get destination
Audience: Ojoro
Vocal: Trying to fuck women by force by road by night
Audience: Ojoro
Vocal: Police go charge dem for wandering
Audience: Ojoro
Vocal: Police di wanderer, e go charge you for wandering
Audience: Ojoro
Vocal: Stevie Wonder himself don start to wonder…

60This way, the cantor goes on narrating incidents of violation of the rights of food vendors by the police and other law enforcement agents. His narrative detour takes us round real and imaginative streets, while at the same time detailing, in deep sarcasm, the items confiscated and tendered in court as exhibits against the traders who have equally been arrested. Among others, they include: poff poff (doughnuts), akara (bean cake,), steaming rice, okra, ice cream, and ‘Ghana Bread.’ Meanwhile, the audience is noting and announcing the number of these items in their order of rendition. The performance itself is beginning to take the dimension of a multiple narration. At one level, there is a compelling story line of the song lyrics and a gentle sway of back-up singers, each competing for aural and visual attention, respectively Again, this is interwoven with suggestive gestures of dancers and other band members and the exuberance of a rather licentious audience that is tentatively muse-struck. Yet, a first-time visitor marveling at the band’s dexterity with mouth agape and hands clasped to his head also becomes a victim of quick wit by dancing fans. The audience begins to yell at that moment when the song narrative reveals in sarcasm that the trial magistrate is bent on tasting each of the confiscated confections, as a necessity for impartial adjudication! A significant aspect that lends meaning to the night’s revelry is the dance event, and it may be worthwhile to examine its relationship with song texts and the general Afrobeat tradition.

Dance as Kinetic Statement

61The Afrobeat dance exhibits a variety of physical, expressive styles, ranging from gentle, graceful motion to vigorous athleticism. An attempt to classify the forms draws from Afrobeat’s own faltering process of canon formation and codification. In the track Lady, Fela makes a distinction between two dance styles. One he calls ‘Lady Dance’ and the other, ‘Fire Dance.’ Fela had used the former term rather prejudicially in relation to stylized Western dance steps of the caricatured ‘over-educated’ African female. Generally speaking, however, Egypt ’80 dancers were always doing varieties of the generic ’Fire Dance’—defined by Fela as a dance of total expression. This, indeed, is given credence, especially in circumstances when dancers define their movement in response to the instrumental call. Also of interest is the fact that the dance orientation is female gender-specific for the simple fact that there were no professional male dancers, and Fela was always naming dance registers largely only in relation to the practices of these professionals. Invariably therefore, forms that have been consciously projected bear a substantial female imprint, even though both males and females execute these movements.

62There were occasional dance tutors who trained incoming dancers and one, ‘Teacher Ajayi Ogunde,’ as far as some dancers could recollect, was the last dance tutor before Fela’s death. The tutor takes them through general lessons on the technical foundation of choreography as a means of executing practical movements. Together, they then simulate general movement coordination, after which they may now choreograph some of Fela’s music. Dancers are encouraged to incorporate their respective local styles, and this way a short dance phrase may reveal the source of a particular influence. While being subsumed under the group’s general choreography local colors can still be noticed in dancers’styles. The Egypt ’80 dancer very often yields a viewpoint that merges with the group’s choreography some aspects of her cultural experience.

63Since most of the lyrics are narratives, the ‘literate’ dancer finds herself extending the narrative frontier in dance steps that aspire toward a lyrical meaning in the mode of musical visualization. The dancer of Zombie, for instance, almost invariably reenacts a regimental calisthenics: marching, saluting, and ‘pissing’. With the groove in motion, Fela could occasionally punctuate the melody retorting “ju-di, ju-di, ju-sile ee”—an oblique reference suggesting “shake your bottom,” meant to empower the audience to partake in the dance event.

  • 23 . Sylvia Esi Kinni in “Africanisms in Music and Dance of the Americas,” in Goldstein (ed.), Black L (...)

