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Thursday, February 2, 2023

Melody of Music: A Look into Nigeria’s Native Musical Instruments

Every tribe in Nigeria has its own music which is used for different purposes

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Hamzat Ibrahim Abaga
Hamzat Ibrahim Abaga
Hamzat Ibrahim Abaga is a graduate of Mass Communication and aspiring investigative journalist.

NIGERIA: Music is important to world cultures and continues to be created over the decades. Every country has it’s own native languages. But, there’s only one language that can be understood by everyone; the language of music.

However, traditional music varies by country and region and is often played at cultural ceremonies and events.

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Nigeria predominantly consists of different ethnic groups having different cultures and traditions. Similarly, traditional music of ethnic groups differ from each other. However, music has the power to heal, transform and inspire regardless of the language used.

In Nigeria, Hausa and Yoruba ethnic groups have their native instruments. Every tribe in Nigeria has its own music which is used for different purposes.

Hausa musical instruments

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Traditionally, people from the Hausa tribe use drums and vocals for creating music. Sometimes, they also use only one among the two to pass their message to their target audience.

The traditional nature of Hausa music can be weird for a first-time listener. But, it has the capacity to stand out among any other tribal music. Here are the different musical instruments used in Hausa music.

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Algaita: Algaita also spelled as alghaita, algayta or algheita is a two-open holes gadget used by Hausa people as a form of musical instrument to pass a meaningful message to the general public. The Algaita is also used by the Kanuri people for the same purposes.

Algaita is unique and different from any form of instrument because it has a larger, look and sound like a bell which is handled by fingering through the hole.

Kakaki: Kakaki is a name used in Nigeria, Chad, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Benin, and Niger. The Kakaki is a powerful instrument made up of metal and is five meters long used by Hausa ethnic groups during ceremonial events and traditional events.

Kakaki is an age-long gadget that is mainly used for royalty purposes such as in the Emir palace or King in Hausa communities. The instrument is only played by the men in the community.

Yoruba musical instruments

Yoruba music is known for its intensively long drumming process. Much of Yoruba music or instrument is a spiritual incline, and this form is often devoted to spirit.

Ashiko: Ashiko is a Yoruba musical instrument designed like a cylinder with two sides, one side is wider than while the other side is narrow.

This instrument is made up of wood. It has a narration of high-quality sound. It also played with bare hands. 

Yoruba musical instruments. Photo Credit: Pexels

The word “ashiko” can be traced to Yoruba culture which means drum, time-frame, or freedom.

Agidigbo: Agidigbo is also known as Molo and it is called Piano in English.

It is a plucked musical instrument mainly used by the Yoruba people in Nigeria.

Agidigbo is like a locker, that can be placed on the lap of the musician. It has four to five strips of metal set up side by side and it contains at the top things like keys on a piano keyboard. 

The players of the Agidigbo make use of their fingers to plug the instrument in and out. The left hand plucking the one or two rhythmic tongues, the right hand plucking the three melodic tongues.

In connection with the Yoruba tones of the players, the instrument always produces melodious sounds.

Importance of traditional music

In today’s world, native music and musicians play a significant role in preserving the images, culture, tradition, and history of our native society.

Traditional musicians and music have helped in allowing people to be acquainted with their respective life and cultural heritage.

Native songs serve as an identity in telling the world about the country. 

For instance, a song in Hausa or Yoruba language will make any non-Nigerian believe which ethnic group composed the song and the country it comes from. 

The lyrics in native songs have a connection with the history of the singer’s country. Traditional music helps in identifying certain cultures.

Factors affecting traditional music in Nigeria

Censorship has always been a major problem for the music industry. Native songs lack proper censorship and as such, it is inflicted on people’s rights unknowingly.

Stereotyping has also been one of the major problems of native musicians, where they see one tribe, ethnicity, or culture as inferior to others. This could be referred to as negative stereotyping.

Also Read: Indigenous Dance Forms in Nupe Culture


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