Dance is Life; Life is Dance: A Cyclical Nature of Man on Earth (For the Record)




 

By Jeleel Ojuade

 

Prelude

Mr. Vice - Chancellor Sir, today is indeed a remarkable

one in the global dance space and annals. I feel greatly honored

to be given the opportunity to share with you this evening,

aspects of my engagements with Dance Studies and Practice

over the years. There could not have been a better time, place

and occasion than now, before this great audience at the „Better

By Far‟ University - the University of Ilorin – and on the

occasion of her Two hundred and Eighth Inaugural Lecture that

global attention is diverted physically and virtually to an aspect

of us, a significant part of our rich culture, tradition, heritage,

pride and indeed a universal language, „Dance‟.

 My involvement or entanglement with Dance, I dare say,

is accidental and providential. My case is that of an observer

turned participant. I had my debut as a barely four and half year

old toddler. It was at an event where my late father‟s performing

troupe was invited. My curiosity to see or understand that

„language of the drum‟ at that dancing arena led me to the real

„dance theatre‟ from the sidelines where I was placed to sit

quietly and watch the dance. Instinctively, the little boy

innocently strolled in, jumping up and down to the rhythm of the

„Dundun‟ drums as professionally played by the duo of Baba

Sowumi and Sobade Adedapo from Ifetedo ( both of blessed

memories). Alas, this act of the little boy was received with

mixed feelings: shock, surprise, excitement, reservations,

acceptance and even condemnation. This is not unexpected

because as at that time in history, dance was seen as „ise alagbe‟

– craft of and for beggars. Now, for a four and half year old to

„throw his hat; in the dance ring (when he should be preparing to

go to school) was unheard of and perceived as a misnomer and

patently abnormal. However, that occasion was my launch pad

into a career that brought you all here today. I had my induction

that day and was „on – boarded‟ immediately into the Ojuade

and His Performing Troupe.

My father, Late Alhaji Fatai Oladosu Adisa Ojuade,

confessed in a discussion with me years later that my „gamble‟ 

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of that day paid off handsomely because it became a potent

strategy for „money making‟ thus making „Dance part of his

Life‟. Why? Performance Proceeds tripled when benchmarked

against earlier performances where I did not feature. It turned

out to be a stellar performance which laid the foundation and

opened up several other dance engagements and opportunities

across regional, national and global spectra.

Suffice to say at this juncture that a foundational

approach to dance culture as reflected in numerous ethnic dance

escapades of the Yorubas (through the medium of „Gese‟ and

„Bata‟) metamorphosed into a tri–cyclic and tri-podal

phenomena of Teaching, Research and Community

Development or Service to Humanity. This we shall see in the

course of this „short‟ interactive session.

Introduction

Mr. Vice - Chancellor, Sir and Distinguished Ladies and

Gentlemen, I thought this Theme - Dance Is Life, Life Is Dance:

A Cyclical Nature Of Man On Earth could be better told or

showcased through „movements‟ because Dance is voiceless,

and operates functionally as “non verbal but practical

communication art”, but academic tradition permits no such. I

am compelled to present to colleagues, the campus community

and the general public my works – past, present and future

direction in teaching, learning and research within the Dance sub

set of Performing Arts. And this I am excited to do.

My Presentation today is a double edged sword and I

stand to be the link cord between „town‟ and „ gown‟

representing both of the dance worlds of a practitioner and an

academic. It is gratifying to note that my participation in active

dance could be traced back to Ile - Ife (the Source of Mankind,

Centre of the Universe and the Origin of Civilization from where

it diffused to other parts of the globe.)

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Ife Ooye (x3)

Olori aaye gbogbo.

Ife the living (x3)

The supreme head of the universe.

Ile - Ife, also known as Ife, is an ancient city in the

southwestern part of Nigeria, at present, a part of Osun State. Ile

- Ife is said to date back to around 500 B.C, when it was founded

and is the oldest Yoruba city. A city located at the centre of the

universe, where the gods descended to the earth.

Hence, we can see the preponderance of Ile - Ife in the

cycle of life especially within the context of the African

Traditional and Religious belief system. A cursory excursion

into Ifa Mythology, theology and Corpus lends credence to this

assertion.

For me, Ori Olokun centre located at Arubiidi area in Ile

– Ife, exerted a significant influence on me. It was a rendezvous

for both the practitioners and those in the academia for

collaborative research exercises and performances in the days of

yore. I was a regular face there accompanying my father,

occasionally, on performances, workshops, training tours etc.

This afforded me the privilege of meeting and mingling with

great minds, highly revered Professors, eminent scholars, culture

promoters, practitioners of repute and emerging leaders of our

various communities from diverse ethnic backgrounds and

nationalities across the global spectrum under a convivial

atmosphere of discussions and ideas exchanges on propagation

and development of culture and traditions.

My dance expedition and experience horizons got wider

afterwards. It became part of my learning curve which proved

handy in all my life endeavors. Nostalgically, I could draw an

example of a particular poem I composed for our end of year

activities during my primary education (Pry. II) at the Ansar - Ud

- Deen Primary School, Okeigbo (in present Ile - Oluji / Okeigbo 

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Local Government Area of Ondo State, Nigeria) in the mid 70‟s

where my Mum was a teacher.

F‟ada g‟era wo

Ki o to g‟egi ni igbo

Fi kumo dan‟ra wo

Ki o to na eranko

J‟awe opoto k‟o r‟rija eerun

J‟awe b‟onu ki o ri ise odi

Ohun o fe ni ki o f‟emi fe

Ohun o o fe, ma fi l‟omi wo

Gbo‟do ru

Ki n gbalapa ru o

Gun mi l‟odo

Ki n lo o l‟olo.

Attempt using a cutlass to cut yourself

Before cutting a tree in the forest

Attempt flogging yourself with a big whip

Before flogging an animal

Pick „opoto‟ leave and experience the wrath of „eerun‟

Put leave in your mouth and see the other side of a deaf

Wish me what you would wish yourself

What you would not want, do not try it on me

Put mortal on my head

And I will help you to put a heavy load on you

Pound me with pestle and mortal, and

I will grind you.

Inaugural Lectures in the Performing Arts

In continuation of the cycle on earth, I was led to the

academic world in phases (which at a point during this lecture, I

will discuss). My area of interest in Performance Arts is Dance

Studies and Practice, and with special emphasis on Bata and

Dundun culture of the Yorubas.

Mr. Vice - Chancellor, permit me to pay homage to the

initiators of this academic tradition and custom of giving 

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inaugural lectures by newly appointed Professors. It is an

occasion of significance in an academic staff member‟s career.

This lecture is the sixth from the Department of the Performing

Arts. I am proud to follow in the tradition and line of erudite

scholars like Professor Zulu Sofola who gave the maiden

inaugural lecture in this department on 28th March 1991.

Professors Ayobami Olubunmi Akinwale, Akanji Nasiru,

AbdulRasheed Abiodun Adeoye and Solomon O. Ikibe have

followed the tradition of excellence by delivering at various

times, insightful and thought provoking and academically

challenging and ground breaking masterpieces. I am glad to

stand on the shoulders of these great academics even as I present

today. I wholly align with their culture and character of

excellence.

My regret, however, is that two among them have gone

to be with their maker. To Professors Zulu Sofola and Ayo

Akinwale, shall we observe a minute‟s silence in their honour.

May their souls rest in peace.

It is gratifying that I had the opportunity to be present

and to listen with rapt attention to all my predecessors as they

delivered their inaugural lectures. As fate would have it, I am

here as the youngest of all giving the 208th in the series of the

University of Ilorin inaugural lectures; the sixth from the

Department of the Performing Arts and the very first in the area

of Dance Studies and Practice in this University, if not the first

of its kind in this country.

Genealogical Background

Mr. Vice - Chancellor, Sir, I seek your indulgence to

review very briefly, my genealogy as the Yorubas say,

notwithstanding the length of a rope it must have source or a

beginning.

The life of every man on this planet earth is structured

within a cycle, which must have a beginning, middle and

eventual end, irrespective of his greatness or power. This is apt

in capturing the life and the ultimate end of that great patriarch 

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and progenitor of the Ojuades, that patriotic son of Ile - Ife,

Balogun Ojuade. William Shakespeare seemingly had him in

mind when he wrote these lines in one of his books:

Cowards die many times before their deaths, the valiant

never taste of death but once. Of all the wonders that I

yet have heard it seems to me most strange that man

should fear but seeing that death is a necessary end, it

will come when it will come.

Balogun Ojuade was a blue - blood. Legend has it that he was

born at Ogbon - Ido, Ile - Ife. His father‟s name was

Mosusiajopeyokun, the son of Ejesi Ogbon - Ido, a popular

herbalist while his mother, Adebimpe Olajokun, a princess, was

a direct descendant of the Agbedegbede dynasty, in Moore, Ile -

Ife. Princess Adebimpe Olajokun was a popular, famous and

wealthy trader during her time.

Balogun Ojuade was a selfless, patriotic and astute

warlord of his era, For his valour and war exploits, he was

rewarded with the chieftaincy title of „Balogun‟ (a war

chieftain). History has it that Kabiyesi Kurumbusu was the

incumbent Ooni when Balogun Ojuade was born.

Ooni Kurumbusu was so elated when the young Ojuade

was born because the princess had a delay in child bearing.

Eventually when she gave birth, Ooni exclaimed that:

Haaa

L‟ojuade mi yii lo bimo!

(So

You gave birth in the face of the crown).

That was how the young man got the name „Ojuade‟. In

Kabiyesi‟s characteristic manner, he cut out a large portion of

royal farmland and bequeathed as a gift to his grandson, Balogun

Ojuade, with a curse on anyone that attempted to collect the land

from him among his male descendants. Similar portion of this

farmland were given to other grandsons of Ooni Kurumbusu. 

8

Arowohe, Obaloran, Orunto Aga and Luobe; shared boundaries

among themselves. The baby Ojuade grew up to become a brave

warrior and eventually became the war commander during the

reign of Ooni Olubuse 1. The patriotic efforts of Balogun Ojuade

came to limelight for being honest, loyal and hardworking.

His efforts to defend the Ife territorial integrity during

the era of intra - Yoruba warfare and skirmishes were second to

none, hence the appellation; „Ojuade Baba-lo-gun‟. These

attributes and other leadership qualities of Balogun Ojuade

encouraged Ooni Olubuse 1 to entrust and assign to him many

vital duties. One of the major tasks was the monitoring and

supervision of the construction of the major road that linked Ile -

Ife with Ibadan. It was after he successfully carried out the

assignment that Ooni Olubuse 1 rewarded him with the title of

Asipa.

Due to his previous antecedents and proven and

verifiable track record of performance, Ooni Olubuse 1 named

him as a member of the boundary determination and demarcation

committee assigned to define boundary lines between the Ijebus

on one hand and the Ondos on the other side to prevent

encroachment on Ife land and territory. Asipa Ojuade (as he then

was), discharged his duties with absolute honesty, total

dedication, selflessness and open heartedness. The pillars used in

the construction of the demarcation are said to still be in

existence till today.

His previous sterling performances, patriotism, honesty

among others endeared him to the people. Ooni Olubuse 1

elevated him as the Balogun of Ife. Not too long after, Ooni

Olubuse 1 joined his ancestors and was succeeded by Ooni

Ajagun Ademiluyi. Ooni Ademiluyi duly recognized him as the

Balogun of Ife. Ojuade‟s fame became more pronounced when

an English white man by the name Captain Ross visited Ile - Ife

and commended Balogun Ojuade highly for his achievement on

behalf of Ile - Ife. In order to show appreciation for his

selflessness, Captain Ross gave him some gift of minerals to 

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decorate his horse. The visit of Captain Ross increased the love

and respect to Balogun Ojuade.

With increased fame, honour and recognition came

concomitant ill-wind of envy, jealousy, treachery and betrayal. It

did not take long before he fell out with powers that be. He was

eventually assassinated in a night operation with the active

connivance of insiders. Investigations into the assassination by

the colonialists found a certain prince culpable. The prince was

subsequently sentenced.

In addition to Balogun Ojuade‟s war escapades, he

mastermind the construction of a bunker at Orile-owu during the

Owu wars where warriors from other cells within the Ife

confederate army usually hide and sometimes launch attack on

enemies. Balogun Ojuade, the great son of Ile – Ife left a

treasured memory in these areas:

(1) Opening up of roads linking Ile - Ife with Ibadan

(2) Erecting pillars (Owon) to demarcate Ile - Ife from Ondo

and Ijebu territories

(3) Rejection of the second coming of the Modakekes to avoid

incessant communal killings.

Okeigbo and Ifetedo Connections

Sanni Anamonilekewu (the one who whips pupils in

koranic classes) shortened as „Anamo‟, the second son of

Balogun Ojuade was married to Ayisat from the Ologbenla

ruling house in Ile - Ife. Ayisat Ojuade had an elder sister named

Ekundore and they were both business women of repute in their

days. Ekundore had no child from her marriage. So, she and her

younger sister Ayisat nurtured and catered for Ayisat‟s two boys

Saka Ojuade and Hussein Ojuade (popularly known as Oseni

Ayilara Okero, my own grand-father). The bond between the two

sisters was so strong that outsiders never knew who truly the

biological mother of the two boys was.

In the early 20th century, there was a family feud

amongst Sanni Anamo Ojuade‟s wives. The intensity and the

seriousness of the crisis led the parent of Ayisat Ojuade to 

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request from Sanni Anamo Ojuade the permission of their

daughter to come to Okeigbo to douse the existing tension. Some

warriors among the Ologbenla ruling family had settled in

Okeigbo after helping the Ondo‟s in a war against the Ikale. The

then Ooni was advised not to allow the warriors including those

warriors from Ologbenla ruling house who had gone to support

the Egins (Ondo) come back to Ile - Ife for fear of deposing the

Ooni. The warriors then settled in Okeigbo. Ayisat Ojuade‟s

father was among the warriors. So, Ayisat Ojuade and her sister

took along the two sons to Okeigbo where they all lived till

1930.

Before Ooni Aderemi ascended the throne in 1930, there

was a serious agitation against the heavy taxation of the regime

before its own. However, one of the promises he made was the

lessening of the tax burden if he became Oba and true to his

words, Ooni Aderemi kept his promise. He fulfilled his promise

by refunding part of the exhorbitant tax to Okeigbo community.

Unfortunately, by the time his emissaries brought the money,

some of the people had gone to farm at Okeodo, the name the

present Ifetedo was called then. So when they arrived from the

farm and they were given the news of the Ooni‟s kind gesture

they were very happy and then demanded for their own share.

But the whole money had been shared by those who were at

home and they refused to make any refund for those who went to

farm. In reaction to that, those who felt cheated decided to

migrate to the other side of the river Oni to Okeodo and renamed

it to Ifetedo, meaning „a town founded with love‟. Amongst the

business people who migrated were Ayisat Ojuade and her sister

Ekundore together with the children now men (Saka and

Hussein). Saka and Hussein later became very influential and

wealthy business men in Ifetedo with many farms and dealing in

cocoa and other farm produce.

Ayisat Ojuade had her properties (land and houses) in

Okeigbo. So, she and her sister went back to Okeigbo after

staying for a few years. They took charge of caring for the eldest

four grand children in Okeigbo. Hussein being a successful 

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businessman had a large polygamous family. Among his

children was Fatai Oladosu, my own father. May Allah bless

their memories for they have all departed to the great beyond.

My Walk and Work in the World of Dance

As earlier stated, I started dancing at about four and half

years old. My father, Alhaji Fatai Oladosu Ojuade was a teacher

at Okeigbo / Ifetedo Grammar School, where he taught Yoruba,

History, Literature. He was involved in cultural activities and

even formed a cultural group for the school aside his own dance

troupe. He taught with the likes of Baba Enoch Adeboye (the

General Overseer of Redeem Christian Church of God), Baba

Colonel Rufus Ogundele, Baba Oludapo, Mr. Akinfesola and

others. I followed him to virtually all the engagements ranging

from house warming, chieftaincy conferment, demonstrative

lectures, workshops, festivals, competitions and several other

events. Also, I took active parts in dance activities while in the

primary school alongside my sisters (Mrs Bashirat Folashade

Muktar – Itai, Mrs Fausat Abiodun Ojudun) and my elder

brother, Wajeed Ayodeji Ojuade - ours was a complete family

troupe. It afforded us the platform to take part in series of dance

competitions at the local levels where we won laurels.

Our troupe became so popular within the communities of

Okeigbo, Ifetedo, Ile - Ife Osogbo, Ibadan, Akure, Ijeshaland and

Ekiti. While our Dad played host to itinerant stage drama

performers like Ishola Ogunsola (I-show pepper), Oyin Adejobi,

Duro Ladipo, Funmilayo Ranco, Moses Olaiya (Baba Sala) and

host of others. Our family troupe partook in some of the dance

activities of that at time:

(i) Representation of the Western Region of Nigeria at the

National Festival of Arts and Culture, Lagos in 1970.

(ii) Representation of the Western Region of Nigeria at the

National Festival of Arts and Culture, Ibadan in 1971.

(iii) Took part in a play „Ogun Onire‟ at the then University

of Ife in 1972.

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(iv) Took part in a dance drama to mark the 10th anniversary

of the University of Ife, Ile - Ife.

(v) Featured as a guest artiste in „Gese Dance‟ on Western

Nigeria Television (WNTV) and Western Nigeria

Broadcasting Services (WNBS), Ibadan in 1976.

(vi) Took part in a re – play of „Ogun Onire‟, as a special

guest at the University of Lagos in 1977.

(vii) Took part in the Black Festival of Arts and Culture in

1977.

(viii) Took part in a performance, „Unity in diversity‟, a

programme of selected Nigerian Dances at the National

Theatre Main Hall, Iganmu, Lagos on 18th October,

1980.

(ix) Took part in a command performance for the President

and Commander – in – Chief of Armed Forces, Alhaji

Aliyu Shehu Shagari at the Liberty Stadium, Ibadan on

18th November, 1980.

(x) Took part in a command performance for the 21st

Regular meeting of the then twelve progressive

Governors in Nigeria at Enugu between 26th

– 28th

March, 1982.

(xi) Took part in command performance for the President,

General I. B. Babangida during his visit to Oyo State in

August, 1991.

(xii) Took part in the 2008 Ife International Festival of Arts at

Institute of African Studies, Obafemi Awolowo

University, Ile – Ife.

In the late 1970‟s, our Dad was transferred to Iwoye

Ijesa to go and start a new school called Iwoye Ijesa Grammar

School in Osun State. He propagated dance and theatre into this

community and ensure that the school became known as the best

in Ife / Ijesa zone. As part of his experiments, I played lead roles

in different historical performances that he wrote which include;

„Oranfe‟, „Obatala‟, Ogun Onire‟, „Aje‟ and others. However in

1982, he requested to be transferred back to Ayanbeku Memorial 

13

Grammar School in Ifetedo, where he further engaged the pupil

in the propagation of our dance culture. He created a „brand‟ out

of Bata and Dundun among his people and enthusiasts.

Branding, which Awodiya (2016) referred to as „‟means to coordinate and package our culture like a product to make it appeal

to our people who will appreciate it first before we ship it abroad

for consumption by foreigners who will buy it”(25).

It was in 1982 while enjoying my usual holiday with my

„big‟ Aunty and the husband in Lagos, Prince and Mrs Albert

Awofisayo, that my father came with the greatest news ever. He

said we were to travel to represent Nigeria at the XII

Commonwealth Games and Warana Festival in Brisbane,

Australia. We were at the National Theatre, Iganmu, Lagos for

about three weeks rehearsing the dance theatre titled „The

Marriage of Princess Sidibe‟, scenario written and directed by

Edith Uche Enem and the music was directed by Professor Akin

Euba. I was the youngest in the troupe and that gave me the

privilege of having close contact with the Queen of England and

her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh at the opening ceremony in

Brisbane.

In 1983, another invitation came for a performance tour

of the Federal Republic of South Korea (a cultural exchange

visit), where we toured and performed in the cities of Kwangju,

Pusan and Seoul. I got so entangled in these dance activities that

it became worrisome for my Mum because of my education. She

wanted me to pitch tent with career in the Legal profession rather

than dancing while my father held on tenaciously that I followed

the part of theatre.

The foggy situation got cleared when my Uncle, Saliu

Olaolu Bello, an epitome of Islam and piety (of blessed

memory), invited me over to Ilorin to see how i can secure a

space having applied to study Performing Arts at the University

of Ilorin in 1988. Unfortunately, the then Dean, Faculty of Arts,

Professor Oludare Olajubu (The Sokoti of Ilare) who happens to

be my father‟s bosom friend told me that I was short of one mark

to meet the cut off for Performing Arts. Rather than wasting 

14

another year, Bro. Aliu Badmus stepped in and linked me up

with Mr. D .F O. Abidoye at the then Kwara State College of

Technology to assist in getting the Interim Joint Matriculation

Board Examination (IJMB) form for Advanced Levels. I was

able to get it and in 1990, I gained direct entry admission into the

Performing Arts to join my new „family members‟, „The

prestigious class of 93‟ (PASA).

Mr. Vice - Chancellor, Sir, I tried my best in hiding my

„street dancing‟ identity all through! Why? I realized that there

was the need to concentrate on the scholarship aspect of the

dance rather than the earlier posture. I tried to avoid distractions

and acquire more knowledge academically. Though, Mama

Sofola, Professors Akinwale, Nasiru and Oyewo knew my

antecedents. I opted to major in Drama during my first degree

and had exposure to „total theatre‟, where dance was used as a

support to stage productions whether it is traditional, modern or

post modern dance. The training gave us the opportunity to blend

the traditional dance steps with the modern oriented ones and

western choreographies as well under the tutorship of Professor

Chris Ugolo.

After graduation and completion of the mandatory

National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) at the Ministry of

Information, Secretariat, Ibadan, Oyo State, I proceeded to the

Institute of African Studies, University of Ibadan, Ibadan, for my

Masters programme and PhD in Dance Studies and Practice. I

need to express my gratitude to the Late Professor Zulu Sofola

who encouraged me to explore other areas of the arts. In fact, she

was instrumental to my majoring in Drama in the Performing

Arts, University of Ilorin and signed my reference forms to study

Dance at the Institute of African Studies, University of Ibadan

where I had the privilege of being taught by Dr Fidelma Okwesa

and Professor Oladele Layiwola (who supervised my PhD). My

research topic at Master‟s level was „The Secularization of Bata

Dance in Southwestern Nigeria: A Study of some Bata Dance

and Theatre Groups‟. The main thrust of the thesis is to unravel

the mysteries surrounding the „Bata‟ culture, bringing it out of its 

15

enclave, the corridors of the „gods‟ or rituals (the worship of

Yoruba gods and the masquerade “egungun‟ tradition, for the

general populace or increasing participation. Bata as a secular art

form with wider application outside religious / ritual context as

expressed by the Alarinjo Travelling Theatre (2002). The major

aim and achievement of this study was to put Bata Dance within

the reach of every enthusiast and would - be performer. The

research covered ample examples of some Bata music ensemble

and dance types.

The academic circle created an inroad for a better

exposure to dance scholarship within the confine of teaching,

research and community services. Aside teaching of dance

courses at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels,

engagement in research activities assisted the students and would

- be dancers as well. Prior exposure to dance and the experiences

of research informed my middle way approach of bridging the

gap between „town‟ and „gown‟.

Mr. Vice - Chancellor, Sir, my first regularization

exercise (interview) was one that will continue to linger in my

memory. We had a long wait and filling in as arranged by the

Registry. I remember when I was called in to meet the panel

headed by the then Vice - Chancellor, Professor Shuaib Oba

AbdulRaheem and I was told to introduce myself. After that, my

file was scanned through to see the documents therein and Mrs

Ololade from the registry looked at me and said „what is in dance

that you went to study? Professor Oba cuts in to say „Now, Iam

back home to my comfort zone. All those previously interviewed

in the Sciences, Engineering, Medicine sound strange to me but

this is the literary world...‟. The encounter of that day at the

University of Ilorin further strengthened and propelled me.

Despite my other degrees in Law (LL.B & LL.M) and Business

Administration (MBA), I remained in performance circle,

creating a nest in Dance Studies and Practice.

In doing this, i identified three major problems

endangering culture preservation and growth in Nigeria, which

are lack of documentation (historically and through archival 

16

storage), research support and the impending stigma attached to

the profession and the practitioners. My background had

nullified the „feelings‟ of such stigma and many thanks to my

father…He trained us „not to listen to the oozing noises from the

market but to be focused and get what brought you into such

market in peace‟. As a young lecturer and researcher, i got

engaged in series of activities bothering on teaching, research,

performances within and outside Nigeria. Out of my meager

salary, I enlisted in professional membership in local, national

and international bodies. This is to facilitate platforms for the

exchange of ideas on Dance culture and practices. I got engaged

in sensitization programmes on the radio, television and

newspaper talking and writing about dance (Bata and Dundun). I

facilitated lecture series and workshops, performances and

discussions between and among experts, scholars and

practitioners as well as my students for better comprehension

and understanding of the arts of dance.

I invited over to the University of Ilorin, Nigeria,

Professor David Whitton in 2009 (who was the Secretary

General of the International Federation for Theatre Research

FIRT/IFTR) from Lancaster University, United Kingdom, where

he gave a Faculty lecture titled „Lifting the Curse of Barbel.

Language Identity and at a theatre in a Post-colonial Global

Context” After the faculty lecture, he had workshops and

discussions with the students of the Performing Arts Department.

In similar vein, I facilitated a workshop / training and

performance by the famous itinerant Ayanagalu International

Group from Erin Osun, Osun State, Nigeria and many others.

These workshops and trainings further exposed our students and

staff to Music and Dance tradition. It was at the peak of building

my career in the academic that death struck and took away a dear

sister and mother, who was instrumental to my plans, Mrs

Faoziyat Lola Kehinde Ali ( May Allah SWT be pleased with

her and grant her aljannah fridaous).

17

Dance is Life and Life is Dance: A Cyclical Nature of Man on

Earth

Mr. Vice – Chancellor, Sir, the ubiquitous nature of

„Man‟ on earth motivated and propelled my interest in this topic.

It simply encapsulates the journey of Man within the Universe

using Dance Allegory. Unequivocally, I have been able to view

and distill „Dance‟ as a universal phenomenon practiced by all

irrespective of colour, race, profession, culture, religion,

ethnicity, geographical location, boundaries, political affiliation,

society and others. This lecture, therefore, highlights some of my

contributions to scholarship and growth in the field of Dance

with reference to Yoruba Bata and Dundun focusing on the

transformations that have occurred in its applications.

Culture in Africa includes the totality of the arts, of

which music and dance form a significant part. Culture is equally

regarded as the way of life of a people (Eagleton, 2000). It has

been emphasized that the greatness of Africa lies in its culture

and not in its science or technology (Nketia, 2001). The Cultural

Policy Document for Nigeria succinctly captured Culture as the

totality of the way of life evolved by a people in their attempts to

meet the challenge of living in their environment, which gives

order and meaning to their social, political, economic, aesthetic

and religious norms and modes of organization thus

distinguishing a people from their neighbors (1988). Among

Yoruba people, this way of life is inseparably bound up with

music and dance.

Music and Dance are like Siamese twins, inseparable

and symbiotically serving each other. Can there be Music

without Dance? Without music and dance, the people cannot

properly create poetry, record history, educate or train children,

celebrate at festivals, praise or abuse, entertain, instruct,

disagree, marry, or bury their dead. Music and Dance in

performance particularly among the Yoruba constitute a primary

site for the production of knowledge.

Dance is regarded as an important aspect of any culture.

It is a very strong device for identifying the culture of a people. 

18

Kaeppler asserts that “an adequate description of a culture

should place the same emphasis on dance as that given it by the

members of that society” (1967:iii). It is thus notable that in

traditional African culture and societies, dance is life. It gives

meaning to virtually all daily activities that human beings are

involved in. It is an integral aspect of their life span; coming into

this world, living in this world, and the consequent exit of

humans from this world. This is succinctly captured by Ojuade

(2004) in his description of dance situations in Nigeria:

Thus, before a child is brought into this world, the

mother feels or experiences internal movement of the yet-to-beborn baby, therefore, the baby‟s arrival into this world elicits

dancing activities of joyful movements (238). In African

societies, participation in music / dance may be a voluntary

activity or an obligation by one‟s membership of a social group

(Nketia, 1975: 35). Public performance is required on social

occasions, where members of a group or a community assemble

for the purpose of leisure, recreation, performance of a rite,

ceremony, festival or any collective activity.

Music tradition in traditional Yoruba culture features in

every aspect of human life right from childhood to adulthood.

The combination of music and dance in Yoruba culture gives life

to the people. From the moment of birth, the young individual is

exposed to strong musical stimuli. Cradle songs are sung to

babies when they are on their mothers‟ back; these are

accompanied by simple dance steps, giving meaning to the

rhythm. The infant is thereby introduced from the earliest age to

vocal and instrumental music in addition to the movement that

accompanies it. As soon as the child is old enough, he or she is

encouraged to sing and imitate simple dance movements. Smith

(1962, 75 - 77) observes:

Most West African children are encouraged to dance

as soon as they can walk. By the age five, they have

learned the primary elements of festival dances, and by

six they are able to dance with adolescents with

accurate rhythm, dance patterns and song.

19

The above asserts clearly that music and dance

performance among the Yoruba, constitute a primary site for the

production of knowledge. Bakare (1994:2) looks at dance as

“the rhythmic movement of the human body in time and space to

make statements”. Essentially, dance thrives on living

experiences. Thus, it paves ways for its transmission from

generation to generation which reflects the changes in social

conditions.

Since we know that music and dance are Siamese twins,

it goes without saying that musical instruments have a role to

play in dance. Musical instruments can be classified into varying

forms; such as Idiophones (self sounding instruments when

struck), Aerophone (blown instruments which require use of air

through the opening of the musical instrument, Chordophones

(stringed instruments with string attached to the body of the

instrument which are plucked or strummed with the hand to

produce sound, and Membranophones (instruments with

membrane). For the purpose of this lecture, analysis of music

and dance culture will be premised on the Yoruba Bata and

Dundun.

The Phenomena Dance Culture

What exactly is Dance? In African societies, dance

serves as a major aspect of the people‟s modes of expression.

Dance emanated from the ritual or religious worship or

recreational/social activities. It is regarded as a major art and an

essential element in the celebration of events connected with

every aspect of human life. The events range from the birth of a

new baby to growing up and display of last respect for the dead.

It thus symbolizes the profound truths about the complexity of

human existence and gives meaning to life. Dance activities in

Nigeria are communal - oriented, participatory by all and natural.

From a historical perspective, dance is one of the first human

activities which did not directly serve the mere survival of man.

The experience of dance came as man‟s effort of expressing 

20

individual and collective feelings. Such existence of dance in the

early periods of man may be witnessed only by pictorial

representations, carved images of primitive people on the walls

of the caves. The pictures were created in phases, showing the

developmental stages of man within his cultural environment.

The developmental processes of human societies have shown

that their survival is predicated on a functional association in

which men became a part of the broad communities and their

activities were regulated by their social needs. The individual

dances ceded place to group dances according to the needs of the

people in that community. For instance, in Nigeria, the Ogun

dance of the South-western zone, specifically Ondo, grew out of

individual display of nuances to organize Obitun dance. Also,

the Yoruba Bata dancer‟s virtuoso display of arms, body and

adroit leg movements show a resemblance of the Yoruba god of

thunder‟s (Sango) movement idiom.

Dance applications in Nigeria transcend „the unborn‟,

„the living‟ and „the dead‟ as illustrated with Soyinka‟s schema

on the cycle of life (1976:148). It is held that a baby dances in

the womb of a pregnant woman during the gestation period.

When the young individual is born alive, dancing journey

continues. Growing up to adulthood, the baby naturally or

through learning, as part of the village life or environment, is

exposed to dancing. Also, as he completes his cycle in life, he

dances on to the grave (based on the activities which involve

dancing). That is why Africans have continued to express their

very being in dances, which encapsulate their fears,

relationships, anxieties, joys and sorrows. Hence, Gorer (1962)

observes in his studies of some ethnic groups in West Africa

that:

Africans dance for joy, and they dance for grief; they

dance for love and they dance for hate; they dance to

bring prosperity and they dance to avert calamity; they

dance for religion and they dance to pass the time

(213).

21

As such, from birth, the African people are introduced into a

world of body language, rhythm, patterned awareness and

structured expressions which help their communion with the

environment (ecology). Dance, to the Yoruba, is one of the

attributes that defines a person and which integrates one fully as

a member of the society (Ajayi, 1998:4).

According to Drewal (1991), this raises fundamental

issues about body praxis, human agency, temporality, and

discursive knowledge and calls into question conventional

understanding of tradition, repetition, mechanical reproduction,

and ontological definitions of social order and reality. Baxter

(1970) noted that through eye-to-eye contact between the

otherwise isolated island populations, dance and music

performances easily overcame the colonial language divide in

terms of a shared performance heritage that had successfully

resisted and survived imperial oppression. Dance, therefore, is

popular, widespread and universal to all, regardless of age, sex

and social status.

There are always new development in dance with the

expression of abstract ideas and possibility it gives to man for

physical relaxation as well as emotional release. Scientists have

observed that movement is essential to both human beings and

animals for the release of emotional tension caused by both

joyful and painful events. Dancing, this is one of the most

dynamic and popular art forms in Nigeria, serves a vital function

in human society in order to achieve social cohesion or

togetherness, causing human beings to feel a deep sense of

communion with one another. Dance is an integral part of

African life in the real and metaphysical spheres of existence. It

is an aesthetic, non - verbal expression continually created and re

- created by countless performers and interpreters for several

generations. It is however embodied in human action.

The social and cultural occasions at which these dances

are performed have to do with individual or group celebrations.

For example, most rite of passage dances deal with individuals

who move from one status of life to another. It may be 

22

accompanied by friends and relations. Also, dance takes place at

naming ceremonies, coronations, festivals, feasts, communal

purification and cleansing. Thus, Strine et al. (1989:183) state

that performance as a concept is contentious, “which indicates

that its existence is bound up in disagreement about what it is,

and that disagreement over its essence is itself part of the

essence”. In Nigeria context, dance performance is conceived as

a primary site for the production of knowledge, where

philosophy is enacted and a means by which people reflect on

their current conditions, divine or re-invents themselves and their

social world.

Considering the above, dance performance may be

regarded as an artistic expression predicated on movement; it has

also been aptly described as a dramatic phenomenon induced by

a psychological state (Layiwola, 1991:19-27).

The various ethnic dances in Nigeria could be

recognized functionally within a homogenous society as

religious ritual, as an expression of social organization, and a recreative process. Religion or ritual, which is one of the major

sources of dance in Nigeria, regulates the relationship between

the members of the society and the supernatural powers which

are strongly believed to be in control of human activities. Such

could be exemplified in the famous Osun Osogbo festival, Olojo

festival in Ile - Ife, Sango (god of thunder and lightning)

worship, Obatala worship, Egungun (masquerade) festival etc. It

is a central element in a ceremony or festival and it is seen as an

act of worship by members of religious cults.

Social dances, on the other hand, change with time,

based on the creativity of the various artists. In its function as an

expression of social organization, dance safeguards the

traditionally established social and political hierarchy and

equally emphasizes the standard of behavior and instructs on

morals within the society. Such examples are dances that are

purely restricted to the royal personalities, cult dances and age

grade dances. It is often performed by groups or teams of

dancers, which clearly states their status in the enabling society. 

23

It may be a part of a festival performance or simply for

entertainment. Re-creative process dance could be an expression

of talent or display of expertise. The dance gives room for

improvisation. Such dancers are usually found at various

relaxation centers and social functions, or in their private homes.

Nigeria encompasses a profusion of ethnic groups (with

over four hundred (400) ethnic groups), though classified

traditional under the three dominant groups of Hausa, Igbo and

Yoruba. Today, Nigeria as a nation houses thirty -six states with

different dances in their cultural environments. However, each of

the societies predominantly depends on oral tradition, with

human sounds, gesticulations, shapes, patterns and symbols as

their primary tools for communication (Yerima, 2003{216). This

is because dance reflects the socio-political, religious, economic,

philosophical and aesthetic life of a people. It thus becomes

obvious that there are specific dances tailored to specific

occasions in Nigeria. Every major stage of human development

ranging from birth of a baby, growing up and his eventual exit

from a given society has dances which are done not just for

dance‟s sake. The dances are associated with ceremonies, rites

and festivities which characterize such stages. Therefore,

traditional dance forms a major part of society‟s religious, social,

ancestral and existential reality.

The history of dance art in Nigeria indicates its passage

through three major phases as observed and identified by

Amankulor (1986:3) and Ajayi (1986:1). Prior to the arrival of

Europeans in Nigeria, the ethnic groups that make up its present

political entity lived in relative isolation. The art of dance

permeated all important events in the society, be it political,

religious, social or economical. The traditional dances of the

people developed, while creativity was freely encouraged within

the limits of the norms and conventions of the people. The

dances at this period can be divided into five main categories as

identified by Enem (1975): 115-116, 68-115), namely; Religious

/ Ritual Dances, Rite of Passage Dances, Vocational Dances,

Recreational Dances and Political Themes.

24

The dances in Nigeria that we can claim ownership to

can be viewed from three basic phases of the nation‟s

development - these are the pre-colonial, the colonial and the

post-colonial phases (Ojuade, 2005:367). The illustration

showing the development of dance clearly indicates that dances

could be classified and analyzed in varying categories. They

involve those dances that survived and thrived within individual

communities (traditional) and which are experienced raw; those

making waves in the academic environment (modern oriented);

and those that are prototypes of the western world, that is very

prominent in use, and which are considered as the blending of

both traditional and modern, based on the creative ability of the

dancers or practitioners. Each of the phases has recorded success

in dance. Currently, the dance culture in Nigeria is gradually

drifting into a mixture of the phases. The colonial experience in

Nigeria‟s history brought a heavy influence on Nigerian dances.

It actually gave a dual face to the existing dances, which makes

them to reflect the dance culture of the Europeans, the

Americans or Latin Americans rather than that of the traditional

Nigerian. The inclusion of Western oriented instruments in

Nigerian music, equally informs changes in Nigerian dance

patterns as well as dance costumes.

The Yoruba Bata and Dundun in Performance:

The Myth - Historical Origin of Bata

Bata, belongs exclusively to the Yoruba. It is a difficult,

calculative, energy-sapping, indigenous Yoruba dance, which in

the remote past, was associated exclusively with the worship of

different deities, especially Sango, the Yoruba god of thunder

and lightning. Evidence from research on Yoruba origin revealed

that there are many theories and myths surrounding it. Idowu

(1962:4) observes that the Yoruba comprise several clans which

are bound together by language, traditions, and religious beliefs

and practices. He states further that “the question of their origin

is still a debatable subject, since we do not yet possess adequate 

25

materials out of which we can build up the history of their

beginnings”.

Stories relating to origin of the Yoruba have been

described in books written by scholars such as Johnson (1921),

Biobaku (1971) and Omosade (1979), based on individual

sources and retentive memory of events derived from folktales,

mythologies of creation, fables and moral stories. Bata is a music

culture that extends beyond the phenomenon of dance. Ogunba

and Irele (1978) claim that Sango was an ancestor, deified and

worshipped by the people. Bata was used to accompany Sango

and Egungun who were both relations and inseparable.

Baderinwa Abefe Oladosu (in an interview) explained

that Sango, who was referred to as „Oba ko so‟ (The King did

not hang) was once a traditional king in Old Oyo Ajaka. During

his reign, Timi and Gbonka were his warriors. He noted that

Sango and Egungun were friends, but Egungun was older.

Interestingly, Bata music accompanied both of them on social

occasions. After the death of Egungun, Bata, as an

accompaniment, became solely associated with Sango. Later,

Sango ascended to heaven to avoid an impending humiliation

from his rebellious warriors. Gbonka plotted to overthrow and

annihilate him. On his final journey, Sango summoned the Bata

drummer, who accompanied him to the point of demise.

Gbadamosi Adebisi claimed that it was one ace -

drummer known as „Saate‟ who made an innovation in the

musical instruments used in Bata dance performance. It is also to

him that we owe the information on Bata Koto (an original form

of Bata instrument, which consisted of a set of calabashes, each

covered with animal membrane and each having a cloth strap by

which it was hung around the drummer‟s neck with the drum

resting in front of him. It was beaten with one hand and a stick).

26

Complete set of Bàtá drums.

Sango was a beautiful and skillful dancer, and Saate an expert

drummer. Their acquaintance blossomed into a beautiful

relationship of mutual dependence. They always performed

together at festivals and other public ceremonies so much so that

people came to associate them with each other and always

looked out for their joint performance.

However, as the oral tradition has it, Sango and Saate

fell out over the sharing of some gifts obtained at a performance.

Saate felt he had been cheated and withdrew his services. At

first, Sango thought he could go it alone and people began to run

away from him, taking him for a mad man; “Sango has gone

mad”! They said. It was not long before he sent his wife, Oya, to

make peace between him and his friend and drummer, Saate.

Truly they say “a lover‟s quarrel is but the renewal of love.” So

much sweeter and stronger did Sango and Saate‟s friendship

become that it was said that whenever they were eating together

(usually from the same bowl) Sango would say;

„Iwo onibata a mi, meran

Ti mo ba ti ri iyonu re

Mo ti mo pe eko ni‟.

(My Bata drummer, pick a piece of meat,

When I behold your softened heart

I know it is a lesson).

27

It was obvious that he (Sango) discovered that it was Saate‟s

drums that added glamour to his dancing.

So closely associated did Sango become with Bata music

that later on, after his deification, his adherents claimed,

whenever they heard the clap of thunder, that it was Omele

Ako‟s sound that Saate was drumming for Sango‟s delight and

Sango was dancing up there, by the flashes of lightning. So, not

even death could separate Sango from his Bata music.

Saate‟s mastery of Bata is legendary; sometimes he used

his drums to warn people of Sango‟s magical power and to

praise him due to his ability to move his body accordingly too.

Such lines are :

A f‟eni ti kogila kolu

A f‟eni Esu n se

L‟ole ko lu Esu

L‟ole ko lu Sango

A f‟eni ti Sango o pa,

(It‟s only someone who has been bedeviled

It‟s only someone who has been possessed by Esu

That will attack Esu

That will attack Sango

Only he who wants to be killed.)

Saate reported that Sango loved Bata dearly, so much so that if

he was eating his best food, and the sound of Bata music is

heard, he would abandon the food and prefer to dance.

Meanwhile, each time Sango went on a dancing tour,

Saate would keep warning and informing people where to meet

and see Sango in action. For instance:

Sango de e fie nu mo enu

Ero oja p‟ara mo

Inu oja la nlo

Ero oja p‟ara mo

Oju oja la nlo

28

P‟ara mo, p‟ara mo, p‟ara mo

(Sango is here!

Let everyone keep mute

Market men and women take cover

We are advancing to the marketplace

Market men and women take cover

We are proceeding to the centre of the market

Hide yourself, hide yourself, hide yourself!!!)

Bode Osanyin (1996) posited that the foundation of Bata in

Nigeria was more of a mythological and even religious than

factual history. He claimed that Bata is attributed to Sango and

the music is dedicated to the worship of certain gods or orishas.

Anthony King (1961:1 - 4) believes that the variety of dialects

among the Yoruba people is a factor for the versions of

traditional music and songs in use.

Alhaji Fatai Ojuade (1996) explained that Sango in his

lifetime was a warrior and any time he wanted to go to war, he

liked dancing to fast music in preparation for war. It was as if

Bata rhythms prepared him for war. He revealed that Sango used

to call for a drum (music) that could stimulate him and suit his

purpose. At the initial stage, Gangan (hour glass drum) was

brought for him but it failed until the sound of Omele meji gave

Sango the expected stimulation he needed.

Yoruba Dundun:

Dundun ensembles exist functionally and in practically

all parts of Yorubaland. In affirmation of this, Oba Laoye (1959,

10 -11) included Dundun drums to be among “those drums that

are found in use anywhere in Yorubaland”. The Dundun is part

of the geographical belt of hourglass drums in West Africa,

which in turn have links with hourglass drum areas in other parts

of the world. The West African distribution of Dundun has been

amply documented by Hause (1948) and Thieme (1969) and

defines the West African area as “stretching from Senegal at 

29

least as far south as the Cameroon Republic”. In Nigeria, the

tension drums are popular and in use in the North particularly

among the Hausa Fulani. It also exists among the Edo people but

seems to be unknown to the people of Eastern Nigeria.

The myths surrounding the origin of Dundun are of

varying ones as relayed and handed over with different versions.

Oba Laoye 1 (1959,10) submits that:

Dundun was first used by Ayan, a native of Saworo in

Ibaribaland. He taught some Yoruba families the art of

drumming and he was so loved by them that they

deified him after his death.

In support of Kabiyesi‟s assertion, Yesufu Ayankunle, the leader

of his personal Dundun ensemble claimed that dundun originated

from Saworo and from there went to Oyo and from there spread

to other parts of Yorubaland.

However another version by Laisi Ayansola affirmed

that Dundun started in Oyo and that it came to Oyo from Ile - Ife

because Ife was the place of origin of the entire Yoruba race.

On his part, Salami Ladokun, one of the drummers of the Alaafin

of Oyo, stated that it was Alaafin Atiba who introduced Dundun

to Oyo and, apparently, to other Yoruba towns.

Darius Thieme reported on the myth of Dundun origin a

direct conversation with Oba Laoye 1, and which states that the

introduction of the Dundun dates from the time of the Yoruba

migration into their present homeland, prior to the founding of

Ife, their migratory route having crossed the territory inhabited

by the Ibariba.

Meanwhile, the symbiotic relationships between music

and dance are premised on the conversations that go on among

the drums (instruments) which the dancer aesthetically interprets.

So, what then is the language of the drums?

The Language of the Drums

A glimpse into the life of African people indicates that

they have used drum telegraphy to communicate with each other 

30

from far away for centuries. The European expeditions of Africa

into the jungles to explore the local forest were reported prior to

their arrival, through message of their coming and their intention

was carried through the woods. An African message can be

transmitted at the speed of 100 miles in an hour (Davis, 2011).

Leonard Bloomfield, a linguist, simply defined language as the

„totality of utterances that can be made in a speech community

(cited in Chomsky, 1986:16).

While Edward Sapir, a language scholar of repute

defined language as “a purely human, non – instinctive method

of communicating ideas, emotions and desires by means of

voluntarily produced symbols” (Crystal, 1997:400).

The above definitions implies that language is an asset to

man, and is by far one of the greatest, most complex and most

enigmatic possessions, the quintessence of his humanity, without

which individuals and nations lose their mental and cultural

heritage (Essien, 1990: 168). The transferred effect of

complexities of language as it relates to drums is the root cause

of the varying forms of dances in use today. What then is the

language of the drums?

In application, the language of the drums can take

different forms, which are:

(a) The Direct Language of the drum

(b) The Drum Language that comes as a Metaphor

(c) The Indirect Language of the drum

In Africa, language creates a typical identity which is a source of

distinction. It has been observed especially in Nigeria that the

difference in language from one ethnic configuration to another

is very prominent. Such is a reflection of their culture and ways

of life.

In other words, the inherent methodologies involved in

the trade, which leads to linguistically mode of communication,

are essential to language formations. This aspect can be

compared with a learner of a new language or a baby who is in

the stage of making statements or forming sentences. There are 

31

basic steps to follow in such situations, which includes

identification of alphabets, syllables, words and sentences. The

steps as enumerated here, if adhered to, will assist the drummer

in his direction and will afford him the competence to fully take

charge of the performance(s).

Description of Fatai Oladosu Ojuade and his group in

performance

Ojuade‟s International troupe was headed by Late Alhaji

(Chief) Fatai Oladosu Adisa Ojuade, who doubles as the founder

and owner of the troupe. The troupe specializes in both bata and

dundun dance culture of the Yoruba people. Alhaji Ojuade was

the director, manager / lead dancer of the group. He equally

holds decision making power as it relates to the group in his

hands. The group comprises of male and female, dancers and

drummers as well. They are Chief Mayowa O. Adewoyin

(dancer), Tumbi Teroko (dancer), Bashirat F. Ojuade (now Mrs

Folashade Muktar – Itai), Fausat A. Ojuade (now Mrs Fausat

Ojudun), Wajeed A. Ojuade (dancer), Jeleel O. Ojuade (dancer),

Oladosu Abefe (lead drummer, Bata), Oladokun (drummer),

Kareem (drummer), Yekeen (drummer), Sowumi Adedapo (lead

drummer, Dundun), Sobade Adedapo (drummer), Alhaji

Rasheed Adedapo (drummer) and Lateef Adedapo (drummer).

The young Ojuade developed an interest in Yoruba cultural

heritage early in life. This was occasioned by his acquaintance

with an expert bata drummer whose name was Okunlola, who

occasionally visits Ifetedo from his home base in Ibadan.

Okunlola was reputed to have taught many expert bata

drummers in the South-West of Nigeria. The young Ojuade was

greatly inspired by him. He never missed an opportunity to

watch his bata performance anytime the drummer was in town.

From listening or merely watching, he graduated to dancing to

Okunlola‟s bata drumming anytime he was around. Later,

Ojuade was to groom his own bata master drummer – Late

Baderinwa Abefe Oladosu, who was then under the training of

Okunlola.

32

However, his father the (older Ojuade) did not cherish

the idea of a career in dance for his young son, mostly because of

Islamic injunctions against dance. But an uncle of his, Mr. J. A.

Gbadebo who saw the boy‟s interest, enthusiasm, dancing skill

and prowess was instrumental in encouraging and spurring him

on. Later, the elder Ojuade yielded, prayed for his son and even

bought him the costume and paraphernalia needed for this art.

In 1970, he formed a bata and dundun dance troupe built around

members of his own family, with a handful of outsiders. He

started a troupe consisting of eight drummers and eight dancers

including himself. The Ojuade performing troupe has a style of

presentation that is flexible and variable. On account of his wide

experience of joint performances with other performing groups,

it is quite at home wherever it is placed in the programme of

events. In thist type of situation, it is the organizers who

determine the order in which the group will appear. For example,

Ojuade‟s troupe entertained Kabiyesi Ooni Adesoji Aderemi

regularly in his palace and had prestigious outing in 1980 when

Oba Okunade Sijuwade was crowned the Ooni of Ife. On that

occasion, the Ojuade performing troupe had the pride of place of

being the first to perform, to usher in the ruler from the inner

chambers of the palace to Enuwa square.

33

Ojúadé & his International Troupe in Performance

 

Young Jeleel Ojúadé demonstrating Ìjà-fáfá-ti-fáfá (at

middle & low level), a replica of Àbìda form of Bàtá, at the

XXII Commonwealth Games & Warana Festival in

Brisbane, Australia in 1982.

At the Progressive Governor‟s performance in Enugu (as earlier

referred to in this lecture), the group was placed fourth in the

order of performance. Again, it is not always the case that the

full complement of the Ojuade performing troupe is called to

perform in such joint performances. A demand can be made by 

34

the organizers for the group to supply a few drummers and

dancers to join other artistes for a special performance.

The climax of the troupe‟s performance was on the

invitation of the Federal Government of Nigeria, through the

National Theatre of Nigeria to represent the country in a

performance. We had the privilege of working with experts from

the field of dance and music and artistes drawn from different

parts of the country which include; the Oji Anya Lere dancers

from Amasiri, Afikpo, Rambo Dancers from then Kwara but

now Kogi, Nkim Nkat from Cross River State and Atta Dabai

Group from Katsina.

However, when it is performing by itself in a programme

where it is possibly the sole or major performer, it has a regular

style of presentation. The Ara-bi-n-ti-nko dance is always the

first item on the programme. This item features the youngest

members of the bata troupe. The lead drummer ushers in with

Ara-bi-n-ti-nko drum beat. They enter in a single file

demonstrating various patterns of bata movements. They go into

a frontal formation i.e. in a single line facing the audience. After

this frontal formation has taken place, lead drummer signals the

beginning of the solo items. The dancers who are trained to listen

for signals are ready. So, the lead drummer now commences to

call forth the dancers one after the other to perform their various

solos. There can be between two and four Ija-fafa-ti-faafa

performance to go on. When it pleases him, he can stop the Ijafafa-ti-faafa and call out the next one tela-tele-tijala-tela-tijala.

There is no fixed time and there is no fixed order. The

lead drummer on Iya Ilu is completely at liberty to invite

whichever dancer he wants on stage. But he controls every

moment of their performance. It is the sum total of the Ija-fafa-tifaafa and tela-tela-tijala-tela-tijala dances that make up the Arabi-ti-nko.

At the end of this performance, the lead drummer signals

the exit of the Ara-bi-ti-nko dancers, they move to the corner of

the stage to let in the main bata dancers – the adults. These are

ushered in with more vigorous dance beats than that of the Ara-

35

bi-ti-nko dance. Once on stage, the Ara-bi-ti-nko dancers team

up with the principal bata dancers for a joint dance which is

brought to a climax after which the group salute the audience

either by prostrating in the Yoruba fashion or giving a military

salute. Thereafter, the lead drummer signals to the dancers to

move backstage. Then the lead drummer, as he has previously

done with Ara-bi-ti-nko dancers, commences to call forth the

principal bata solo dancers for their various / individual

performances, in which the leader of the troupe perform last. The

principal dancers perform essentially the same item with the

difference only that their performance is more detailed and

professional. In other words, it is more skilled, polished and

professional version of Ara-bi-n- ti n ko dancers that is

exhibited.

When the principal dancers have all had their solo, the

Ara-bi-n-ti nko dancers now team up with them for the final

dance. This signals the end of the performance. Again, they

salute the audience as they exit, usually accomplished with a

tumultuous applause.

In all, a performance can take a few minutes as the

leader, Alhaji Fatai Oladosu Adisa Ojuade does not like longer

performances. This is not to say that occasions do not occur

when the whole array of bata dance forms like Gbamu, Elekoto,

Elesee are displayed, but such occasions are rare.

Incidentally, his last major performance (Gese dance)

before his death was at the book launch of Professor Jacob

Kehinde Olupona NNOM of Harvard University, Cambridge,

Massachusetts, USA) on Thursday, December 12, 2012 at the

Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA), Lagos.

Performance Description of Lamidi Ayankunle (Ayanagalu)

and his group

Ayanagalu International group was headed by Alhaji

Lamidi Ayankunle, an expert drummer who hails from Iyaloja‟s

compound in Erin Osun. Erin Osun is a small rural town about

five kilometers from Osoogbo. He was the founder and the 

36

leader of the group. Alhaji Lamidi Ayankunle was born to a

father who migrated from Erin - Ile in the present day Kwara

State. He was born into the art of drumming.

It has been observed that since the 1950‟s, Erin Osun

artists (drummers and dancers) have been involved in the

propagation, practice and the preservation of arts in Osogbo. It

was believed to have been an off – shoot of an organized

network of Yoruba theatre companies (see Adekola 1995; Barber

and Ogundijo 1994) made up of series of workshops and a

number of lively local performances.

Ayanagalu International Group comprises of seasoned

and experienced dancers and drummers. It consists of male and

female artists, namely Alhaji Lamidi Ayankunle – the lead

drummer / leader and founder of the group. The next in rank is

the leader of the dancers, Ojetunde Ajayi, Kazeem Adurolu

(drummer), Rafiu Ayankunle (drummer), Taofeek Ajangila

(dancer), Busayo Ajangila Ojekunle (dancer), Sherif Ajangila (a

young boy who is also a dancer), Wahab Ayankunle (drummer),

Muyideen Ayankunle (drummer), Musiliyu Ayankunle

(drummer) and Musefiu Ayankunle (drummer).

This group started their career (drumming and dancing)

around the towns and neighbouring villages especially during the

worships of the Yoruba deities. They did not only graduate to

performances beyond the local terrain, but with training and

teaching of drumming and dancing bata and dundun specifically.

This particular „act‟ has taken the group members to virtually all

the corners of the world in order to participate in organized

workshops, seminars, festivals, command performances and

training and teaching people (would – be bata and dundun

dancers and musicians).

Every performance of Ayanagalu group is a variety

show, dance, spectacle, and revue. Ayanagalu group in

performance takes the form of the famous Alarinjo masquerade

dancers but with a little difference. In the popular Alarinjo

Travelling theatre, bata was virtually represented as an

accompaniment for their dances and dramas as presented by the 

37

troupes like Eiyeba, Adeogun and Aladokun from Ikirun (whose

main drum was Igbin, but who often used bata), Aiyelabola,

Lebe, Ajangila from Iragberi, Lasisi Alijonnu from Oyo, and

later Agbegijo and Ajof‟eebo. They are renowned bata dancers

and drummers, whose families, and lineages are linked with the

worship of Sango and / or the Egungun (masquerades). The

activities of the Alarinjo Troupes support Williams J. and Judith

Hannah‟s (1972:238) in their views that:

African dance introduces and maintains the cultural

patterns; eases socio-psychological tension; encourages

the fulfillment of such goals as reproduction work and

military activities, expresses the religious order and

strengthens the feeling of social solidarity.

