Yoruba religious music

  • K. Carrol Priest of the Holy Cross Mission, Lagos


A Jesuit writer on mission theory wrote that he could not conceive how an African could worship God without dancing. We often hear nowadays of Mass chants being sung to the beating of tom-toms. To the surprise of European enthusiasts, African clergymen do not always react favourably to such developments. Can we dismiss such a reaction as due to inferiority complex? Or might it not be due to a misunderstanding about the true nature of African music? In a letter, S. M. Katana points out that Africans have a particular type of ceremonial music which expresses “feelings of worship” and he gives as an example the ceremonial music of the Buganda and Bunyoro.