64Esi Kinni-Olusanyin has noted that rhythm is “the most striking aspect of African music, with drumming displaying it in its most complex form.”23 In a study evaluating the art of dancing itself across Africa and the black Diaspora of the Caribbean and the United States, she identifies the dancer’s body as incorporating both the sensibilities and the more direct dynamics of expression, translating them into movements that correspond to the music. Such correspondence of body movement to musical rhythm is achieved in two ways by Egypt ’80 dancers: by metaphrasing—that is, dancing in direct correspondence to the music’s inflections; or paraphrasing, through a general approximation to the rhythm without necssarily ‘duplicating’ the music’s particular inflections. This way and through a combination of other processes, the dancers are able to create a movement vocabulary that expresses satire, aesthetic pleasure or even an assertion of their collective and individual femininity.

65Besides the more obvious fact of dance as aesthetic pleasure, noticeable in the dexterity of the solo dancer, a filmed 1991 satirical performance of Teacher was choreographed with a theatrical element that saw each dancer holding a book upside down while attempting to browse through it in complementary movement to the rhythm! The choreographic message is as palpable as the lyrics lend it: “Teacher, don’t teach me nonsense.” Such movements are also exhibited in the unwaxed number, ’Clear Road’. The number details the declining value of the Nigerian national currency (Naira). The song highlights the different phases of decline in:

Vocal: When Naira fall
Chorus: Many people fall with am
Vocal: When Naira sick
Chorus: Many people sick with am
Vocal: When Naira crash
Chorus: Many people crash with am
Vocal: When Naira jam
Chorus: Many people jam with am
Vocal: When Naira quench
Chorus: Many people quench with am

66Also as in Zombie, the “devalued currency dance” is executed by visualizing in dance and body movement the song text—the progressive illness, fall, crash and ultimate death of a sickly national currency.

  • 24 . Quotation made from Paul Gilroy’s The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double Consciousness (Cambrid (...)

67Live performance at the Shrine also serves as rehearsal time for new compositions, as a result of which a particular number can be prolonged to twice its studio time. Once the rhythmic structure of the number has been set, a variety of improvisations could then proceed, usually starting with the horns and brass instruments. As in the large, traditional plays like the bàtá ensemble of the Yorùbá, or even the more recent jazz music, whose internal dynamics are aptly described by Ralph Ellison as “an art of individual assertion within and against the group,”24 each solo flight here is an attempt at self definition. The instrumentalist often starts with conventional folk tunes that are quite familiar to the audience. Tonight, the tenor saxophonist appears to be more preoccupied with a game of aural teasing as he explores the instrument’s potentials: its flute-like softness, its string-like modulation, and its capacity for a strident shriek. The audience is thrilled, but the performer is not done yet. He is aware that the penultimate soloist is the baritone saxophonist, equally an accomplished player, with an enthralling instrument that has caught the fancy of the audience; so, he must define himself against his colleague while at the same time asserting his skill, for instant judgment, before this musical parliament at the Shrine. Bent on stretching the audience tonight, he goes on, blaring a phrase now and again, transposing it, revising it, but generally refusing to make an instrumental sentence. Ultimately though, he is aware that his virtuosity is acknowledged only at that moment when he fully demonstrates the ability to de-familiarize the tune, while at the same time making it recognizable. He does this, and departs with a final, extended falsetto. “Y.S.” (sobriquet for Yinusa Akinbosun), the audience roars, even as Fela clasps the performer’s hands in appreciation.

Fire Dance

68After Akinbosun’s solo performance, there is a brief interval and then Fela comes in for the second tenor sax. Some breakaway group in the audience could be heard heralading him with, Egún nílá lóma kèyìn ìgbàlè,” meaning the biggest masquerade is usually the last to emerge from the grove. In certain moments of his improvisatory play, Fela starts off as if in dissonance with the basic rhythm beat—giving the feeling of being momentarily lost in a labyrinth of the multiple potential notes he could use. But once he keys in and begins ‘riffing’ (as in his extended solos), and starts attempting to pierce through the background wall of responsive horns, he effects an acoustic mood of turbulence. It is about time now for the restless dancers to be brought up stage, a job which falls on the same players of ritual rhythm: the metal gong and/or sticks player(s) and the sèkèrè (rattie) player As in the Egúngún masquerade solo performance, they move toward a particular podium clanging and shaking their instruments as a sign of ‘calling’ the solo dancer. This motion is repeated for a while and, tonight, the audience is anxiously awaiting the last dancer, Dodo.