Joel Adedeji‟s (1978:44) perception of bata in performances of

the Alarinjo troupes shows its numerous duties and a special

order is followed in every program. The performance opens with

scintillating drum texts and powerful introduction of the group

(Ayanagalu) to the audience. The drum roll brings the dancers

(both old and young) on to the stage with a free-for-all dance

(improvised steps). It continues for a while, giving the audience

varieties of styles and forms of Yoruba dance movements. At a

particular point, during the performance, the lead drummer,

(Alhaji Lamidi Ayankunle) picks up the Iya – Ilu, praises,

communicates deeply calling on or at times praying for a

successful outing. This consists of the Ijuba, the homage and the

pledge, followed by a period of dancing, acrobatic displays and

ballad singing.

The lead drummer goes into a familiar tune, and the

other drummers, having dropped Dundun for Bata, join in what

can be referred to as the „introductory dance‟. The

aforementioned praises serve as stop – gaps for the dancers to

get ready costume – wise and take their cues. As the dance

progresses, the lead drummer goes into another interesting tune,

which depends on the arrangement agreed on with the dancers on

who comes first. Here, the drummers bring one after the other 

38

different dance steps / forms / styles of the Yoruba gods and their

nuances are paraded to the audience. Moreover, different types

of Bata movements such as Gbamu, Eja, Elesee and Elekoto are

exhibited and clearly demonstrated in dance and music.

In performance, the individual dancers face the audience,

thereby displaying their knowledge of the drums and the

interpretation of such in movements in form of solo

performance. This style gives the audience the opportunity to

formally assess the dancers and probably criticize each of the

dancers. At the same time, the drummers engage in a series of

cultural / talent displays on their drums. The drummers

seemingly break the tradition of Bata or the convention guiding

Yoruba language speakers. It is a rule that the younger ones

should accord the elderly respect when talking and not interject

or interfere. But in performance, Ayanagalu group has

experimented with the drummer on Omele meji, using his

medium to make clear and audible statements on the drum.

This method is very common among the musicians, and

it is employed for aesthetic purposes. The acquisition of skills in

the art of Bata and Dundun drumming and the subsequent

expertise is based on one‟s readiness. Alhaji Ayankunle stated

that in order to learn fast, there is a need for such a learner to:

(i) Set his / her mind into the „art‟ or „act‟

(ii) Be versatile in the art of drumming and

(iii)Get improvement through trial of different drums (bata

and dundun ensemble).

Bata dancer naturally is athletic and gives a good shape to the

human frame. The dance is difficult in practice, but aesthetically

pleasing to the watching audience. The dance is predicated on

talents. It is a gift, which can equally be acquired as a skill

through teaching.

Ayanagalu group has trained a lot of people in the arts of

drumming and dancing including foreigners who are interested

in Yoruba bata and dundun dance culture, including Professor

(Chief) Debra Klein in the United States of America and 

39

Ayantunde Anselm Ramacher in Germany. The philosophers

have tried to decipher the cyclic nature of the earth, while this

lecture takes a total approach in looking at the concept of „Man‟s

entire journey through life. Looking at the cycle, Man at will join

in the cycle but with a time frame determined only by the

Supreme Being. It is a movement that has a beginning, middle

and an end.

However, Dance is the only universal language of

expression irrespective of the profession, society, group,

organization, government and all but with least attention. Dance

exudes happiness, promotes unity, attracts followers, douses

tension, heals, educates and functions positively in other

applications. How come we do not recon with our dances? We

only remember „Dance‟ when we are desperate to achieve a task!

Such example is during religious /ritual events and socio –

cultural activities. During campaign for elections, our politicians

dance till eternity. How come it is difficult to preserve our

dances, to create archives for the documentation of this rich

cultural aspect of our life? A people‟s dance forms part of their

histories. Have we pondered to ask or answer the question: What

is your dance in Life? Unfortunately, the period of human dance

on earth is „short‟ but within a cycle. Therefore, „Dance is Life

and Life is Dance‟.

My Contributions to the Development and Growth of Dance

in Nigeria

Mr. Vice - Chancellor, Sir, prior to my employment at

the University of Ilorin, I have had the privilege and honour to

contribute largely to the growth and development of Dance

culture in Nigeria through my late Dad‟s troupe (Ojuade and his

International Group) at the local, national and international

levels. At different times from the early 1970‟s, we represented

the western region in competitions which won several laurels. In

addition, the troupe participated in theatrical activities at the state

and federal levels between 80‟s and early 90‟s, particularly at the

National Theatre of Nigeria where we performed with artistes 

40

from different parts of Nigeria. We had collaborative

performance with the Institute of Cultural Studies at the then

University of Ife, where we worked with Peggy Harper and her

team. Also, we were part of representation of Nigeria

internationally particularly at the XII Commonwealth Games and

Warana Festival in Brisbane, Australia in 1982 and at another

cultural exchange performance tour of the Republic of South

Korea in 1983. Here, we performed a dance drama titled, „The

Marriage of Princess Sidibe‟ written and choreographed by Edith

Uche Enem.

I joined the services of the University of Ilorin at a

critical point in time. The department was on the verge of being

merged with the English department due to the fact that there

was no one to teach the dance arm of the Performing Arts. I was

like the umbilical cord that saved the department at that moment.

I taught all the courses in Dance with supervision across all

levels, Undergraduate, Master‟s and Doctorate. The teaching

experience transcends the University of Ilorin. As a guest

scholar, I taught and presented academic papers at different part

of the world including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

(MIT), MA, Boston University, Boston, MA, USA; Harvard

University, Cambridge, MA, USA; Swansea Metropolitan

University (UK); Johannes Gutenberg University at Mainz

(Germany); Indiana University, Indianapolis, USA; University of

Warwick, UK; University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg,

South Africa; Kingston, Jamaica; Maryland, USA; Centre for

Comparative Literature, University of Toronto, Canada;

University of Missouri, St. Louis, USA; University of Bahia

(UNEB), Salvador - Bahia, Brazil; University of Cape Coast,

Cape Coast, Ghana; Osaka University, Toyonaka Campus,

Osaka, Japan; Goldsmiths, University of London, UK; York

University, Toronto, Canada; University of Stellenbosch, South

Africa; Brasilia, Brazil; University of Botswana, Gaborone,

Botswana; Georgia Centre for Continuing Education, Africa

Studies Institute, University of Georgia, Athens, USA;

University of Texas at Austin, USA; Division of Performing Arts 

41

and Film, Video, Chung - Ang University, Seoul, Republic of

Korea; Helsinki, Finland; Athens, Greece among others.

I got myself actively involved in research and

publication especially in my specialized field of dance, using the

medium of Yoruba Bata and Dundun to produce, publish and

present academic papers at local, national and international

media in form of Journal articles and chapters in books by

outstanding publishing houses.

In adding value to the growth and development of the

University, I facilitated a free donation of a 40 foot container of

medical equipment that worth over Four Hundred Million of

naira by Project cure with their headquarters in Denver,

Colorado, USA. In the same vein, I got a Two Million dollars

donation from the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) for

the construction of Engineering Laboratory and got free books at

different times into the University Library among others.

I have attended several conferences, trainings and

workshops and made over fifty presentations. I have attracted

research grants from within and outside the country in

furtherance of my passion to contribute to and expand my

frontiers of knowledge through research. I benefited from the

African Humanities Program (AHP) of the American Council for

Learned Societies - ACLS in 2014 for a Post – Doctoral

Fellowship and research program. With this grant, I was able to

facilitate a partnership between my department, the Performing

Arts and the National Theatre of Ghana and initiated and

facilitated the visit of HE President John Dramani Mahama

(former President of the Republic of Ghana) to the University of

Ilorin where he delivered the 40th Anniversary Convocation

Address on the 23rd October, 2015. Also, facilitated a bilateral

relationship between the National Troupe of Nigeria and the

National Theatre of Ghana. As a matter of fact, the National

Theatre of Ghana on my request sent their troupe to come and

perform at that year‟s convocation ceremony free of charge. I

also facilitated and won the Carnegie African Diaspora

Fellowship Program (ADF) in 2014. I need to recognize the 

42

personal efforts of Professor Bayo Lawal (who was the Deputy

Vice – Chancellor, Academic at this time and ensuring that all

the documents got signed despite the timing.

I have been able to use my publications with particular

emphasis on Dance to dwell on topical issues ranging from

religion issues (Ojuade, 2008); to Issues in Security, Peace and

Conflict Management (2017); to the Development of music and

Dance (2006); Music and Dance as instruments of political

communication (2005); Music and Dance viewed as Tools in the

Attainment of Millennium Development Goals in Nigeria

(2010); observed the Change and Continuity in Bata

Performance (2010); Sustenance of Dance Development and its

Performance in the Western part of Nigeria (2005); The

Secularization of Bata Dance in Nigeria (2002); Negotiating the

„Nexus‟ in the Teaching of Nigerian Yoruba Bata History and

Culture to the Diaspora and Africa (2010); Traditional

Psychotherapy: Ifa Divination Orientation (2013); Performing

Folklore in Nigerian Society: Challenges and Prospects (2011);

The Nigerian Dance and the National Question (2004); Dance

and Music as a Catalyst for Democratic Freedom In Nigeria

(2003); The Theatre Option in the Management of Radicalisation

and Radicalised Groups in Nigeria (2013); The Multicultural

Nature of Yoruba Bata Culture and its Development in Africa

(Nigeria) and the Diaspora (2012); Democratic Governance in

Nigeria: A Calculated Theatrical Performance or a Fantasy?

(2011), The Roles of Arts and Culture in the Management of

Ethnic and Religious Conflicts in Nigeria (2010); Dance in the

Service of Humanity (2006); African Dance in Diaspora:

Examples of Nigerian Yoruba Bata and Dundun (2011);

Interpreting the Language of the Drums: A Case Study of

Yoruba Traditional Bata and Dundun (2009); Dance Culture and

Development in Nigeria: A Study of Gese Dance of Yorubas

(2006); Interrelationship between Voice, Instruments and

Movements in Dadakuada Music among the Ilorin people of

Nigeria (2017); African Dance in Diaspora: The Yoruba 

43

Example from Nigeria (2004); Rhythm of life: Interview with

Hon. Justice MMA Akanbi CFR, PCA (Rtd.)., among others.

Epilogue (Conclusion)

Concerted efforts were made by earlier practitioners for

the dances of that period to enjoy the patronage of the people.

Their troupes moved from one town, cities and countries to

another educating and mentoring people. Research efforts were

stepped up through documentations, conferences, seminars,

symposia and trainings in the Universities where theatre related

courses were taught.

Currently, dance studies and practice have taken another

dimension. The study of dance is well structured and has layers

in scholarship. Hence, we have dance schools with equivalent

degrees and awards in practice. There are professional groups /

troupes and bodies like GOND, ADSPON, Dr. Kafayat Shafau -

Ameh‟s Imagneto Dance Company, Liadi Adedayo‟s Ijodee

Dance Company, Segun Adefila‟s Oriade Dance Group and

others ensuring the sustenance of the dance profession.

Over the years, I have created platforms within my

teaching and research to accommodate the practitioners through

workshops and trainings. It gives the students direct

opportunities and access to the professionals, while in turn, the

professionals use their expertise to train within short period of

time some techniques, styles, forms, traditional dance steps and

other relevant aspects of their trade.

The experience have yielded positive results in terms of

skill acquisitions, self discovery, talent haunts, documentations,

academic paper writings and added knowledge. Of course, dance

is globally capturing the attention of the audience in

performances and theories. The contemporary forms of dance is

widely spreading with the assistance of technology, people can

easily learn such forms and accommodate them for subsequent

applications and usage.

However, my experience at the University of Ilorin and

Kwara State University (Performing Arts Department) where I 

44

teach shows the astronomical growth in the number of students

enrolling for both undergraduate and postgraduate studies in

dance. A peep into the outside world of the academia equally

filled with dancers of repute or would - be dancers, who

constantly get engaged in dance practices.

Mr. Vice – Chancellor, Sir, it was a joyful and fulfilling

moment for me at the last convocation ceremonies; where the

Performing Arts Department produced four PhD graduates, out

of which i supervised the trio of Drs. Tosin Kooshima Tume,

Peter Adeiza Bello and Esther Petra Apata in Dance. Also, in the

last couple of months, I have been travelling (as external

examiner) to examine candidates in other sister universities who

defended their thesis in dance. Therefore, Dance is Life and Life

is Dance.

Recommendations

Mr. Vice –Chancellor, Sir, distinguished invited guests,

ladies and gentlemen, I consider this elaborate, solemn but

classic event, which is globally academic accepted norm, a rare

privilege for me to address issues bothering on our dances. In

view of the prevailing state, this inaugural lecture recommends

as follows:

1. The Federal Government of Nigeria to reconsider the

separation of the Federal Ministry of Culture and

Tourism from being merged with another entity. It will

be plausible to create a tripod stand involving our

traditional institutions and the academia. Such

partnership will enhance the preservation of our culture

including the dance.

2. The Federal Ministry of Education and other organ

agencies should reconsider the teaching and study of

history, culture, museum and monuments as part of the

curriculum. A society devoid of history is on the verge

of collapse. 

45

3. Government at various levels should ensure the

documentation of our cultural dances through the

establishment of documentation centres.

4. Let us desist from debasing our dance culture. It has

been flagrantly reduced to campaign activities or

pleasurable „acts‟. „Our dances represent our life‟ and

deserves better treatment.

5. Government should establish „Dance hubs‟ at different

strata of the societies. It will generate revenue through

tourists and a training centre for the people.

6. Do let us take the advantage of the health benefits

accrued to dancing to stay healthy through regular dance

activities which will; improve the condition of human

heart and lungs; increase muscular strength, endurance

and motor fitness; increase aerobic fitness; improve

muscle tone and strength; gives one better coordination,

agility and flexibility.

7. Dance experts and practitioners should be accorded

diplomatic treatment in order to reduce stress in

procuring travelling documents.

8. There is the need for research funding in the areas of

dance studies and practice.

9. This lecture serves as a wake- up call to the agencies of

culture to act as „store – house‟ and ably document

African Arts and Culture in order to be able to „train the

trainers‟ in the Diaspora based on „authentic

documentations‟.

10. Efforts should be made to further organize international

festivals, performances, exhibition where our dances can

be showcased.

46

MY LAST LINE

Mr. Vice – Chancellor, Sir, Ladies and gentlemen,

indeed, the human life is in cycles of highs and lows. Today, he

is on the mountain top, tomorrow, he is in the valley of life.

Once the wheel turns full circle, a cycle is gone. However,

whether in your highs or Lows, Dance accompanies you all

through the cycle and circle: when you are happy, you dance,

you also dance away your sorrows at your trying moments. So

we can conclude without equivocation that life is dance and

dance is life.

As a matter of fact, if we have an expanded definition of

the dance concept and definition is to be a rhythmic gyration of

parts of the body to certain stimulations. Then, even copulation

which precedes conception is a dance activity. Then, the entire

life cycle of a man is full of dance in one form or the other. From

copulation to conception; birth to celebration of birth

anniversaries and /other life achievements; even unto death, man

dances all through the cycles and circles. Dance, therefore, is

Life and Life is Dance. We live to dance, we dance to live.

Mr. Vice – Chancellor, Sir, distinguished Ladies and

gentlemen, when the drummer stops at the tail end of a

performance, the dancer reclines, but anxiously waiting for the

next opportunity to show his dexterity at his beckoning. I recline

for now while waiting for the next beckoning signal. Have my

sincere gratitude and appreciation. For making this event

possible and a huge success, I say, God bless you all. I wish you

all journey mercies back to your destinations.

Thank you.

Acknowledgements

Mr. Vice – Chancellor, Sir, It is very essential and of

paramount importance to show gratitude to Allah SWT, the Lord

of the Universe, He who created all for us to dwell in and He

who is the sustainer of Heaven and Earth. All glory to Him and I

say Alhamdhulillah robili alamina, for granting me the honour

and privilege to dance through life up to this moment without 

47

any regret. He has been sufficient for me at every stage of my

life.

Baami, Olofin Adimula, Arole Oodua, Ooni Adeyeye

Enitan Babatunde Ogunwusi, Ooni of Ife. Baba, I‟m really

grateful for your kindness, affection and love for me. Long may

you live on the throne of your fore bearers. HRM Oba Akinola

Oyetade Akinrera, Latiiri 1, Olubosin of Ifetedo Kingdom,

Kabiyesi Oba Lawrence Olu Babajide, Bamgbala 1, Oluoke of

Okeigbo, Kabiyesi Olugbon, Ajero, Timi, Aseyin, Orangun of

Oke - Ila, Kabiyesi Osogun Aro (the god iron and warrior

incarnate), Kabiyesi Obaluru (Oranfe Onile‟na, the fiery

thunder-like),High Chief Adekola Adeyeye (Lowa Adimula of

Ife) and other kings from Ile-Ife, Sooko and the entire Ajilesoro

family and other kings here present, I‟m indeed honoured with

your presence.

My ceaseless gratitude to my dear Daddy, a great

teacher, „the best friend ever‟, gist partner, trainer, an orator per

excellence, dancer of repute and a pious being, my late father –

Alhaji Fatai Oladosu Adisa Ojuade – The immediate Aare Alasa

of Ifetedo Kingdom for all you were to everyone of us that we

succeed in life. Of course, I know you would have broken

academic protocol today to challenge the drummers with your

adroit steps on the dance floor to do what you know best. May

Aljanah Firdaous be his final abode. I also want to express my

sincere gratitude to my dear Mum, Mrs Hamdalat Emilola

Akanke Ojuade, „Iya Bashirat‟, for your stringent virtues,

motherly care, love and the training that we received from you.

May the Almighty Allah grant you good health and long life to

enjoy the fruits of your hard labour.

I equally appreciate my father‟s friends, Chief Rufus

Ogundele, Baba Enoch Adejare Adeboye, Professor Wole

Soyinka, Chief Olatubosun Oladapo, Chief Alabi Ogundepo and

others.

My Paternal grandparents, Alhaji Oseni Ayilara Okero

and his brother, Baba Zakariyawu Aderibigbe Ojuade (alias

Baba Okeigbo) and Mama Alimotu Olayanju Obuyun Ojuade 

48

with her sister, Mama Sifawu Ebunoluwa Eludolapo Adeosun

(Mama Oke Alaafia), it‟s only Allah that can thank you enough

for me. I know that I had the best of time with you before your

departure.

My Maternal grandparent, Imam Hussain Akindunni

(Late Chief Imam of Ifetedo) and Mama Sabitiyu Gbemsola

Akindunni (Iya Etio), Chief A.M.S. Arawole, pray Allah SWT

keep granting you the best part of Aljana.

I need to thank all my teachers at every phase of my

growth and development. Some taught me physically in class

rooms, while some were remote and discreet in their approach. I

need to thank my big aunties, Mrs Muibat Temilola Oguntola

(Nee Akindunni) and Mrs Fausat Olateju Ojudun (Nee Ojuade)

for being our „teachers‟, trainers, cooks, house help, etc when we

young. We love you dearly and pray that you live to enjoy us

with good health and sound minds.

I need to thank the entire Balogun Ojuade family for all

the support and love always. The Akindunnis, I appreciate you.

In appreciating the labours over me by my teachers, I will simply

categorize them under each caption as follows:

a. Primary Education

These are the molders of human brains right from

toddler. I thank those at the Ansar - Ud - Deen primary school,

Okeigbo and those at St. Thomas primary School, Iwoye – Ijesa.

God Almighty will reward you abundantly.

b. Secondary Education

All my teachers at Iwoye Ijesa Grammar School, Iwoye

– Ijesa and Ayanbeku Memeorial Grammar School, sincere

thanks for the love and strictness of handling us. Also, my

classmates and former students of IIGS and Ayanbeku (Class of

84), I thank you.

49

c. Polytechnic, Ilorin

I had the opportunity of being taught by the best brains

ever at the then Kwara State College of Technology (Institute of

Basic and Advanced Studies – IBAS), Ilorin, for the IJMB

Advanced Levels. Of particular mentioning are Professors

Victoria Adunola Alabi, Oyinkan Medubi (now with the

University of Ilorin) and Mrs Olubunmi Olayinka Ajibade. I

appreciate you all.

d. University Education

My appreciation goes to all my teachers at the

University of Ilorin and at the Institute of African Studies,

University of Ibadan, Nigeria. Of particular mentioning are

Professor (Mrs) Zulu Sofola, Professor Akanji Nasiru, Professor

Bode Omojola, Professor Ayobami Olubunmi Akinwale, of

blessed memory (who supervised my first degree); Professor

Cornelius Adepegba, Professor (Mrs) Mosunmola Omibiyi –

Obidike, Dr (Mrs) Fidelma Okwesa (who supervised my

Masters), Professor Oladele Layiwola (who supervised my

Ph.D); all my teachers at the Faculty of Law and MBA,

particularly Professor (Mrs) Sidiqat Adeyemi (who supervised

my project) class at the University of Ilorin. I thank you

immensely.

Of course, my class of 93 and the entire graduates of the

Performing Arts Department from inception till date, I love you

dearly and sincerely. Thank and God bless you. I need to thank

Dr. Abdullah Jibril Oyekan,the immediate past Pro - Chancellor

and Chairman Governing Council, former Vice Chancellors,

Professors Shuaib Oba AbdulRaheem, Shamsudeen O.O.Amali,

Is - haq O. Oloyede and AbdulGaniyu Ambali. Really grateful,

Sirs.

My sincere gratitude to the Vice - Chancellor, Professor

Sulyman Age AbdulKareem under whose tenure that I got

elevated into this „Chair‟ and who approved my nomination to

deliver this inaugural lecture today. I wish to also express my 

50

appreciation to the Principal Officers of this great University of

Ilorin.

My sincere appreciation goes to Professor Muhammed

Mustapha Akanbi SAN, the Vice – Chancellor, Kwara State

University, Malete – Ilorin; Professor Eyitope Ogunbodede, the

Vice – Chancellor, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile – Ife;

Professor Charles Arizechukwu Igwe, the Vice – Chancellor,

University of Nigeria, Nsukka and others here present. I thank all

the Professors, senate members, academic and non academic

staff and entire university community for their love. I appreciate

you.

I equally thank the entire management and staff of the

Kwara State University, Malete - Ilorin. I also acknowledge the

roles of my Uncles and Aunties, Professor AbdulRashid

Aderinoye, Daddy Sikiru Ojuade, Professor Jacob Kehinde

Olupona NNOM and his wife, Daddy Yunus Hussain Akindunni,

Bro, Gafar Ojuade, Bro. Nurudeen Ojuade, Bro. Musediq

Ojuade, Professor and Mrs Wahab Johnson, Bro. Yekeen

Ojuade,Bro. Jabaar Akindunni, Bro. Bade Ojuade, Mallam

Yusuf Olaolu Ali SAN, Pastor Ituah Olajide Ighodalo, Bro. Aliu

Badmus, Aunty Laremi Sowole, Professor Abdulwahab Olasupo

Egbewole SAN, Prince Albert and Mrs Rosaline Olayemi

Awofisayo, Dr. and Mrs Waheed Idowu Olanrewaju, Chief

Jamiu Ekungba, Alhaji Liad Tella, Mr. Gbadega Adedapo,

Alhaji Hassan Mohammed Bello, Chief Olu Faseyitan, Dr. Kola

Faseyitan, Mrs. Foluke Adesope, Dr Saidat Olaide Hamzat,

Uncle Peter Badejo OBE, Alhaji and Alhaja Muibat Shola Khalil

Bolaji Professor Omofolabo Ajayi - Soyinka and others.

I must not forget in appreciating my friends, who are my

brothers and sisters: Eng. Femi Atoyebi, Dr. Razaq Adedayo,

Alhaji Shittu Mohammed, Bode Olayemi, Abdulmumin Jimoh,

Kehinde James Akintide, Emma Ehimoro, Kayode Babatunde,

Adekunle Mohammed Idiagbon, Barrister Ronke Adeyemi, Niyi

Ige, Lawrence Adebowale Oyetunji, „Mide Adegbite, Barrister

Olanrewaju Alli, Barristers Mutalubi Ojo Adebayo and Kazeem

Gbadamosi, Barrister Wole Adeosun, Prince Jide Fadairo, 

51

Barristers Ayanyemi Kasali and Niran Adedokun, Debo Atunwa,

Hon. Bolaji Oyeleye ,Luqman Yahaya, Sarafa Onaolapo, Dayo

Fadumila, Mr. Segun Adebayo, Mr. Jibola Ojedele, Gbenga

Osinjolu, Kola Oyewale, Mrs Tomi Odumeru, Chief Moshood

Ogunlowo, Dr. Bunmi Ogunlade, Yemisi Adeyeye, Pastor Niyi

Oladokun, Bayo and Bola Akinfemi, Biodun Adegbite, Pastor

Stanley Adeyemi, Evangelist Biodun Adekola, Anisah Titilayo

Lawal, Mrs Abosede Olu Bello, Mrs Toyin Dada, Princess

Florence Feyikemi Ayoola Egbeyemi, Mrs Iyabo Adebiyi, Akin

Adesola, Pastor Abiola Adeboye Samuel, Pastsor David Tunde

Oloruntola, Pastor Wale Ajibade, , Deaconess Adeji Paul

Roseline, Mrs Olayinka Idowu, Mrs Ronke Smith, Amaka Gogo

- Ibiama, Bose Olumontanmi, Mrs Anoko Moriamo Adeshiyan,

Dr. Bose Awodola, Mrs Oluwakemi Abolaji, Mr and Mrs Kemi

Akin - Ajayi, Mariam Shola Idowu, Mrs Oro Juliet Olalekan,

Gbenga Rotimi, Mrs Victoria Chinyere Nwankwo, Mrs Nelly

Iroro Olanlokun, Mrs Rosemary Elue Ashinze, Mrs Joyce

Adeleye Aghomon, Clifford Onyenakporo, Maruf Atunse,

Pastor Kayode Oguta, Babatunde Akinola, Mrs Tope Omoloye,

Adesola Olamijulo, Ismael Bello, Ibraheem Bello, Suraj Bello,

Taofeeq Ojuade, Dapo Ojuade, Temitope Amusa, Mojeed Bello,

Professor Chief Debbie Klein, Late Kameel Olubukola Azeez

(May Allah be pleased with your soul) and others.

I appreciate with great respect my dear senior colleagues

and friends through the leadership of our professional bodies,

Professor Alex Asigbo (The President, SONTA and the entire

members), President, GOND and members, President, AfTA and

members, President, IFTR and members, NBA and particularly

Kwara State chapter, President, CID - UNESCO and members,

the entire members of ADSPON and others.

My dear students (former and those that we are still

together) at the University of Ilorin, Kwara State University and

others, I appreciate you and really grateful. I sincerely appreciate

the affection and love that I get daily from the people of my

communities, Ile - Ife, Okeigbo and Ifetedo. 

52

With the kind permission of the Vice - Chancellor and

Olofin Adimula, I need to thank Kabiyesi, Olubosin of Ifetedo

and his chief - in - council for the honour done our Late father,

Alhaji Fatai Ojuade, for returning his title „Aare Alasa of Ifetedo

Kingdom‟ back to the Balogun Ojuade dynasty and

unanimously, they nominated me for that role, which you

graciously approved and chalked me in June, 2021. The

installation ceremony comes up at your palace on Saturday 13th

November, 2021 (10:00am). We are indeed grateful for the

honour, sir.

Mr. Vice - Chancellor, Sir, permit me to eulogize my

siblings, thanking them for the unflinching support they have

been giving me since birth, even those who joined after me, and

the affection that they randomly radiate. Looking at the number

that I‟m occupying, at the middle, but they conceded the

leadership to me as the youngest (from the top and bottom). I

just need to let you know that I love you and your spouses with

your children.

Finally, let me thank the duo of Amber and Jamaal

(Limba and JBoy) that the Almighty have gifted me with, for

growing up to understand the reasons why their Dad stay the

nights behind the computers, reading or writing, while they go to

sleep and wake up to meet him in same position. This inaugural

lecture of today doused your curiosity and probably informed

you more about „hard work‟. I love you always.

Mr. Vice - Chancellor, Sir, distinguished audience, this

inaugural lecture as presented and mentioned at the beginning,

that it is the first of its kind coming from Dance arm of the

Performing Arts Department, Faculty of Arts, the University

community and if I‟m correct, the very first from a University in

Nigeria in the area of dance studies and practice. Then, there is

that need to take on the dance floor as I thank you all for your

rapt attention. Gracia…

E pe, Bata la‟wa n jo

Bata la‟wa n jo

Eni ba wu ooo

53

Eni ba wu

Ko ki wa l‟ode

Bata la wa n jo o jare…

E tun pe

Dundun la wa n jo

Dundun la wa n jo

Eni ba wu ooo

Eni ba wu

Ko bu wa l‟ode

Dundun la wa n jo o jare…

 

·      Ojuade, Professor of Dance Studies and Practice delivered this as his inaugural lecture on Thursday November 11, 2021 at the Main Auditorium of the University of Ilorin, Kwara State.

