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28.04.2015 Feature Article

The Role Of Dance In TIV Culture

The Role Of Dance In TIV Culture
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Dance in many African cultures is not just a pastime or entertainment that can be ignored. It is closely connected with the lives of the people and so for many people in Africa, dance is culture and culture is dance due to how Africans are imbue with a sense of responsibilities in dancing in any ubiquitous occasions Africans are engaged in Africa.

Now, right from infancy, the tiv child is treated to lullabies. The mother lulls the child to sleep with dance rhythms by rocking him in her arms or on her back. She beats time with her arms or while grinding, beats time on the grinding stone.

As the child grows up, he joins in dancing games with the other small children from the compound. These early dances are accompanied by singing and clapping with high breathtaking. Also at this early age the child is introduced to drumming and music making. By the age of twelve, a Tiv boy or girl is expected to know all the dance steps of the popular dances, along with the songs that go with them. In fact, the song is inextricably woven into the dance and music.

However, young adults use dance in TIVLAND to expressly express various emotions. It is well known that the rural TIV, from the remote past to the present, have used dance for courtship. The greater the expressive ability of the dancer, the more attractive he or she is to the opposite sex. Successful female dancers have attracted handsome dowries. Dances performed by itinerant dancers going from one village or market to another, have been opportunities for girls to elope with the star dancers and became part of the dance ensemble.

Among the young people, dance is an ideal forum for courtship. When involved in the dance, the dancers' true emotions flow out of them and the spectators can observe what they are really like. The response of a male spectator to a female dancer may be so strong that he brings cash reward and pastes it on her forehead, as a sign of his admiration for her.

As the youths grow into adults and get married, their dance culture also changes. They move from amateur to professional dancing. They are invited by richer people to dance for occasions like the taking of a title, the celebration of a personal achievement, or a funeral. Rehearsals last for many hours and are held in an open courtyard where everyone is encouraged to join in. As people get older, they no longer join the main core of dance performers.However; they function as critics of the dance. Older man and women can always be seen moving up and down the dance formation; criticizing and they often form an outer circle to demonstrate the movements.

At a TIV funeral many dances can be performed. From the day the death is announced to many days after the corpse is buried, there is all night dancing in the home of the chief mourner. He pays the dancers because they keep the funeral alive and instill a spirit of communal solidarity so that the bereaved are comforted. Some of the funeral dirges are so moving and saddening that the wake-keepers burst out a copious crying.

There are, in the urban areas of Gboko and Makurdi especially, bands of traditional dance-mourners. These bands mourn anybody, whether they knew them personally or not. Often the women among them will cry real tears and call on the dead person. As long as food, drinks and money flow, so also their (CROCODILE) tears flow. But if they are invited to a bigger funeral or the supply of food, drinks and cash runs out these dancers will abandon the bereaved and the corpse and take their mourning elsewhere.

BY: EDWARD FRIMPONG
E-MAIL: frimpong.e[email protected]
TEL: +233243651928
LOCATION: ACCRA-GHANA

Edward Frimpong
Edward Frimpong, © 2015

The author has 71 publications published on Modern Ghana.Column: EdwardFrimpong

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