Journal of
Music and Dance

  • Abbreviation: J. Music Dance
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 2360-8579
  • DOI: 10.5897/JMD
  • Start Year: 2011
  • Published Articles: 23

Full Length Research Paper

Origin and development of ‘Directing’ in juju music performance

Oluniyi, Michael Olusakin
  • Oluniyi, Michael Olusakin
  • Department of Music, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife. Nigeria.
  • Google Scholar

  •  Received: 23 July 2014
  •  Accepted: 02 September 2014
  •  Published: 31 October 2014


Juju music as a unique Nigerian popular genre has so many African phenomena inculcated into its performance though it has some western touches in its scale and some other features. Hence this paper examined one of the African phenomena – directing, in the performance of juju music. This write up was based on the conducted research and in order to present a genuine report, live performances and the recordings of juju exponents such as King Sunny Ade, Obey Fabiyi, and others were collected and analyzed. It was discovered that directing is rooted in African performance. It is locally known among the Yoruba people of Nigeria as “titokun” – directing and “atokun” – director. The same ideology was brought into the performance of Juju music. At first, Juju musicians employed western musical instrument such as Guitar to achieve directing and later began to make use of more African oriented media. Hence, three basic forms of directing were identified as prominent ways of directing the performance of Juju music. This paper concluded by submitting that ‘directing’ is quite different in concept and practice from the western form of conducting. Hence, there is need for standardization of processes of the concept in terms of usage, application of terms, and definition of terminologies in use as further research and modification of terms are practically inevitable.

Key words: Juju music, directing, titokun, atokun


This research work is concerned about the live performance of juju music with regard to its coordination and continuity. Juju music is a prominent popular genre performed mostly by the Yoruba speaking people of South western part of Nigeria. Its prominence as a popular genre has long been established, its history and major contributors have been well documented and published. So many literatures have been presented which explored juju music at diverse facets such as Alaja-Browne (1989), Waterman (1990), Daramola (2001), Cook (2008) and Vidal (2012) to mention a few.

Nevertheless, the area of “directing” which serves as the continuity and control in the live performance of juju music needs to be explored and documented, hence the necessity for this paper.

Juju music among other popular genres in Nigeria is performed mostly at functions called Ariya. Ariya among the Yoruba people is a party time which congregates the people to a venue to actually celebrate either some-person(s) or something precious to them.

This was attested to by Waterman (1990) that “Ariya are lavish parties celebrating  the naming of a baby, weddings, birthday, funerals, title-taking ceremonies, and launching of new property or business enterprise”. Going by its history, it is a type of music that developed as a function-related music and later made popular in the club houses, evening bars and hotel patronage.

The coordination of juju music performance is deeply rooted in the African spirit of performance. It is very similar to the coordination style in the performance of Dundun music whereby the master drummer dictates the direction of the music for every other performer in the ensemble. Dundun music is performed with a set of hourglass drums from Yorùbá region of Nigeria which include the Iya-Ilu (Master Drum), Gudugudu (Goblet), Omele Isaaju, Omele Atele to mention a few. These drums play together under the coordination of the Iya Ilu. The coordination is in the form of short signatures tunes, sign languages and body gestures (Daramola, 2010).

He (master drummer) gives direction in so many ways, sometimes through his body gesture, familiar terminologies and at times with the coded message on the drums. Such coded message may be a type of ending, for instance, the master drummer plays ‘Oro ikoko ni gbangba lo wa’ (All hidden matters are already exposed) and everyone brings the performance to an end. This style has been transferred into the performance of many African popular genres among which juju is not an exception. Adegbite (2006) noticed cultural continuity in the new music when he asserted that evidence of different strategies has also been employed in the development of these musical types over a period of time with discernible different results. These range between purposeful attempts to blend old with new and maintain a measure of cultural continuity.


The term “Directing” as used in this paper is not synonymous to the western concept of conducting. It is a phenomenon in African performance that cannot be underrated. Directing is found and embedded in African practices and more importantly among Yoruba people in Nigeria. In Egungun (masquerade) festival among Yoruba, it is referred to as the “Ato” that is, someone who directs the masquerade in all its actions. Hence the popular Yoruba parlance that “Bi egungun ba joore ori a ya ni” (if the masquerade dance well in response to the directing, the director is amused or happy). The concept is also in use during traditional festival or gatherings whereby someone is saddled with the responsibility of controlling (directing) the events at the occasion, such an individual is identified as atokun (director), a phenomenon that is now known as Master of Ceremony (MC).