 Dance is Life; Life is Dance: A Cyclical Nature of Man on Earth (For the Record)

 

By Jeleel Ojuade

 

Prelude

Mr. Vice - Chancellor Sir, today is indeed a remarkable

one in the global dance space and annals. I feel greatly honored

to be given the opportunity to share with you this evening,

aspects of my engagements with Dance Studies and Practice

over the years. There could not have been a better time, place

and occasion than now, before this great audience at the „Better

By Far‟ University - the University of Ilorin – and on the

occasion of her Two hundred and Eighth Inaugural Lecture that

global attention is diverted physically and virtually to an aspect

of us, a significant part of our rich culture, tradition, heritage,

pride and indeed a universal language, „Dance‟.

 My involvement or entanglement with Dance, I dare say,

is accidental and providential. My case is that of an observer

turned participant. I had my debut as a barely four and half year

old toddler. It was at an event where my late father‟s performing

troupe was invited. My curiosity to see or understand that

„language of the drum‟ at that dancing arena led me to the real

„dance theatre‟ from the sidelines where I was placed to sit

quietly and watch the dance. Instinctively, the little boy

innocently strolled in, jumping up and down to the rhythm of the

„Dundun‟ drums as professionally played by the duo of Baba

Sowumi and Sobade Adedapo from Ifetedo ( both of blessed

memories). Alas, this act of the little boy was received with

mixed feelings: shock, surprise, excitement, reservations,

acceptance and even condemnation. This is not unexpected

because as at that time in history, dance was seen as „ise alagbe‟

– craft of and for beggars. Now, for a four and half year old to

„throw his hat; in the dance ring (when he should be preparing to

go to school) was unheard of and perceived as a misnomer and

patently abnormal. However, that occasion was my launch pad

into a career that brought you all here today. I had my induction

that day and was „on – boarded‟ immediately into the Ojuade

and His Performing Troupe.

My father, Late Alhaji Fatai Oladosu Adisa Ojuade,

confessed in a discussion with me years later that my „gamble‟ 

3

of that day paid off handsomely because it became a potent

strategy for „money making‟ thus making „Dance part of his

Life‟. Why? Performance Proceeds tripled when benchmarked

against earlier performances where I did not feature. It turned

out to be a stellar performance which laid the foundation and

opened up several other dance engagements and opportunities

across regional, national and global spectra.

Suffice to say at this juncture that a foundational

approach to dance culture as reflected in numerous ethnic dance

escapades of the Yorubas (through the medium of „Gese‟ and

„Bata‟) metamorphosed into a tri–cyclic and tri-podal

phenomena of Teaching, Research and Community

Development or Service to Humanity. This we shall see in the

course of this „short‟ interactive session.

Introduction

Mr. Vice - Chancellor, Sir and Distinguished Ladies and

Gentlemen, I thought this Theme - Dance Is Life, Life Is Dance:

A Cyclical Nature Of Man On Earth could be better told or

showcased through „movements‟ because Dance is voiceless,

and operates functionally as “non verbal but practical

communication art”, but academic tradition permits no such. I

am compelled to present to colleagues, the campus community

and the general public my works – past, present and future

direction in teaching, learning and research within the Dance sub

set of Performing Arts. And this I am excited to do.

My Presentation today is a double edged sword and I

stand to be the link cord between „town‟ and „ gown‟

representing both of the dance worlds of a practitioner and an

academic. It is gratifying to note that my participation in active

dance could be traced back to Ile - Ife (the Source of Mankind,

Centre of the Universe and the Origin of Civilization from where

it diffused to other parts of the globe.)

4

Ife Ooye (x3)

Olori aaye gbogbo.

Ife the living (x3)

The supreme head of the universe.

Ile - Ife, also known as Ife, is an ancient city in the

southwestern part of Nigeria, at present, a part of Osun State. Ile

- Ife is said to date back to around 500 B.C, when it was founded

and is the oldest Yoruba city. A city located at the centre of the

universe, where the gods descended to the earth.

Hence, we can see the preponderance of Ile - Ife in the

cycle of life especially within the context of the African

Traditional and Religious belief system. A cursory excursion

into Ifa Mythology, theology and Corpus lends credence to this

assertion.

For me, Ori Olokun centre located at Arubiidi area in Ile

– Ife, exerted a significant influence on me. It was a rendezvous

for both the practitioners and those in the academia for

collaborative research exercises and performances in the days of

yore. I was a regular face there accompanying my father,

occasionally, on performances, workshops, training tours etc.

This afforded me the privilege of meeting and mingling with

great minds, highly revered Professors, eminent scholars, culture

promoters, practitioners of repute and emerging leaders of our

various communities from diverse ethnic backgrounds and

nationalities across the global spectrum under a convivial

atmosphere of discussions and ideas exchanges on propagation

and development of culture and traditions.

My dance expedition and experience horizons got wider

afterwards. It became part of my learning curve which proved

handy in all my life endeavors. Nostalgically, I could draw an

example of a particular poem I composed for our end of year

activities during my primary education (Pry. II) at the Ansar - Ud

- Deen Primary School, Okeigbo (in present Ile - Oluji / Okeigbo 

5

Local Government Area of Ondo State, Nigeria) in the mid 70‟s

where my Mum was a teacher.

F‟ada g‟era wo

Ki o to g‟egi ni igbo

Fi kumo dan‟ra wo

Ki o to na eranko

J‟awe opoto k‟o r‟rija eerun

J‟awe b‟onu ki o ri ise odi

Ohun o fe ni ki o f‟emi fe

Ohun o o fe, ma fi l‟omi wo

Gbo‟do ru

Ki n gbalapa ru o

Gun mi l‟odo

Ki n lo o l‟olo.

Attempt using a cutlass to cut yourself

Before cutting a tree in the forest

Attempt flogging yourself with a big whip

Before flogging an animal

Pick „opoto‟ leave and experience the wrath of „eerun‟

Put leave in your mouth and see the other side of a deaf

Wish me what you would wish yourself

What you would not want, do not try it on me

Put mortal on my head

And I will help you to put a heavy load on you

Pound me with pestle and mortal, and

I will grind you.

Inaugural Lectures in the Performing Arts

In continuation of the cycle on earth, I was led to the

academic world in phases (which at a point during this lecture, I

will discuss). My area of interest in Performance Arts is Dance

Studies and Practice, and with special emphasis on Bata and

Dundun culture of the Yorubas.

Mr. Vice - Chancellor, permit me to pay homage to the

initiators of this academic tradition and custom of giving 

6

inaugural lectures by newly appointed Professors. It is an

occasion of significance in an academic staff member‟s career.

This lecture is the sixth from the Department of the Performing

Arts. I am proud to follow in the tradition and line of erudite

scholars like Professor Zulu Sofola who gave the maiden

inaugural lecture in this department on 28th March 1991.

Professors Ayobami Olubunmi Akinwale, Akanji Nasiru,

AbdulRasheed Abiodun Adeoye and Solomon O. Ikibe have

followed the tradition of excellence by delivering at various

times, insightful and thought provoking and academically

challenging and ground breaking masterpieces. I am glad to

stand on the shoulders of these great academics even as I present

today. I wholly align with their culture and character of

excellence.

My regret, however, is that two among them have gone

to be with their maker. To Professors Zulu Sofola and Ayo

Akinwale, shall we observe a minute‟s silence in their honour.

May their souls rest in peace.

It is gratifying that I had the opportunity to be present

and to listen with rapt attention to all my predecessors as they

delivered their inaugural lectures. As fate would have it, I am

here as the youngest of all giving the 208th in the series of the

University of Ilorin inaugural lectures; the sixth from the

Department of the Performing Arts and the very first in the area

of Dance Studies and Practice in this University, if not the first

of its kind in this country.

Genealogical Background

Mr. Vice - Chancellor, Sir, I seek your indulgence to

review very briefly, my genealogy as the Yorubas say,

notwithstanding the length of a rope it must have source or a

beginning.

The life of every man on this planet earth is structured

within a cycle, which must have a beginning, middle and

eventual end, irrespective of his greatness or power. This is apt

in capturing the life and the ultimate end of that great patriarch 

7

and progenitor of the Ojuades, that patriotic son of Ile - Ife,

Balogun Ojuade. William Shakespeare seemingly had him in

mind when he wrote these lines in one of his books:

Cowards die many times before their deaths, the valiant

never taste of death but once. Of all the wonders that I

yet have heard it seems to me most strange that man

should fear but seeing that death is a necessary end, it

will come when it will come.

Balogun Ojuade was a blue - blood. Legend has it that he was

born at Ogbon - Ido, Ile - Ife. His father‟s name was

Mosusiajopeyokun, the son of Ejesi Ogbon - Ido, a popular

herbalist while his mother, Adebimpe Olajokun, a princess, was

a direct descendant of the Agbedegbede dynasty, in Moore, Ile -

Ife. Princess Adebimpe Olajokun was a popular, famous and

wealthy trader during her time.

Balogun Ojuade was a selfless, patriotic and astute

warlord of his era, For his valour and war exploits, he was

rewarded with the chieftaincy title of „Balogun‟ (a war

chieftain). History has it that Kabiyesi Kurumbusu was the

incumbent Ooni when Balogun Ojuade was born.

Ooni Kurumbusu was so elated when the young Ojuade

was born because the princess had a delay in child bearing.

Eventually when she gave birth, Ooni exclaimed that:

Haaa

L‟ojuade mi yii lo bimo!

(So

You gave birth in the face of the crown).

That was how the young man got the name „Ojuade‟. In

Kabiyesi‟s characteristic manner, he cut out a large portion of

royal farmland and bequeathed as a gift to his grandson, Balogun

Ojuade, with a curse on anyone that attempted to collect the land

from him among his male descendants. Similar portion of this

farmland were given to other grandsons of Ooni Kurumbusu. 

8

Arowohe, Obaloran, Orunto Aga and Luobe; shared boundaries

among themselves. The baby Ojuade grew up to become a brave

warrior and eventually became the war commander during the

reign of Ooni Olubuse 1. The patriotic efforts of Balogun Ojuade

came to limelight for being honest, loyal and hardworking.

His efforts to defend the Ife territorial integrity during

the era of intra - Yoruba warfare and skirmishes were second to

none, hence the appellation; „Ojuade Baba-lo-gun‟. These

attributes and other leadership qualities of Balogun Ojuade

encouraged Ooni Olubuse 1 to entrust and assign to him many

vital duties. One of the major tasks was the monitoring and

supervision of the construction of the major road that linked Ile -

Ife with Ibadan. It was after he successfully carried out the

assignment that Ooni Olubuse 1 rewarded him with the title of

Asipa.

Due to his previous antecedents and proven and

verifiable track record of performance, Ooni Olubuse 1 named

him as a member of the boundary determination and demarcation

committee assigned to define boundary lines between the Ijebus

on one hand and the Ondos on the other side to prevent

encroachment on Ife land and territory. Asipa Ojuade (as he then

was), discharged his duties with absolute honesty, total

dedication, selflessness and open heartedness. The pillars used in

the construction of the demarcation are said to still be in

existence till today.

His previous sterling performances, patriotism, honesty

among others endeared him to the people. Ooni Olubuse 1

elevated him as the Balogun of Ife. Not too long after, Ooni

Olubuse 1 joined his ancestors and was succeeded by Ooni

Ajagun Ademiluyi. Ooni Ademiluyi duly recognized him as the

Balogun of Ife. Ojuade‟s fame became more pronounced when

an English white man by the name Captain Ross visited Ile - Ife

and commended Balogun Ojuade highly for his achievement on

behalf of Ile - Ife. In order to show appreciation for his

selflessness, Captain Ross gave him some gift of minerals to 

9

decorate his horse. The visit of Captain Ross increased the love

and respect to Balogun Ojuade.

With increased fame, honour and recognition came

concomitant ill-wind of envy, jealousy, treachery and betrayal. It

did not take long before he fell out with powers that be. He was

eventually assassinated in a night operation with the active

connivance of insiders. Investigations into the assassination by

the colonialists found a certain prince culpable. The prince was

subsequently sentenced.

In addition to Balogun Ojuade‟s war escapades, he

mastermind the construction of a bunker at Orile-owu during the

Owu wars where warriors from other cells within the Ife

confederate army usually hide and sometimes launch attack on

enemies. Balogun Ojuade, the great son of Ile – Ife left a

treasured memory in these areas:

(1) Opening up of roads linking Ile - Ife with Ibadan

(2) Erecting pillars (Owon) to demarcate Ile - Ife from Ondo

and Ijebu territories

(3) Rejection of the second coming of the Modakekes to avoid

incessant communal killings.

Okeigbo and Ifetedo Connections

Sanni Anamonilekewu (the one who whips pupils in

koranic classes) shortened as „Anamo‟, the second son of

Balogun Ojuade was married to Ayisat from the Ologbenla

ruling house in Ile - Ife. Ayisat Ojuade had an elder sister named

Ekundore and they were both business women of repute in their

days. Ekundore had no child from her marriage. So, she and her

younger sister Ayisat nurtured and catered for Ayisat‟s two boys

Saka Ojuade and Hussein Ojuade (popularly known as Oseni

Ayilara Okero, my own grand-father). The bond between the two

sisters was so strong that outsiders never knew who truly the

biological mother of the two boys was.

In the early 20th century, there was a family feud

amongst Sanni Anamo Ojuade‟s wives. The intensity and the

seriousness of the crisis led the parent of Ayisat Ojuade to 

10

request from Sanni Anamo Ojuade the permission of their

daughter to come to Okeigbo to douse the existing tension. Some

warriors among the Ologbenla ruling family had settled in

Okeigbo after helping the Ondo‟s in a war against the Ikale. The

then Ooni was advised not to allow the warriors including those

warriors from Ologbenla ruling house who had gone to support

the Egins (Ondo) come back to Ile - Ife for fear of deposing the

Ooni. The warriors then settled in Okeigbo. Ayisat Ojuade‟s

father was among the warriors. So, Ayisat Ojuade and her sister

took along the two sons to Okeigbo where they all lived till

1930.

Before Ooni Aderemi ascended the throne in 1930, there

was a serious agitation against the heavy taxation of the regime

before its own. However, one of the promises he made was the

lessening of the tax burden if he became Oba and true to his

words, Ooni Aderemi kept his promise. He fulfilled his promise

by refunding part of the exhorbitant tax to Okeigbo community.

Unfortunately, by the time his emissaries brought the money,

some of the people had gone to farm at Okeodo, the name the

present Ifetedo was called then. So when they arrived from the

farm and they were given the news of the Ooni‟s kind gesture

they were very happy and then demanded for their own share.

But the whole money had been shared by those who were at

home and they refused to make any refund for those who went to

farm. In reaction to that, those who felt cheated decided to

migrate to the other side of the river Oni to Okeodo and renamed

it to Ifetedo, meaning „a town founded with love‟. Amongst the

business people who migrated were Ayisat Ojuade and her sister

Ekundore together with the children now men (Saka and

Hussein). Saka and Hussein later became very influential and

wealthy business men in Ifetedo with many farms and dealing in

cocoa and other farm produce.

Ayisat Ojuade had her properties (land and houses) in

Okeigbo. So, she and her sister went back to Okeigbo after

staying for a few years. They took charge of caring for the eldest

four grand children in Okeigbo. Hussein being a successful 

11

businessman had a large polygamous family. Among his

children was Fatai Oladosu, my own father. May Allah bless

their memories for they have all departed to the great beyond.

My Walk and Work in the World of Dance

As earlier stated, I started dancing at about four and half

years old. My father, Alhaji Fatai Oladosu Ojuade was a teacher

at Okeigbo / Ifetedo Grammar School, where he taught Yoruba,

History, Literature. He was involved in cultural activities and

even formed a cultural group for the school aside his own dance

troupe. He taught with the likes of Baba Enoch Adeboye (the

General Overseer of Redeem Christian Church of God), Baba

Colonel Rufus Ogundele, Baba Oludapo, Mr. Akinfesola and

others. I followed him to virtually all the engagements ranging

from house warming, chieftaincy conferment, demonstrative

lectures, workshops, festivals, competitions and several other

events. Also, I took active parts in dance activities while in the

primary school alongside my sisters (Mrs Bashirat Folashade

Muktar – Itai, Mrs Fausat Abiodun Ojudun) and my elder

brother, Wajeed Ayodeji Ojuade - ours was a complete family

troupe. It afforded us the platform to take part in series of dance

competitions at the local levels where we won laurels.

Our troupe became so popular within the communities of

Okeigbo, Ifetedo, Ile - Ife Osogbo, Ibadan, Akure, Ijeshaland and

Ekiti. While our Dad played host to itinerant stage drama

performers like Ishola Ogunsola (I-show pepper), Oyin Adejobi,

Duro Ladipo, Funmilayo Ranco, Moses Olaiya (Baba Sala) and

host of others. Our family troupe partook in some of the dance

activities of that at time:

(i) Representation of the Western Region of Nigeria at the

National Festival of Arts and Culture, Lagos in 1970.

(ii) Representation of the Western Region of Nigeria at the

National Festival of Arts and Culture, Ibadan in 1971.

(iii) Took part in a play „Ogun Onire‟ at the then University

of Ife in 1972.

12

(iv) Took part in a dance drama to mark the 10th anniversary

of the University of Ife, Ile - Ife.

(v) Featured as a guest artiste in „Gese Dance‟ on Western

Nigeria Television (WNTV) and Western Nigeria

Broadcasting Services (WNBS), Ibadan in 1976.

(vi) Took part in a re – play of „Ogun Onire‟, as a special

guest at the University of Lagos in 1977.

(vii) Took part in the Black Festival of Arts and Culture in

1977.

(viii) Took part in a performance, „Unity in diversity‟, a

programme of selected Nigerian Dances at the National

Theatre Main Hall, Iganmu, Lagos on 18th October,

1980.

(ix) Took part in a command performance for the President

and Commander – in – Chief of Armed Forces, Alhaji

Aliyu Shehu Shagari at the Liberty Stadium, Ibadan on

18th November, 1980.

(x) Took part in a command performance for the 21st

Regular meeting of the then twelve progressive

Governors in Nigeria at Enugu between 26th

– 28th

March, 1982.

(xi) Took part in command performance for the President,

General I. B. Babangida during his visit to Oyo State in

August, 1991.

(xii) Took part in the 2008 Ife International Festival of Arts at

Institute of African Studies, Obafemi Awolowo

University, Ile – Ife.

In the late 1970‟s, our Dad was transferred to Iwoye

Ijesa to go and start a new school called Iwoye Ijesa Grammar

School in Osun State. He propagated dance and theatre into this

community and ensure that the school became known as the best

in Ife / Ijesa zone. As part of his experiments, I played lead roles

in different historical performances that he wrote which include;

„Oranfe‟, „Obatala‟, Ogun Onire‟, „Aje‟ and others. However in

1982, he requested to be transferred back to Ayanbeku Memorial 

13

Grammar School in Ifetedo, where he further engaged the pupil

in the propagation of our dance culture. He created a „brand‟ out

of Bata and Dundun among his people and enthusiasts.

Branding, which Awodiya (2016) referred to as „‟means to coordinate and package our culture like a product to make it appeal

to our people who will appreciate it first before we ship it abroad

for consumption by foreigners who will buy it”(25).

It was in 1982 while enjoying my usual holiday with my

„big‟ Aunty and the husband in Lagos, Prince and Mrs Albert

Awofisayo, that my father came with the greatest news ever. He

said we were to travel to represent Nigeria at the XII

Commonwealth Games and Warana Festival in Brisbane,

Australia. We were at the National Theatre, Iganmu, Lagos for

about three weeks rehearsing the dance theatre titled „The

Marriage of Princess Sidibe‟, scenario written and directed by

Edith Uche Enem and the music was directed by Professor Akin

Euba. I was the youngest in the troupe and that gave me the

privilege of having close contact with the Queen of England and

her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh at the opening ceremony in

Brisbane.

In 1983, another invitation came for a performance tour

of the Federal Republic of South Korea (a cultural exchange

visit), where we toured and performed in the cities of Kwangju,

Pusan and Seoul. I got so entangled in these dance activities that

it became worrisome for my Mum because of my education. She

wanted me to pitch tent with career in the Legal profession rather

than dancing while my father held on tenaciously that I followed

the part of theatre.

The foggy situation got cleared when my Uncle, Saliu

Olaolu Bello, an epitome of Islam and piety (of blessed

memory), invited me over to Ilorin to see how i can secure a

space having applied to study Performing Arts at the University

of Ilorin in 1988. Unfortunately, the then Dean, Faculty of Arts,

Professor Oludare Olajubu (The Sokoti of Ilare) who happens to

be my father‟s bosom friend told me that I was short of one mark

to meet the cut off for Performing Arts. Rather than wasting 

14

another year, Bro. Aliu Badmus stepped in and linked me up

with Mr. D .F O. Abidoye at the then Kwara State College of

Technology to assist in getting the Interim Joint Matriculation

Board Examination (IJMB) form for Advanced Levels. I was

able to get it and in 1990, I gained direct entry admission into the

Performing Arts to join my new „family members‟, „The

prestigious class of 93‟ (PASA).

Mr. Vice - Chancellor, Sir, I tried my best in hiding my

„street dancing‟ identity all through! Why? I realized that there

was the need to concentrate on the scholarship aspect of the

dance rather than the earlier posture. I tried to avoid distractions

and acquire more knowledge academically. Though, Mama

Sofola, Professors Akinwale, Nasiru and Oyewo knew my

antecedents. I opted to major in Drama during my first degree

and had exposure to „total theatre‟, where dance was used as a

support to stage productions whether it is traditional, modern or

post modern dance. The training gave us the opportunity to blend

the traditional dance steps with the modern oriented ones and

western choreographies as well under the tutorship of Professor

Chris Ugolo.

After graduation and completion of the mandatory

National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) at the Ministry of

Information, Secretariat, Ibadan, Oyo State, I proceeded to the

Institute of African Studies, University of Ibadan, Ibadan, for my

Masters programme and PhD in Dance Studies and Practice. I

need to express my gratitude to the Late Professor Zulu Sofola

who encouraged me to explore other areas of the arts. In fact, she

was instrumental to my majoring in Drama in the Performing

Arts, University of Ilorin and signed my reference forms to study

Dance at the Institute of African Studies, University of Ibadan

where I had the privilege of being taught by Dr Fidelma Okwesa

and Professor Oladele Layiwola (who supervised my PhD). My

research topic at Master‟s level was „The Secularization of Bata

Dance in Southwestern Nigeria: A Study of some Bata Dance

and Theatre Groups‟. The main thrust of the thesis is to unravel

the mysteries surrounding the „Bata‟ culture, bringing it out of its 

15

enclave, the corridors of the „gods‟ or rituals (the worship of

Yoruba gods and the masquerade “egungun‟ tradition, for the

general populace or increasing participation. Bata as a secular art

form with wider application outside religious / ritual context as

expressed by the Alarinjo Travelling Theatre (2002). The major

aim and achievement of this study was to put Bata Dance within

the reach of every enthusiast and would - be performer. The

research covered ample examples of some Bata music ensemble

and dance types.

The academic circle created an inroad for a better

exposure to dance scholarship within the confine of teaching,

research and community services. Aside teaching of dance

courses at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels,

engagement in research activities assisted the students and would

- be dancers as well. Prior exposure to dance and the experiences

of research informed my middle way approach of bridging the

gap between „town‟ and „gown‟.

Mr. Vice - Chancellor, Sir, my first regularization

exercise (interview) was one that will continue to linger in my

memory. We had a long wait and filling in as arranged by the

Registry. I remember when I was called in to meet the panel

headed by the then Vice - Chancellor, Professor Shuaib Oba

AbdulRaheem and I was told to introduce myself. After that, my

file was scanned through to see the documents therein and Mrs

Ololade from the registry looked at me and said „what is in dance

that you went to study? Professor Oba cuts in to say „Now, Iam

back home to my comfort zone. All those previously interviewed

in the Sciences, Engineering, Medicine sound strange to me but

this is the literary world...‟. The encounter of that day at the

University of Ilorin further strengthened and propelled me.

Despite my other degrees in Law (LL.B & LL.M) and Business

Administration (MBA), I remained in performance circle,

creating a nest in Dance Studies and Practice.

In doing this, i identified three major problems

endangering culture preservation and growth in Nigeria, which

are lack of documentation (historically and through archival 

16

storage), research support and the impending stigma attached to

the profession and the practitioners. My background had

nullified the „feelings‟ of such stigma and many thanks to my

father…He trained us „not to listen to the oozing noises from the

market but to be focused and get what brought you into such

market in peace‟. As a young lecturer and researcher, i got

engaged in series of activities bothering on teaching, research,

performances within and outside Nigeria. Out of my meager

salary, I enlisted in professional membership in local, national

and international bodies. This is to facilitate platforms for the

exchange of ideas on Dance culture and practices. I got engaged

in sensitization programmes on the radio, television and

newspaper talking and writing about dance (Bata and Dundun). I

facilitated lecture series and workshops, performances and

discussions between and among experts, scholars and

practitioners as well as my students for better comprehension

and understanding of the arts of dance.

I invited over to the University of Ilorin, Nigeria,

Professor David Whitton in 2009 (who was the Secretary

General of the International Federation for Theatre Research

FIRT/IFTR) from Lancaster University, United Kingdom, where

he gave a Faculty lecture titled „Lifting the Curse of Barbel.

Language Identity and at a theatre in a Post-colonial Global

Context” After the faculty lecture, he had workshops and

discussions with the students of the Performing Arts Department.

In similar vein, I facilitated a workshop / training and

performance by the famous itinerant Ayanagalu International

Group from Erin Osun, Osun State, Nigeria and many others.

These workshops and trainings further exposed our students and

staff to Music and Dance tradition. It was at the peak of building

my career in the academic that death struck and took away a dear

sister and mother, who was instrumental to my plans, Mrs

Faoziyat Lola Kehinde Ali ( May Allah SWT be pleased with

her and grant her aljannah fridaous).

17

Dance is Life and Life is Dance: A Cyclical Nature of Man on

Earth

Mr. Vice – Chancellor, Sir, the ubiquitous nature of

„Man‟ on earth motivated and propelled my interest in this topic.

It simply encapsulates the journey of Man within the Universe

using Dance Allegory. Unequivocally, I have been able to view

and distill „Dance‟ as a universal phenomenon practiced by all

irrespective of colour, race, profession, culture, religion,

ethnicity, geographical location, boundaries, political affiliation,

society and others. This lecture, therefore, highlights some of my

contributions to scholarship and growth in the field of Dance

with reference to Yoruba Bata and Dundun focusing on the

transformations that have occurred in its applications.

Culture in Africa includes the totality of the arts, of

which music and dance form a significant part. Culture is equally

regarded as the way of life of a people (Eagleton, 2000). It has

been emphasized that the greatness of Africa lies in its culture

and not in its science or technology (Nketia, 2001). The Cultural

Policy Document for Nigeria succinctly captured Culture as the

totality of the way of life evolved by a people in their attempts to

meet the challenge of living in their environment, which gives

order and meaning to their social, political, economic, aesthetic

and religious norms and modes of organization thus

distinguishing a people from their neighbors (1988). Among

Yoruba people, this way of life is inseparably bound up with

music and dance.

Music and Dance are like Siamese twins, inseparable

and symbiotically serving each other. Can there be Music

without Dance? Without music and dance, the people cannot

properly create poetry, record history, educate or train children,

celebrate at festivals, praise or abuse, entertain, instruct,

disagree, marry, or bury their dead. Music and Dance in

performance particularly among the Yoruba constitute a primary

site for the production of knowledge.

Dance is regarded as an important aspect of any culture.

It is a very strong device for identifying the culture of a people. 

18

Kaeppler asserts that “an adequate description of a culture

should place the same emphasis on dance as that given it by the

members of that society” (1967:iii). It is thus notable that in

traditional African culture and societies, dance is life. It gives

meaning to virtually all daily activities that human beings are

involved in. It is an integral aspect of their life span; coming into

this world, living in this world, and the consequent exit of

humans from this world. This is succinctly captured by Ojuade

(2004) in his description of dance situations in Nigeria:

Thus, before a child is brought into this world, the

mother feels or experiences internal movement of the yet-to-beborn baby, therefore, the baby‟s arrival into this world elicits

dancing activities of joyful movements (238). In African

societies, participation in music / dance may be a voluntary

activity or an obligation by one‟s membership of a social group

(Nketia, 1975: 35). Public performance is required on social

occasions, where members of a group or a community assemble

for the purpose of leisure, recreation, performance of a rite,

ceremony, festival or any collective activity.

Music tradition in traditional Yoruba culture features in

every aspect of human life right from childhood to adulthood.

