Monday, September 22, 2014

Temne And Ibo (Igbo) Nation Dances & Songs From The Carriacou Big Drum songs and dances.

Edited by Azizi Powell

This is Part II of two part series on Carriacou Big Drum songs and dances. This post showcases videos of Big Drum songs and dances that are performed by the descendants of Temne Nation and Ibo Naton [Igbo] (ethnic groups) who were enslaved in Carriacou.

Part I of this series showcases the Cromanti Cudjoe (Beg Pardon) song and dance. This post also provides information about Carriacou and the Carriacou Big Drum tradition.

The content of this post is presented for folkloric and aesthetic purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to all the ancestors who are honored by these ritual drum calls and dances. Thanks also to all those featured in these videos, thanks to Cultural Equity, the publisher/s of those videos on YouTube, and thanks to all those who are quoted in this post.

"Carriacou is an island of the Grenadine Islands located in the Southeastern Caribbean Sea, Northeast of Grenada...

It's the largest in the Grenadines and in the Grenada Grenadines. It is the 3rd largest island in the Grenadine Islands (Vincentian and Grenadian Grenadines)...

It's part of the Carriacou and Petite Martinique Constituency and also Carriacou is a dependency of Grenada...

The inhabitants of Carriacou perform the "Big Drum" or "Nation" dance which celebrates their West African ancestors that were brought to the island during slavery. These Big Drum dances are usually performed at "Maroons" village festivals or fetes, where food and drink are prepared. They can also be danced at wakes and tombstone feasts in honor of dead relatives. The Quadrille dance is also performed on the island of Carriacou during festivals and historic events."...
"The Big Drum or Nation Dance (also at one time called called Gwa Tambu) is a traditional religious and social ritual that has been sustained on Carriacou, Grenada since the slave era and the early importation of Cromanti people. It teaches history and reinforces knowledge, family lineage, and tradition in our time.

The Big Drum ritual survives as a community event hosted by any family that wishes to celebrate or toast good luck in the dedication of a new house, the launching of a new boat, a wedding, a memorial or any event that improves the social status of the host family. With food, rum, ritual behavior, the Big Drum performance holds religious and social meaning in the songs, drumming, and dances.

The Chantwell and her troop of about 12 singers, surrounded by the crowd of guests who form a circle around them, dance and sing the repertoire with the drum trio accompanying them....

Nine West African groups, speaking various languages, were brought into slavery on Carriacou. The Cromanti nation, made up of mixed Akan groups (Fanti, Asanti, Akwapim) was named after the Dutch-built Gold Coast slave castle Kormantin and exited Africa from that site (Meredith 1812:130). We suggest, given structural cues from the songs, that The Cromanti were, most likely, the nation that established the Big Drum, as the largest and most influential of those enslaved on Carriacou (McDaniel 1998: 42). And as other people were traded and sold, the Igbo, Manding, Chamba, Temne, Banda, Arada, Moko, and Kongo repertoires were appended to the ritual, with their peoples forming a nine nation congress of multinational representation (Pearse 1978-79:638).

The nine nations of Carriacou remained somewhat in tact exhibiting a historical, political/cultural sensibility in their society. The oldest, most treasured, and spiritual Nation items of the Cromanti, Igbo, and Manding are set at the beginning of the event with the other 6 Nation dances performed later intermixed with secular dances...

[Nations listed:

...We find ancestral petition prominent in the oldest texts, social concerns in the Creole songs, and a call to enjoyment and dance in the Frivolous poetry. Anancy is not a mysterious name, but one of a well known and provocative deity, a spider with uncommon stealth and trickery. Anancy is known in many West African cultures, and here it belongs to the first nation, the Cromanti, with word phrases that may be Hausa....

[Transcription of "Anancy-O" (Cromanti) song]

...An Igbo song follows [a song about a Yoruba god Oko*]. “Ovid-o Bagade,” a social metaphor, tells of the fear faced by a paranoid farmer, Ovid, who plants and yields unexpected evil. “Bagarde, Don’t be afraid,” sings the chorus.