69Shouts of “Dodo” momentarily drown the speakers as she is ‘called’ forth to mount the stage for her solo performance. There is deep anxiety both on the part of fan and band, over the anticipated contest. She takes her time, acting oblivious of the revelry around her as she knots the Nigerian Midwestern, neo-traditional popular dance histrionic of white kerchief around her waist. The suspense is in good effect as the audience is closing in around the stage. Not even Fela, known for strictness of performance time, seems bothered. Everybody knows: it is Dodo’s day She descends the rungs in brisk rhythmic movement, then stops to enact a brief fore-dance and, again, shouts of accolade rend the air. Aware that they can not hurry her up, the ritual ‘summoners’ begin to clang more vigorously in circles around her Done, she proceeds to the central stage and takes fast rhythmic strides across its breadth, as if defining the space as her’s, and challenging the instrumental soloist and the entire ensemble to a contest.

  • 25 . See Umberto Eco’s Faith in Fakes: Travels in Hyperreality (London: Minerva, 1997).

70She is ‘greeted’ gently by the tenor sax from the yet-to-be-waxed Condom, a role which in other performances could be played by the trumpet. Fela triggers the contest by first releasing short, sharp and angular chirping notes, which Dodo duplicates with an ease of corresponding dance steps. However, the tenor blare becomes more obtrusive in an attempt to heighten the tempo, a feat achieved as the percussive section and a reiterative and responsive horn section gets dragged to shorten its rhythmic time line. This raciness is heightened when the ‘Big Conga Drum,’ beaten with faster drum strokes, is unleashed on the newly defined rhythm. The leader-call also begins to change tempi, with a freer use of changing time signatures, thereby making the rhythmic structure more complex. Within the short spate of time allotted to her, Dodo executes diverse varieties of Fire Dance: at once doing the swivel dance, and at other times, pelvis gyration—a motion based on the contraction and release of the groin, or alternating with a hop-step and shoulder blade movement. Even when her arms complement the dance, they are also constantly in aid to keeping the balance of a highly stylized athleticism. At the height of the music’s raciness, however, a highly experimental Dodo, not to be beaten by a tempo that could only have been matched by a mechanically simulated marionette, simply deconstructs the pace bv redefining motion: she stands still, in trance-like concentration, and then bursts into unpredictable body jerks in contrastive movement to the beat, as if she were a contrapuntal rhythm. For her, such a dance style suffused with mediumistic qualities can be effordessly executed. Were this a Dionysiac rite, Dodo would indeed be a maenad, like the Sàngó votaries of the New World described by Umberto Eco.25

71After a while, the tempo relapses to the basic rhythm beat in anticipation of cresting again with a fusion of different layers of call and response. These layers involve the cantor and the chorus, the solo instrumentalist and the solo dancer, the solo instrumentalist and the horn ensemble, and then the entire ensemble as leader-call and the audience as chorus. But to heighten the pace, it is the solo tenor sax that is now challenging the dancer by playing the agent provocateur. Dodo responds in an erotic and sensuous movement at the height of which she jumps and clasps to a column at the edge of the stage and, along with the sax, motions alternately in crest and trough, in trough and crest—to which the audience responds in a prolonged applause to her semantics of dance which, no doubt, is an anarchic display of femininity an open challenge to contemporary definition of ‘proper’ female gender posture in patriarchal Nigeria.

72A good measure of the dance and choreographic styles observable here constitute part of that welter of contemporary dance forms in the continent which remain, to a large extent, undocumented. Coupled with this is the fact that the dance history of Africa is equally entwined in the general inquiry of what constitutes an African identity This is both an ideological and technical problem. The former is the main thrust of the next chapter but suffice it to say that as a politically charged theme, the point of divergence is not easily delineated by a dichotomy between observances of the Western scholar and those of his African counterpart.

73Nonetheless, a safe starting point can be captured by a simple phrase: that between the universal—which emphasizes a unanimity of forms—and, on the other hand, that which seeks a reading based on the particular and divergent. By this is meant an attitude to dance analysis that predicates observation on African dance forms as nondescript or at best, homogenous and, on the other, one that identifies and names observable nuances in the corpus of African dances.

  • 26 . Zagba Oyortey in “Still Dancing Downwards and Talking Back” in Helen Thomas (ed.) Dance, Gender a (...)

74No doubt these are two extreme positions and most analysts, while generally emphasizing one over the other hand, ackowledge the potential inclusiveness of each. Although identifying varied dance types, Zagba Oyortey for instance, seems more at ease using the generic label “African people’s dance,” noting that in spite of the continent’s diversities, “historians have traced broad migratory patterns showing common origins and destinations.” He uses this term to describe sub-Saha-ran and diasporan cultures. And in the context of Britain, he notes that diasporan Africans would refer to “those African/Caribbean artists who first created spaces for African and Caribbean dance in Britain.” North Africa is excluded primarily because that part of the continent is largely “inhabited by Berbers and Arabs who have more cultural affinity with Middle Eastern and Oriental cultures.”26

  • 27 . Ibid., p. 191.
  • 28 . Felix Begho’s “Traditional African Dance in Context,” in Kariamu Welsh Asante (ed.) African Dance (...)
  • 29 . Zagba Oyortey in “Still Dancing Downwards and Talking Back,” in Helen Thomas (ed.) Dance, Gender (...)
  • 30 . It is important to note that in a city like London, some efforts at experimenting with contempora (...)

75And even though Zagba identifies recent recreational dances on the continent—such as Kolomashi, Tumbe, and Okpe (in Ghana), and “the gumboot dance of South Africa which came out of the migration of Africans into urban areas for work”27—he consciously avoids describing them as ‘contemporary African dance.’ Felix Begho attempts to name this broad subgenre as such, but the distinction he makes between ‘contemporary dance’ and ‘neo-traditional creative dance’ is somewhat suspect and inadequate. According to Begho, the “salient” difference between the two is that “the former is a tendency toward avant-gardism, whereas the latter leans toward conformism.”28 It must be noted in response, however, that while it is correct to say that the general context of oral tradition tends to foist acquiescence, counter-discourses and avant-garde forms have nonetheless always existed within traditional cultures. The advantage of the current electronic, multimedia age over traditional societies is that there are more channels for (cultural) dissent and plural narration beyond the capacity of one dominant discourse to block the emergence of other discourses. Beyond this, Begho’s account of contemporary African dance forms is comprehensive and sensitive to its nuances. At the heart of Zagba’s reluctance to name some forms as ‘contemporary’ is the fear that such ideological misrepresentation could pigeonhole African dances along some evolutionist discourse, wherein “there was the assumption, therefore, that these were transitory cultures that would in due course follow Europe into an industrialised and ‘scientific’ culture.”29 In this sense, though, Africa has come to be differently read by different people. To the colonial Other, the continent had to be a tabula rasa in order to justify the morality of its enterprise; to the African in the Diaspora, the continent testifies to an ebullient cultural heritage before the middle passage—and the preservation, or even showcasing of it, would aid this ’heritage project’;30 and, yet, while the African on the continent seeks to acknowledge the values of past forms, the least of his aspirations is the retention of staid forms and non-transcendence into renewing contemporary dance and other cultural practices.

  • 31 . According to Funmi Adewole, Zouglou incorporates many theatrical elements in its movement style l (...)
  • 32 . Composition has been part of the concerns of Doris Humphrey’s focus on dance theory See Janet Ads (...)
  • 33 . Omofolabo Soyinka Ajayi in Yorùbá Dance: The Semiotics of Movement and Body Attitude in a Nigeria (...)
  • 34 . See the introduction to Christy Adair’s Women and Dance: Sylphs and Sirens (London: Macmillan, 19 (...)
  • 35 . See Olufemi Taiwo “Colonialism and its Aftermath: The Crisis of Knowledge Production.” Callaloo v (...)
  • 36 . See Zagba Oyortey “Still Dancing Downwards and Talking Back,” in Helen Thomas (ed.), Dance, Gende (...)