The combination of music and dance in Yoruba culture gives life

to the people. From the moment of birth, the young individual is

exposed to strong musical stimuli. Cradle songs are sung to

babies when they are on their mothers‟ back; these are

accompanied by simple dance steps, giving meaning to the

rhythm. The infant is thereby introduced from the earliest age to

vocal and instrumental music in addition to the movement that

accompanies it. As soon as the child is old enough, he or she is

encouraged to sing and imitate simple dance movements. Smith

(1962, 75 - 77) observes:

Most West African children are encouraged to dance

as soon as they can walk. By the age five, they have

learned the primary elements of festival dances, and by

six they are able to dance with adolescents with

accurate rhythm, dance patterns and song.

19

The above asserts clearly that music and dance

performance among the Yoruba, constitute a primary site for the

production of knowledge. Bakare (1994:2) looks at dance as

“the rhythmic movement of the human body in time and space to

make statements”. Essentially, dance thrives on living

experiences. Thus, it paves ways for its transmission from

generation to generation which reflects the changes in social

conditions.

Since we know that music and dance are Siamese twins,

it goes without saying that musical instruments have a role to

play in dance. Musical instruments can be classified into varying

forms; such as Idiophones (self sounding instruments when

struck), Aerophone (blown instruments which require use of air

through the opening of the musical instrument, Chordophones

(stringed instruments with string attached to the body of the

instrument which are plucked or strummed with the hand to

produce sound, and Membranophones (instruments with

membrane). For the purpose of this lecture, analysis of music

and dance culture will be premised on the Yoruba Bata and

Dundun.

The Phenomena Dance Culture

What exactly is Dance? In African societies, dance

serves as a major aspect of the people‟s modes of expression.

Dance emanated from the ritual or religious worship or

recreational/social activities. It is regarded as a major art and an

essential element in the celebration of events connected with

every aspect of human life. The events range from the birth of a

new baby to growing up and display of last respect for the dead.

It thus symbolizes the profound truths about the complexity of

human existence and gives meaning to life. Dance activities in

Nigeria are communal - oriented, participatory by all and natural.

From a historical perspective, dance is one of the first human

activities which did not directly serve the mere survival of man.

The experience of dance came as man‟s effort of expressing 

20

individual and collective feelings. Such existence of dance in the

early periods of man may be witnessed only by pictorial

representations, carved images of primitive people on the walls

of the caves. The pictures were created in phases, showing the

developmental stages of man within his cultural environment.

The developmental processes of human societies have shown

that their survival is predicated on a functional association in

which men became a part of the broad communities and their

activities were regulated by their social needs. The individual

dances ceded place to group dances according to the needs of the

people in that community. For instance, in Nigeria, the Ogun

dance of the South-western zone, specifically Ondo, grew out of

individual display of nuances to organize Obitun dance. Also,

the Yoruba Bata dancer‟s virtuoso display of arms, body and

adroit leg movements show a resemblance of the Yoruba god of

thunder‟s (Sango) movement idiom.

Dance applications in Nigeria transcend „the unborn‟,

„the living‟ and „the dead‟ as illustrated with Soyinka‟s schema

on the cycle of life (1976:148). It is held that a baby dances in

the womb of a pregnant woman during the gestation period.

When the young individual is born alive, dancing journey

continues. Growing up to adulthood, the baby naturally or

through learning, as part of the village life or environment, is

exposed to dancing. Also, as he completes his cycle in life, he

dances on to the grave (based on the activities which involve

dancing). That is why Africans have continued to express their

very being in dances, which encapsulate their fears,

relationships, anxieties, joys and sorrows. Hence, Gorer (1962)

observes in his studies of some ethnic groups in West Africa

that:

Africans dance for joy, and they dance for grief; they

dance for love and they dance for hate; they dance to

bring prosperity and they dance to avert calamity; they

dance for religion and they dance to pass the time

(213).

21

As such, from birth, the African people are introduced into a

world of body language, rhythm, patterned awareness and

structured expressions which help their communion with the

environment (ecology). Dance, to the Yoruba, is one of the

attributes that defines a person and which integrates one fully as

a member of the society (Ajayi, 1998:4).

According to Drewal (1991), this raises fundamental

issues about body praxis, human agency, temporality, and

discursive knowledge and calls into question conventional

understanding of tradition, repetition, mechanical reproduction,

and ontological definitions of social order and reality. Baxter

(1970) noted that through eye-to-eye contact between the

otherwise isolated island populations, dance and music

performances easily overcame the colonial language divide in

terms of a shared performance heritage that had successfully

resisted and survived imperial oppression. Dance, therefore, is

popular, widespread and universal to all, regardless of age, sex

and social status.

There are always new development in dance with the

expression of abstract ideas and possibility it gives to man for

physical relaxation as well as emotional release. Scientists have

observed that movement is essential to both human beings and

animals for the release of emotional tension caused by both

joyful and painful events. Dancing, this is one of the most

dynamic and popular art forms in Nigeria, serves a vital function

in human society in order to achieve social cohesion or

togetherness, causing human beings to feel a deep sense of

communion with one another. Dance is an integral part of

African life in the real and metaphysical spheres of existence. It

is an aesthetic, non - verbal expression continually created and re

- created by countless performers and interpreters for several

generations. It is however embodied in human action.

The social and cultural occasions at which these dances

are performed have to do with individual or group celebrations.

For example, most rite of passage dances deal with individuals

who move from one status of life to another. It may be 

22

accompanied by friends and relations. Also, dance takes place at

naming ceremonies, coronations, festivals, feasts, communal

purification and cleansing. Thus, Strine et al. (1989:183) state

that performance as a concept is contentious, “which indicates

that its existence is bound up in disagreement about what it is,

and that disagreement over its essence is itself part of the

essence”. In Nigeria context, dance performance is conceived as

a primary site for the production of knowledge, where

philosophy is enacted and a means by which people reflect on

their current conditions, divine or re-invents themselves and their

social world.

Considering the above, dance performance may be

regarded as an artistic expression predicated on movement; it has

also been aptly described as a dramatic phenomenon induced by

a psychological state (Layiwola, 1991:19-27).

The various ethnic dances in Nigeria could be

recognized functionally within a homogenous society as

religious ritual, as an expression of social organization, and a recreative process. Religion or ritual, which is one of the major

sources of dance in Nigeria, regulates the relationship between

the members of the society and the supernatural powers which

are strongly believed to be in control of human activities. Such

could be exemplified in the famous Osun Osogbo festival, Olojo

festival in Ile - Ife, Sango (god of thunder and lightning)

worship, Obatala worship, Egungun (masquerade) festival etc. It

is a central element in a ceremony or festival and it is seen as an

act of worship by members of religious cults.

Social dances, on the other hand, change with time,

based on the creativity of the various artists. In its function as an

expression of social organization, dance safeguards the

traditionally established social and political hierarchy and

equally emphasizes the standard of behavior and instructs on

morals within the society. Such examples are dances that are

purely restricted to the royal personalities, cult dances and age

grade dances. It is often performed by groups or teams of

dancers, which clearly states their status in the enabling society. 

23

It may be a part of a festival performance or simply for

entertainment. Re-creative process dance could be an expression

of talent or display of expertise. The dance gives room for

improvisation. Such dancers are usually found at various

relaxation centers and social functions, or in their private homes.

Nigeria encompasses a profusion of ethnic groups (with

over four hundred (400) ethnic groups), though classified

traditional under the three dominant groups of Hausa, Igbo and

Yoruba. Today, Nigeria as a nation houses thirty -six states with

different dances in their cultural environments. However, each of

the societies predominantly depends on oral tradition, with

human sounds, gesticulations, shapes, patterns and symbols as

their primary tools for communication (Yerima, 2003{216). This

is because dance reflects the socio-political, religious, economic,

philosophical and aesthetic life of a people. It thus becomes

obvious that there are specific dances tailored to specific

occasions in Nigeria. Every major stage of human development

ranging from birth of a baby, growing up and his eventual exit

from a given society has dances which are done not just for

dance‟s sake. The dances are associated with ceremonies, rites

and festivities which characterize such stages. Therefore,

traditional dance forms a major part of society‟s religious, social,

ancestral and existential reality.

The history of dance art in Nigeria indicates its passage

through three major phases as observed and identified by

Amankulor (1986:3) and Ajayi (1986:1). Prior to the arrival of

Europeans in Nigeria, the ethnic groups that make up its present

political entity lived in relative isolation. The art of dance

permeated all important events in the society, be it political,

religious, social or economical. The traditional dances of the

people developed, while creativity was freely encouraged within

the limits of the norms and conventions of the people. The

dances at this period can be divided into five main categories as

identified by Enem (1975): 115-116, 68-115), namely; Religious

/ Ritual Dances, Rite of Passage Dances, Vocational Dances,

Recreational Dances and Political Themes.

24

The dances in Nigeria that we can claim ownership to

can be viewed from three basic phases of the nation‟s

development - these are the pre-colonial, the colonial and the

post-colonial phases (Ojuade, 2005:367). The illustration

showing the development of dance clearly indicates that dances

could be classified and analyzed in varying categories. They

involve those dances that survived and thrived within individual

communities (traditional) and which are experienced raw; those

making waves in the academic environment (modern oriented);

and those that are prototypes of the western world, that is very

prominent in use, and which are considered as the blending of

both traditional and modern, based on the creative ability of the

dancers or practitioners. Each of the phases has recorded success

in dance. Currently, the dance culture in Nigeria is gradually

drifting into a mixture of the phases. The colonial experience in

Nigeria‟s history brought a heavy influence on Nigerian dances.

It actually gave a dual face to the existing dances, which makes

them to reflect the dance culture of the Europeans, the

Americans or Latin Americans rather than that of the traditional

Nigerian. The inclusion of Western oriented instruments in

Nigerian music, equally informs changes in Nigerian dance

patterns as well as dance costumes.

The Yoruba Bata and Dundun in Performance:

The Myth - Historical Origin of Bata

Bata, belongs exclusively to the Yoruba. It is a difficult,

calculative, energy-sapping, indigenous Yoruba dance, which in

the remote past, was associated exclusively with the worship of

different deities, especially Sango, the Yoruba god of thunder

and lightning. Evidence from research on Yoruba origin revealed

that there are many theories and myths surrounding it. Idowu

(1962:4) observes that the Yoruba comprise several clans which

are bound together by language, traditions, and religious beliefs

and practices. He states further that “the question of their origin

is still a debatable subject, since we do not yet possess adequate 

25

materials out of which we can build up the history of their

beginnings”.

Stories relating to origin of the Yoruba have been

described in books written by scholars such as Johnson (1921),

Biobaku (1971) and Omosade (1979), based on individual

sources and retentive memory of events derived from folktales,

mythologies of creation, fables and moral stories. Bata is a music

culture that extends beyond the phenomenon of dance. Ogunba

and Irele (1978) claim that Sango was an ancestor, deified and

worshipped by the people. Bata was used to accompany Sango

and Egungun who were both relations and inseparable.

Baderinwa Abefe Oladosu (in an interview) explained

that Sango, who was referred to as „Oba ko so‟ (The King did

not hang) was once a traditional king in Old Oyo Ajaka. During

his reign, Timi and Gbonka were his warriors. He noted that

Sango and Egungun were friends, but Egungun was older.

Interestingly, Bata music accompanied both of them on social

occasions. After the death of Egungun, Bata, as an

accompaniment, became solely associated with Sango. Later,

Sango ascended to heaven to avoid an impending humiliation

from his rebellious warriors. Gbonka plotted to overthrow and

annihilate him. On his final journey, Sango summoned the Bata

drummer, who accompanied him to the point of demise.

Gbadamosi Adebisi claimed that it was one ace -

drummer known as „Saate‟ who made an innovation in the

musical instruments used in Bata dance performance. It is also to

him that we owe the information on Bata Koto (an original form

of Bata instrument, which consisted of a set of calabashes, each

covered with animal membrane and each having a cloth strap by

which it was hung around the drummer‟s neck with the drum

resting in front of him. It was beaten with one hand and a stick).

26

Complete set of Bàtá drums.

Sango was a beautiful and skillful dancer, and Saate an expert

drummer. Their acquaintance blossomed into a beautiful

relationship of mutual dependence. They always performed

together at festivals and other public ceremonies so much so that

people came to associate them with each other and always

looked out for their joint performance.

However, as the oral tradition has it, Sango and Saate

fell out over the sharing of some gifts obtained at a performance.

Saate felt he had been cheated and withdrew his services. At

first, Sango thought he could go it alone and people began to run

away from him, taking him for a mad man; “Sango has gone

mad”! They said. It was not long before he sent his wife, Oya, to

make peace between him and his friend and drummer, Saate.

Truly they say “a lover‟s quarrel is but the renewal of love.” So

much sweeter and stronger did Sango and Saate‟s friendship

become that it was said that whenever they were eating together

(usually from the same bowl) Sango would say;

„Iwo onibata a mi, meran

Ti mo ba ti ri iyonu re

Mo ti mo pe eko ni‟.

(My Bata drummer, pick a piece of meat,

When I behold your softened heart

I know it is a lesson).

27

It was obvious that he (Sango) discovered that it was Saate‟s

drums that added glamour to his dancing.

So closely associated did Sango become with Bata music

that later on, after his deification, his adherents claimed,

whenever they heard the clap of thunder, that it was Omele

Ako‟s sound that Saate was drumming for Sango‟s delight and

Sango was dancing up there, by the flashes of lightning. So, not

even death could separate Sango from his Bata music.

Saate‟s mastery of Bata is legendary; sometimes he used

his drums to warn people of Sango‟s magical power and to

praise him due to his ability to move his body accordingly too.

Such lines are :

A f‟eni ti kogila kolu

A f‟eni Esu n se

L‟ole ko lu Esu

L‟ole ko lu Sango

A f‟eni ti Sango o pa,

(It‟s only someone who has been bedeviled

It‟s only someone who has been possessed by Esu

That will attack Esu

That will attack Sango

Only he who wants to be killed.)

Saate reported that Sango loved Bata dearly, so much so that if

he was eating his best food, and the sound of Bata music is

heard, he would abandon the food and prefer to dance.

Meanwhile, each time Sango went on a dancing tour,

Saate would keep warning and informing people where to meet

and see Sango in action. For instance:

Sango de e fie nu mo enu

Ero oja p‟ara mo

Inu oja la nlo

Ero oja p‟ara mo

Oju oja la nlo

28

P‟ara mo, p‟ara mo, p‟ara mo

(Sango is here!

Let everyone keep mute

Market men and women take cover

We are advancing to the marketplace

Market men and women take cover

We are proceeding to the centre of the market

Hide yourself, hide yourself, hide yourself!!!)

Bode Osanyin (1996) posited that the foundation of Bata in

Nigeria was more of a mythological and even religious than

factual history. He claimed that Bata is attributed to Sango and

the music is dedicated to the worship of certain gods or orishas.

Anthony King (1961:1 - 4) believes that the variety of dialects

among the Yoruba people is a factor for the versions of

traditional music and songs in use.

Alhaji Fatai Ojuade (1996) explained that Sango in his

lifetime was a warrior and any time he wanted to go to war, he

liked dancing to fast music in preparation for war. It was as if

Bata rhythms prepared him for war. He revealed that Sango used

to call for a drum (music) that could stimulate him and suit his

purpose. At the initial stage, Gangan (hour glass drum) was

brought for him but it failed until the sound of Omele meji gave

Sango the expected stimulation he needed.

Yoruba Dundun:

Dundun ensembles exist functionally and in practically

all parts of Yorubaland. In affirmation of this, Oba Laoye (1959,

10 -11) included Dundun drums to be among “those drums that

are found in use anywhere in Yorubaland”. The Dundun is part

of the geographical belt of hourglass drums in West Africa,

which in turn have links with hourglass drum areas in other parts

of the world. The West African distribution of Dundun has been

amply documented by Hause (1948) and Thieme (1969) and

defines the West African area as “stretching from Senegal at 

29

least as far south as the Cameroon Republic”. In Nigeria, the

tension drums are popular and in use in the North particularly

among the Hausa Fulani. It also exists among the Edo people but

seems to be unknown to the people of Eastern Nigeria.

The myths surrounding the origin of Dundun are of

varying ones as relayed and handed over with different versions.

Oba Laoye 1 (1959,10) submits that:

Dundun was first used by Ayan, a native of Saworo in

Ibaribaland. He taught some Yoruba families the art of

drumming and he was so loved by them that they

deified him after his death.

In support of Kabiyesi‟s assertion, Yesufu Ayankunle, the leader

of his personal Dundun ensemble claimed that dundun originated

from Saworo and from there went to Oyo and from there spread

to other parts of Yorubaland.

However another version by Laisi Ayansola affirmed

that Dundun started in Oyo and that it came to Oyo from Ile - Ife

because Ife was the place of origin of the entire Yoruba race.

On his part, Salami Ladokun, one of the drummers of the Alaafin

of Oyo, stated that it was Alaafin Atiba who introduced Dundun

to Oyo and, apparently, to other Yoruba towns.

Darius Thieme reported on the myth of Dundun origin a

direct conversation with Oba Laoye 1, and which states that the

introduction of the Dundun dates from the time of the Yoruba

migration into their present homeland, prior to the founding of

Ife, their migratory route having crossed the territory inhabited

by the Ibariba.

Meanwhile, the symbiotic relationships between music

and dance are premised on the conversations that go on among

the drums (instruments) which the dancer aesthetically interprets.

So, what then is the language of the drums?

The Language of the Drums

A glimpse into the life of African people indicates that

they have used drum telegraphy to communicate with each other 

30

from far away for centuries. The European expeditions of Africa

into the jungles to explore the local forest were reported prior to

their arrival, through message of their coming and their intention

was carried through the woods. An African message can be

transmitted at the speed of 100 miles in an hour (Davis, 2011).

Leonard Bloomfield, a linguist, simply defined language as the

„totality of utterances that can be made in a speech community

(cited in Chomsky, 1986:16).

While Edward Sapir, a language scholar of repute

defined language as “a purely human, non – instinctive method

of communicating ideas, emotions and desires by means of

voluntarily produced symbols” (Crystal, 1997:400).

The above definitions implies that language is an asset to

man, and is by far one of the greatest, most complex and most

enigmatic possessions, the quintessence of his humanity, without

which individuals and nations lose their mental and cultural

heritage (Essien, 1990: 168). The transferred effect of

complexities of language as it relates to drums is the root cause

of the varying forms of dances in use today. What then is the

language of the drums?

In application, the language of the drums can take

different forms, which are:

(a) The Direct Language of the drum

(b) The Drum Language that comes as a Metaphor

(c) The Indirect Language of the drum

In Africa, language creates a typical identity which is a source of

distinction. It has been observed especially in Nigeria that the

difference in language from one ethnic configuration to another

is very prominent. Such is a reflection of their culture and ways

of life.

In other words, the inherent methodologies involved in

the trade, which leads to linguistically mode of communication,

are essential to language formations. This aspect can be

compared with a learner of a new language or a baby who is in

the stage of making statements or forming sentences. There are 

31

basic steps to follow in such situations, which includes

identification of alphabets, syllables, words and sentences. The

steps as enumerated here, if adhered to, will assist the drummer

in his direction and will afford him the competence to fully take

charge of the performance(s).

Description of Fatai Oladosu Ojuade and his group in

performance

Ojuade‟s International troupe was headed by Late Alhaji

(Chief) Fatai Oladosu Adisa Ojuade, who doubles as the founder

and owner of the troupe. The troupe specializes in both bata and

dundun dance culture of the Yoruba people. Alhaji Ojuade was

the director, manager / lead dancer of the group. He equally

holds decision making power as it relates to the group in his

hands. The group comprises of male and female, dancers and

drummers as well. They are Chief Mayowa O. Adewoyin

(dancer), Tumbi Teroko (dancer), Bashirat F. Ojuade (now Mrs

Folashade Muktar – Itai), Fausat A. Ojuade (now Mrs Fausat

Ojudun), Wajeed A. Ojuade (dancer), Jeleel O. Ojuade (dancer),

Oladosu Abefe (lead drummer, Bata), Oladokun (drummer),

Kareem (drummer), Yekeen (drummer), Sowumi Adedapo (lead

drummer, Dundun), Sobade Adedapo (drummer), Alhaji

Rasheed Adedapo (drummer) and Lateef Adedapo (drummer).

The young Ojuade developed an interest in Yoruba cultural

heritage early in life. This was occasioned by his acquaintance

with an expert bata drummer whose name was Okunlola, who

occasionally visits Ifetedo from his home base in Ibadan.

Okunlola was reputed to have taught many expert bata

drummers in the South-West of Nigeria. The young Ojuade was

greatly inspired by him. He never missed an opportunity to

watch his bata performance anytime the drummer was in town.

From listening or merely watching, he graduated to dancing to

Okunlola‟s bata drumming anytime he was around. Later,

Ojuade was to groom his own bata master drummer – Late

Baderinwa Abefe Oladosu, who was then under the training of

Okunlola.

32

However, his father the (older Ojuade) did not cherish

the idea of a career in dance for his young son, mostly because of

Islamic injunctions against dance. But an uncle of his, Mr. J. A.

Gbadebo who saw the boy‟s interest, enthusiasm, dancing skill

and prowess was instrumental in encouraging and spurring him

on. Later, the elder Ojuade yielded, prayed for his son and even

bought him the costume and paraphernalia needed for this art.

In 1970, he formed a bata and dundun dance troupe built around

members of his own family, with a handful of outsiders. He

started a troupe consisting of eight drummers and eight dancers

including himself. The Ojuade performing troupe has a style of

presentation that is flexible and variable. On account of his wide

experience of joint performances with other performing groups,

it is quite at home wherever it is placed in the programme of

events. In thist type of situation, it is the organizers who

determine the order in which the group will appear. For example,

Ojuade‟s troupe entertained Kabiyesi Ooni Adesoji Aderemi

regularly in his palace and had prestigious outing in 1980 when

Oba Okunade Sijuwade was crowned the Ooni of Ife. On that

occasion, the Ojuade performing troupe had the pride of place of

being the first to perform, to usher in the ruler from the inner

chambers of the palace to Enuwa square.

33

Ojúadé & his International Troupe in Performance

 

Young Jeleel Ojúadé demonstrating Ìjà-fáfá-ti-fáfá (at

middle & low level), a replica of Àbìda form of Bàtá, at the

XXII Commonwealth Games & Warana Festival in

Brisbane, Australia in 1982.

At the Progressive Governor‟s performance in Enugu (as earlier

referred to in this lecture), the group was placed fourth in the

order of performance. Again, it is not always the case that the

full complement of the Ojuade performing troupe is called to

perform in such joint performances. A demand can be made by 

34

the organizers for the group to supply a few drummers and

dancers to join other artistes for a special performance.

The climax of the troupe‟s performance was on the

invitation of the Federal Government of Nigeria, through the

National Theatre of Nigeria to represent the country in a

performance. We had the privilege of working with experts from

the field of dance and music and artistes drawn from different

parts of the country which include; the Oji Anya Lere dancers

from Amasiri, Afikpo, Rambo Dancers from then Kwara but

now Kogi, Nkim Nkat from Cross River State and Atta Dabai

Group from Katsina.

However, when it is performing by itself in a programme

where it is possibly the sole or major performer, it has a regular

style of presentation. The Ara-bi-n-ti-nko dance is always the

first item on the programme. This item features the youngest

members of the bata troupe. The lead drummer ushers in with

Ara-bi-n-ti-nko drum beat. They enter in a single file

demonstrating various patterns of bata movements. They go into

a frontal formation i.e. in a single line facing the audience. After

this frontal formation has taken place, lead drummer signals the

beginning of the solo items. The dancers who are trained to listen

for signals are ready. So, the lead drummer now commences to

call forth the dancers one after the other to perform their various

solos. There can be between two and four Ija-fafa-ti-faafa

performance to go on. When it pleases him, he can stop the Ijafafa-ti-faafa and call out the next one tela-tele-tijala-tela-tijala.

There is no fixed time and there is no fixed order. The

lead drummer on Iya Ilu is completely at liberty to invite

whichever dancer he wants on stage. But he controls every

moment of their performance. It is the sum total of the Ija-fafa-tifaafa and tela-tela-tijala-tela-tijala dances that make up the Arabi-ti-nko.

At the end of this performance, the lead drummer signals

the exit of the Ara-bi-ti-nko dancers, they move to the corner of

the stage to let in the main bata dancers – the adults. These are

ushered in with more vigorous dance beats than that of the Ara-

35

bi-ti-nko dance. Once on stage, the Ara-bi-ti-nko dancers team

up with the principal bata dancers for a joint dance which is

brought to a climax after which the group salute the audience

either by prostrating in the Yoruba fashion or giving a military

salute. Thereafter, the lead drummer signals to the dancers to

move backstage. Then the lead drummer, as he has previously

done with Ara-bi-ti-nko dancers, commences to call forth the

principal bata solo dancers for their various / individual

performances, in which the leader of the troupe perform last. The

principal dancers perform essentially the same item with the

difference only that their performance is more detailed and

professional. In other words, it is more skilled, polished and

professional version of Ara-bi-n- ti n ko dancers that is

exhibited.

When the principal dancers have all had their solo, the

Ara-bi-n-ti nko dancers now team up with them for the final

dance. This signals the end of the performance. Again, they

salute the audience as they exit, usually accomplished with a

tumultuous applause.

In all, a performance can take a few minutes as the

leader, Alhaji Fatai Oladosu Adisa Ojuade does not like longer

performances. This is not to say that occasions do not occur

when the whole array of bata dance forms like Gbamu, Elekoto,

Elesee are displayed, but such occasions are rare.

Incidentally, his last major performance (Gese dance)

before his death was at the book launch of Professor Jacob

Kehinde Olupona NNOM of Harvard University, Cambridge,

Massachusetts, USA) on Thursday, December 12, 2012 at the

Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA), Lagos.

Performance Description of Lamidi Ayankunle (Ayanagalu)

and his group

Ayanagalu International group was headed by Alhaji

Lamidi Ayankunle, an expert drummer who hails from Iyaloja‟s

compound in Erin Osun. Erin Osun is a small rural town about

five kilometers from Osoogbo. He was the founder and the 

36

leader of the group. Alhaji Lamidi Ayankunle was born to a

father who migrated from Erin - Ile in the present day Kwara

State. He was born into the art of drumming.

It has been observed that since the 1950‟s, Erin Osun

artists (drummers and dancers) have been involved in the

propagation, practice and the preservation of arts in Osogbo. It

was believed to have been an off – shoot of an organized

network of Yoruba theatre companies (see Adekola 1995; Barber

and Ogundijo 1994) made up of series of workshops and a

number of lively local performances.

Ayanagalu International Group comprises of seasoned

and experienced dancers and drummers. It consists of male and

female artists, namely Alhaji Lamidi Ayankunle – the lead

drummer / leader and founder of the group. The next in rank is

the leader of the dancers, Ojetunde Ajayi, Kazeem Adurolu

(drummer), Rafiu Ayankunle (drummer), Taofeek Ajangila

(dancer), Busayo Ajangila Ojekunle (dancer), Sherif Ajangila (a

young boy who is also a dancer), Wahab Ayankunle (drummer),

Muyideen Ayankunle (drummer), Musiliyu Ayankunle

(drummer) and Musefiu Ayankunle (drummer).

This group started their career (drumming and dancing)

around the towns and neighbouring villages especially during the

worships of the Yoruba deities. They did not only graduate to

performances beyond the local terrain, but with training and

teaching of drumming and dancing bata and dundun specifically.

This particular „act‟ has taken the group members to virtually all

the corners of the world in order to participate in organized

workshops, seminars, festivals, command performances and

training and teaching people (would – be bata and dundun

dancers and musicians).

Every performance of Ayanagalu group is a variety

show, dance, spectacle, and revue. Ayanagalu group in

performance takes the form of the famous Alarinjo masquerade

dancers but with a little difference. In the popular Alarinjo

Travelling theatre, bata was virtually represented as an

accompaniment for their dances and dramas as presented by the 

37

troupes like Eiyeba, Adeogun and Aladokun from Ikirun (whose

main drum was Igbin, but who often used bata), Aiyelabola,

Lebe, Ajangila from Iragberi, Lasisi Alijonnu from Oyo, and

later Agbegijo and Ajof‟eebo. They are renowned bata dancers

and drummers, whose families, and lineages are linked with the

worship of Sango and / or the Egungun (masquerades). The

activities of the Alarinjo Troupes support Williams J. and Judith

Hannah‟s (1972:238) in their views that:

African dance introduces and maintains the cultural

patterns; eases socio-psychological tension; encourages

the fulfillment of such goals as reproduction work and

military activities, expresses the religious order and

strengthens the feeling of social solidarity.

