There are many types of dances in Tivland with fewer or several found in some clans. Popular Tiv dances include:
Swange is a very popular Tiv music/dance which is played all over Tiv land and wherever they reside in large numbers. It is a contemporary, popular and urban recreational social dance that exhibits bodily movement akin to oriental dances. It is a dance with fast, slow, rhythmic and undulating movements, expressing youth and vigor which makes some refer to it as the ‘boneless dance’. It is danced in unison by both men and women. The dance uses the circle formation familiar in village dances and adapts traditional musical themes to highlife rhythms played on a combination of Tiv and Hausa instruments. The climax of an evening of Swange dance is provided by a solo dancer who improvises freely, using movements from many Tiv dance styles.
Swange dance is performed at various types of social and religious functions for the enjoyment of the old and the young. The dance is very popular and it is done in most festivals and other social events around the country. The dance particularly exhibits fluidity in body movement, a mimicry of the flow of the River Niger.
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Locally made musical instruments were traditionally used for political and ceremonial communication. The key instruments follow.
The Kakaki is a royal trumpet used in many West African groups in Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Burkina Faso. This is an instrument used to convey special messages to the people of the community, such messages as the newborn child of the King, his naming ceremony, the crowning of a new king, to gather people together during the marriage ceremony of the king and the king’s son’s marriage ceremony. This instrument was used to convey all the messages to the people to assemble at the square for the ceremony, as well as when there is an enemy attack on the community, a warning sound of the Kakaki is blown to alert those whom can defend the society and every citizen to be alert.
A light wooden instrument, it was used to pass messages to the people of the village, probably for the invitation of the people for a particular meeting of the elders at the king’s palace or for the people to gather at the market square for a message from or by the king. Up till today, it is the main instrument for the celebration of newly weds (marriage reception ceremony or Kwase-kuhan).
A heavy wooden instrument carved out of mahogany trunk through some mysterious way; myth has it that a chosen carver turns into a worm to create the large hollow in the cut trunk leaving only a small opening (like in a medical operation). This belief is perhaps due to the fact that the people are reluctant to explain the technique employed for such artistic finesse. The Indyer, believed to connected with high magico-spiritual potency, is not played for secular purposes except for special occasions as sanctioned by the elders. It is used to communicate the death of an important personality in the community or to communicate a serious happening in the community, like call to war.
It is used together with Agbande (drums) combined with Ageda at festivals to pass a message across to the people for a call for the display of culture.
It’s an instrument like a violin, used for music and dances in conjunction with Agbande (Agbande) at festivals and dance occasions, sometimes to announce the death of a leader or an elder of the community, during this period it is played sorrowfully for the mourning of the dead, most time it is played funerals.
Agbande (plural), a set of crafted wooden musical instrument used to compliment agbande at festivals, this is particularly large and it is played by the young men of the community, the special drum beats communicates special messages and music for the festivals to come and during the festivals, for instance, signifies a royal occasions such as the coronation and funeral.
Usually, he is chosen by the elders of the community to do errands for the elders and the leader of the community. He is sent out to the heads of the neighbouring families for a crucial meeting at the head of all the leaders of the community.
This is an instrument made out of cow horns, like in my community, there are farmers' associations that use this instrument when they have job to do, probably they are invite to make ridges on a piece of land, the Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the association will use this medium to wake up the members for the work they have for that day.
Indigenous communication is not only vertical, from the rulers to the subjects, it is also horizontal. Individuals communicate with society through physical and metaphysical means. A farm owner, for example, may mount a charm conspicuously on his farm in order to stress private ownership and to scare off human intruders.
The fear of herbalists and witches influences social behaviour considerably.
Rainmakers communicate their power to disrupt events through various psychological means. Village sectors in Africa communicate mostly via the market-place of ideas contributed by traditional religion, observances, divination, mythology, age-grades, the Chiefs courts, the elder's square, secret and title societies, the village market square, the village drum(gbande) men, indeed the total experiences of the villager in his environment.
