Gbagyi cultural music as means of communication, development


By Gami Tadanyigbe,

The Gbagyi people are largely found in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), and its surrounding states of Nasarawa, Niger, Kaduna and Kogi, and the Gbagyi language belongs to the Kwa sub family group of languages under the Niger-Congo.

The Gbagyi people are lively and easy-going people, they make out time for fun and they play music at all occasions including death, some of their music include; Kabulu, Gagayakwo, Gwojegye, Mwala, Zhanya and Gagalusha, among others.

Information, knowledge and ideas are often communicated predominantly using music and cultural dance among the Gbagyi people.

Gbagyi people who were predominantly idol worshippers in the past, have undergone a lot of modification as a result of globalisation and civilisation with the embrace of Christianity and Islam by the people.

Some Gbagyi people spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Kuje, Abaji and Kwali Area Councils, about Kabulu, Zhanya and Mwala music.

They said that communication through music had helped development in the rural areas.

They said that the various types of music had been used to pass on messages, which aided development and improved the health of the people.

Mr Nathaniel Gaza, the coordinator of Abuja Indigenous Liberation Movement in Kuje, said Gbagyi cultural music had taught children and adults to exhibit virtues, heroic acts and good behaviour.

Gaza said Kabulu music are popularly performed with special focus on issues that bring about peoples wellbeing, agriculture, commerce, religion and traditional practices.

According to him, Kabulu is a folk music and a medium used for the development of the community and for communication among Gbagyi people.

“Kabulu music is performed with a big local guitar made of calabash, just like a violin, with a flute, these instruments are harnessed and backed up with rich lyrics rendered by a lead vocalist, which helps to bring members of the community together.

“It serves as a viable tool to aid community development in areas such as entertainment, communal farming, socio-moral instruction, conflict resolution and general wellbeing.

“Significantly, Kabulu musical performance contributes to the society and encourages communal work such as collective farming called ‘fwapa’ used to bring people together and to inspire the farmers to work harder,” he said.

Gbagyi men playing Kabulu music in Kuje, FCT

Mr Jeremiah Gata, a resident of Kuje, added that Kabulu music had the potential for fostering effective communication in a community.

“The folk music is also used to correct ills in the society by educating members of the Gbagyi ethnic group about ills that are not welcome in the community.

“Kabulu music is also a tool for disseminating oral history , most of the lyrics contain information of communal interest.

“Hearing the sound of Kabulu, people gather and then Kabulu pass the information, most traditional Gbagyi societies rely on it for information and communication,” he said.

Mr Felix Wodi, Gbagyi Youth Leader, in Abaji Area Council, FCT, said Zhanya was also another popular Gbagyi cultural dance used most for entertainment, games, weddings, naming ceremonies, birthdays and other cultural festivals identified with the Gbagyi people.

Wodi described Zhanya music as an art, usually regarded as a medium that could be used effectively for communication in a society with a strong oral tradition.

He added that Zhanya could also be used to provide entertainment and to ensure participation in social and developmental activities in a community.

According to him, developed countries through music and other media outlets were able to export their culture across the globe, while indigenous music was relegated or not noticed.

“There are games and other forms of entertainment, which the Gbagyi people use to keep their minds and bodies active, like wrestling and thug -of -war, using Zhanya music.

“Zhanya music helps to strengthen communal relationship and social networks in Gbagyi communities, to enable members of the Gbagyi communities to make substantial progress.

Mr Michael Bwamba, an indigene of Kwali Area Council, FCT, said Mwala music was mostly associated with the death and coronation of a chief in a community as well as punishment for bad behaviour.

Bwamba said the life of a Chief or elder, who had died could be simulated by the daughter-in-law to tell the story of the life time of the deceased.

He added that it was also used at traditional burial vigils, especially of a hero, and women were organised to sing dirge or eulogy in honour of the deceased.

“The Ashan, which is still practiced in some communities today is mostly performed by masquerades called “ adawiya or amwamwa “ and the dance serves as a means for punishing offences.

“There is a traditional priest, who serves as the consultant, and prescribes the sanction meted out for bad behaviour.

“For instance, a woman, who has been unfaithful to her marital vows may die at childbirth, except she makes a confession,” Bwamba said.

Some cultural display by Gbagyi people during a cultural festival in Kwali community

He said there was need for the media to help promote the music and dance of our communities.

“It is also pertinent for members of the Gbagyi ethnic group to look further on how to ensure our music go global.” (NAN)

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