Saturday, June 25, 2016

Yoruba "Bolojo" Music & Dance - Online Information & Comments

Edited by Azizi Powell

This is Part I of a two part series on the Yoruba people's Bolojo music & dance.

Part I provides a compilation of information about Bolojo music & dance from several online articles and YouTube video discussion threads.

Click for Part II of this series. Part II showcases sound file and video examples of Bolojo music by Akinna Vasco Da Gama, King Jossey Friday, and Zeynab Abib. (These artists names are given in chronological order of their examples publishing on YouTube.)

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

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to the developers and early Bolojo recording artists and thanks to all contemporary recording artists and performers of that music & dance. Thanks also to all those who are quoted in this post.

I'm quoting these excerpts/comments to document this information and help spread examples of this music/dance.

I only know about Bolojo music from coming across examples as a result of "YouTube surfing" African music, and then using Google to search for information about that music genre.

Note: The four examples of Bolojo music that are showcased in this series aren't the only examples of Bolojo music on YouTube. However, I've only found a few more examples of that music on that site. Additional information about this information and its recording artists and additional publication of musical examples would be very welcome.

These article excerpts are placed in no particular order. The excerpts are numbered for referencing purposes only.

The comments are given under their YouTube sound file or video link and are presented in chronological order based on their publishing dates, except for responses. The example numbers correspond to the number the sound file or video was given in Part II of this pancocojams series.

Background - an article about the Yoruba people and an article about the nation of Benin
Excerpt #1:
he Yoruba people (Yoruba: Àwọn ọmọ Yorùbá) are an ethnic group of Southwestern and North central Nigeria as well as Southern and Central Benin known as the Yorubaland cultural region of West Africa. The Yoruba constitute over 40 million people in total; the majority of this population is from Nigeria and make up 21% of its population, according to the CIA World Factbook,[1] making them one of the largest ethnic groups in Africa.

The Yoruba share borders with the Borgu in Benin; the Nupe and Ebira in central Nigeria; and the Edo, the Ẹsan, and the Afemai in mid-western Nigeria. The Igala and other related groups are found in the northeast, and the Egun, Fon, Ewe and others in the southeast Benin. The Itsekiri who live in the north-west Niger delta are related to the Yoruba but maintain a distinct cultural identity. Significant Yoruba populations in other West African countries can be found in Ghana,[8][9][10] Togo,[9] Ivory Coast,[11] Liberia and Sierra Leone.[12]

The Yoruba diaspora consists of two main groupings, one of them includes relatively recent migrants, the majority of which moved to the United States and the United Kingdom after major economic changes in the 1970s; the other is a much older population dating back to the Atlantic slave trade. This older community has branches in such countries as Cuba, Saint Lucia, Brazil, Grenada,[13] and Trinidad and Tobago.[14][15][16][17][18][19]...

Religion and mythology
The Yoruba faith, variously known as Aborisha, Orisha-Ifa or simply (and erroneously) Ifa, is commonly seen as one of the principal components of the African traditional religions.

Orisa'nla, also known as Ọbatala,[45] was the arch-divinity chosen by Olodumare, the Supreme God, to create solid land out of the primordial water that then constituted the earth and populating the land with human beings.

Traditional Yoruba religion
The Yorùbá religion comprises the traditional religious and spiritual concepts and practices of the Yoruba people.[47] Its homeland is in Southwestern Nigeria and the adjoining parts of Benin and Togo, a region that has come to be known as Yorubaland. Yorùbá religion is formed of diverse traditions and has no single founder.[48] Yoruba religious beliefs are part of itan, the total complex of songs, histories, stories and other cultural concepts which make up the Yorùbá society.[48]...

Today, most contemporary Yoruba are Christians and Muslims. Be that as it may, many of the principles of the traditional faith of their ancestors are either knowingly or unknowingly upheld by a significant proportion of the populations of Nigeria, Benin and Togo."...

Excerpt #2:
"Benin has played an important role in the African music scene, producing one of the biggest stars to come out of the continent in Angélique Kidjo. Post-independence, the country was home to a vibrant and innovative music scene, where native folk music combined with Ghanaian highlife, French cabaret, American rock, funk and soul, and Congolese rumba. It also has a rich variety of ethnomusicological traditions...

The majority of Benin’s 9.32 million people live in the south. The population includes about 42 ethnic groups overall. These include coastal populations of Yoruba in the southeast, who migrated from what is now Nigeria in the 12th century, the Fon in the south central area around Abomey, Mina, Xueda and Aja who came from what is now Togo.

Northern peoples include the Dendi in the north-central area, who came from what is now Mali in the 16th century, the Bariba and Fula people in the northeast and the Betammaribe and Somba in the Atacora Range."...

Article excerpts about Bolojo music/dance
Excerpt #1:
..."Ilaro, Ogun State is a town in Ogun State, Nigeria.