Joel Adedeji‟s (1978:44) perception of bata in performances of

the Alarinjo troupes shows its numerous duties and a special

order is followed in every program. The performance opens with

scintillating drum texts and powerful introduction of the group

(Ayanagalu) to the audience. The drum roll brings the dancers

(both old and young) on to the stage with a free-for-all dance

(improvised steps). It continues for a while, giving the audience

varieties of styles and forms of Yoruba dance movements. At a

particular point, during the performance, the lead drummer,

(Alhaji Lamidi Ayankunle) picks up the Iya – Ilu, praises,

communicates deeply calling on or at times praying for a

successful outing. This consists of the Ijuba, the homage and the

pledge, followed by a period of dancing, acrobatic displays and

ballad singing.

The lead drummer goes into a familiar tune, and the

other drummers, having dropped Dundun for Bata, join in what

can be referred to as the „introductory dance‟. The

aforementioned praises serve as stop – gaps for the dancers to

get ready costume – wise and take their cues. As the dance

progresses, the lead drummer goes into another interesting tune,

which depends on the arrangement agreed on with the dancers on

who comes first. Here, the drummers bring one after the other 

38

different dance steps / forms / styles of the Yoruba gods and their

nuances are paraded to the audience. Moreover, different types

of Bata movements such as Gbamu, Eja, Elesee and Elekoto are

exhibited and clearly demonstrated in dance and music.

In performance, the individual dancers face the audience,

thereby displaying their knowledge of the drums and the

interpretation of such in movements in form of solo

performance. This style gives the audience the opportunity to

formally assess the dancers and probably criticize each of the

dancers. At the same time, the drummers engage in a series of

cultural / talent displays on their drums. The drummers

seemingly break the tradition of Bata or the convention guiding

Yoruba language speakers. It is a rule that the younger ones

should accord the elderly respect when talking and not interject

or interfere. But in performance, Ayanagalu group has

experimented with the drummer on Omele meji, using his

medium to make clear and audible statements on the drum.

This method is very common among the musicians, and

it is employed for aesthetic purposes. The acquisition of skills in

the art of Bata and Dundun drumming and the subsequent

expertise is based on one‟s readiness. Alhaji Ayankunle stated

that in order to learn fast, there is a need for such a learner to:

(i) Set his / her mind into the „art‟ or „act‟

(ii) Be versatile in the art of drumming and

(iii)Get improvement through trial of different drums (bata

and dundun ensemble).

Bata dancer naturally is athletic and gives a good shape to the

human frame. The dance is difficult in practice, but aesthetically

pleasing to the watching audience. The dance is predicated on

talents. It is a gift, which can equally be acquired as a skill

through teaching.

Ayanagalu group has trained a lot of people in the arts of

drumming and dancing including foreigners who are interested

in Yoruba bata and dundun dance culture, including Professor

(Chief) Debra Klein in the United States of America and 

39

Ayantunde Anselm Ramacher in Germany. The philosophers

have tried to decipher the cyclic nature of the earth, while this

lecture takes a total approach in looking at the concept of „Man‟s

entire journey through life. Looking at the cycle, Man at will join

in the cycle but with a time frame determined only by the

Supreme Being. It is a movement that has a beginning, middle

and an end.

However, Dance is the only universal language of

expression irrespective of the profession, society, group,

organization, government and all but with least attention. Dance

exudes happiness, promotes unity, attracts followers, douses

tension, heals, educates and functions positively in other

applications. How come we do not recon with our dances? We

only remember „Dance‟ when we are desperate to achieve a task!

Such example is during religious /ritual events and socio –

cultural activities. During campaign for elections, our politicians

dance till eternity. How come it is difficult to preserve our

dances, to create archives for the documentation of this rich

cultural aspect of our life? A people‟s dance forms part of their

histories. Have we pondered to ask or answer the question: What

is your dance in Life? Unfortunately, the period of human dance

on earth is „short‟ but within a cycle. Therefore, „Dance is Life

and Life is Dance‟.

My Contributions to the Development and Growth of Dance

in Nigeria

Mr. Vice - Chancellor, Sir, prior to my employment at

the University of Ilorin, I have had the privilege and honour to

contribute largely to the growth and development of Dance

culture in Nigeria through my late Dad‟s troupe (Ojuade and his

International Group) at the local, national and international

levels. At different times from the early 1970‟s, we represented

the western region in competitions which won several laurels. In

addition, the troupe participated in theatrical activities at the state

and federal levels between 80‟s and early 90‟s, particularly at the

National Theatre of Nigeria where we performed with artistes 

40

from different parts of Nigeria. We had collaborative

performance with the Institute of Cultural Studies at the then

University of Ife, where we worked with Peggy Harper and her

team. Also, we were part of representation of Nigeria

internationally particularly at the XII Commonwealth Games and

Warana Festival in Brisbane, Australia in 1982 and at another

cultural exchange performance tour of the Republic of South

Korea in 1983. Here, we performed a dance drama titled, „The

Marriage of Princess Sidibe‟ written and choreographed by Edith

Uche Enem.

I joined the services of the University of Ilorin at a

critical point in time. The department was on the verge of being

merged with the English department due to the fact that there

was no one to teach the dance arm of the Performing Arts. I was

like the umbilical cord that saved the department at that moment.

I taught all the courses in Dance with supervision across all

levels, Undergraduate, Master‟s and Doctorate. The teaching

experience transcends the University of Ilorin. As a guest

scholar, I taught and presented academic papers at different part

of the world including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

(MIT), MA, Boston University, Boston, MA, USA; Harvard

University, Cambridge, MA, USA; Swansea Metropolitan

University (UK); Johannes Gutenberg University at Mainz

(Germany); Indiana University, Indianapolis, USA; University of

Warwick, UK; University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg,

South Africa; Kingston, Jamaica; Maryland, USA; Centre for

Comparative Literature, University of Toronto, Canada;

University of Missouri, St. Louis, USA; University of Bahia

(UNEB), Salvador - Bahia, Brazil; University of Cape Coast,

Cape Coast, Ghana; Osaka University, Toyonaka Campus,

Osaka, Japan; Goldsmiths, University of London, UK; York

University, Toronto, Canada; University of Stellenbosch, South

Africa; Brasilia, Brazil; University of Botswana, Gaborone,

Botswana; Georgia Centre for Continuing Education, Africa

Studies Institute, University of Georgia, Athens, USA;

University of Texas at Austin, USA; Division of Performing Arts 

41

and Film, Video, Chung - Ang University, Seoul, Republic of

Korea; Helsinki, Finland; Athens, Greece among others.

I got myself actively involved in research and

publication especially in my specialized field of dance, using the

medium of Yoruba Bata and Dundun to produce, publish and

present academic papers at local, national and international

media in form of Journal articles and chapters in books by

outstanding publishing houses.

In adding value to the growth and development of the

University, I facilitated a free donation of a 40 foot container of

medical equipment that worth over Four Hundred Million of

naira by Project cure with their headquarters in Denver,

Colorado, USA. In the same vein, I got a Two Million dollars

donation from the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) for

the construction of Engineering Laboratory and got free books at

different times into the University Library among others.

I have attended several conferences, trainings and

workshops and made over fifty presentations. I have attracted

research grants from within and outside the country in

furtherance of my passion to contribute to and expand my

frontiers of knowledge through research. I benefited from the

African Humanities Program (AHP) of the American Council for

Learned Societies - ACLS in 2014 for a Post – Doctoral

Fellowship and research program. With this grant, I was able to

facilitate a partnership between my department, the Performing

Arts and the National Theatre of Ghana and initiated and

facilitated the visit of HE President John Dramani Mahama

(former President of the Republic of Ghana) to the University of

Ilorin where he delivered the 40th Anniversary Convocation

Address on the 23rd October, 2015. Also, facilitated a bilateral

relationship between the National Troupe of Nigeria and the

National Theatre of Ghana. As a matter of fact, the National

Theatre of Ghana on my request sent their troupe to come and

perform at that year‟s convocation ceremony free of charge. I

also facilitated and won the Carnegie African Diaspora

Fellowship Program (ADF) in 2014. I need to recognize the 

42

personal efforts of Professor Bayo Lawal (who was the Deputy

Vice – Chancellor, Academic at this time and ensuring that all

the documents got signed despite the timing.

I have been able to use my publications with particular

emphasis on Dance to dwell on topical issues ranging from

religion issues (Ojuade, 2008); to Issues in Security, Peace and

Conflict Management (2017); to the Development of music and

Dance (2006); Music and Dance as instruments of political

communication (2005); Music and Dance viewed as Tools in the

Attainment of Millennium Development Goals in Nigeria

(2010); observed the Change and Continuity in Bata

Performance (2010); Sustenance of Dance Development and its

Performance in the Western part of Nigeria (2005); The

Secularization of Bata Dance in Nigeria (2002); Negotiating the

„Nexus‟ in the Teaching of Nigerian Yoruba Bata History and

Culture to the Diaspora and Africa (2010); Traditional

Psychotherapy: Ifa Divination Orientation (2013); Performing

Folklore in Nigerian Society: Challenges and Prospects (2011);

The Nigerian Dance and the National Question (2004); Dance

and Music as a Catalyst for Democratic Freedom In Nigeria

(2003); The Theatre Option in the Management of Radicalisation

and Radicalised Groups in Nigeria (2013); The Multicultural

Nature of Yoruba Bata Culture and its Development in Africa

(Nigeria) and the Diaspora (2012); Democratic Governance in

Nigeria: A Calculated Theatrical Performance or a Fantasy?

(2011), The Roles of Arts and Culture in the Management of

Ethnic and Religious Conflicts in Nigeria (2010); Dance in the

Service of Humanity (2006); African Dance in Diaspora:

Examples of Nigerian Yoruba Bata and Dundun (2011);

Interpreting the Language of the Drums: A Case Study of

Yoruba Traditional Bata and Dundun (2009); Dance Culture and

Development in Nigeria: A Study of Gese Dance of Yorubas

(2006); Interrelationship between Voice, Instruments and

Movements in Dadakuada Music among the Ilorin people of

Nigeria (2017); African Dance in Diaspora: The Yoruba 

43

Example from Nigeria (2004); Rhythm of life: Interview with

Hon. Justice MMA Akanbi CFR, PCA (Rtd.)., among others.

Epilogue (Conclusion)

Concerted efforts were made by earlier practitioners for

the dances of that period to enjoy the patronage of the people.

Their troupes moved from one town, cities and countries to

another educating and mentoring people. Research efforts were

stepped up through documentations, conferences, seminars,

symposia and trainings in the Universities where theatre related

courses were taught.

Currently, dance studies and practice have taken another

dimension. The study of dance is well structured and has layers

in scholarship. Hence, we have dance schools with equivalent

degrees and awards in practice. There are professional groups /

troupes and bodies like GOND, ADSPON, Dr. Kafayat Shafau -

Ameh‟s Imagneto Dance Company, Liadi Adedayo‟s Ijodee

Dance Company, Segun Adefila‟s Oriade Dance Group and

others ensuring the sustenance of the dance profession.

Over the years, I have created platforms within my

teaching and research to accommodate the practitioners through

workshops and trainings. It gives the students direct

opportunities and access to the professionals, while in turn, the

professionals use their expertise to train within short period of

time some techniques, styles, forms, traditional dance steps and

other relevant aspects of their trade.

The experience have yielded positive results in terms of

skill acquisitions, self discovery, talent haunts, documentations,

academic paper writings and added knowledge. Of course, dance

is globally capturing the attention of the audience in

performances and theories. The contemporary forms of dance is

widely spreading with the assistance of technology, people can

easily learn such forms and accommodate them for subsequent

applications and usage.

However, my experience at the University of Ilorin and

Kwara State University (Performing Arts Department) where I 

44

teach shows the astronomical growth in the number of students

enrolling for both undergraduate and postgraduate studies in

dance. A peep into the outside world of the academia equally

filled with dancers of repute or would - be dancers, who

constantly get engaged in dance practices.

Mr. Vice – Chancellor, Sir, it was a joyful and fulfilling

moment for me at the last convocation ceremonies; where the

Performing Arts Department produced four PhD graduates, out

of which i supervised the trio of Drs. Tosin Kooshima Tume,

Peter Adeiza Bello and Esther Petra Apata in Dance. Also, in the

last couple of months, I have been travelling (as external

examiner) to examine candidates in other sister universities who

defended their thesis in dance. Therefore, Dance is Life and Life

is Dance.

Recommendations

Mr. Vice –Chancellor, Sir, distinguished invited guests,

ladies and gentlemen, I consider this elaborate, solemn but

classic event, which is globally academic accepted norm, a rare

privilege for me to address issues bothering on our dances. In

view of the prevailing state, this inaugural lecture recommends

as follows:

1. The Federal Government of Nigeria to reconsider the

separation of the Federal Ministry of Culture and

Tourism from being merged with another entity. It will

be plausible to create a tripod stand involving our

traditional institutions and the academia. Such

partnership will enhance the preservation of our culture

including the dance.

2. The Federal Ministry of Education and other organ

agencies should reconsider the teaching and study of

history, culture, museum and monuments as part of the

curriculum. A society devoid of history is on the verge

of collapse. 

45

3. Government at various levels should ensure the

documentation of our cultural dances through the

establishment of documentation centres.

4. Let us desist from debasing our dance culture. It has

been flagrantly reduced to campaign activities or

pleasurable „acts‟. „Our dances represent our life‟ and

deserves better treatment.

5. Government should establish „Dance hubs‟ at different

strata of the societies. It will generate revenue through

tourists and a training centre for the people.

6. Do let us take the advantage of the health benefits

accrued to dancing to stay healthy through regular dance

activities which will; improve the condition of human

heart and lungs; increase muscular strength, endurance

and motor fitness; increase aerobic fitness; improve

muscle tone and strength; gives one better coordination,

agility and flexibility.

7. Dance experts and practitioners should be accorded

diplomatic treatment in order to reduce stress in

procuring travelling documents.

8. There is the need for research funding in the areas of

dance studies and practice.

9. This lecture serves as a wake- up call to the agencies of

culture to act as „store – house‟ and ably document

African Arts and Culture in order to be able to „train the

trainers‟ in the Diaspora based on „authentic

documentations‟.

10. Efforts should be made to further organize international

festivals, performances, exhibition where our dances can

be showcased.

46

MY LAST LINE

Mr. Vice – Chancellor, Sir, Ladies and gentlemen,

indeed, the human life is in cycles of highs and lows. Today, he

is on the mountain top, tomorrow, he is in the valley of life.

Once the wheel turns full circle, a cycle is gone. However,

whether in your highs or Lows, Dance accompanies you all

through the cycle and circle: when you are happy, you dance,

you also dance away your sorrows at your trying moments. So

we can conclude without equivocation that life is dance and

dance is life.

As a matter of fact, if we have an expanded definition of

the dance concept and definition is to be a rhythmic gyration of

parts of the body to certain stimulations. Then, even copulation

which precedes conception is a dance activity. Then, the entire

life cycle of a man is full of dance in one form or the other. From

copulation to conception; birth to celebration of birth

anniversaries and /other life achievements; even unto death, man

dances all through the cycles and circles. Dance, therefore, is

Life and Life is Dance. We live to dance, we dance to live.

Mr. Vice – Chancellor, Sir, distinguished Ladies and

gentlemen, when the drummer stops at the tail end of a

performance, the dancer reclines, but anxiously waiting for the

next opportunity to show his dexterity at his beckoning. I recline

for now while waiting for the next beckoning signal. Have my

sincere gratitude and appreciation. For making this event

possible and a huge success, I say, God bless you all. I wish you

all journey mercies back to your destinations.

Thank you.

Acknowledgements

Mr. Vice – Chancellor, Sir, It is very essential and of

paramount importance to show gratitude to Allah SWT, the Lord

of the Universe, He who created all for us to dwell in and He

who is the sustainer of Heaven and Earth. All glory to Him and I

say Alhamdhulillah robili alamina, for granting me the honour

and privilege to dance through life up to this moment without 

47

any regret. He has been sufficient for me at every stage of my

life.

Baami, Olofin Adimula, Arole Oodua, Ooni Adeyeye

Enitan Babatunde Ogunwusi, Ooni of Ife. Baba, I‟m really

grateful for your kindness, affection and love for me. Long may

you live on the throne of your fore bearers. HRM Oba Akinola

Oyetade Akinrera, Latiiri 1, Olubosin of Ifetedo Kingdom,

Kabiyesi Oba Lawrence Olu Babajide, Bamgbala 1, Oluoke of

Okeigbo, Kabiyesi Olugbon, Ajero, Timi, Aseyin, Orangun of

Oke - Ila, Kabiyesi Osogun Aro (the god iron and warrior

incarnate), Kabiyesi Obaluru (Oranfe Onile‟na, the fiery

thunder-like),High Chief Adekola Adeyeye (Lowa Adimula of

Ife) and other kings from Ile-Ife, Sooko and the entire Ajilesoro

family and other kings here present, I‟m indeed honoured with

your presence.

My ceaseless gratitude to my dear Daddy, a great

teacher, „the best friend ever‟, gist partner, trainer, an orator per

excellence, dancer of repute and a pious being, my late father –

Alhaji Fatai Oladosu Adisa Ojuade – The immediate Aare Alasa

of Ifetedo Kingdom for all you were to everyone of us that we

succeed in life. Of course, I know you would have broken

academic protocol today to challenge the drummers with your

adroit steps on the dance floor to do what you know best. May

Aljanah Firdaous be his final abode. I also want to express my

sincere gratitude to my dear Mum, Mrs Hamdalat Emilola

Akanke Ojuade, „Iya Bashirat‟, for your stringent virtues,

motherly care, love and the training that we received from you.

May the Almighty Allah grant you good health and long life to

enjoy the fruits of your hard labour.

I equally appreciate my father‟s friends, Chief Rufus

Ogundele, Baba Enoch Adejare Adeboye, Professor Wole

Soyinka, Chief Olatubosun Oladapo, Chief Alabi Ogundepo and

others.

My Paternal grandparents, Alhaji Oseni Ayilara Okero

and his brother, Baba Zakariyawu Aderibigbe Ojuade (alias

Baba Okeigbo) and Mama Alimotu Olayanju Obuyun Ojuade 

48

with her sister, Mama Sifawu Ebunoluwa Eludolapo Adeosun

(Mama Oke Alaafia), it‟s only Allah that can thank you enough

for me. I know that I had the best of time with you before your

departure.

My Maternal grandparent, Imam Hussain Akindunni

(Late Chief Imam of Ifetedo) and Mama Sabitiyu Gbemsola

Akindunni (Iya Etio), Chief A.M.S. Arawole, pray Allah SWT

keep granting you the best part of Aljana.

I need to thank all my teachers at every phase of my

growth and development. Some taught me physically in class

rooms, while some were remote and discreet in their approach. I

need to thank my big aunties, Mrs Muibat Temilola Oguntola

(Nee Akindunni) and Mrs Fausat Olateju Ojudun (Nee Ojuade)

for being our „teachers‟, trainers, cooks, house help, etc when we

young. We love you dearly and pray that you live to enjoy us

with good health and sound minds.

I need to thank the entire Balogun Ojuade family for all

the support and love always. The Akindunnis, I appreciate you.

In appreciating the labours over me by my teachers, I will simply

categorize them under each caption as follows:

a. Primary Education

These are the molders of human brains right from

toddler. I thank those at the Ansar - Ud - Deen primary school,

Okeigbo and those at St. Thomas primary School, Iwoye – Ijesa.

God Almighty will reward you abundantly.

b. Secondary Education

All my teachers at Iwoye Ijesa Grammar School, Iwoye

– Ijesa and Ayanbeku Memeorial Grammar School, sincere

thanks for the love and strictness of handling us. Also, my

classmates and former students of IIGS and Ayanbeku (Class of

84), I thank you.

49

c. Polytechnic, Ilorin

I had the opportunity of being taught by the best brains

ever at the then Kwara State College of Technology (Institute of

Basic and Advanced Studies – IBAS), Ilorin, for the IJMB

Advanced Levels. Of particular mentioning are Professors

Victoria Adunola Alabi, Oyinkan Medubi (now with the

University of Ilorin) and Mrs Olubunmi Olayinka Ajibade. I

appreciate you all.

d. University Education

My appreciation goes to all my teachers at the

University of Ilorin and at the Institute of African Studies,

University of Ibadan, Nigeria. Of particular mentioning are

Professor (Mrs) Zulu Sofola, Professor Akanji Nasiru, Professor

Bode Omojola, Professor Ayobami Olubunmi Akinwale, of

blessed memory (who supervised my first degree); Professor

Cornelius Adepegba, Professor (Mrs) Mosunmola Omibiyi –

Obidike, Dr (Mrs) Fidelma Okwesa (who supervised my

Masters), Professor Oladele Layiwola (who supervised my

Ph.D); all my teachers at the Faculty of Law and MBA,

particularly Professor (Mrs) Sidiqat Adeyemi (who supervised

my project) class at the University of Ilorin. I thank you

immensely.

Of course, my class of 93 and the entire graduates of the

Performing Arts Department from inception till date, I love you

dearly and sincerely. Thank and God bless you. I need to thank

Dr. Abdullah Jibril Oyekan,the immediate past Pro - Chancellor

and Chairman Governing Council, former Vice Chancellors,

Professors Shuaib Oba AbdulRaheem, Shamsudeen O.O.Amali,

Is - haq O. Oloyede and AbdulGaniyu Ambali. Really grateful,

Sirs.

My sincere gratitude to the Vice - Chancellor, Professor

Sulyman Age AbdulKareem under whose tenure that I got

elevated into this „Chair‟ and who approved my nomination to

deliver this inaugural lecture today. I wish to also express my 

50

appreciation to the Principal Officers of this great University of

Ilorin.

My sincere appreciation goes to Professor Muhammed

Mustapha Akanbi SAN, the Vice – Chancellor, Kwara State

University, Malete – Ilorin; Professor Eyitope Ogunbodede, the

Vice – Chancellor, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile – Ife;

Professor Charles Arizechukwu Igwe, the Vice – Chancellor,

University of Nigeria, Nsukka and others here present. I thank all

the Professors, senate members, academic and non academic

staff and entire university community for their love. I appreciate

you.

I equally thank the entire management and staff of the

Kwara State University, Malete - Ilorin. I also acknowledge the

roles of my Uncles and Aunties, Professor AbdulRashid

Aderinoye, Daddy Sikiru Ojuade, Professor Jacob Kehinde

Olupona NNOM and his wife, Daddy Yunus Hussain Akindunni,

Bro, Gafar Ojuade, Bro. Nurudeen Ojuade, Bro. Musediq

Ojuade, Professor and Mrs Wahab Johnson, Bro. Yekeen

Ojuade,Bro. Jabaar Akindunni, Bro. Bade Ojuade, Mallam

Yusuf Olaolu Ali SAN, Pastor Ituah Olajide Ighodalo, Bro. Aliu

Badmus, Aunty Laremi Sowole, Professor Abdulwahab Olasupo

Egbewole SAN, Prince Albert and Mrs Rosaline Olayemi

Awofisayo, Dr. and Mrs Waheed Idowu Olanrewaju, Chief

Jamiu Ekungba, Alhaji Liad Tella, Mr. Gbadega Adedapo,

Alhaji Hassan Mohammed Bello, Chief Olu Faseyitan, Dr. Kola

Faseyitan, Mrs. Foluke Adesope, Dr Saidat Olaide Hamzat,

Uncle Peter Badejo OBE, Alhaji and Alhaja Muibat Shola Khalil

Bolaji Professor Omofolabo Ajayi - Soyinka and others.

I must not forget in appreciating my friends, who are my

brothers and sisters: Eng. Femi Atoyebi, Dr. Razaq Adedayo,

Alhaji Shittu Mohammed, Bode Olayemi, Abdulmumin Jimoh,

Kehinde James Akintide, Emma Ehimoro, Kayode Babatunde,

Adekunle Mohammed Idiagbon, Barrister Ronke Adeyemi, Niyi

Ige, Lawrence Adebowale Oyetunji, „Mide Adegbite, Barrister

Olanrewaju Alli, Barristers Mutalubi Ojo Adebayo and Kazeem

Gbadamosi, Barrister Wole Adeosun, Prince Jide Fadairo, 

51

Barristers Ayanyemi Kasali and Niran Adedokun, Debo Atunwa,

Hon. Bolaji Oyeleye ,Luqman Yahaya, Sarafa Onaolapo, Dayo

Fadumila, Mr. Segun Adebayo, Mr. Jibola Ojedele, Gbenga

Osinjolu, Kola Oyewale, Mrs Tomi Odumeru, Chief Moshood

Ogunlowo, Dr. Bunmi Ogunlade, Yemisi Adeyeye, Pastor Niyi

Oladokun, Bayo and Bola Akinfemi, Biodun Adegbite, Pastor

Stanley Adeyemi, Evangelist Biodun Adekola, Anisah Titilayo

Lawal, Mrs Abosede Olu Bello, Mrs Toyin Dada, Princess

Florence Feyikemi Ayoola Egbeyemi, Mrs Iyabo Adebiyi, Akin

Adesola, Pastor Abiola Adeboye Samuel, Pastsor David Tunde

Oloruntola, Pastor Wale Ajibade, , Deaconess Adeji Paul

Roseline, Mrs Olayinka Idowu, Mrs Ronke Smith, Amaka Gogo

- Ibiama, Bose Olumontanmi, Mrs Anoko Moriamo Adeshiyan,

Dr. Bose Awodola, Mrs Oluwakemi Abolaji, Mr and Mrs Kemi

Akin - Ajayi, Mariam Shola Idowu, Mrs Oro Juliet Olalekan,

Gbenga Rotimi, Mrs Victoria Chinyere Nwankwo, Mrs Nelly

Iroro Olanlokun, Mrs Rosemary Elue Ashinze, Mrs Joyce

Adeleye Aghomon, Clifford Onyenakporo, Maruf Atunse,

Pastor Kayode Oguta, Babatunde Akinola, Mrs Tope Omoloye,

Adesola Olamijulo, Ismael Bello, Ibraheem Bello, Suraj Bello,

Taofeeq Ojuade, Dapo Ojuade, Temitope Amusa, Mojeed Bello,

Professor Chief Debbie Klein, Late Kameel Olubukola Azeez

(May Allah be pleased with your soul) and others.

I appreciate with great respect my dear senior colleagues

and friends through the leadership of our professional bodies,

Professor Alex Asigbo (The President, SONTA and the entire

members), President, GOND and members, President, AfTA and

members, President, IFTR and members, NBA and particularly

Kwara State chapter, President, CID - UNESCO and members,

the entire members of ADSPON and others.

My dear students (former and those that we are still

together) at the University of Ilorin, Kwara State University and

others, I appreciate you and really grateful. I sincerely appreciate

the affection and love that I get daily from the people of my

communities, Ile - Ife, Okeigbo and Ifetedo. 

52

With the kind permission of the Vice - Chancellor and

Olofin Adimula, I need to thank Kabiyesi, Olubosin of Ifetedo

and his chief - in - council for the honour done our Late father,

Alhaji Fatai Ojuade, for returning his title „Aare Alasa of Ifetedo

Kingdom‟ back to the Balogun Ojuade dynasty and

unanimously, they nominated me for that role, which you

graciously approved and chalked me in June, 2021. The

installation ceremony comes up at your palace on Saturday 13th

November, 2021 (10:00am). We are indeed grateful for the

honour, sir.

Mr. Vice - Chancellor, Sir, permit me to eulogize my

siblings, thanking them for the unflinching support they have

been giving me since birth, even those who joined after me, and

the affection that they randomly radiate. Looking at the number

that I‟m occupying, at the middle, but they conceded the

leadership to me as the youngest (from the top and bottom). I

just need to let you know that I love you and your spouses with

your children.

Finally, let me thank the duo of Amber and Jamaal

(Limba and JBoy) that the Almighty have gifted me with, for

growing up to understand the reasons why their Dad stay the

nights behind the computers, reading or writing, while they go to

sleep and wake up to meet him in same position. This inaugural

lecture of today doused your curiosity and probably informed

you more about „hard work‟. I love you always.

Mr. Vice - Chancellor, Sir, distinguished audience, this

inaugural lecture as presented and mentioned at the beginning,

that it is the first of its kind coming from Dance arm of the

Performing Arts Department, Faculty of Arts, the University

community and if I‟m correct, the very first from a University in

Nigeria in the area of dance studies and practice. Then, there is

that need to take on the dance floor as I thank you all for your

rapt attention. Gracia…

E pe, Bata la‟wa n jo

Bata la‟wa n jo

Eni ba wu ooo

53

Eni ba wu

Ko ki wa l‟ode

Bata la wa n jo o jare…

E tun pe

Dundun la wa n jo

Dundun la wa n jo

Eni ba wu ooo

Eni ba wu

Ko bu wa l‟ode

Dundun la wa n jo o jare…

 

·      Ojuade, Professor of Dance Studies and Practice delivered this as his inaugural lecture on Thursday November 11, 2021 at the Main Auditorium of the University of Ilorin, Kwara State.

 rth (For the Record)

 

By Jeleel Ojuade

 

Prelude

Mr. Vice - Chancellor Sir, today is indeed a remarkable

one in the global dance space and annals. I feel greatly honored

to be given the opportunity to share with you this evening,

aspects of my engagements with Dance Studies and Practice

over the years. There could not have been a better time, place

and occasion than now, before this great audience at the „Better

By Far‟ University - the University of Ilorin – and on the

occasion of her Two hundred and Eighth Inaugural Lecture that

global attention is diverted physically and virtually to an aspect

of us, a significant part of our rich culture, tradition, heritage,

pride and indeed a universal language, „Dance‟.