Ovid-o Bagadé [Igbo]
Mwen planté shu mwen
Li turné ba legé
Ovid-o bagardé, bagardé éh-hé
Mwen planté shu mwen
Li turné maljo-jo (melangen, balissé)
Ovid-o bagardé, bagardé éh-hé

I plant tanya
And it turns to nothing
Ovid, don’t be afraid, don’t be afraid.
I plant tanya
And it turns to fear (eggplant, bush)
Ovid don’t be afraid, don’t be afraid."...
*This writer indicates that "Oko is a Yoruba god, a member of the Nigerian Orisha pantheon, guardian of crops and fertility. But Yorubas did not enter Carriacou as a group...Virtually forgotten within the Nigerian Orisa ritual of Trinidad, the memory of Oko wandered. The enslaved population of Trinidad thought it absurd to entreat the god of agriculture and fecundity to work in the favor of the colonialists, increasing their holdings and wealth (Simpson 1962:1217). However, the Yoruba deity, Oko, was appropriated by those who traveled away from the drought-ridden landscape of Carriacou and worked in the cane fields of Trinidad soon after the end of slavery in 1838 (Hill 1973:23)."...

Example #1: Tiwe Tiwe-o (Cheer Up Pike)

Cultural Equity Published on Jul 29, 2013

Sung at this stage so that people who don't know how to dance the nation of the host family (in this case, the Kromanti) get to dance.

Example #2: Tewe-M Kouman M Ye (Temne nation dance)

Cultural Equity Published on Jul 29, 2013

Boula, Lennox Corian; koupeé, James "Laka" Moses; David Gibbs, foule; Denise Duncan, chak-chak. Dancing: Denise Duncan, Suzanne Duncan, Angela Theresa Billy Matheson, Princess Noel
Here's information about the Temne ethnic group:
"The Temne people are currently the largest ethnic group in Sierra Leone, at 35% of the total population[1] The Temne are predominantly found in the Northern Province and the Western Area, including the national capital Freetown...

There were Temne speakers along the coast in what is now Sierra Leone when the first Portuguese ships arrived, in the 14th century. Temne were indicated on subsequent Portuguese maps, and references to them and brief vocabularies appear in the texts. Trade began, albeit on a small scale, in the fifteenth century with the Portuguese and expanded in the late sixteenth century with the arrival of British traders, and later traders of other nations. Slaves, gold, ivory and local foodstuffs were exchanged for European trade goods—mostly cloth, firearms, and hardware...

Sierra Leone's national politics centers on the competition between the north, dominated by the Temne and their neighbour and political ally, the Limba; and the southeast, dominated by the Mende, who are a Mande people like the Mandinka, Bamana, and Malenke (of Guinea, Senegal, Mali, etc.). The current president of Sierra Leone, Ernest Bai Koroma, is the first Sierra Leonean president from the Temne ethnic group; he receives most of his support from Temne-dominant areas in the north and western regions of Sierra Leone."...

Example #3: Temne-o (Nation song)

Cultural Equity, Published on Jul 29, 2013

In this dance, participants dance one by one. When someone new wants to dance, she raises her hands in the air, and the dancer in the ring will receive her and wheel her out.

Example #4: Ibole Ibole Woy Yo (Ibo Nation Song)

Cultural Equity, Published on Jul 29, 2013
Here's some information about the Ibo (igbo) people:
"The Igbo people, formerly known as the Ibo, are an ethnic group of southeastern Nigeria. They speak Igbo, which includes various Igboid languages and dialects. Igbo people are one of the largest ethnic groups in Africa...

Before British colonialism, the Igbo were a politically fragmented group. There were variations in culture such as in art styles, attire and religious practices. Various subgroups were organized by clan, lineage, village affiliation, and dialect. There were not many centralized chiefdoms, hereditary aristocracy, or kingship customs except in kingdoms such as those of the Nri, Arochukwu, Agbor and Onitsha...

Due to the effects of migration and the Atlantic slave trade, there are descendant ethnic Igbo populations in countries such as Cameroon[11] and Equatorial Guinea,[12] as well as outside Africa. Their exact population outside Africa is unknown, but today many African Americans and Afro Caribbeans are of Igbo descent. According to Liberian historians, the fifth president of that country, Edward James Roye, was of "pure" Igbo descent."...

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  1. Thank you for this illuminating piece. I want to make an observation about President Koroma. He is a Limba and not Temne. He speaks Temne well as the family hailed from Makeni and he schooled in that part of the country

    1. CHEZ, thank you for sharing that information with us.

      I realize that information that I've highlighted in these pancocojams posts is incomplete and may not always be accurate. For that reason comments and corrections from this blog's readers both important and welcome.