Unlike the mass media, access to the native media is culturally determined and not economic. Only the selected group of young men or the elders can disseminate information generally. The young only disseminate general information about events and the social welfare of their communities using the media mentioned above.
The Tiv people of Benue state still practise some of this traditional system of communication, using the KAKAIS, AGBANDE, INDYER, ADIGUVE and ILYU etc., nevertheless the increase in the western world media is threatening the cultural communication system.
Many of the communities in Benue state still use these instruments to convey messages to the people of their community, and it is helping a great deal, since there is a language barrier to the people with the introduction of the western world means of communication, using the western language (English) to convey information.
The Tiv storytelling drama known as the Kwagh-hir. Kwagh-Hir (literally meaning "something magical") is a traditional Nigerian puppet theatre show of the Tiv tribe of central Nigeria. The Kwagh Hir performance is a mixture of: Storytelling, poetry, puppetry, music, dance, and drama. Traditionally the Kwagh-Hir group has consistently been organised into four different categories which are: the management, the musicians, the performers and the sculptors.
There is normally a role that is suitable for different members of the entire community. An elderly man usually tends to be the leader of the Kwagh Hir group the Ter-u-Kwagh-Hir meaning father of Kwagh Hir. His job is to organise the group and settle any differences or disputes that may arise.
The origin of Kwagh-hir as performed by the Tiv people, just like the origins of other art forms in pre-literate societies, will continue to be shrouded in mystery and researchers subjectivity.
However, a personality considered by many to be the originator or modifier of the Kwagh-hir Theatre as it is practiced and performed today is one Adikpo Songo from Akpagher, Mbatyav in the present Gboko Local Government of Benue State. According to Adikpo Asongo he brought the art-form to Tiv Land in the form and style as practiced today after been tutored by the Adzov (Spirits). He had watched similar performances by the Adzov in the spirit world, when he fell into a trance in the night while travelling back to his village from Gboko.
By and large the Kwagh-hir art-form became very popular among the Tiv people and competitions among the many groups that doted the whole Tiv land became common. Notable groups such as Anande Chieshe, Adikpo Songo, Adasu Jirgba, Ayange Gwer, Kende Kaase, Apev Akaa, Chia Gbagir and as many as 50 groups engage each other in competitions both at the local and State levels to the admiration of throngs of spectators.
The art-form is woven the story telling tradition of the Tiv Nation which extends beyond the gathering of children by elders in the homestead under the eaves in the moonlight to tell them stories that teach morals, give instructions and punishment of offenders as the case may be. It dramatizes the stories in the large arena of the village square to create lasting impression on the audience.
Basically, the Kwagh-hir comprises many art-form which include story-telling, poetry, puppetry, masquerade, music, dance and dramatization, most times juxtaposed in a single production.
A typical Kwagh-hir group comprises of Drummers, Dancers, Musicians, Manipulators and Performers who in combination narrates a story through the "Dagbera" (puppet on platform), "Adzov" (Masquerades" "Nyam" (Animals", "Eev" (Magical display of Maniatures: items such as buildings, vehicles and other items) and the ever ubiquitous light carriers who direct the performers as they move around the arena and the narrator who introduces items as they come on stage.
All the items for the performers usually involves weeks or months of painstaking work by the Sculptor, Carpenters, Tailors, Blacksmith, Painters etc to produce. Source
The first Tiv-language film, Anchovul (Orphan), was made in 2002 by (the now late) Chris Ioryisa. But as we know the Kwagh Hir theater has long existed before this. The Tiv film industry has grown tremendously since 2002 producing at least 15-30 films each year. The N.K.S.T media service has been crucial to this growth, producing several Tiv films every year. There are also many independent film producers who put out various good films every year. Recently Nollywood has jumped on board as well producing a few "based on Tiv culture movies" in English. Most Tiv movies can be purchased on dvd locally, from various sources across the state.
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