 My involvement or entanglement with Dance, I dare say,

is accidental and providential. My case is that of an observer

turned participant. I had my debut as a barely four and half year

old toddler. It was at an event where my late father‟s performing

troupe was invited. My curiosity to see or understand that

„language of the drum‟ at that dancing arena led me to the real

„dance theatre‟ from the sidelines where I was placed to sit

quietly and watch the dance. Instinctively, the little boy

innocently strolled in, jumping up and down to the rhythm of the

„Dundun‟ drums as professionally played by the duo of Baba

Sowumi and Sobade Adedapo from Ifetedo ( both of blessed

memories). Alas, this act of the little boy was received with

mixed feelings: shock, surprise, excitement, reservations,

acceptance and even condemnation. This is not unexpected

because as at that time in history, dance was seen as „ise alagbe‟

– craft of and for beggars. Now, for a four and half year old to

„throw his hat; in the dance ring (when he should be preparing to

go to school) was unheard of and perceived as a misnomer and

patently abnormal. However, that occasion was my launch pad

into a career that brought you all here today. I had my induction

that day and was „on – boarded‟ immediately into the Ojuade

and His Performing Troupe.

My father, Late Alhaji Fatai Oladosu Adisa Ojuade,

confessed in a discussion with me years later that my „gamble‟ 

3

of that day paid off handsomely because it became a potent

strategy for „money making‟ thus making „Dance part of his

Life‟. Why? Performance Proceeds tripled when benchmarked

against earlier performances where I did not feature. It turned

out to be a stellar performance which laid the foundation and

opened up several other dance engagements and opportunities

across regional, national and global spectra.

Suffice to say at this juncture that a foundational

approach to dance culture as reflected in numerous ethnic dance

escapades of the Yorubas (through the medium of „Gese‟ and

„Bata‟) metamorphosed into a tri–cyclic and tri-podal

phenomena of Teaching, Research and Community

Development or Service to Humanity. This we shall see in the

course of this „short‟ interactive session.

Introduction

Mr. Vice - Chancellor, Sir and Distinguished Ladies and

Gentlemen, I thought this Theme - Dance Is Life, Life Is Dance:

A Cyclical Nature Of Man On Earth could be better told or

showcased through „movements‟ because Dance is voiceless,

and operates functionally as “non verbal but practical

communication art”, but academic tradition permits no such. I

am compelled to present to colleagues, the campus community

and the general public my works – past, present and future

direction in teaching, learning and research within the Dance sub

set of Performing Arts. And this I am excited to do.

My Presentation today is a double edged sword and I

stand to be the link cord between „town‟ and „ gown‟

representing both of the dance worlds of a practitioner and an

academic. It is gratifying to note that my participation in active

dance could be traced back to Ile - Ife (the Source of Mankind,

Centre of the Universe and the Origin of Civilization from where

it diffused to other parts of the globe.)

4

Ife Ooye (x3)

Olori aaye gbogbo.

Ife the living (x3)

The supreme head of the universe.

Ile - Ife, also known as Ife, is an ancient city in the

southwestern part of Nigeria, at present, a part of Osun State. Ile

- Ife is said to date back to around 500 B.C, when it was founded

and is the oldest Yoruba city. A city located at the centre of the

universe, where the gods descended to the earth.

Hence, we can see the preponderance of Ile - Ife in the

cycle of life especially within the context of the African

Traditional and Religious belief system. A cursory excursion

into Ifa Mythology, theology and Corpus lends credence to this

assertion.

For me, Ori Olokun centre located at Arubiidi area in Ile

– Ife, exerted a significant influence on me. It was a rendezvous

for both the practitioners and those in the academia for

collaborative research exercises and performances in the days of

yore. I was a regular face there accompanying my father,

occasionally, on performances, workshops, training tours etc.

This afforded me the privilege of meeting and mingling with

great minds, highly revered Professors, eminent scholars, culture

promoters, practitioners of repute and emerging leaders of our

various communities from diverse ethnic backgrounds and

nationalities across the global spectrum under a convivial

atmosphere of discussions and ideas exchanges on propagation

and development of culture and traditions.

My dance expedition and experience horizons got wider

afterwards. It became part of my learning curve which proved

handy in all my life endeavors. Nostalgically, I could draw an

example of a particular poem I composed for our end of year

activities during my primary education (Pry. II) at the Ansar - Ud

- Deen Primary School, Okeigbo (in present Ile - Oluji / Okeigbo 

5

Local Government Area of Ondo State, Nigeria) in the mid 70‟s

where my Mum was a teacher.

F‟ada g‟era wo

Ki o to g‟egi ni igbo

Fi kumo dan‟ra wo

Ki o to na eranko

J‟awe opoto k‟o r‟rija eerun

J‟awe b‟onu ki o ri ise odi

Ohun o fe ni ki o f‟emi fe

Ohun o o fe, ma fi l‟omi wo

Gbo‟do ru

Ki n gbalapa ru o

Gun mi l‟odo

Ki n lo o l‟olo.

Attempt using a cutlass to cut yourself

Before cutting a tree in the forest

Attempt flogging yourself with a big whip

Before flogging an animal

Pick „opoto‟ leave and experience the wrath of „eerun‟

Put leave in your mouth and see the other side of a deaf

Wish me what you would wish yourself

What you would not want, do not try it on me

Put mortal on my head

And I will help you to put a heavy load on you

Pound me with pestle and mortal, and

I will grind you.

Inaugural Lectures in the Performing Arts

In continuation of the cycle on earth, I was led to the

academic world in phases (which at a point during this lecture, I

will discuss). My area of interest in Performance Arts is Dance

Studies and Practice, and with special emphasis on Bata and

Dundun culture of the Yorubas.

Mr. Vice - Chancellor, permit me to pay homage to the

initiators of this academic tradition and custom of giving 

6

inaugural lectures by newly appointed Professors. It is an

occasion of significance in an academic staff member‟s career.

This lecture is the sixth from the Department of the Performing

Arts. I am proud to follow in the tradition and line of erudite

scholars like Professor Zulu Sofola who gave the maiden

inaugural lecture in this department on 28th March 1991.

Professors Ayobami Olubunmi Akinwale, Akanji Nasiru,

AbdulRasheed Abiodun Adeoye and Solomon O. Ikibe have

followed the tradition of excellence by delivering at various

times, insightful and thought provoking and academically

challenging and ground breaking masterpieces. I am glad to

stand on the shoulders of these great academics even as I present

today. I wholly align with their culture and character of

excellence.

My regret, however, is that two among them have gone

to be with their maker. To Professors Zulu Sofola and Ayo

Akinwale, shall we observe a minute‟s silence in their honour.

May their souls rest in peace.

It is gratifying that I had the opportunity to be present

and to listen with rapt attention to all my predecessors as they

delivered their inaugural lectures. As fate would have it, I am

here as the youngest of all giving the 208th in the series of the

University of Ilorin inaugural lectures; the sixth from the

Department of the Performing Arts and the very first in the area

of Dance Studies and Practice in this University, if not the first

of its kind in this country.

Genealogical Background

Mr. Vice - Chancellor, Sir, I seek your indulgence to

review very briefly, my genealogy as the Yorubas say,

notwithstanding the length of a rope it must have source or a

beginning.

The life of every man on this planet earth is structured

within a cycle, which must have a beginning, middle and

eventual end, irrespective of his greatness or power. This is apt

in capturing the life and the ultimate end of that great patriarch 

7

and progenitor of the Ojuades, that patriotic son of Ile - Ife,

Balogun Ojuade. William Shakespeare seemingly had him in

mind when he wrote these lines in one of his books:

Cowards die many times before their deaths, the valiant

never taste of death but once. Of all the wonders that I

yet have heard it seems to me most strange that man

should fear but seeing that death is a necessary end, it

will come when it will come.

Balogun Ojuade was a blue - blood. Legend has it that he was

born at Ogbon - Ido, Ile - Ife. His father‟s name was

Mosusiajopeyokun, the son of Ejesi Ogbon - Ido, a popular

herbalist while his mother, Adebimpe Olajokun, a princess, was

a direct descendant of the Agbedegbede dynasty, in Moore, Ile -

Ife. Princess Adebimpe Olajokun was a popular, famous and

wealthy trader during her time.

Balogun Ojuade was a selfless, patriotic and astute

warlord of his era, For his valour and war exploits, he was

rewarded with the chieftaincy title of „Balogun‟ (a war

chieftain). History has it that Kabiyesi Kurumbusu was the

incumbent Ooni when Balogun Ojuade was born.

Ooni Kurumbusu was so elated when the young Ojuade

was born because the princess had a delay in child bearing.

Eventually when she gave birth, Ooni exclaimed that:

Haaa

L‟ojuade mi yii lo bimo!

(So

You gave birth in the face of the crown).

That was how the young man got the name „Ojuade‟. In

Kabiyesi‟s characteristic manner, he cut out a large portion of

royal farmland and bequeathed as a gift to his grandson, Balogun

Ojuade, with a curse on anyone that attempted to collect the land

from him among his male descendants. Similar portion of this

farmland were given to other grandsons of Ooni Kurumbusu. 

8

Arowohe, Obaloran, Orunto Aga and Luobe; shared boundaries

among themselves. The baby Ojuade grew up to become a brave

warrior and eventually became the war commander during the

reign of Ooni Olubuse 1. The patriotic efforts of Balogun Ojuade

came to limelight for being honest, loyal and hardworking.

His efforts to defend the Ife territorial integrity during

the era of intra - Yoruba warfare and skirmishes were second to

none, hence the appellation; „Ojuade Baba-lo-gun‟. These

attributes and other leadership qualities of Balogun Ojuade

encouraged Ooni Olubuse 1 to entrust and assign to him many

vital duties. One of the major tasks was the monitoring and

supervision of the construction of the major road that linked Ile -

Ife with Ibadan. It was after he successfully carried out the

assignment that Ooni Olubuse 1 rewarded him with the title of

Asipa.

Due to his previous antecedents and proven and

verifiable track record of performance, Ooni Olubuse 1 named

him as a member of the boundary determination and demarcation

committee assigned to define boundary lines between the Ijebus

on one hand and the Ondos on the other side to prevent

encroachment on Ife land and territory. Asipa Ojuade (as he then

was), discharged his duties with absolute honesty, total

dedication, selflessness and open heartedness. The pillars used in

the construction of the demarcation are said to still be in

existence till today.

His previous sterling performances, patriotism, honesty

among others endeared him to the people. Ooni Olubuse 1

elevated him as the Balogun of Ife. Not too long after, Ooni

Olubuse 1 joined his ancestors and was succeeded by Ooni

Ajagun Ademiluyi. Ooni Ademiluyi duly recognized him as the

Balogun of Ife. Ojuade‟s fame became more pronounced when

an English white man by the name Captain Ross visited Ile - Ife

and commended Balogun Ojuade highly for his achievement on

behalf of Ile - Ife. In order to show appreciation for his

selflessness, Captain Ross gave him some gift of minerals to 

9

decorate his horse. The visit of Captain Ross increased the love

and respect to Balogun Ojuade.

With increased fame, honour and recognition came

concomitant ill-wind of envy, jealousy, treachery and betrayal. It

did not take long before he fell out with powers that be. He was

eventually assassinated in a night operation with the active

connivance of insiders. Investigations into the assassination by

the colonialists found a certain prince culpable. The prince was

subsequently sentenced.

In addition to Balogun Ojuade‟s war escapades, he

mastermind the construction of a bunker at Orile-owu during the

Owu wars where warriors from other cells within the Ife

confederate army usually hide and sometimes launch attack on

enemies. Balogun Ojuade, the great son of Ile – Ife left a

treasured memory in these areas:

(1) Opening up of roads linking Ile - Ife with Ibadan

(2) Erecting pillars (Owon) to demarcate Ile - Ife from Ondo

and Ijebu territories

(3) Rejection of the second coming of the Modakekes to avoid

incessant communal killings.

Okeigbo and Ifetedo Connections

Sanni Anamonilekewu (the one who whips pupils in

koranic classes) shortened as „Anamo‟, the second son of

Balogun Ojuade was married to Ayisat from the Ologbenla

ruling house in Ile - Ife. Ayisat Ojuade had an elder sister named

Ekundore and they were both business women of repute in their

days. Ekundore had no child from her marriage. So, she and her

younger sister Ayisat nurtured and catered for Ayisat‟s two boys

Saka Ojuade and Hussein Ojuade (popularly known as Oseni

Ayilara Okero, my own grand-father). The bond between the two

sisters was so strong that outsiders never knew who truly the

biological mother of the two boys was.

In the early 20th century, there was a family feud

amongst Sanni Anamo Ojuade‟s wives. The intensity and the

seriousness of the crisis led the parent of Ayisat Ojuade to 

10

request from Sanni Anamo Ojuade the permission of their

daughter to come to Okeigbo to douse the existing tension. Some

warriors among the Ologbenla ruling family had settled in

Okeigbo after helping the Ondo‟s in a war against the Ikale. The

then Ooni was advised not to allow the warriors including those

warriors from Ologbenla ruling house who had gone to support

the Egins (Ondo) come back to Ile - Ife for fear of deposing the

Ooni. The warriors then settled in Okeigbo. Ayisat Ojuade‟s

father was among the warriors. So, Ayisat Ojuade and her sister

took along the two sons to Okeigbo where they all lived till

1930.

Before Ooni Aderemi ascended the throne in 1930, there

was a serious agitation against the heavy taxation of the regime

before its own. However, one of the promises he made was the

lessening of the tax burden if he became Oba and true to his

words, Ooni Aderemi kept his promise. He fulfilled his promise

by refunding part of the exhorbitant tax to Okeigbo community.

Unfortunately, by the time his emissaries brought the money,

some of the people had gone to farm at Okeodo, the name the

present Ifetedo was called then. So when they arrived from the

farm and they were given the news of the Ooni‟s kind gesture

they were very happy and then demanded for their own share.

But the whole money had been shared by those who were at

home and they refused to make any refund for those who went to

farm. In reaction to that, those who felt cheated decided to

migrate to the other side of the river Oni to Okeodo and renamed

it to Ifetedo, meaning „a town founded with love‟. Amongst the

business people who migrated were Ayisat Ojuade and her sister

Ekundore together with the children now men (Saka and

Hussein). Saka and Hussein later became very influential and

wealthy business men in Ifetedo with many farms and dealing in

cocoa and other farm produce.

Ayisat Ojuade had her properties (land and houses) in

Okeigbo. So, she and her sister went back to Okeigbo after

staying for a few years. They took charge of caring for the eldest

four grand children in Okeigbo. Hussein being a successful 

11

businessman had a large polygamous family. Among his

children was Fatai Oladosu, my own father. May Allah bless

their memories for they have all departed to the great beyond.

My Walk and Work in the World of Dance

As earlier stated, I started dancing at about four and half

years old. My father, Alhaji Fatai Oladosu Ojuade was a teacher

at Okeigbo / Ifetedo Grammar School, where he taught Yoruba,

History, Literature. He was involved in cultural activities and

even formed a cultural group for the school aside his own dance

troupe. He taught with the likes of Baba Enoch Adeboye (the

General Overseer of Redeem Christian Church of God), Baba

Colonel Rufus Ogundele, Baba Oludapo, Mr. Akinfesola and

others. I followed him to virtually all the engagements ranging

from house warming, chieftaincy conferment, demonstrative

lectures, workshops, festivals, competitions and several other

events. Also, I took active parts in dance activities while in the

primary school alongside my sisters (Mrs Bashirat Folashade

Muktar – Itai, Mrs Fausat Abiodun Ojudun) and my elder

brother, Wajeed Ayodeji Ojuade - ours was a complete family

troupe. It afforded us the platform to take part in series of dance

competitions at the local levels where we won laurels.

Our troupe became so popular within the communities of

Okeigbo, Ifetedo, Ile - Ife Osogbo, Ibadan, Akure, Ijeshaland and

Ekiti. While our Dad played host to itinerant stage drama

performers like Ishola Ogunsola (I-show pepper), Oyin Adejobi,

Duro Ladipo, Funmilayo Ranco, Moses Olaiya (Baba Sala) and

host of others. Our family troupe partook in some of the dance

activities of that at time:

(i) Representation of the Western Region of Nigeria at the

National Festival of Arts and Culture, Lagos in 1970.

(ii) Representation of the Western Region of Nigeria at the

National Festival of Arts and Culture, Ibadan in 1971.

(iii) Took part in a play „Ogun Onire‟ at the then University

of Ife in 1972.

12

(iv) Took part in a dance drama to mark the 10th anniversary

of the University of Ife, Ile - Ife.

(v) Featured as a guest artiste in „Gese Dance‟ on Western

Nigeria Television (WNTV) and Western Nigeria

Broadcasting Services (WNBS), Ibadan in 1976.

(vi) Took part in a re – play of „Ogun Onire‟, as a special

guest at the University of Lagos in 1977.

(vii) Took part in the Black Festival of Arts and Culture in

1977.

(viii) Took part in a performance, „Unity in diversity‟, a

programme of selected Nigerian Dances at the National

Theatre Main Hall, Iganmu, Lagos on 18th October,

1980.

(ix) Took part in a command performance for the President

and Commander – in – Chief of Armed Forces, Alhaji

Aliyu Shehu Shagari at the Liberty Stadium, Ibadan on

18th November, 1980.

(x) Took part in a command performance for the 21st

Regular meeting of the then twelve progressive

Governors in Nigeria at Enugu between 26th

– 28th

March, 1982.

(xi) Took part in command performance for the President,

General I. B. Babangida during his visit to Oyo State in

August, 1991.

(xii) Took part in the 2008 Ife International Festival of Arts at

Institute of African Studies, Obafemi Awolowo

University, Ile – Ife.

In the late 1970‟s, our Dad was transferred to Iwoye

Ijesa to go and start a new school called Iwoye Ijesa Grammar

School in Osun State. He propagated dance and theatre into this

community and ensure that the school became known as the best

in Ife / Ijesa zone. As part of his experiments, I played lead roles

in different historical performances that he wrote which include;

„Oranfe‟, „Obatala‟, Ogun Onire‟, „Aje‟ and others. However in

1982, he requested to be transferred back to Ayanbeku Memorial 

13

Grammar School in Ifetedo, where he further engaged the pupil

in the propagation of our dance culture. He created a „brand‟ out

of Bata and Dundun among his people and enthusiasts.

Branding, which Awodiya (2016) referred to as „‟means to coordinate and package our culture like a product to make it appeal

to our people who will appreciate it first before we ship it abroad

for consumption by foreigners who will buy it”(25).

It was in 1982 while enjoying my usual holiday with my

„big‟ Aunty and the husband in Lagos, Prince and Mrs Albert

Awofisayo, that my father came with the greatest news ever. He

said we were to travel to represent Nigeria at the XII

Commonwealth Games and Warana Festival in Brisbane,

Australia. We were at the National Theatre, Iganmu, Lagos for

about three weeks rehearsing the dance theatre titled „The

Marriage of Princess Sidibe‟, scenario written and directed by

Edith Uche Enem and the music was directed by Professor Akin

Euba. I was the youngest in the troupe and that gave me the

privilege of having close contact with the Queen of England and

her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh at the opening ceremony in

Brisbane.

In 1983, another invitation came for a performance tour

of the Federal Republic of South Korea (a cultural exchange

visit), where we toured and performed in the cities of Kwangju,

Pusan and Seoul. I got so entangled in these dance activities that

it became worrisome for my Mum because of my education. She

wanted me to pitch tent with career in the Legal profession rather

than dancing while my father held on tenaciously that I followed

the part of theatre.

The foggy situation got cleared when my Uncle, Saliu

Olaolu Bello, an epitome of Islam and piety (of blessed

memory), invited me over to Ilorin to see how i can secure a

space having applied to study Performing Arts at the University

of Ilorin in 1988. Unfortunately, the then Dean, Faculty of Arts,

Professor Oludare Olajubu (The Sokoti of Ilare) who happens to

be my father‟s bosom friend told me that I was short of one mark

to meet the cut off for Performing Arts. Rather than wasting 

14

another year, Bro. Aliu Badmus stepped in and linked me up

with Mr. D .F O. Abidoye at the then Kwara State College of

Technology to assist in getting the Interim Joint Matriculation

Board Examination (IJMB) form for Advanced Levels. I was

able to get it and in 1990, I gained direct entry admission into the

Performing Arts to join my new „family members‟, „The

prestigious class of 93‟ (PASA).

Mr. Vice - Chancellor, Sir, I tried my best in hiding my

„street dancing‟ identity all through! Why? I realized that there

was the need to concentrate on the scholarship aspect of the

dance rather than the earlier posture. I tried to avoid distractions

and acquire more knowledge academically. Though, Mama

Sofola, Professors Akinwale, Nasiru and Oyewo knew my

antecedents. I opted to major in Drama during my first degree

and had exposure to „total theatre‟, where dance was used as a

support to stage productions whether it is traditional, modern or

post modern dance. The training gave us the opportunity to blend

the traditional dance steps with the modern oriented ones and

western choreographies as well under the tutorship of Professor

Chris Ugolo.

After graduation and completion of the mandatory

National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) at the Ministry of

Information, Secretariat, Ibadan, Oyo State, I proceeded to the

Institute of African Studies, University of Ibadan, Ibadan, for my

Masters programme and PhD in Dance Studies and Practice. I

need to express my gratitude to the Late Professor Zulu Sofola

who encouraged me to explore other areas of the arts. In fact, she

was instrumental to my majoring in Drama in the Performing

Arts, University of Ilorin and signed my reference forms to study

Dance at the Institute of African Studies, University of Ibadan

where I had the privilege of being taught by Dr Fidelma Okwesa

and Professor Oladele Layiwola (who supervised my PhD). My

research topic at Master‟s level was „The Secularization of Bata

Dance in Southwestern Nigeria: A Study of some Bata Dance

and Theatre Groups‟. The main thrust of the thesis is to unravel

the mysteries surrounding the „Bata‟ culture, bringing it out of its 

15

enclave, the corridors of the „gods‟ or rituals (the worship of

Yoruba gods and the masquerade “egungun‟ tradition, for the

general populace or increasing participation. Bata as a secular art

form with wider application outside religious / ritual context as

expressed by the Alarinjo Travelling Theatre (2002). The major

aim and achievement of this study was to put Bata Dance within

the reach of every enthusiast and would - be performer. The

research covered ample examples of some Bata music ensemble

and dance types.

The academic circle created an inroad for a better

exposure to dance scholarship within the confine of teaching,

research and community services. Aside teaching of dance

courses at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels,

engagement in research activities assisted the students and would

- be dancers as well. Prior exposure to dance and the experiences

of research informed my middle way approach of bridging the

gap between „town‟ and „gown‟.

Mr. Vice - Chancellor, Sir, my first regularization

exercise (interview) was one that will continue to linger in my

memory. We had a long wait and filling in as arranged by the

Registry. I remember when I was called in to meet the panel

headed by the then Vice - Chancellor, Professor Shuaib Oba

AbdulRaheem and I was told to introduce myself. After that, my

file was scanned through to see the documents therein and Mrs

Ololade from the registry looked at me and said „what is in dance

that you went to study? Professor Oba cuts in to say „Now, Iam

back home to my comfort zone. All those previously interviewed

in the Sciences, Engineering, Medicine sound strange to me but

this is the literary world...‟. The encounter of that day at the

University of Ilorin further strengthened and propelled me.

Despite my other degrees in Law (LL.B & LL.M) and Business

Administration (MBA), I remained in performance circle,

creating a nest in Dance Studies and Practice.

In doing this, i identified three major problems

endangering culture preservation and growth in Nigeria, which

are lack of documentation (historically and through archival 

16

storage), research support and the impending stigma attached to

the profession and the practitioners. My background had

nullified the „feelings‟ of such stigma and many thanks to my

father…He trained us „not to listen to the oozing noises from the

market but to be focused and get what brought you into such

market in peace‟. As a young lecturer and researcher, i got

engaged in series of activities bothering on teaching, research,

performances within and outside Nigeria. Out of my meager

salary, I enlisted in professional membership in local, national

and international bodies. This is to facilitate platforms for the

exchange of ideas on Dance culture and practices. I got engaged

in sensitization programmes on the radio, television and

newspaper talking and writing about dance (Bata and Dundun). I

facilitated lecture series and workshops, performances and

discussions between and among experts, scholars and

practitioners as well as my students for better comprehension

and understanding of the arts of dance.

I invited over to the University of Ilorin, Nigeria,

Professor David Whitton in 2009 (who was the Secretary

General of the International Federation for Theatre Research

FIRT/IFTR) from Lancaster University, United Kingdom, where

he gave a Faculty lecture titled „Lifting the Curse of Barbel.

Language Identity and at a theatre in a Post-colonial Global

Context” After the faculty lecture, he had workshops and

discussions with the students of the Performing Arts Department.

In similar vein, I facilitated a workshop / training and

performance by the famous itinerant Ayanagalu International

Group from Erin Osun, Osun State, Nigeria and many others.

These workshops and trainings further exposed our students and

staff to Music and Dance tradition. It was at the peak of building

my career in the academic that death struck and took away a dear

sister and mother, who was instrumental to my plans, Mrs

Faoziyat Lola Kehinde Ali ( May Allah SWT be pleased with

her and grant her aljannah fridaous).

17

Dance is Life and Life is Dance: A Cyclical Nature of Man on

Earth

Mr. Vice – Chancellor, Sir, the ubiquitous nature of

„Man‟ on earth motivated and propelled my interest in this topic.

It simply encapsulates the journey of Man within the Universe

using Dance Allegory. Unequivocally, I have been able to view

and distill „Dance‟ as a universal phenomenon practiced by all

irrespective of colour, race, profession, culture, religion,

ethnicity, geographical location, boundaries, political affiliation,

society and others. This lecture, therefore, highlights some of my

contributions to scholarship and growth in the field of Dance

with reference to Yoruba Bata and Dundun focusing on the

transformations that have occurred in its applications.

Culture in Africa includes the totality of the arts, of

which music and dance form a significant part. Culture is equally

regarded as the way of life of a people (Eagleton, 2000). It has

been emphasized that the greatness of Africa lies in its culture

and not in its science or technology (Nketia, 2001). The Cultural

Policy Document for Nigeria succinctly captured Culture as the

totality of the way of life evolved by a people in their attempts to

meet the challenge of living in their environment, which gives

order and meaning to their social, political, economic, aesthetic

and religious norms and modes of organization thus

distinguishing a people from their neighbors (1988). Among

Yoruba people, this way of life is inseparably bound up with

music and dance.

Music and Dance are like Siamese twins, inseparable

and symbiotically serving each other. Can there be Music

without Dance? Without music and dance, the people cannot

properly create poetry, record history, educate or train children,

celebrate at festivals, praise or abuse, entertain, instruct,

disagree, marry, or bury their dead. Music and Dance in

performance particularly among the Yoruba constitute a primary

site for the production of knowledge.

Dance is regarded as an important aspect of any culture.

It is a very strong device for identifying the culture of a people. 

18

Kaeppler asserts that “an adequate description of a culture

should place the same emphasis on dance as that given it by the

members of that society” (1967:iii). It is thus notable that in

traditional African culture and societies, dance is life. It gives

meaning to virtually all daily activities that human beings are

involved in. It is an integral aspect of their life span; coming into

this world, living in this world, and the consequent exit of

humans from this world. This is succinctly captured by Ojuade

(2004) in his description of dance situations in Nigeria:

Thus, before a child is brought into this world, the

mother feels or experiences internal movement of the yet-to-beborn baby, therefore, the baby‟s arrival into this world elicits

dancing activities of joyful movements (238). In African

societies, participation in music / dance may be a voluntary

activity or an obligation by one‟s membership of a social group

(Nketia, 1975: 35). Public performance is required on social

occasions, where members of a group or a community assemble

for the purpose of leisure, recreation, performance of a rite,

ceremony, festival or any collective activity.

Music tradition in traditional Yoruba culture features in

every aspect of human life right from childhood to adulthood.

