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The effect of Music and Dance in African Culture and Religion

Culture and dance are very unique thing in Africa.What are the effects of Music and Dance in African Culture and ReligionHow important is Culture to Us, and how do we preserve these cultures for our unborn children?
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This topic is very complex and we are going to take our time to discuss about it. But we have to define the two major words involved (Music & Culture).

Music could be defined as “vocal or instrumental sounds combined in such a way as to produce beauty of form, harmony and expression of emotion“.

Culture could also be defined as “the ideas, customs and social behavior of a particular people or society“.

Now having defined the meaning of the two keywords that are involved in this discussion it will be important to go down and discuss the topic in general.

How does music and culture relate or co-exist?

The first question that comes to my mind is how does music and culture relate or co-exist. In my own understanding they co-exist very well.

According to the definition we had concerning culture you find out that a particular set of people might grow up understanding a particular way of following their culture and traditions and this might at a time get them bored and if this occurs the only way to still get people interested in this culture/way of life that they feel is bored is just by music.

That is why in igbo land we have The Ekpe festival which is very popular in Umuahia/Ikwuano people and we also have the Igbo Traditional Wrestling also known as Igba Mgba.

In Lagos they have the Eyo Festival and it goes on like that in many different tribes in Africa. And you find out that without music these cultures might have died off.

The Traditional music of Africa given the vastness of the continent, is historically ancient, rich and diverse with different Regions and Nations of Africa having many distinct musical traditions.

Importance of Music in African Culture?

The following could be said to be the importance of Music in  African Culture

  • African Music has played an important role in representing the strong African heritage and its importance can be seen in many aspects of African Culture.
  • Music in African Culture (unlike the Western World) is used to explain who we are and what we believe. Music tells the way and norms of a particular people. Like in the Yoruba Tribe/Tradition, the talking drum is used in different forms and it goes a long way to telling a story of which only the elders can understand.
  • Music in Africa can also be used to pass a message; for example there is a type of music that is for war,  childbirth, Announcing the death of a Great King. And there are some music that is meant to tell the people to stay indoors for safety purposes.
  • Music can also be used as a form of strength between different communities e.g in a situation a particular community is under threat, music can be used to call for help.

The most important effect of music in African culture like I said earlier is used to keep the culture going. But I believe that these things are going down gradually.

Back in those days we do the folktales at night when the moon is full and also the traditional wrestling. But these days who will believe that the western culture has almost taken away everything, most kids from the 80’s do jot understand or might not have experienced the traditional wrestling.

Thank God that we still have the African Traditional Marriage Ceremony where a woman comes out to dance traditionally according to our culture, signifying that she is married and also be presented to  her husband to be.

Dance, an integral part of the African Culture

Dance is an integral part of the African culture. Dancers use symbolic gestures, masks, costumes, body painting and props to communicate.

The dance movement can be simple or complex with intricate actions including fast rotation, ripples of the body and contraction and release. Dance is used to express emotions whether joyful or sorrowful and it is not just the dancers, many a times the spectators will be encouraged to join in.

Although the musical styles and instruments vary from region to region,  there are some common forms of musical expression. By far the most significant instrument in Africa music is the African drum. It expresses the mood of the people and evokes emotions.

The beat of the African drum is considered the heartbeat of the community and its rhymes is what holds the dancers together.

African Musical Instruments

There are different types of instruments used in the African music which also signifies the culture of Africa:

These are the few of the many instruments used in African music.

Characteristics of African music

  • It is a product of association e.g hunters, warriors and societies.
  • It also can serve as an aid to work.
  • Some are for amusement.
  • Most music are for traditional differences.

On the other hand I believe that most of our forefathers married their wives according to how well the ladies danced during a cultural ceremony.

Culture and dance are very unique thing in Africa. How important is Culture to Us, and how do we preserve these cultures for our unborn children? We are Africans.

Thank you


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