Music is said to be food to the soul. But traditional music in the context of the Ngas culture is more encompassing. In the Ngas land music is an integral and inseparable part of […] life. Excluding music from their customs and/ or tradition, ‘lays the Ngas man bear’ and ‘incomplete’.
The Ngas people are one of over thirty ethnic groups or tribes in Nigeria, Kanke local government Area. It is located in Plateau state of Nigeria, […] West Africa.
Traditional music (kim) is an art that has been handed down by the Ngas forefathers from time past and it has been part and parcel of [people’s] life; it gives the highest joy in their lifetime. The people treasure and cherish every moment spent in it.
In the Ngas land, music can hardly be discussed without considering farming, festivals, dancing, paying respect to and mourning the dead, leisure/ recreation, etc, because they are essential aspect of music that cannot be out rightly ignored.
The Ngas people are known to be great farmers. They cultivate mostly cereals and vegetables and a little of root and tuber crops; crops like guinea corn known as shwe or naza , millet (mor), cassava (bwaryom), maize (nbalwo), etc.
Usually, when it is time for farming (sowing) or harvesting, the whole villagers go to the chief’s farm to work on a particular set date. On the set day, drums known as Kadi are brought out. These drums will be beaten to alert the people that it is time to go to work on the king’s farm. On their way, music is been made with the drums and the people sing along till every body is on the farmland. When the work begins the music will still be on – while the men farm women will be singing, others help with some other work.
The importance of the music here is that it makes the work move faster and smoothly and tiredness is not easily experienced. And also, to make people happy and the environment of work- conducive. This activity has existed from time past and can still be traced today.
Also, festive periods in the Ngas land are wonderfully graced with good music that suits its kind. All of the Ngas festivals will not and never make sense if there is no music to accompany it. Examples of such festivals are the Arkheim festival, mustar, muskwat, and muslun.
The Arkheim festival is always celebrated in the month of December. The word Arkheim means a way of life, something that has been in place and will be continued. During this festival, a lot of music is made alongside dancing. The Kadi (drum) would be beaten while songs and dancing are going on. During this time a masquerade name Agwasa from kapkal will com out to also dance. This masquerade was formerly for the Hausas who settled in Amper in Kanke L.G.A. it was bought from by the Ngas forefathers in kapkal.
The mustar festival takes place in October. It is done in respect of the moon when it is full. If the moon is not full, it is said that it was not done correctly. On the day of the festival, traditional drinks (mus) are made in every house and will be drunk free. Nobody buys ‘mus’ on that day. ‘Mus’ will be taken from house to house till evening then everyone settles in an open field to dance. Music will be made in praise of the moon and the mus, it is believed in the Ngas land that the moon governs the growth of crops and schedules all important human events. Mustar may not be celebrated in different villages at the same time.
Then the Muskwat festival, Muslun, etc. all [these] festival are graced by a lot of dancing, singing and merriment. Music is the essential that makes these festivals real.
[Also], music in the Ngas land is used to remember or pay respect to the departed. The songs are composed in a certain way that anyone who hears them must feel a wave of sorrow. These songs stimulate awful and nostalgic feelings in individuals. They may be sung crying while greeting/ paying respect to the departed.
When great men die, songs are sung calling their names and achievements in life. The y is praised for work well done and are wished safe journey on their paths. These songs are sung from time to time in their memory. The importance of music here is that it is the most suitable way for consoling the [bereaved].
More so, music has been observed to be part of the Ngas people, even during their recreational or leisure time. Young men on their way for walk or to the market make music with an instrument called Ndeng-ndeng known as the finger piano. The piano can be tuned by adjusting the strings while the seeds inside add a rattle effect. The importance is that it relaxes the mind and increase expertise.
Furthermore, music is been used by the Ngas people to described the effect of natural phenomena. Dantala, a Ngas musician, in his music, illustrates how flood waters covered the river in Wukari that he could not pass. This may be literal or fiction, in all cases, it is a representation.
Moreover it is important to know that dancing is an inseparable part aspect of Ngas music. They are both performed together. There can hardly be any Ngas music without dancing. Dancers wear uniform shirts with shorts and animal skins, tired metals on the leg to produce rhythms. Some part of the Ngas people also sing with cow horns.
In conclusion, music in the Ngas tradition is invaluable, without which the way of life of the people is meaningless and void. It has greatly influenced the people, beginning from an individual’s life to the whole society. According to Mbiti (1999), “religion is found in the African peoples. Their different cultures have been influenced very strongly by religion as it is found in each people”. The same is true of music in the Ngas land.
· J. S Mbiti (1999) introduction to African Religion, second Edition.
· Kandim, 1981, 3-8
· Webster’s Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of English Language, 1996.
· Oxford Advanced learners’ Dictionary, 6th edition.
· Mama Magdalene Danladi, 2008, (Grandmother).
· Mallam Dawood Abubakar, 2008, lectures.