Interrelatedness of Music, Religion and Ritual in African Performance Practice

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These essays present new critical perspectives on the dynamic configurations of music, religion (indigenous, Islam, Christian), and ritual in contemporary African societies. Examples demonstrate issues and processes of accommodation, the construction of religious, ethnic, and cultural identities, and local articulations of gender and the aesthetic. Examples from African-American Pentecostalism, independent Christianity, Tumbuka healing, Yoruba kingship ritual, Senegalese Sufism, etc confirm both common and divergent patterns in African cultural traditions.


"... insightful volume ... including 20 photographs (some in color), several appendixes (music transcriptions), and a helpful bibliography, this volume will serve collections supporting performance studies, cultural studies, and African and African American studies. Recommended." - CHOICE

“This collection of essays marks an important moment in our study of expressive culture in Africa. The contributions contained therein address the interrelatedness of music, religion and ritual in African performance practice. While we have seen works that have concentrated on any one of the three areas, rarely have the three been interlinked. Even more importantly, scholars working from a variety of disciplines bring their particular analytic perspectives to this project….address the complex and very creative ways in which religious and ritual practices are constantly being reinvented on the African continent, with attention to the important place of music in the complex of performance….The African humanities should be richly enhanced with the publication of this collection.” – Ruth M. Stone, Indiana University

Table of Contents

Table of contents:
Preface (Ruth Stone)
Part One: Introduction
1. A Sound Idea: Belief and Production of Musical Spaces (Daniel Avorgbedor)
Part Two: Rites and Sounds of Transition: Sonic and Visual Configurations
2. Gods and Deputy Gods: Music in Yoruba Religious and Kingship Traditions (Akin Euba)
3. Mukanda: Boys Initiation in Eastern Angola – Transference, Counter-Transformation and Taboo Symbolism in an Age-Group Related Ritual Therapeutic Intervention (Gerhard Kubik)
4. Performance as Ritual, Performance as Art: Therapeutic Efficacy of Dadanda Song and Dance in Zimbabwe (Diane Thram)
Part Three: Sound and Sounding Bodies: Healing Rituals
5. Maresaka and the Value in Things: Tromba Spirit Possession on the East Coast of Madagascar (Ron Emoff)
6. The Disease of the Prophets: The Musical Construction of Clinical Reality (Steven Friedson)
7. Identifying Witches: A Performance by the Sing’anga Jonasi Masangwi (Moya Aliya Malamusi)
8. Where all Things Meet: Performing Spiritscape in Shambaa Healing (Barbara Thompson)
Part Four: Re-sounding Faiths: Indigenous Christianity and Islam
9. I am able to see very far but I am unable to reach there: Ndugu Gideon Mdegella’s Nyimbo za Kwaya (Gregory Barz)
10. Sacred Space, Ritual Action and Processes of “Textualization” in Ibandla lamaNazaretha (Carol Muller)
11. Modes of Ritual Action and Performance in African-American Pentecostalism (Thomasina Neely-Chandler)
12. Music and Memory among Senegalese Sufism (Allen and Mary Roberts)
Bibliography; Appendices

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