Dùndún, drumming, Yorùbá music, female drummers, gender issues, male dominance, gendered space


The contemporary Nigerian musical landscape occasionally becomes a site for contesting and negotiating the established ideology of Yorùbá patriarchy. These movements are evident in many women’s decisions to venture into drumming, an age-old male dominated musical profession. Informed by the theory of spatial trialectics, this article investigates gendered space in relation to dùndún drumming with a view to understanding the changing nuances of gender relations among the Yorùbá of southwestern Nigeria. Ethnographic techniques were used to generate data on Àrà and Àyánbìnrin, two well-known urban popular female dùndún performers whose aspirations and career trajectories reside outside the Àyàn lineage and spiritual tradition. Biographical accounts and lived experiences of both artists suggest that women’s agency in Yorùbá drumming is hedged by different, prevailing socioeconomic contexts, including a determination to challenge limitations to a career path and economic progress. By describing how female dùndún drumming may be regarded as a response to social and musical change, and discussing how issues of masculinity and femininity are constructed, negotiated and contested, I argue that the belief forbidding women from playing Yorùbá drums is not strictly applicable to the dùndún because the dùndún ensemble is more connected to social than religious performances.

Author Biography

Kayode Samuel, Dr, Institute of African Studies, University of Ibadan, Nigeria

Kayode Samuel, PhD in African Music from the Institute of African Studies, University of Ibadan, Nigeria, where he is currently a Senior Research Fellow in Ethnomusicology. He was a post-doctoral fellow of the American Council of Learned Society under the African Humanities Program (2013 cohort). His research interests include musical arts education, indigenous and modern African musical traditions as well as music and gender-related issues.


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How to Cite

Samuel, Kayode. 2018. “GENDERED SPACE TRANSGRESSORS: STUDY OF TWO YORÙBÁ FEMALE DÙNDÚN DRUMMERS”. African Music : Journal of the International Library of African Music 10 (4):160-76.