Ilaro was founded in the 18th century by Aro who migrated from the Oyo town[2] to settle down in Igbo Aje,[3] a little hill situated at the centre of the town from where he and his warriors could sight enemies (mostly slave traders from the neighbouring Benin republic known then as Dahomey) on attack from a long distance. Aro himself was a warrior and a hunter to be reckoned with. Ilaro had her name from "Ilu Aro"[2] meaning the settlement of Aro which later became Ilaro for ease of pronunciation.

Ancient Ilaro town was blessed with great farmers, hunters and warriors out of which Orona and Osata ranked the files of Ilaro history. In the history laid by these humble kinsmen and peace-loving individuals, apart from saving the lives of their kinsmen from the hands of the invading Dahome and other warriors, news had it that Orona with his "Ekun" (Leopard) when he became old and wanted to show the potency of His powers entered into the ground and told his people to call upon him whenever there is problem, i.e. in times of war, by just pulling the chain attached to himself and the leopard as at the time of entering the ground.[3] This place where Orona disappeared into the ground with his Leopard today had been renovated and constructed as an emolument for lovers of history and tourists. Close to this monument is the town hall named after the honourable warrior (picture shown,) "’Orona’ Hall". the statute of Oronna and his Leopard are still there for tourists and lovers of history to see...

The Ilaro people has very rich cultural heritage. The Ilaro people are the originator of the “Bolojo“ and the “gelede” dance. The language of communication at the Gelede dances is songs known as “EFE” which is mostly composed to expose and correct ills done by people in the neighbourhood. One wouldn’t know that one is being noticed at every bad steps one took until a visit to a Bolojo dance performance or the gelede dance stand when specific songs will be composed and rendered to one’s hearing. Listen to the EFE and you will have the cause to laugh stress as well as sorrows out of your life.... The Bolojo dance are usually held at the Oronna hall or at venues for annual programmes such as the independence anniversary, children’s day celebrations etc. The Gelede dances are usually held in the market square and usually during the summer time to enable each and every one both young and old indigenes of Ilaro to participate."...
This excerpt was reformatted for this post for better reading clarity.

Excerpt #2:
"The Egbado people also now known as Yewa, are amalgamated agriculturalists and artisan textile processing Yoruboid-speaking people that forms a sub-set of the Larger Yoruba ethnic group, inhabiting the eastern area of Ogun West Senatorial District, Ogun State, in south-west Nigeria, West Africa. In 1995, the Egbado people changed their name to the Yewa, which is the name of the River Yewa that passes through their land…..

Unlike other Yoruba sub-ethnic groups that points at only Ile Ife as their original home, the Egbado people appear to have migrated from different places - possibly from the Ketu, Ile-Ife, or Oyo - to their current area early in the 18th century. Historically, Egbado people lived in the of Egbaland near River Ogun. Their name Egbado was contracted from Egbaluwe, "the wanderers towards the river- probably an allusion towards the river Yewa, which runs through their land to the lagoon at Badagr....

Gelede pays homage to the spiritual powers of women, especially elderly women known affectionately as "our mothers," awon iya wa. The powers possessed by such women, comparable to those of the gods, spirits, or ancestors, may be used for the benefit or the destruction of society. When manifesting their destructive dimension such elderly women are termed aje ("witches"). If angered, they can bring down individuals and entire communities....

The Egbado are known for developing a popular style of music, called Bolojo, in the 1970s. Their population level is uncertain, but may be around 500,000....

Egbado speaks North-West Yoruba (NWY) dialect which is also spoken by Abẹokuta, Ibadan, Ọyọ, Ogun and Lagos (Eko) areas."
Warning- Unfortunately, the comment section of this website pages (not just this one) have been spammed with sexually explicit content.

Excerpt #3
Zeynab, whose real name Oloukèmi Zeynab Abibou, is a singer Benin of World music born 25 September 1975 to Abidjan in Ivory Coast . She won the trophy Kora Awards 2005 in the category best female artist of the West African and national good will ambassador for UNICEF since 2007...

Zeynab is from a family Muslim over sixteen children, she is the eighth of a father born engineer in electronics and a shopping mother."...

Excerpt #4
Popular music
[list of various artists]
....Zeynab Ouloukèmi Habib, born in Abidjan [Ivory Coast to Beninese parents] in 1975, has given concerts around Africa and won a Kora Award for Best Female West African Artist in 2005. She released her first album Intori in 2001, a second album D'un endroit à l'autre in 2004, and a third album Olukèmi in 2011.[5]"
I haven't found any online articles about King Jossy Friday, Akinna Fasca Dagama, or any other Bolojo musician. If you know of any articles please add their links in the comment section of this post. Thanks!

Comments from Example #1
Fasco Da Gama - Aiyetoro Social Club, EgbaAlake Uploaded on Jun 24, 2011
[All of these comments are from 2011.]
1. yormeey
"@EgbaAlake, this is highlife music?"

