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 women’s 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 women’s 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.