TRANSCENDING THE SONIC AND THE TEXTUAL
SENWELE MUSIC PERFORMANCE IN ILORIN, NORTHERN NIGERIA
Keywords:Hausa-Fulani, Ilorin, music, orin-kengbe, Qur’anic, senwele, women, Yoruba
Among Muslim women in predominantly Islamic societies, music-making remains a contested subject. At the core of these contestations are questions of boundaries, agency, taboos, resistance, and generalisations of the socio-musical experiences of Muslim women. This article explores the development of senwele music, a socio-religious music form of the Ilorin in northern Nigeria, from its origin as orin-kengbe (calabash music) to its transition into a translocal music form. Given influences of the Yoruba, Hausa-Fulani, and Islam, senwele music is examined as a compendium of history; one that is not only reflective of the Ilorin traditional music scene, but also the north-south dualism in Ilorin, tensions in music-making and Islam, and regio-political remapping in Nigeria. Based on fieldwork with a major exponent of senwele, Alhaja Iya Aladuke, and her music group in Ilorin, the article explores the practice, ambivalences, convivialities and sustainability of senwele music performance within its predominantly Islamic context. I argue that while established societal conventions, such as those in Ilorin, function as a standard for the acceptance of music, a woman musician such as Alhaja Iya Aladuke continues to thrive through a musician-community exchange that takes into cognisance the sensibilities of the people while retaining their patronage and her artistic autonomy. Beyond its sonic, textual, and entertainment prerogatives, the sustained practice of senwele music in Ilorin presents a continuum for interrogating and negotiating cross-cultural encounters, socio-religious binaries, gender boundaries, and the multiplicity in the socio-musical experiences of Muslim women.
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Interviews by Author
Alhaja Iya Aladuke, Ilorin, Nigeria, March 6, 2013.
Alhaja Iya Aladuke, Ilorin, Nigeria, June 21, 2013.
Alhaja Iya Aladuke, Ilorin, Nigeria, August 18, 2013.
Alhaja Iya Aladuke, Ilorin, Nigeria, March 14, 2014.
Alhaja Iya Aladuke, Ilorin, Nigeria, May 23, 2014.
Musa Aminu (band member, senwele group), Ilorin, Nigeria, May 23, 2014.
Alhaji Olatunji Mohammed (band member and assisting manager), Ilorin, Nigeria, June 20, 2014.
Alhaji Mohammed Bodunde (member of the community), Ilorin, Nigeria, January 10, 2018. Discography
Alhaja Iya Aladuke. 1990. Won l’asewo ni wa, Bomodeku records. n.a (VCD).
Alhaja Iya Aladuke. 2001. Gbokogboko, Blessed peter peace music: Ilorin. n.a (VCD).
Alhaja Iya Aladuke. 2002. Vocabulary, Blessed peter peace music: Ilorin. n.a (VCD).
Alhaja Iya Aladuke. 2013. Talojebi, Blessed peter peace music: Ilorin. n.a (VCD).
Alhaja Alapata Eja. 2005. Abere Alate, Olaegbon, Oloru music: Lagos. n.a (CD).
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