10 Days, 10 Countries, 10 Songs: Day 7

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

Other Side of the Mountains

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.

For…

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10 Days, 10 Countries, 10 Songs: Day 6

Afghanistan…another country that has seen its share of devastation. I did not post the last two days of music out of respect to all Lebanese who mourn their dead and are grappling with the destruction (https://nomad4now.com/2020/08/06/beiruts-devastation/). In 2018, I had the privilege of traveling the length of Tajikistan and Afghanistan on the rugged Pamir Highway along the River Panj,( 1,125 km long) that forms the Tajikistan-Afghanistan border. https://nomad4now.com/2018/07/14/pamir-highway-tajikistan/
-nomad4now

Other Side of the Mountains

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.

A couple of years ago, I…

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Beirut’s Devastation

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.

Donate to: (compiled by Arab America https://www.arabamerica.com/beirut-explosion-rocks-lebanons-capital-city-what-you-need-to-know/)

US–LA Beirut Sister Cities Relief Fund for AUBMC: GoFundMe Campaign

International–Lebanese Red Cross: http://www.redcross.org.lb
Amel Association: https://amel.org/
International Rescue Committee: https://www.rescue.org/country/lebanon
Lebanon Needs You: https://lebanoncrisis.carrd.co/#

American University of Beirut: https://alumni.aub.edu.lb

10 Days, 10 Countries, 10 Songs: Day 3

Diverse Africa…

Other Side of the Mountains

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:

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/the-pygmies-plight-93401092/

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.

Cover Image from Wikimedia Commons:

JMGRACIA100 / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)

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10 Days, 10 Countries, 10 Songs: Day 1

This blogger spent much of his childhood in Afghanistan and Central Asia. I admire his insights into the area and hope to reblog his ’10 countries’ post each day. L.

Other Side of the Mountains

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.

Enjoy!

Cover Image from Wikimedia Commons:

Ramkishan950 / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)

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African World Heritage Day

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.
EGYPT

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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.

 

Fortress Dababid

Ain Umm el-Dabadib, Roman fort and settlement along ancient caravan route between Darb el-Arbain and Dakhlia Oasis.

 

 

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Fanous: The Egyptian light of Ramadan. The origin of the word “Fanous” is Greek means light. 

 

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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.

NIGERIA

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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.

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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.

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Odogbolu Town in the south-west, Egun Olotun masquerade. Egun means masquerade; the name of the masquerades Olotun.

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Traditional musicians from Calabar, south-eastern Nigeria.

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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.

TOGO

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Village of Kpeta meaning ‘on top of a hill’ on Easter Sunday celebration

 

TANZANIA

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REPUBLIC OF BENIN

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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.

GUINEA

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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.  

MALI

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Timbuktu 1988 with my daughter and son

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OBA OF BENIN VISITS ETSU NUPE

The following three videos chronicle the official visit of HRH Ewuare II Oba of Benin with  HRH Alhaji (Dr.) Yahaya Abubakar CFR, Etsu Nupe, Chairman of the Niger State Council of Traditional Rulers Read. This is a significant meeting between two powerful, traditional kingdoms of Nigeria. Take note of the Nupe traditional dance, the music particularly the flute and the durbar. This ceremony was held in Bida, Nigeria at the palace of the ETSU NUPE January 2020.

Above: The Oba of Benin arrives at the Palace of ETSU NUPE

Above: Kakaki trumpeters:

According to tradition the Atta of Igala, to whom the Nupe were subject in mid-fifteenth century, presented Tsoede, founder of the Nupe kingdom, with vari- ous royal insignia “including kakaki or the long royal trumpets” (Hogben & Kirk- Greene 1966:262). As this antedates their acquisition by both Songhai and Kano, which are considerably further north, while the Igala are to the south of the Nupe, one must choose between a southern origin, some form of instrumental leap-frog, or treat the story as legend. Since all evidence points to North Africa as the immed- iate source and simpler explanations are preferred to more contorted if they account for the facts, we are inclined to regard the story of Tsoede’s acquisition as later glorification of a past hero. There is, moreover, no evidence that the Igala ever had long trumpets; when the British 1841 expedition met the then Atta, his interest in the party’s bugle suggested unfamiliarity with both its “gold-like material” (Allen & Thomson 1848:303) and aerophones of longer dimensions. Recent research now dates the introduction of the Nupe kakaki from the reign of Etsu Majaya (1796- 1810)7, which accords with the hypothesis of a north-south diffusion, the trumpet entering Nigeria through Hausaland, whence it passed to the Nupe and so to the Yoruba.  – Gourlay, K.A., Long Trumpets of Northern Nigeria — In History and Today)

S.F. Nadel’s account of kakaki trumpeters in Bida (heart of Nupeland)  in 1930s:  “On Thursday night and again on Friday afternoon the Etsu rides in great state to the mosque in the town, and on Friday at his return holds a reception in his house …”. During the procession, with the “king and courtiers on horseback, in their sumptuous gowns … drummers are beating their drums, three mounted trumpeters blow the huge bronze kakati in an incessant deaf- ening chorus.” (S.F Nadel, A Black Byzantium London Routledge and Kegan. 1942.)

Turbaned! Jikadiya Gargajiya

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Five years ago, my connection with Nupe Land began with a visit of condolences.  Alhaji Dan Galadima, brother of the late Alhaji Isah,  took me under his wing and introduced me to Nupe heritage and has been my mentor, friend and advisor throughout the years. From the start, I was enthralled with the diversity of traditional crafts in the area. Over the years, my journeys to Bida went from an interest in material culture and blogging about the experience to researcher of Nupe heritage, particularly, the study of glassmaking. All of which evolved into becoming an honorary member of the Masaga glassmaking community.  These rich and rewarding journeys culminated in the month of November 2019, that saw the acceptance of the title, Jikadiyan Gargagiya, Ambassador of Nupe Traditions  from His Royal Highness, His Royal Highness, Alhaji (Dr.) Yahaya Abubakar CFR, ETSU NUPE, Chairman of the Niger State Council of Traditional Rulers:

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The following is the only video that I have received of the turbaning. The video is taken from a bad angle but it is important in documenting the moment.

The turbaning was the highlight of the month spent in Bida while filming the production of bikini glass. A raw glass that had not been made for over 50 years by the Masaga glassakers. This film, Legacy of Bida Glassmakers, d

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On November 24, 2019, the Masaga glassmakers successfully unearthed glass, called bikini, which has not been produced for over 50 years. The secret formula, handed down for centuries by the Masaga forefathers, migrated from Egypt with this knowledge and settled in the area of Bida because of the rich silica sand, (told through oral history).  Only two, ninety year old men remain alive today who have seen this process in their youth. From this point of their memory, the documentary recreates the process of this Nupe heritage, nearly extinct in human memory and, it is said, the Masaga community to be the only people in the world who still can make glass  out of sand in an underground furnace .

 

 

The next picture and video are (swipe left)  from the Instagram page of the Remi Vaughan-Richard, the director of the documentary, Legacy of Bida Glassmakers (currently in production).

Below a video of unearthing glass, posted by the director, Remi Vaughan-Richards:

https://www.instagram.com/p/B5PwcdblM7D/?utm_source=ig_web_options_share_sheet

The turbaning set for November 17, 2019 was a grand ceremony that brought together dignitaries from every walk of life in Nigeria. The following are a variety of pictures as the crowds came together.

Then the turbaning, itself, best appreciated in a slideshow….

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Bahagadochi
(praise and respect for His Royal Highness) Read, here

And if all the above is not thrilling enough, here is a turbaning archive, 1959, one year before independence from Britain. A durbar or parade after Ramadan and a traditional turbaning are the events presided over by the ETSU NUPE, Malam Muhammadu Ndayako dan Muhammadu.

copyscape-banner-white-160x56All Photographs and text are under international copyright laws. No re-use without the permission of Lesley Lababidi 2019.

For more information about Bida, go to:

Bida Glass: Bangles and Beads

Bling Bling in Bida

Bida Glass at Muséo Parc Alésia, France

https://nomad4now.com/2018/12/22/nupe-day-merit-award/

https://nomad4now.com/2019/10/06/red-walls-of-bida-the-book/