The combination of music and dance in Yoruba culture gives life

to the people. From the moment of birth, the young individual is

exposed to strong musical stimuli. Cradle songs are sung to

babies when they are on their mothers‟ back; these are

accompanied by simple dance steps, giving meaning to the

rhythm. The infant is thereby introduced from the earliest age to

vocal and instrumental music in addition to the movement that

accompanies it. As soon as the child is old enough, he or she is

encouraged to sing and imitate simple dance movements. Smith

(1962, 75 - 77) observes:

Most West African children are encouraged to dance

as soon as they can walk. By the age five, they have

learned the primary elements of festival dances, and by

six they are able to dance with adolescents with

accurate rhythm, dance patterns and song.

19

The above asserts clearly that music and dance

performance among the Yoruba, constitute a primary site for the

production of knowledge. Bakare (1994:2) looks at dance as

“the rhythmic movement of the human body in time and space to

make statements”. Essentially, dance thrives on living

experiences. Thus, it paves ways for its transmission from

generation to generation which reflects the changes in social

conditions.

Since we know that music and dance are Siamese twins,

it goes without saying that musical instruments have a role to

play in dance. Musical instruments can be classified into varying

forms; such as Idiophones (self sounding instruments when

struck), Aerophone (blown instruments which require use of air

through the opening of the musical instrument, Chordophones

(stringed instruments with string attached to the body of the

instrument which are plucked or strummed with the hand to

produce sound, and Membranophones (instruments with

membrane). For the purpose of this lecture, analysis of music

and dance culture will be premised on the Yoruba Bata and

Dundun.

The Phenomena Dance Culture

What exactly is Dance? In African societies, dance

serves as a major aspect of the people‟s modes of expression.

Dance emanated from the ritual or religious worship or

recreational/social activities. It is regarded as a major art and an

essential element in the celebration of events connected with

every aspect of human life. The events range from the birth of a

new baby to growing up and display of last respect for the dead.

It thus symbolizes the profound truths about the complexity of

human existence and gives meaning to life. Dance activities in

Nigeria are communal - oriented, participatory by all and natural.

From a historical perspective, dance is one of the first human

activities which did not directly serve the mere survival of man.

The experience of dance came as man‟s effort of expressing 

20

individual and collective feelings. Such existence of dance in the

early periods of man may be witnessed only by pictorial

representations, carved images of primitive people on the walls

of the caves. The pictures were created in phases, showing the

developmental stages of man within his cultural environment.

The developmental processes of human societies have shown

that their survival is predicated on a functional association in

which men became a part of the broad communities and their

activities were regulated by their social needs. The individual

dances ceded place to group dances according to the needs of the

people in that community. For instance, in Nigeria, the Ogun

dance of the South-western zone, specifically Ondo, grew out of

individual display of nuances to organize Obitun dance. Also,

the Yoruba Bata dancer‟s virtuoso display of arms, body and

adroit leg movements show a resemblance of the Yoruba god of

thunder‟s (Sango) movement idiom.

Dance applications in Nigeria transcend „the unborn‟,

„the living‟ and „the dead‟ as illustrated with Soyinka‟s schema

on the cycle of life (1976:148). It is held that a baby dances in

the womb of a pregnant woman during the gestation period.

When the young individual is born alive, dancing journey

continues. Growing up to adulthood, the baby naturally or

through learning, as part of the village life or environment, is

exposed to dancing. Also, as he completes his cycle in life, he

dances on to the grave (based on the activities which involve

dancing). That is why Africans have continued to express their

very being in dances, which encapsulate their fears,

relationships, anxieties, joys and sorrows. Hence, Gorer (1962)

observes in his studies of some ethnic groups in West Africa

that:

Africans dance for joy, and they dance for grief; they

dance for love and they dance for hate; they dance to

bring prosperity and they dance to avert calamity; they

dance for religion and they dance to pass the time

(213).

21

As such, from birth, the African people are introduced into a

world of body language, rhythm, patterned awareness and

structured expressions which help their communion with the

environment (ecology). Dance, to the Yoruba, is one of the

attributes that defines a person and which integrates one fully as

a member of the society (Ajayi, 1998:4).

According to Drewal (1991), this raises fundamental

issues about body praxis, human agency, temporality, and

discursive knowledge and calls into question conventional

understanding of tradition, repetition, mechanical reproduction,

and ontological definitions of social order and reality. Baxter

(1970) noted that through eye-to-eye contact between the

otherwise isolated island populations, dance and music

performances easily overcame the colonial language divide in

terms of a shared performance heritage that had successfully

resisted and survived imperial oppression. Dance, therefore, is

popular, widespread and universal to all, regardless of age, sex

and social status.

There are always new development in dance with the

expression of abstract ideas and possibility it gives to man for

physical relaxation as well as emotional release. Scientists have

observed that movement is essential to both human beings and

animals for the release of emotional tension caused by both

joyful and painful events. Dancing, this is one of the most

dynamic and popular art forms in Nigeria, serves a vital function

in human society in order to achieve social cohesion or

togetherness, causing human beings to feel a deep sense of

communion with one another. Dance is an integral part of

African life in the real and metaphysical spheres of existence. It

is an aesthetic, non - verbal expression continually created and re

- created by countless performers and interpreters for several

generations. It is however embodied in human action.

The social and cultural occasions at which these dances

are performed have to do with individual or group celebrations.

For example, most rite of passage dances deal with individuals

who move from one status of life to another. It may be 

22

accompanied by friends and relations. Also, dance takes place at

naming ceremonies, coronations, festivals, feasts, communal

purification and cleansing. Thus, Strine et al. (1989:183) state

that performance as a concept is contentious, “which indicates

that its existence is bound up in disagreement about what it is,

and that disagreement over its essence is itself part of the

essence”. In Nigeria context, dance performance is conceived as

a primary site for the production of knowledge, where

philosophy is enacted and a means by which people reflect on

their current conditions, divine or re-invents themselves and their

social world.

Considering the above, dance performance may be

regarded as an artistic expression predicated on movement; it has

also been aptly described as a dramatic phenomenon induced by

a psychological state (Layiwola, 1991:19-27).

The various ethnic dances in Nigeria could be

recognized functionally within a homogenous society as

religious ritual, as an expression of social organization, and a recreative process. Religion or ritual, which is one of the major

sources of dance in Nigeria, regulates the relationship between

the members of the society and the supernatural powers which

are strongly believed to be in control of human activities. Such

could be exemplified in the famous Osun Osogbo festival, Olojo

festival in Ile - Ife, Sango (god of thunder and lightning)

worship, Obatala worship, Egungun (masquerade) festival etc. It

is a central element in a ceremony or festival and it is seen as an

act of worship by members of religious cults.

Social dances, on the other hand, change with time,

based on the creativity of the various artists. In its function as an

expression of social organization, dance safeguards the

traditionally established social and political hierarchy and

equally emphasizes the standard of behavior and instructs on

morals within the society. Such examples are dances that are

purely restricted to the royal personalities, cult dances and age

grade dances. It is often performed by groups or teams of

dancers, which clearly states their status in the enabling society. 

23

It may be a part of a festival performance or simply for

entertainment. Re-creative process dance could be an expression

of talent or display of expertise. The dance gives room for

improvisation. Such dancers are usually found at various

relaxation centers and social functions, or in their private homes.

Nigeria encompasses a profusion of ethnic groups (with

over four hundred (400) ethnic groups), though classified

traditional under the three dominant groups of Hausa, Igbo and

Yoruba. Today, Nigeria as a nation houses thirty -six states with

different dances in their cultural environments. However, each of

the societies predominantly depends on oral tradition, with

human sounds, gesticulations, shapes, patterns and symbols as

their primary tools for communication (Yerima, 2003{216). This

is because dance reflects the socio-political, religious, economic,

philosophical and aesthetic life of a people. It thus becomes

obvious that there are specific dances tailored to specific

occasions in Nigeria. Every major stage of human development

ranging from birth of a baby, growing up and his eventual exit

from a given society has dances which are done not just for

dance‟s sake. The dances are associated with ceremonies, rites

and festivities which characterize such stages. Therefore,

traditional dance forms a major part of society‟s religious, social,

ancestral and existential reality.

The history of dance art in Nigeria indicates its passage

through three major phases as observed and identified by

Amankulor (1986:3) and Ajayi (1986:1). Prior to the arrival of

Europeans in Nigeria, the ethnic groups that make up its present

political entity lived in relative isolation. The art of dance

permeated all important events in the society, be it political,

religious, social or economical. The traditional dances of the

people developed, while creativity was freely encouraged within

the limits of the norms and conventions of the people. The

dances at this period can be divided into five main categories as

identified by Enem (1975): 115-116, 68-115), namely; Religious

/ Ritual Dances, Rite of Passage Dances, Vocational Dances,

Recreational Dances and Political Themes.

24

The dances in Nigeria that we can claim ownership to

can be viewed from three basic phases of the nation‟s

development - these are the pre-colonial, the colonial and the

post-colonial phases (Ojuade, 2005:367). The illustration

showing the development of dance clearly indicates that dances

could be classified and analyzed in varying categories. They

involve those dances that survived and thrived within individual

communities (traditional) and which are experienced raw; those

making waves in the academic environment (modern oriented);

and those that are prototypes of the western world, that is very

prominent in use, and which are considered as the blending of

both traditional and modern, based on the creative ability of the

dancers or practitioners. Each of the phases has recorded success

in dance. Currently, the dance culture in Nigeria is gradually

drifting into a mixture of the phases. The colonial experience in

Nigeria‟s history brought a heavy influence on Nigerian dances.

It actually gave a dual face to the existing dances, which makes

them to reflect the dance culture of the Europeans, the

Americans or Latin Americans rather than that of the traditional

Nigerian. The inclusion of Western oriented instruments in

Nigerian music, equally informs changes in Nigerian dance

patterns as well as dance costumes.

The Yoruba Bata and Dundun in Performance:

The Myth - Historical Origin of Bata

Bata, belongs exclusively to the Yoruba. It is a difficult,

calculative, energy-sapping, indigenous Yoruba dance, which in

the remote past, was associated exclusively with the worship of

different deities, especially Sango, the Yoruba god of thunder

and lightning. Evidence from research on Yoruba origin revealed

that there are many theories and myths surrounding it. Idowu

(1962:4) observes that the Yoruba comprise several clans which

are bound together by language, traditions, and religious beliefs

and practices. He states further that “the question of their origin

is still a debatable subject, since we do not yet possess adequate 

25

materials out of which we can build up the history of their

beginnings”.

Stories relating to origin of the Yoruba have been

described in books written by scholars such as Johnson (1921),

Biobaku (1971) and Omosade (1979), based on individual

sources and retentive memory of events derived from folktales,

mythologies of creation, fables and moral stories. Bata is a music

culture that extends beyond the phenomenon of dance. Ogunba

and Irele (1978) claim that Sango was an ancestor, deified and

worshipped by the people. Bata was used to accompany Sango

and Egungun who were both relations and inseparable.

Baderinwa Abefe Oladosu (in an interview) explained

that Sango, who was referred to as „Oba ko so‟ (The King did

not hang) was once a traditional king in Old Oyo Ajaka. During

his reign, Timi and Gbonka were his warriors. He noted that

Sango and Egungun were friends, but Egungun was older.

Interestingly, Bata music accompanied both of them on social

occasions. After the death of Egungun, Bata, as an

accompaniment, became solely associated with Sango. Later,

Sango ascended to heaven to avoid an impending humiliation

from his rebellious warriors. Gbonka plotted to overthrow and

annihilate him. On his final journey, Sango summoned the Bata

drummer, who accompanied him to the point of demise.

Gbadamosi Adebisi claimed that it was one ace -

drummer known as „Saate‟ who made an innovation in the

musical instruments used in Bata dance performance. It is also to

him that we owe the information on Bata Koto (an original form

of Bata instrument, which consisted of a set of calabashes, each

covered with animal membrane and each having a cloth strap by

which it was hung around the drummer‟s neck with the drum

resting in front of him. It was beaten with one hand and a stick).

26

Complete set of Bàtá drums.

Sango was a beautiful and skillful dancer, and Saate an expert

drummer. Their acquaintance blossomed into a beautiful

relationship of mutual dependence. They always performed

together at festivals and other public ceremonies so much so that

people came to associate them with each other and always

looked out for their joint performance.

However, as the oral tradition has it, Sango and Saate

fell out over the sharing of some gifts obtained at a performance.

Saate felt he had been cheated and withdrew his services. At

first, Sango thought he could go it alone and people began to run

away from him, taking him for a mad man; “Sango has gone

mad”! They said. It was not long before he sent his wife, Oya, to

make peace between him and his friend and drummer, Saate.

Truly they say “a lover‟s quarrel is but the renewal of love.” So

much sweeter and stronger did Sango and Saate‟s friendship

become that it was said that whenever they were eating together

(usually from the same bowl) Sango would say;

„Iwo onibata a mi, meran

Ti mo ba ti ri iyonu re

Mo ti mo pe eko ni‟.

(My Bata drummer, pick a piece of meat,

When I behold your softened heart

I know it is a lesson).

27

It was obvious that he (Sango) discovered that it was Saate‟s

drums that added glamour to his dancing.

So closely associated did Sango become with Bata music

that later on, after his deification, his adherents claimed,

whenever they heard the clap of thunder, that it was Omele

Ako‟s sound that Saate was drumming for Sango‟s delight and

Sango was dancing up there, by the flashes of lightning. So, not

even death could separate Sango from his Bata music.

Saate‟s mastery of Bata is legendary; sometimes he used

his drums to warn people of Sango‟s magical power and to

praise him due to his ability to move his body accordingly too.

Such lines are :

A f‟eni ti kogila kolu

A f‟eni Esu n se

L‟ole ko lu Esu

L‟ole ko lu Sango

A f‟eni ti Sango o pa,

(It‟s only someone who has been bedeviled

It‟s only someone who has been possessed by Esu

That will attack Esu

That will attack Sango

Only he who wants to be killed.)

Saate reported that Sango loved Bata dearly, so much so that if

he was eating his best food, and the sound of Bata music is

heard, he would abandon the food and prefer to dance.

Meanwhile, each time Sango went on a dancing tour,

Saate would keep warning and informing people where to meet

and see Sango in action. For instance:

Sango de e fie nu mo enu

Ero oja p‟ara mo

Inu oja la nlo

Ero oja p‟ara mo

Oju oja la nlo

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P‟ara mo, p‟ara mo, p‟ara mo

(Sango is here!

Let everyone keep mute

Market men and women take cover

We are advancing to the marketplace

Market men and women take cover

We are proceeding to the centre of the market

Hide yourself, hide yourself, hide yourself!!!)

Bode Osanyin (1996) posited that the foundation of Bata in

Nigeria was more of a mythological and even religious than

factual history. He claimed that Bata is attributed to Sango and

the music is dedicated to the worship of certain gods or orishas.

Anthony King (1961:1 - 4) believes that the variety of dialects

among the Yoruba people is a factor for the versions of

traditional music and songs in use.

Alhaji Fatai Ojuade (1996) explained that Sango in his

lifetime was a warrior and any time he wanted to go to war, he

liked dancing to fast music in preparation for war. It was as if

Bata rhythms prepared him for war. He revealed that Sango used

to call for a drum (music) that could stimulate him and suit his

purpose. At the initial stage, Gangan (hour glass drum) was

brought for him but it failed until the sound of Omele meji gave

Sango the expected stimulation he needed.

Yoruba Dundun:

Dundun ensembles exist functionally and in practically

all parts of Yorubaland. In affirmation of this, Oba Laoye (1959,

10 -11) included Dundun drums to be among “those drums that

are found in use anywhere in Yorubaland”. The Dundun is part

of the geographical belt of hourglass drums in West Africa,

which in turn have links with hourglass drum areas in other parts

of the world. The West African distribution of Dundun has been

amply documented by Hause (1948) and Thieme (1969) and

defines the West African area as “stretching from Senegal at 

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least as far south as the Cameroon Republic”. In Nigeria, the

tension drums are popular and in use in the North particularly

among the Hausa Fulani. It also exists among the Edo people but

seems to be unknown to the people of Eastern Nigeria.

The myths surrounding the origin of Dundun are of

varying ones as relayed and handed over with different versions.

Oba Laoye 1 (1959,10) submits that:

Dundun was first used by Ayan, a native of Saworo in

Ibaribaland. He taught some Yoruba families the art of

drumming and he was so loved by them that they

deified him after his death.

In support of Kabiyesi‟s assertion, Yesufu Ayankunle, the leader

of his personal Dundun ensemble claimed that dundun originated

from Saworo and from there went to Oyo and from there spread

to other parts of Yorubaland.

However another version by Laisi Ayansola affirmed

that Dundun started in Oyo and that it came to Oyo from Ile - Ife

because Ife was the place of origin of the entire Yoruba race.

On his part, Salami Ladokun, one of the drummers of the Alaafin

of Oyo, stated that it was Alaafin Atiba who introduced Dundun

to Oyo and, apparently, to other Yoruba towns.

Darius Thieme reported on the myth of Dundun origin a

direct conversation with Oba Laoye 1, and which states that the

introduction of the Dundun dates from the time of the Yoruba

migration into their present homeland, prior to the founding of

Ife, their migratory route having crossed the territory inhabited

by the Ibariba.

Meanwhile, the symbiotic relationships between music

and dance are premised on the conversations that go on among

the drums (instruments) which the dancer aesthetically interprets.

So, what then is the language of the drums?

The Language of the Drums

A glimpse into the life of African people indicates that

they have used drum telegraphy to communicate with each other 

30

from far away for centuries. The European expeditions of Africa

into the jungles to explore the local forest were reported prior to

their arrival, through message of their coming and their intention

was carried through the woods. An African message can be

transmitted at the speed of 100 miles in an hour (Davis, 2011).

Leonard Bloomfield, a linguist, simply defined language as the

„totality of utterances that can be made in a speech community

(cited in Chomsky, 1986:16).

While Edward Sapir, a language scholar of repute

defined language as “a purely human, non – instinctive method

of communicating ideas, emotions and desires by means of

voluntarily produced symbols” (Crystal, 1997:400).

The above definitions implies that language is an asset to

man, and is by far one of the greatest, most complex and most

enigmatic possessions, the quintessence of his humanity, without

which individuals and nations lose their mental and cultural

heritage (Essien, 1990: 168). The transferred effect of

complexities of language as it relates to drums is the root cause

of the varying forms of dances in use today. What then is the

language of the drums?

In application, the language of the drums can take

different forms, which are:

(a) The Direct Language of the drum

(b) The Drum Language that comes as a Metaphor

(c) The Indirect Language of the drum

In Africa, language creates a typical identity which is a source of

distinction. It has been observed especially in Nigeria that the

difference in language from one ethnic configuration to another

is very prominent. Such is a reflection of their culture and ways

of life.

In other words, the inherent methodologies involved in

the trade, which leads to linguistically mode of communication,

are essential to language formations. This aspect can be

compared with a learner of a new language or a baby who is in

the stage of making statements or forming sentences. There are 

31

basic steps to follow in such situations, which includes

identification of alphabets, syllables, words and sentences. The

steps as enumerated here, if adhered to, will assist the drummer

in his direction and will afford him the competence to fully take

charge of the performance(s).

Description of Fatai Oladosu Ojuade and his group in

performance

Ojuade‟s International troupe was headed by Late Alhaji

(Chief) Fatai Oladosu Adisa Ojuade, who doubles as the founder

and owner of the troupe. The troupe specializes in both bata and

dundun dance culture of the Yoruba people. Alhaji Ojuade was

the director, manager / lead dancer of the group. He equally

holds decision making power as it relates to the group in his

hands. The group comprises of male and female, dancers and

drummers as well. They are Chief Mayowa O. Adewoyin

(dancer), Tumbi Teroko (dancer), Bashirat F. Ojuade (now Mrs

Folashade Muktar – Itai), Fausat A. Ojuade (now Mrs Fausat

Ojudun), Wajeed A. Ojuade (dancer), Jeleel O. Ojuade (dancer),

Oladosu Abefe (lead drummer, Bata), Oladokun (drummer),

Kareem (drummer), Yekeen (drummer), Sowumi Adedapo (lead

drummer, Dundun), Sobade Adedapo (drummer), Alhaji

Rasheed Adedapo (drummer) and Lateef Adedapo (drummer).

The young Ojuade developed an interest in Yoruba cultural

heritage early in life. This was occasioned by his acquaintance

with an expert bata drummer whose name was Okunlola, who

occasionally visits Ifetedo from his home base in Ibadan.

Okunlola was reputed to have taught many expert bata

drummers in the South-West of Nigeria. The young Ojuade was

greatly inspired by him. He never missed an opportunity to

watch his bata performance anytime the drummer was in town.

From listening or merely watching, he graduated to dancing to

Okunlola‟s bata drumming anytime he was around. Later,

Ojuade was to groom his own bata master drummer – Late

Baderinwa Abefe Oladosu, who was then under the training of

Okunlola.

32

However, his father the (older Ojuade) did not cherish

the idea of a career in dance for his young son, mostly because of

Islamic injunctions against dance. But an uncle of his, Mr. J. A.

Gbadebo who saw the boy‟s interest, enthusiasm, dancing skill

and prowess was instrumental in encouraging and spurring him

on. Later, the elder Ojuade yielded, prayed for his son and even

bought him the costume and paraphernalia needed for this art.

In 1970, he formed a bata and dundun dance troupe built around

members of his own family, with a handful of outsiders. He

started a troupe consisting of eight drummers and eight dancers

including himself. The Ojuade performing troupe has a style of

presentation that is flexible and variable. On account of his wide

experience of joint performances with other performing groups,

it is quite at home wherever it is placed in the programme of

events. In thist type of situation, it is the organizers who

determine the order in which the group will appear. For example,

Ojuade‟s troupe entertained Kabiyesi Ooni Adesoji Aderemi

regularly in his palace and had prestigious outing in 1980 when

Oba Okunade Sijuwade was crowned the Ooni of Ife. On that

occasion, the Ojuade performing troupe had the pride of place of

being the first to perform, to usher in the ruler from the inner

chambers of the palace to Enuwa square.

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Ojúadé & his International Troupe in Performance

 

Young Jeleel Ojúadé demonstrating Ìjà-fáfá-ti-fáfá (at

middle & low level), a replica of Àbìda form of Bàtá, at the

XXII Commonwealth Games & Warana Festival in

Brisbane, Australia in 1982.

At the Progressive Governor‟s performance in Enugu (as earlier

referred to in this lecture), the group was placed fourth in the

order of performance. Again, it is not always the case that the

full complement of the Ojuade performing troupe is called to

perform in such joint performances. A demand can be made by 

34

the organizers for the group to supply a few drummers and

dancers to join other artistes for a special performance.

The climax of the troupe‟s performance was on the

invitation of the Federal Government of Nigeria, through the

National Theatre of Nigeria to represent the country in a

performance. We had the privilege of working with experts from

the field of dance and music and artistes drawn from different

parts of the country which include; the Oji Anya Lere dancers

from Amasiri, Afikpo, Rambo Dancers from then Kwara but

now Kogi, Nkim Nkat from Cross River State and Atta Dabai

Group from Katsina.

However, when it is performing by itself in a programme

where it is possibly the sole or major performer, it has a regular

style of presentation. The Ara-bi-n-ti-nko dance is always the

first item on the programme. This item features the youngest

members of the bata troupe. The lead drummer ushers in with

Ara-bi-n-ti-nko drum beat. They enter in a single file

demonstrating various patterns of bata movements. They go into

a frontal formation i.e. in a single line facing the audience. After

this frontal formation has taken place, lead drummer signals the

beginning of the solo items. The dancers who are trained to listen

for signals are ready. So, the lead drummer now commences to

call forth the dancers one after the other to perform their various

solos. There can be between two and four Ija-fafa-ti-faafa

performance to go on. When it pleases him, he can stop the Ijafafa-ti-faafa and call out the next one tela-tele-tijala-tela-tijala.

There is no fixed time and there is no fixed order. The

lead drummer on Iya Ilu is completely at liberty to invite

whichever dancer he wants on stage. But he controls every

moment of their performance. It is the sum total of the Ija-fafa-tifaafa and tela-tela-tijala-tela-tijala dances that make up the Arabi-ti-nko.

At the end of this performance, the lead drummer signals

the exit of the Ara-bi-ti-nko dancers, they move to the corner of

the stage to let in the main bata dancers – the adults. These are

ushered in with more vigorous dance beats than that of the Ara-

35

bi-ti-nko dance. Once on stage, the Ara-bi-ti-nko dancers team

up with the principal bata dancers for a joint dance which is

brought to a climax after which the group salute the audience

either by prostrating in the Yoruba fashion or giving a military

salute. Thereafter, the lead drummer signals to the dancers to

move backstage. Then the lead drummer, as he has previously

done with Ara-bi-ti-nko dancers, commences to call forth the

principal bata solo dancers for their various / individual

performances, in which the leader of the troupe perform last. The

principal dancers perform essentially the same item with the

difference only that their performance is more detailed and

professional. In other words, it is more skilled, polished and

professional version of Ara-bi-n- ti n ko dancers that is

exhibited.

When the principal dancers have all had their solo, the

Ara-bi-n-ti nko dancers now team up with them for the final

dance. This signals the end of the performance. Again, they

salute the audience as they exit, usually accomplished with a

tumultuous applause.

In all, a performance can take a few minutes as the

leader, Alhaji Fatai Oladosu Adisa Ojuade does not like longer

performances. This is not to say that occasions do not occur

when the whole array of bata dance forms like Gbamu, Elekoto,

Elesee are displayed, but such occasions are rare.

Incidentally, his last major performance (Gese dance)

before his death was at the book launch of Professor Jacob

Kehinde Olupona NNOM of Harvard University, Cambridge,

Massachusetts, USA) on Thursday, December 12, 2012 at the

Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA), Lagos.

Performance Description of Lamidi Ayankunle (Ayanagalu)

and his group

Ayanagalu International group was headed by Alhaji

Lamidi Ayankunle, an expert drummer who hails from Iyaloja‟s

compound in Erin Osun. Erin Osun is a small rural town about

five kilometers from Osoogbo. He was the founder and the 

36

leader of the group. Alhaji Lamidi Ayankunle was born to a

father who migrated from Erin - Ile in the present day Kwara

State. He was born into the art of drumming.

It has been observed that since the 1950‟s, Erin Osun

artists (drummers and dancers) have been involved in the

propagation, practice and the preservation of arts in Osogbo. It

was believed to have been an off – shoot of an organized

network of Yoruba theatre companies (see Adekola 1995; Barber

and Ogundijo 1994) made up of series of workshops and a

number of lively local performances.

Ayanagalu International Group comprises of seasoned

and experienced dancers and drummers. It consists of male and

female artists, namely Alhaji Lamidi Ayankunle – the lead

drummer / leader and founder of the group. The next in rank is

the leader of the dancers, Ojetunde Ajayi, Kazeem Adurolu

(drummer), Rafiu Ayankunle (drummer), Taofeek Ajangila

(dancer), Busayo Ajangila Ojekunle (dancer), Sherif Ajangila (a

young boy who is also a dancer), Wahab Ayankunle (drummer),

Muyideen Ayankunle (drummer), Musiliyu Ayankunle

(drummer) and Musefiu Ayankunle (drummer).

This group started their career (drumming and dancing)

around the towns and neighbouring villages especially during the

worships of the Yoruba deities. They did not only graduate to

performances beyond the local terrain, but with training and

teaching of drumming and dancing bata and dundun specifically.

This particular „act‟ has taken the group members to virtually all

the corners of the world in order to participate in organized

workshops, seminars, festivals, command performances and

training and teaching people (would – be bata and dundun

dancers and musicians).

Every performance of Ayanagalu group is a variety

show, dance, spectacle, and revue. Ayanagalu group in

performance takes the form of the famous Alarinjo masquerade

dancers but with a little difference. In the popular Alarinjo

Travelling theatre, bata was virtually represented as an

accompaniment for their dances and dramas as presented by the 

37

troupes like Eiyeba, Adeogun and Aladokun from Ikirun (whose

main drum was Igbin, but who often used bata), Aiyelabola,

Lebe, Ajangila from Iragberi, Lasisi Alijonnu from Oyo, and

later Agbegijo and Ajof‟eebo. They are renowned bata dancers

and drummers, whose families, and lineages are linked with the

worship of Sango and / or the Egungun (masquerades). The

activities of the Alarinjo Troupes support Williams J. and Judith

Hannah‟s (1972:238) in their views that:

African dance introduces and maintains the cultural

patterns; eases socio-psychological tension; encourages

the fulfillment of such goals as reproduction work and

military activities, expresses the religious order and

strengthens the feeling of social solidarity.

Joel Adedeji‟s (1978:44) perception of bata in performances of

the Alarinjo troupes shows its numerous duties and a special

order is followed in every program. The performance opens with

scintillating drum texts and powerful introduction of the group

(Ayanagalu) to the audience. The drum roll brings the dancers

(both old and young) on to the stage with a free-for-all dance

(improvised steps). It continues for a while, giving the audience

varieties of styles and forms of Yoruba dance movements. At a