The concept of directing is a prominent practice in African general amusement renditions. The responsibility for directing is sometimes placed on a single individual or it could be made as part of the leader’s obligation. This practice was noted by Nketia (1974) when he asserts that “in many societies, master of ceremony, or “whip holders,” are among the officers of the recreational choral groups. It is their duty to encourage all members of a chorus to put forth all their efforts”

Directing is one out of numerous African phenomena that saw their ways into the new African musical culture referred to as African popular genres. Among such phenomena is the vocal style that was borrowed from traditional genres like ijala, rara, Iremoje, Isipa and so on. To this development Waterman (1990) affirmed that:

Yoruba musical and heightened speech traditions make use of a variety of voice qualities, ranging from the tense, highly nasal sound associated with genres such as ijala (poetry for Ogun, god of thunder, war and iron) and rara (praise poetry) to a more relaxed, open quality often used in secular entertainment and dance music. The use of the upper male full-voice range in early juju may represent continuity in traditional norms which placed positive value on high-register voices.

The concept of directing in the performance of juju, as imported from the core of performance in the traditional shows[1], entails the display of mastery of the art, communication on stage and enhancement of performance to the amusement of the present audience. It is in furtherance of what Emielu (2012) described as “having a local content and bear some relationship with ethnic based traditional forms.” As highlighted earlier in this paper, there are many traditional concepts that were imported into the performance of some of the Nigerian popular music though many of such may not be easily noticed; it does not erase their presence. Directing is sometimes being driven by economic reasons. Economic factor got involved largely owning to the fact that the performers – popularly known as captain and band boys (Waterman, 1990) are expecting some financial compensation after the show. Therefore, there is need for control in order to get some money during the performance proper. In effect, Olaniyan (2001) asserted that:

Muraina (a Dundun music ensemble master drummer) had been said to be kind of drummer who can move audience to give much money to the group. Members of his group respect him. They are always sure of receiving the right type of direction from his leadership.

To ascertain directing in context of juju performance, the live performances of two juju artistes have been chosen for a schematic examination of their individual approach to directing. An accomplished and one other upcoming juju artistes were selected purposively for comparative and contrastive analysis. These are King Sunny Ade – a prolific and an ambassador of juju music, and Mr Akinwehinmi Okiki Olakunle [a.k.a Okiki Olakunle Samky]. This is to allow a vivid consideration of the concept of directing from two different musicians’ perspectives. Mr Akinwehinmi Okiki Olakunle a.k.a Okiki Olakunle Samky is a juju performer based in Ondo town. He is well known within Ondo town as a performer of juju music.


[1]  Shows as used here interprets musical or related performances



Three major forms of coordination were discovered in the actual live performance of juju music. There is the “instrumental form”, “verbal form” and “non-verbal form”. These three forms of directing are found to be in practice among the juju musicians, though there are individual specificities and internal structures arranged to suit individual’s taste of performance, either to enhance performance or to fascinate their audience. This is a further display of diversity in African musical practices. Nketia (1974) pointed out the element of diversity in Africa, thus he wrote that “the most important characteristic of this family of musical traditions is the diversity of expression it accommodates, a diversity arising from different applications of common procedure and usages”. This is to explain the fact that every style that may be adopted by any juju artiste, as revealed by the field work, do not revolve beyond the orbit of these three forms. Directing within the context of juju performance is as old as the music itself though it might have gone through little or more modifications.


Some musical instruments are used for this kind of directing. Those instruments involved are guitar (lead), talking drum (lead) and drum set – in the recent time. The essence of using instruments for directing is basically to tell the followers in the band what to do and at the desired time. Generally, musical instruments play a principal role of accompaniment yet the aforementioned ones are used as instrument of directing. They are assigned to give direction in the performance of juju music. They coordinate performance by giving directional tunes or motif to others in the band with regard to when to play loud, soft, attack, to pick up an instrumental interlude and when to make an end of it.

 GUITAR (LEAD) ERA [1950 ? 1980]

Guitar was introduced to juju music by Isaiah Kehinde Dairo. The instrument later became prominent in the performance of the genre. In a typical juju band, there is more   than   one  guitar in use. During the early period of juju music, the leader of the band popularly called “captain” takes on one guitar (lead) while two other guitarist take a guitar each with another person taking on the bass guitar. The captain is both the leader and the major director in the performance of juju. He is the one in-charge of economic power and the musicality of the band. He gives direction; formulate songs to suite the audience in any gig and the success of the performance is heavily dependent on his expertise. This was attested to by Waterman (1990) when he noted that “a competent juju band captain controls biographical information concerning each important guest at a given celebration”.  Adegbite (2006) also noted the importance of leadership to the success of any performance within African context; hence, he asserts that “a good performance is often appreciated when the creative ability of the master instrumentalist is displayed in such a performance.

