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The Joys of Music in Yoruba land

Africans are so gifted musically and Yoruba people are no exception. While researching different ethnic groups in Nigeria, I set out to find the focal point of each culture. It was very easy to point to music, dance and general merriment for Yoruba people. We love owambe (parties). Where two or three Yorubas are gathered, they’ve put a canopy on the road, are drinking, eating and having a great time. Anyway, I think that our love of partying comes from a deep love of music. It’s not a coincidence that most of the popular musicians out of Nigeria are Yoruba. So I wanted to explore the traditional ways we create music. I visited the National Museum in Ibadan and these are some of the Yoruba musical instruments I saw. Some of these instruments are also used by a lot of other ethnic groups in Nigeria and other parts of West Africa.

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While researching for this post, I found this great video by CNN Inside Africa on talking in Nigeria. Click the link below to watch.

1. Ìyá ílú is a type of talking drum, one of the most popular instruments in West Africa. The drum can mimic any sound, even words and that’s why it’s called talking drum. The player hold the strings around the drum in specific ways to change the tone. While researching, I found this CNN video showing how the talking drum is played.

2. Agogo is a bell, played by hitting it on different parts to get different sounds. The higher on the bell you hit, the deeper the sound.

3. Sekere is a rattle made from a calabash with beads or cowries around it. Whenever I think of the sekere, it takes me back to praise and worship in church.

4. Bata Drum is now one of the most popular drums in Yoruba land. Also played when dancing the Bata dance.

Which traditional instruments makes you nostalgic about your childhood? For me, it’s the sekere.



Hi, thanks for stopping by!

I am a writer and illustrator from Lagos, Nigeria.


In 2015, I started a company called IheartLagos with the aim of showcasing Lagos culture in a unique and fun way.


That journey took me down an exciting path, discovering and learning so much about Nigeria.

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come to you.

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