Ṣaworoidẹ: A Depiction and Analysis of the Political and Socio-Cultural Characteristics of the Yorùbá Talking Drum

Ṣaworoidẹ: A Depiction and Analysis of the Political and Socio-Cultural Characteristics of the Yorùbá Talking Drum

Rhoda Titilopemi Inioluwa Abiolu (University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa) and Ruth E. Teer-Tomaselli (University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 22
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-7295-4.ch004


Ṣaworoidẹ is a Nigerian film about the Yorùbá people in Nigeria. It accentuates the socio-cultural and political activities and nuances in Jogbo, representational of the “old Nigeria.” Ṣaworoidẹ itself is a “talking drum” laced with brass bells along its beatable surface. The “talking drum” is an indigenous musical instrument in West Africa, whose functionalities are those of communication and entertainment. But enshrined in this unique instrument are political and socio-cultural characteristics as represented in Ṣaworoidẹ. This chapter identifies those characteristics and their prominence in present-day Nigeria, particularly among the Yorùbá people. The authors unravel the notable and multifaceted use of the “talking drum” for political, religious, traditional, and mass mobilization activities. They suggest that cultural heritage policies of Nigeria, including curricula that facilitate indigenous knowledge, should provide support for this rich drumming tradition, especially in educational institutions.
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The drum is an important musical instrument within different aspects of human life in the African context. Meaning is attached to every drumming outing, “for in Africa, we drum for a purpose” (Nketia, 1968, p. 4). It consequently becomes an artistic and humanistic expression of the need for socialisation and communication among people. Such expressions alongside other characteristics of the “talking drum” emphasised in the film Ṣaworoidẹ will be expounded using “language in representation”, and semiotics, to explain some of the symbolic representations within the film to the Nigerian “reality,” that is, the present-day situation of the country.

Ṣaworoidẹ highlights the responsibilities of officeholders in service to the country, the invasion of the democratic period of Nigeria by the military, trampling of human rights, and the greed that abounds among officeholders who sway from one political party and affiliation to the other to benefit themselves. There is no gainsaying that some of the features of Jogbo – the town and setting for the film, representational of the “old” Nigeria – in Ṣaworoidẹ are still evident in present-day Nigeria. Adedina and Taiwo (2015) supported this when they concluded that Ṣaworoidẹ reflects that which was witnessed (even up until now) in the political terrain of Nigeria.

The careful consideration and thought-flow of this film is an indication of the aim to project and represent the aesthetics of the Yorùbá culture (Adedina & Taiwo, 2015). This is represented throughout the film and especially about the “talking drum” which is the focus of this discourse. In all, the central idea of the film is a call on Nigerians – its primary audience and target - and Africans in general, to revisit the cultural heritage within this milieu, and determine who Nigerians and indeed Africans are as social, cultural, religious and political beings, so that their lives can be less oppressive and more meaningful. The expectation is that if people truly love and care for one another, there will be no room for greed and injustice which are the bane of Nigerian, and African politics.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Participatory Culture: This is a strategy that involves the people. This permits freedom of expression and participation.

Drum Language: This is the intended message of the drummer. It can also be the listener’s interpretation of what is beaten on the talking drum.

Oramedia: These are all forms of indigenous means of communication intelligible to both the sender and the receiver.

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