The master instrumentalist leadership role determines the success or failure of a performance.” The leader is saddled with the responsibility to control the stage in a performance. His ability to direct the other instrumentalists for optimum performance determines the success of the performance. The captain with his guitar directs the flow and dynamics of the performance with short phrase which is well known by every member of the band though there may be a variety of such short phrases. They serve as a collection of signature tunes to which must precede an action. Though such tunes are different in successive tones from band to band, the implications are the same. In effect, the use of guitar in directing of juju music performance was well noticed in the sampled works of the “Olumo Soundmakers, led by Olatoye Ajagunjeun a.k.a, Uncle Toye Ajagun the Magbe-Magbe man” (Waterman, 1990). Basically, Waterman discovered the usage of the lead guitar in directing hence he wrote, “Uncle Toye plays his signature riff to signal the beginning of a guitar solo, supported by an interlocking ostinato pattern in the talking drums and bass guitar. Alao’s solo lasts about half a minute before it is cut off with another signal from Toye’s guitar”

The role to which the captain puts his guitar is perhaps the reason for the name given to it as the ‘LEAD’ guitar. In an extract of King Sunny Ade’s Number (Figure 1), the extract began to play on the key of D major until 2 min of the extract singing was stopped to allow guitar improvisation in the key. This continued to about the 2.21 min of play (in the extract) then a signal was given, after which the talking drum and bass guitar had a long pause while the guitar continued its improvisation now in a related key of D minor. At this point the sekere (gourd rattle) took a new rhythm. 


 TALKING DRUM ERA [1980 ? 1990]

This trend was first noticed with the duo of King Sunny Ade and Ebenezer Obey Fabiyi. The juju stage was being re-arranged in the early 1980s whereby it was divided into subgroups according to their own classification of the musical instrument that were being engaged on their stage. All percussions were grouped together and to be directed by the lead talking drum. Such instruments as keyboard(s), guitars (solo-lead, 1st tenor, 2nd tenor and Bass) and every other western or well tempered instruments were to be directed by the solo[1] lead guitar. In similar way, all the voices have one of them assigned to oversee their singing affairs. All of these happen simultaneously as they play their music. The chosen officers to direct are at this period referred to as the “captain” though they are regimented as sub-sectional captains. At a later development when captains began to lead (in singing) without playing the lead guitar, the talking drum summarily assumed the directing role though not in the totality of directing. He works with the ultimate directive from the captain.


The task is to play a short rhythm not more than two bars. It was discovered in some bands that chosen rhythm do not exceed one bar, some even devise rhythm not more than two or three pulses in a four-four bar. This practice was made popular by the duo of King Sunny Ade and Chief Ebenezer Obey. In an extract from Obey’s recording (Figure 2), it was heard how the talking drum in the 13.26 min of play used a very short rhythm to end the long continuous play of the melodic instrument, that is, guitars, electronic keyboard and the likes. This is a directive to allow the percussions display to the call and response that was led.



Talking drum signature tune


Leader: Jesu seun funmi se   [Jesus has done it for me]

Chorus: Jesu seun funmi        [He has done it for me]

Leader: Ohun aye ko lee se        [Something the world (people) cannot do]

Chorus: Jesu seun fun mi          [He has done it for me]


[1] . Solo is a term employed by the juju band to describe an instrument playing a free improvisatory role. Such may join others to play a joint arrangement and he may choose to improvise, yet he plays a directing roles.



The use of trap drums set as a directing instrument was introduced by Sir Shina Peters. This was firstly displayed when he released his mega buster album in 1989 titled ‘ACE’. In the album, trap set was very dominant within the accompaniment. Even some juju fans described the drum patterns in the album as fifty-fifty ratio when compared with the numbers songs presented in the album. At the change of every song, there is a change of drums accompaniment   under the controllership of the trap set. The trap set was in the fore front of directing in response to the captain’s superior directing as against the previous practice of using the talking drum. Some speculations argued that the excessive demands of the talking drummers among the juju band boys necessitated the new role given to the trap set drummers. This, according to the author’s informant, was targeted at curbing overstretched demands of the talking drummers. The source claimed that they were becoming bossy and uncontrollable due to the uncompromising role the talking drum had assumed in the performance of juju music. Hence, the captains looked for an alternative way to achieve same super performance even, if possible, at the absence of a talking drum. There are always economic issues among juju band personnel (Waterman, 1990). This sometimes results in poor performance, unnecessary demands, shifting from band to band in search of greener pasture and consequently a notable change in performance style. Whichever is the case, this paper is only interested in the change evident in the performance, something relating to its musicality and not a socio-political development among the juju music personnel though this may be instrumental to change and innovations.