"@yormeey .This is unique musical style called Bolojo,belonging distinctively to the Yewa/Egbado division of Ogun State.This particular genre was popularised by King Jossy Friday.My remote memory of Vasco Da Gama was probably in my elementry school days back in Abeokuta.Im hoping people can provide us more info on this.I also recall our extended family members coming from Imeko/Aiyetoro towns and surrounding villages coming to Abeokuta to entertain us with cool Bolojo/Efe music.Cheers Yormeey"

Ebenezer Oluyemi Idowu
"bolojo belongs only to egbado/yewa..populirised by jossy friday, now i am learning vasco da-gama (of obey fame )also play bolojo...(gbanja re o, e ba mi wayawo" by jossy was banned by then western gov,adebayo..i was born in igan okoto ,yewa north..bolojo was my dads favourite....interesting, could vasco be from aiyeto-7 miles from igan okoto..obey was born in adebayo killed bolojo..egbado/yewa for life"
The word "killed" in the last sentence of this comment has the standard meaning of that word and not the high complimentary meaning that it has in contemporary African American slang.

"@EgbaAlake You've outdone yourself with this bolojo classic. Vasco Da Gama and King Jossy Friday were the biggest bolojo exponents popular in the 60's and 70's along the Egbado/Yewa axis. As a high school student at Egbado High School Igbogila of the middle 70's, I remembered sneaking out of the dorm room with friends to watch Vasco Da Gama's concert in Ilaro. Pure joy to be able to hear his music again on YT. Keep digging EgbaAlake"

Comments from Example #2
EgbaAlake, Uploaded on Sep 11, 2011
1. EgbaAlake, 2011
"Special dedication to PLANETOLUSOLA for his relentless efforts at keeping Us all together with all the great Classics."

2. planetolusola, 2011
"@EgbaAlake Much thanks and appreciation for the dedication. Jossy Friday, a native of Igbogila in Ogun State is the undisputable king of Bolojo along with the legendary Vasco Da Gamma. Keep on digging my friend."

3. Adisa Olayinka, 2012
"EgbaAlake may God bless you, your family and the works of your hands. This is my late mother's native song as she was from Oke Odan, it brings her fond memory back, am close to tears. You're really a true Yoruba patriot, you deserve a chieftaincy title for promoting Yoruba traditional music. That atinga part reminds me of our stay in Ilaro when the atinga sect came in late 1940s picking witches and wizards. my dad used to take me to the town centre to watch the spectacles as a small boy then." 

4. keemdig, 2012
"Many thanks EgbaAlake,You really made my day, I grew up listening to this genre of music around Mushin area of lagos. Mushin then, and may be up till now, had a boisterous population of people from Oke-Ogun. I am a fan of Bolojo music, please do not relent on the good work you are doing. Efforts like yours will save our music from extinction.Thanks fella."

Comments from Example #3
From Zeynab - Mogba Ara Da (Bolojo), Zeynab Abib, Published on Jun 22, 2012
1. dcbiglew, 2012
"Beautiful. About time to rediscover some of this awesome music. Thanks for the post. Bolojo became a bit political in the late 60's early 70's and the then governor of Lagos state banned bolojo music( imagine that) good stuff"

2. Debo Alder, 2012
"This is so amazing and I find it extremely difficult to believe this master piece is from a young lady; though I appreciate the homogeneity among the Yorubas and the great people of Republic of Benin. This great ‘bolojo’ piece is capable of invoking the spirit of the origin of the music in Egb
ado Land. The foremost Bolojo exponent, King Jossy Friday is still very much alive and I’m sure he will be proud of Zeynab if he comes across this music."

3. gracetchabi, 2012
"Rapublic of Benin and Nigeria are all the same !zeynab is a beninese artist which sings in english french yoruba fongbe her..dont be surprised we have pure yoruba and nago culture in benin"

Boniface Dubois, 2014
"I can't stop listing to this song. My mum is from abeoukouta Nigeria. This song reminds me my childhood in abeoukouta with my grandfather. Young couples should listen more this kind of song to learn about how to manage their problems. Proud of being yoruba"

planetolusola, 2015
"The great Zeynab has done it again. Representing Anago/Egbado axis in this bolojo medley. True Yoruba ambassador you are."
Read the information about Zeynab that is given in the section above.

Comments from Example #4
ZEYNAB - BOLOJO "Medley", Zeynab Abib Published on Aug 31, 2015
1. ajedeluwasa, 2015
"I just love and appreciate this unique adaptation of Bolojo music. She is simply good. Some Ekiti/Owo musicians still sing in authentic and appealing way. But Zeynab is really very good.

2. Mike Emma, 2016
"This is d best Yoruba music I ever listen to in my life time. I v listened to so many but none compared to dis music. I even sing it in my sleep so captivating dat I can't get enough of it. I wish she could do more of dis traditional music bcos she is a gud dancer and singer. One day, I hope to bring her to her mother land , Land of oduduwa. More grease to ur elbow."

3. Ola Ogunbunmi
"Thanks for the near perfect musical presentation of yoruba cultural heritage. Thanks again for keeping our tradional music intact without western polution."

This concludes Part I of this series.

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Visitor comments are welcome.

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