The Emir of Zazzau and Chairman, Kaduna State Council of Traditional Ruler, Alhaji Shehu Idris, passed away at the age of 84, Allah Yar Harmu. Alhaji Shehu Idris, the 18th Fulani Emir of Zazzau was appointed on 15th February, 1975 and spent 45 years on the throne.
The Zazzau, also known as the Zaria Emirate is a traditional state with headquarters in the city of Zaria, Kaduna State. Read about the 2015 Zaria-the Zazzau-Durbar : Here
Thank you, Tango, for including Lebanon in your survey of worldwide indigenous music. Fairuz’s ionic voice of longing for what is gone… whether a people, a nation, or a love… is like an arrow to the heart. Thank you for this recognition and to all Lebanese,: we mourn, we commiserate, we want answers, and we want change. -nomad4now
I originally had a different song in mind to share today. However, recent events have led me to change my plan slightly. On August 4th, the people of Lebanon experienced a massive tragedy when explosions rocked the capital, Beirut.
As Lebanon grieves their losses and begins the process of picking up the pieces, I wanted to acknowledge their suffering in some small way. I don’t have specialized knowledge of Lebanon or their music, but with a bit of research, I discovered a rich tradition of songs of lament.
The name Fairuz came up as of critical importance. Her song “Li Beirut,” released in 1984, was an homage to a city which, at the time was being torn apart by civil war. Though the recent explosion was a different sort of tragedy, the emotions and imagery of the song make it seem a fitting tribute to a city in mourning.
If asked to pick a song that represents Afghanistan as a whole, I’d probably choose something by Ahmad Zahir or Farhad Darya. They are the biggest names, though I could list dozens of other outstanding singers. Maybe that’s a subject for a later post.
Today, rather than selecting something popular, I want to highlight a style of music that is not well-known, either in Afghanistan or abroad.
Nuristan is a remote, isolated, and mountainous province in the eastern part of Afghanistan, bordering Pakistan. The people of Nuristan have a unique culture, and even within the province, there are multiple languages and music traditions.
There are many theories about where the people of Nuristan originated. Some say they descended from the soldiers of Alexander the Great. Other scholars disagree. What is clear is that they are ethnically and culturally distinct from the rest of Afghanistan.
August 4, 2020, Beirut suffered the largest non-nuclear blast, behind Hiroshima and Nagasaki, that the world has seen in modern history. We are completely heartbroken and devastated to witness Lebanon and its people crippled further amidst a global pandemic and crushing economic crisis.
The Lebanese people are creative and resilient but in the face of such a massive tragedy, support from the global community is necessary. I would, thus, kindly invite you to donate to NGOs whatever small amount you can and to spread the message. Below are a few suggestions of reputable agencies.
As a graduate student in ethnomusicology, one of my assigned readings was Seize the Dance! by Michelle Kisliuk (1998).
Kisliuk conducted research among the BaAka people of Central African Republic from 1986-1995, documenting their song, dance, and way of life. I found Kisliuk’s ethnography to be a compelling read, and I deeply enjoyed the music that came with the book.
Frequently referred to as “pygmies” by outsiders, the BaAka have faced widespread persecution and forcible removal from their ancestral lands.
For further reading, here is an interesting article on the challenges these people face:
Today I am sharing an example of BaAka music. This polyphonic style of singing is known as “hocketing.” One singer begins a melody, then leaves a gap which other singers take up to complete the phrase.
As an ethnomusicologist, one of the great joys of my life is discovering new artists performing music in different styles.
I want to share some of that joy with our readers, so each day for the next ten days, I will be posting a link to a song from a different country.
Today’s song is from Pakistan, a country near and dear to my heart.
It is by the legendary Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan (13 October 1948 – 16 August 1997). Known for his extraordinary vocal range, Khan is remembered as the king of qawwali, a form of Sufi devotional music.
In his lifetime, Khan obtained fame both in Pakistan and worldwide.
5th of May is the day UNESCO announced in 2015 for people around the world to celebrate the culture and heritage of Africa.
