The Shantu music of the Harims of Nigeria

  • Mercedes MacKay
Keywords: Music -- Nigeria, Folk music -- Nigeria, Songs, Hausa -- Nigeria, Women, Hausa -- Music, Women musicians -- Nigeria


Perhaps the most fascinating of all Nigerian music is the Shantu music and soft rhythmical singing which comes from the womens courtyards of the Muslim Harims. I do not know of any other music either in Africa or the world which can be compared to it. Recently I have been able to obtain a tape recording of this music, which is a very difficult thing to come by because the songs themselves are of a very private and intimate nature, and it is impossible for a man to gain access to the womens quarters. The wife of a student anthropologist managed this however, and I believe that this recording (not very good, alas) is unique.

Author Biography

Mercedes MacKay
Well known as a writer and broadcaster on West African music and musical instruments: she has done much to encourage West Africans to take pride in their indigenous music and Europeans to acknowledge its worth.
How to Cite
MacKay, M. “The Shantu Music of the Harims of Nigeria”. African Music: Journal of the International Library of African Music, Vol. 1, no. 2, Nov. 1955, pp. 56-57, doi: