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Music and Social Dynamics in Nigeria


Edited By Bode Omojola

Music and Social Dynamics in Nigeria explores the diverse ways in which music reflects, and is shaped by, historical and social dynamics of life in Nigeria. Contributors to this volume include some of the leading scholars of Nigerian music, such as Joshua Uzoigwe, Laz Ekwueme, Tunji Vidal, Richard C. Okafor, A. K. Achinivu, Ademola Adegbite, Femi Faseun, and Christian Onyeji. Focusing on ancient and new musical traditions, including modern African art music, and drawing on the methods of ethnography and music analysis, the various chapters of the book discuss the role of music in community life, enculturation and education, political institutions, historical processes, belief systems, and social hierarchies. Conceived primarily for students and scholars of African music, this book will also be of immense value to the general reader.

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Chapter Six: Modernity and Ovwuvwe: A Sociocultural Process of the Abraka in Urhoboland


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Modernity AND Ovwuvwe

A Sociocultural Process of the Abraka in Urhoboland



The preservation of African cultural practices has faced significant challenges since the colonial era, partly as a result of the cultural policies of European missionaries and colonial masters as well as the attitude of modern-day Africans, many of whom have embraced Western lifestyles and religious beliefs. Indeed, traditional cultural practices have become objects of curiosity in the minds of many Africans, while the preservation of traditional forms of artistic expressions is sometimes interpreted as conservatism. It is important to note, however, that traditional music practices, like other aspects of African culture, are crucial to the process of understanding the past and the ways in which African societies have responded to the challenge of modernity. By focusing on Ovwuvwe, this chapter aims at bringing into focus some of the salient features of indigenous musical traditions in Nigeria. My discussion will outline certain problems that have rendered cultural preservation almost an arduous task, highlight the significance of the Ovwuvwe festival of the Abraka clan within the Urhobo geopolitical enclave, examine the socio-cultural activities that typify this particular festival and explain the ways in which the festival has responded to contemporary developments.1


Existing research indicates that the greatest problem militating against the preservation of our traditional cultural practices stems “from the disintegration of...

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