To honour the diverse heritage of my Africa, I have chosen five photographs out of thousands from my Egypt and Nigeria collection and five photographs from other African countries. These photographs may not be the best but each represent an era, a civilisation or traditions of the African story. Many traditions are nearly extinct; each year monuments are destroyed, traditional crafts are discontinued, and culture changes. If not for documentation and archives, much of Africa’s heritage would be lost. Join me in preservation and documentation of cultures, traditions and heritage so that generations to come will have a glimpse into understanding this human journey.
Rock painting in Karkur Talh (Arcadia Valley), Uwaynat Mountains on Egypt/Sudan border. Painting survives under rock ledge from 8000BCE
City of the Past, Medinet Madi, an early settlement on the desert edge (30 kilometres beyond Fayoum Oasis) was founded by pharaoh Amenemhot III (1844-1797 BCE). Along the processional avenue are varied examples of lions from the Ptolemaic period: winged beast some with heads of Ptolemaic king.
Ain Umm el-Dabadib, Roman fort and settlement along ancient caravan route between Darb el-Arbain and Dakhlia Oasis.
Fanous: The Egyptian light of Ramadan. The origin of the word “Fanous” is Greek means light.
Fiteer, Egyptian pancake. Hagg Mahmoud pulls from beneath a pyramid of dough-shaped balls, one pastry roll. With quick wrist motions, he begins to flatten and flip it—twirl, stretch, fold—until the dough is paper-thin and translucent. Then fills it with sweet or savoury, it is delicious.
Zaria or the Zazzau is a city in northern Nigeria that can boast of the finest traditional uniforms, horsemanship, dancing groups with handcrafted musical instruments at the Durbar, an equestrian parade to celebrate Islamic and national events.
Bida, west-central Nigeria. The two crafts that Bida is most famous are Glassmakers and Brassworks. Each craft has a specific quarter of the city where the families are bound together in a strict guild.
Odogbolu Town in the south-west, Egun Olotun masquerade. Egun means masquerade; the name of the masquerades Olotun.
Traditional musicians from Calabar, south-eastern Nigeria.
Groundnut (peanut) farmer from Kano. Groundnut used to be one of Nigeria’s largest exports before the discovery of oil. The calabash (native gourd) has been repaired by stitching.
Village of Kpeta meaning ‘on top of a hill’ on Easter Sunday celebration
REPUBLIC OF BENIN
Near the city of Ouidah are statues called the Revenants that guard the monument. They represent Voodoo dancers who wait on the beach to welcome wandering slave souls back to Africa.
Conakry: weaving on narrow horizontal loom measuring 4 to 8 inches across in one continuous strip. Strip weaving that dates back to the 10th century in West Africa.The weaver frequently adds supplementary threads or embroidery.
“How should Spring bring forth a garden on hard stone? Become earth, that you may grow flowers of many colors. For you have been heart-breaking rock. Once, for the sake of experiment, be earth!” -Rumi
Egyptians ‘sniff the spring breeze’ on Shamm el-Nassim, a pharaonic tradition in which Egyptians celebrate the arrival of spring by eating salty fish (fiseeskh), green onions, and boiled eggs. (https://nomad4now.com/articles-egypt/a-store-with-no-door/) . This year, because of coronavirus, Egyptians are in a two-day lock down unable to share the day with friends and family in parks, gardens, and on bridges. Though families and friends cannot gather to share the holiday food, this ancient tradition of gratitude for the passing of time and the appreciation of life continues as it has over millennia.
As I stand in a long queue in London, waiting my turn to enter a grocery store, I look across the street to a nearby park and I am reminded to ‘sniff the spring breeze’, even though the warning to stay home is clearly noted.
As the queue moves forward, messages on stone appear:
I breath deeply in gratitude for the opportunity to know the meaning of Shamm el-Nassim. Thank you, Egypt.
Last month, I posted House of Foreigners Revisited because a reader came forward to tell his family history about his house in Shubra. Recently, another reader has expressed his family history in Shubra in the early twentieth century. I thought it might be interesting to extend an invitation to all who would like to post family history who lived in Cairo from 1850 to 1950. There is nostalgia and longing for Egypt who were born, raised, and lived through this period and left due to the 1952 Revolution. I would be happy to collect these stories on this page. Just comment on this page and I will email to connect.
Here is the family story of Richard Milosh who lives in Australia now. He says: