Thanksgiving, in every culture from antiquity, is a time to take a breath and accept what one has. It may not be pretty or it may be fabulous but most likely, it is a moment in time to remember moments lived in joy, grief, and relief… and hopefully, there is space to celebrate thankfulness…
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.
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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/
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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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
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.
Cover Image from Wikimedia Commons:
JMGRACIA100 / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)
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.
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.
Cover Image from Wikimedia Commons:
Ramkishan950 / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)
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.
REPUBLIC OF BENIN
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.)
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:
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
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:
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….
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.
All 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:
The impermanence of everything…