76Beyond the ideological underpinnings of interpretation, there is also the technical issue of dance theorists on African forms concentrating more on the sociological circumstance of dance history as opposed to their technical qualities as defined, for example, in dynamics. Can contemporary African dance forms such as Afrobeat and the Ivorian Zouglou31 styles, for instance, be discussed in relation to the placement of feet and the basic positions of feet, arms and head—including their design in time and space? Can a notational principle, such as Labanotation, be evolved to capture these emerging forms? A refreshing new effort is Omofolabo Soyinka Ajayi’s attempt to describe some Yorùbá dances in relation to “set patterns of steps and gestures.”32 She evolves such concepts as the “walk-step” dance and “fan-step” dance.33 While this may also be linked to ideological attitude in certain respects, there is the general technical factor of dance still being, relatively marginal to critical studies in the arts, as argued by Christy Adair.34 Is there such a thing as contemporary African dance as we can talk of ballet, fox trot, or jazz dances? Does a denial of its nomenclature obviate its objective existence? Couldn’t the denial of its existence be at least accounted for by what Femi Taiwo has in a similar discourse described as a crisis of knowledge production in Africa?35 This may be no more than the inability so far, to codify and canonize dance text based on its movement principle. In spite of his non-usage of the term ‘contemporary’ this appears to be the direction of Zagba’s work in “Still Dancing Downwards and Talking Back,” where he sheds light on the principle of gravity in Guinean ‘Leoudiere’ dance.36

  • 37 . Funmi Adewole’s “ETERE Dance Research Project: A Preliminary Study of the Movement Principles inh (...)
  • 38 . See Janet Adshead’s “Describing the Components of the Dance” in Janet Adshead (ed.) Dance Analysi (...)

77It is, however, with Funmi Adewole that we get a more frontal approach to theorizing and codifying contemporary African dance forms. Her dance research projects are generally geared in the direction of identifying patterns, movement principles, and origination. She challenges the “idea that ‘African dance’ consists of a series of immutable classical dances and is therefore static.” Adewole argues persuasively that “Western dance theater on the other hand is considered dynamic and innovative because the forms and movement vocabulary used in theatrical dance derived from a number of ’techniques’.”37 It is this vision of the dynamic nature of African dance forms that informs her experimentation with contemporary forms such as ‘Afrobeat’ dance and the possibility of its fusion with theatrical dance in general. It is important to qualify what makes these forms ‘contemporary’ In the first place, they are no longer tied to specific aspects of traditional dance either as ritual or as a secularized form in a one-to-one relationship. Second, the dance subgenres, even when occasionally motivated by communal experiences, usually have identifiable choreographers; African dances have finally become integrated into the dynamics of the international cash nexus and commodity exchange. Additionally the distinct attribute of Afrobeat dance is evident in its bold fusion of diverse African forms and the reiteration of certain movements formulaic in the continent. This includes a certain earth-bound motion in spatial progression, extensive use of the feet—gyating generally in a flat-footed position and shuffling on the heel, “posture with knees flexed, (or with) body bent at the waist,”38—pelvic thrusting and shoulder blade movement. The Afrobeat dance is not simply enamoured by these forms for their own sake: they are geared toward telling a story.

  • 39 . See Zagba Oyortey in “Still Dancing Downwards and Talking Back,” in Helen Thomas (ed.) Dance, Gen (...)
  • 40 . Ibid, Jane Adshead p. 2.

78Dance as a non-verbal means of communication draws from our everyday motions but it also gives an insight to its own dynamics.39 In other words, “Each dance genre and, within this, each style, uses some of the humanly possible actions of the body selected from the gestures, bends, extensions, twists and turns.”40 Some of the movement practices of a society may be carried over and, as in the case of a contemporary form as Afrobeat dance, we can identify such cultural retention. There is a wide range of retention in the Afrobeat dance, which draws from the diverse cultural settings of its dancers and experimental fusion of the general African dance environment. The basic primary posture of Afrobeat dance is very much in consonance with the flat-footed initial position that is characteristic of most African dances. The solo dancer is relatively more economical in her use of space than the choreographed dancers, besides also being amenable to improvisatory techniques. Two tendencies are observable here: while the solo dancer is on her individual dais, there is a practical constraint of space which, over the years, has come to yield a definite movement attitude that could be minimalist in space usage but vigorous in its combination of general body language, especially the creative combination of the heel and sole of the foot, and movement from the waist through the torso. This dance form has also come to characterize female Afrobeat dance gestures which emphasize a dexterity of foot work in combination with a creative arm posture and pelvic gyration. The second attitude of the dancer performing her solo on the central stage, as in the case of Dodo described above, is one of less space restraint—thereby allowing for an expansion of the earlier contracted form.

79It is in this expanded form that the dance’s features, dynamics, and movement principles become easier to comprehend. Within the broad category of ‘Fire Dance,’ for instance, are other distinctive styles such as ‘Open and Close’, ‘Bend’-Bend,’ and ‘Pampa-Lobo,’ among others. The closest equivalent to ‘Open and Close’ is the butterfly dance of the Caribbean, wherein the legs and possibly the arms, too, are twisted inward and flexed outward, rhythmically ‘Pampa’ is more similar to female initiation motions in the Senegal-Mali-Burkina axis, and the ‘One legged skank’ of the Caribbean, than any popular dance form in Nigeria. The dance action here is predicated on one leg in second, ballet position, then the second limb is raised—with foot pointing hindward, and then the raised limb effects a swivel in full circle. Meanwhile, the dancer’s posture could be erect or bent around the waist, while the arms are also engaged in the dance and, needless to say the motion is quite fast. The movement origination here, however, is not the leg, which is basically supportive, but the pelvis, based on a principle of contraction and release. While the solo dancer adheres to this general principle, she is constantly improvising with her arms and the degree of swivel. The principle of contraction and release could still be retained while she is in a crouching or flipping position.

80Afrobeat choreographic dance also experiments with the concept of the horizontal and group bonding in movement progression, wherein members may hold on to each other’s hands while defining diverse visual shapes on stage and, quite often, they contract into a circle: arms-on-arms, and with heads bent into the circle as if taking a collective vow With a large ensemble in the background, the image thrown up by the subtext here, is evidendy the expansion of the concept of the large and extended household, now redefined as an extended musical family which Fela had replicated in his Kalakuta Republic residence.


1 . From the poet’s unpublished collection Ghost Music, 1988.

2 . This clarification is made by Babatunde Lawal in The Gelede Spectacle: Art, Gender and Social Harmony in an African Culture (London and Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1996), p. 271.

3 . This is as true for the Yorùbá as many other African mask experiences.

4 . Cite Harry Garuba’s “Mask and Meaning in Black Drama: Africa and the Diaspora.” (Ph.D. thesis in the English Department of the University of Ibadan, April 8,1988.)

5 . This interview took place December 5, 1991 at Fela’s No. 7 Gbemisola Street residence.

6 . Margaret Drewal in Yorùbá Ritual: Play, Performance, Agency (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1992), p. 27.

7 . See Martin Chanock’s paper, “Justice and Rights in Context,” delivered at the Centre for African Studies, University of Cape Town under the theme of ‘Cultural Transformations in Africa: Legal, Religious and Human Bights Issues.’ (March 11-13, 1997, p. 5.)

8 . The Yorùba have a five-day week.

9 . Ossie Enekwe, “Myth, Ritual and Drama in Igboland,” in Yemi Ogunbivi (ed.), Drama and Theatre in Nigeria (Lagos: Nigeria Magazine Special Publication, 1981), p. 152.

10 . Ibid., p. 155.

11 . Babatunde Lawal in The Gelede Spectacle: Art, Gender and Social Harmony in an African Culture (London and Seat-de: University’ of Washington Press, 1996), p. 83.

12 . B.M Ibitokun’s Dance as Ritual Drama and Entertainment in the Gelede of the Ketu-Africa Yorùbá Sub-Group in West Africa. (Ile-Ife: OAU Press, 1993), pp. 20-21.

13 . Babatunde Lawal’s The Gelede Spectacle, p. 113.

14 . See Edmund Leach, Culture and Communication (New-York: Cambridge University Press, 1976), p. 41.

15 . Harry Garuba’s “Mask and Meaning in Black Drama: Africa and the Diaspora.” (Ph.D. Thesis in the English Department of the University of Ibadan, 1988, p. 207.)

16 . Ibid.

17 . This is the overall tone of Karin Barber’s “How Man Makes God in West Africa: Yorùba Attitudes Towards the Orisa,” in Roy Richard Grinker and Christopher B. Steiner (eds.) Perspective on Africa: A Reader in Culture, History and Representation (Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, 1997).

18 . See Henry Louis Gates’ The Signifying Monkey: A Theory of Afro-American Literary Criticism (New York: Oxford University Press, 1988), p. 35.

19 . See Isidore Okpewho in Myth in Africa (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983), p. 69.

20 . See George Thompson’s “Anatomy of Poetry” in David Craig (ed.) Marxists on Literature: An Anthology (Har-mondsworth: Penguin, 1977), pp. 73-74.) See also Margaret Drewal’s Yorùbá Ritual: Play, Performance, Agency (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1992), pp. 182-4.

21 . This is how members of the Egypt ’80 Band interpret this device; a confirmation was also made by Pa Bogunbe of the Ifa Ose Meji Shrine in Ibadan.

22 . Translation by the author from C.L. Adeoye’s Igbagbo ati Esin Yorùbá (Ibadan: Evans Brothers, 1985), p. 11.

23 . Sylvia Esi Kinni in “Africanisms in Music and Dance of the Americas,” in Goldstein (ed.), Black Life and Culture in the United States. (New York: Crowell and Sons, 1971), p. 51.

24 . Quotation made from Paul Gilroy’s The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double Consciousness (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1993), p. 79.

25 . See Umberto Eco’s Faith in Fakes: Travels in Hyperreality (London: Minerva, 1997).

26 . Zagba Oyortey in “Still Dancing Downwards and Talking Back” in Helen Thomas (ed.) Dance, Gender and Culture (London: Macmillan, 1983), p. 185.

27 . Ibid., p. 191.

28 . Felix Begho’s “Traditional African Dance in Context,” in Kariamu Welsh Asante (ed.) African Dance: An Artistic, Historical and Philosophical Inquiry (New Jersey: Africa World Press, 1996), p. 178.

29 . Zagba Oyortey in “Still Dancing Downwards and Talking Back,” in Helen Thomas (ed.) Dance, Gender and Culture (London: Macmillan, 1983), p. 184.

30 . It is important to note that in a city like London, some efforts at experimenting with contemporary African forms are emerging. Apart from Peter Badejo, the Nigerian choreographer, Zagba Oyortey cites Corrine Bougard, artistic director of Union Dance as another example of a contemporary African dance group.

31 . According to Funmi Adewole, Zouglou incorporates many theatrical elements in its movement style largely because the form evolved a mimicry of encounters between the Ivorien police and protesting students during the reign of Houphuet Boigny

32 . Composition has been part of the concerns of Doris Humphrey’s focus on dance theory See Janet Adshead’s “Describing the Components of the Dance.” Janet Adshead’s, ed., Dance Analysis: Theory and Practice. (London: Dance Books, 1988), p. 28.

33 . Omofolabo Soyinka Ajayi in Yorùbá Dance: The Semiotics of Movement and Body Attitude in a Nigerian Culture (New Jersey: African World Press, 1998), p. 209.

34 . See the introduction to Christy Adair’s Women and Dance: Sylphs and Sirens (London: Macmillan, 1992).

35 . See Olufemi Taiwo “Colonialism and its Aftermath: The Crisis of Knowledge Production.” Callaloo vol. I.16. no 4.

36 . See Zagba Oyortey “Still Dancing Downwards and Talking Back,” in Helen Thomas (ed.), Dance, Gender and Culture (London: Macmillan, 1993), p. 188.

37 . Funmi Adewole’s “ETERE Dance Research Project: A Preliminary Study of the Movement Principles inherent in the dances of the Igbo People of Nigeria (November 1998), pp.1-2.

38 . See Janet Adshead’s “Describing the Components of the Dance” in Janet Adshead (ed.) Dance Analysis: Theory and Practice. (London: Dance Books, 1988), p. 29.

39 . See Zagba Oyortey in “Still Dancing Downwards and Talking Back,” in Helen Thomas (ed.) Dance, Gender and Culture (London: MacMillan, 1983) and Janet Adshead’s Dance Analysis: Theory and Practice (London: Dance Books 1988).

40 . Ibid, Jane Adshead p. 2.

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