The mode of directing with the trap set was similar to that of the talking drum. It simply involved the use of short rhythmic lines as it was in practices with the talking drums.


The verbal means of directing the performance of juju music is basically reflected in the use of various decisive words, utterances or terms to give direction to the show in a gig. What is said is hugely dependent on the individual bandleaders and there seems to be a kind of synergy between him and band boys concerning the selected terms that may be in use on their own stage during performance. Such words are given either to heighten the spirit of performance or to command for a particular impression from either the whole band or a particular player. It is one of those transported heritages of African art that now form the bedrock of performance in the new arts[1]. In the traditional setting, singing, drumming and dancing art involve directing as a medium to control the use of drums and other accompanying musical instruments. It is of common knowledge among the Yoruba to render this verbal parlance in order to bring to a pause the drum accompaniment in any performance, Voice - “Taa ba l’oto onilu a si dake, aidake onilu a k’abuku”.

Interpretation – If we say it is enough then the drummer pauses and if not he will be disgraced.

Implication - This is to direct the accompaniments to a pause or end.

Findings from the field work reveal various kinds of terms in use to achieve directing most especially in a gig that requires the performance of a juju band. Listed in Table 1 are some of the terms currently in use with their relative intents.




Verbal directing is sometimes put into singing form (Figure 3). Here is a sample of such:




Captain: Ko maa ro were were [Let it sound softly]

This is a directing demanding the band to play in soft mode, that is, piano. Another example is as follows (Figure 4);




Captain: Ko ma p’ariwo ju, olowo o f’ariwo [Let it be moderate, the rich dislike noise]

This is directing the band members to play moderately loud


[1] . New Arts as used here refers to the Nigerian popular music, especially those originated from Yoruba culture.



This kind of directing is tactically displayed by the use of parts of  the  body.  It is  the  most  captivating  of all the forms. It is dramatic in nature. Many of the juju band leaders employ this form of directing as it enhances and captures the audience very sharply. It is different from the western system of conducting. Non-verbal is encapsulated in body gestures. It speaks volumes of the dexterity of both the band and the captain. The practice varies from band to band though the intended purpose is to enhance and facilitate brilliant performance. It comes with captivating breaks, pause, links and show of dynamics. This is purely African in all its features.

To actually present an authentic description on non-verbal form of directing, below is a ten minute schematic review of King Sunny Ade’s live performance, in part, from about fifty minute’s show at the Oduduwa hall of Obafemi Awolowo University Ile-Ife. It was a performance put up to commemorate the conferment of an award – “Fellow of the faculty of Arts” on King Sunny Ade in 2009.


The stage was arranged in a very unique way differently from normal juju settings at any open gig. It is an unwritten policy for all the percussions to align on one side while the melodic instruments are always grouped on the same side. But for this particular show at Obafemi Awolowo University, the stage arrangement was quite different. The trap set was on a riser right behind KSA[1], with some percussions like omele[2] Isaaju (leading or first omele), omele Ikehin (responding or second omele) and the small sakara[3] drum (popularly called omele chord among juju bands) arranged sitting to the left of the trap set – virtually on same row and on the same leveled riser. At the far back on same riser were the four guitarist and the electronic keyboardist arranged standing in a linear form. The steel guitar was on the lower stage in front of the three omele right behind the left two back-up vocals. Next to the back-up vocal’s right side is KSA himself flanked on the right side by another two back-up vocals. At the far right are the two talking drummers (standing), one big sakara drummer (sitting) and a man (sitting) shaking the sekere (rattle). This arrangement suggests a total concentration only towards the captain – KSA. This fact was well proven during the performance as he (KSA) was totally in control of everything[4] on the stage.


[1] . An acronym for “King Sunny Ade”

[2] Omele is a very small type of the talking drum saddled with a rhythmic role within the Dundun ensemble.

[3] . A single face drum fastened with short sticks around a tiny clayed frame.

[4] . Everything as used here refers to both the music and the musicians



KSA guitar was seen leaned on the drums rack right from the start of the performance to the end. He, probably, could  have  used  the  guitar  to  do  a  little  or  more of directing if he had played it though he was more of body movement in his directing during this performance. The audience was compelled to clap for him almost at every point of giving a body-kind of directing.  At the first minute of performance some people were seen picking up something on the stage – possibly money and next move saw KSA putting his right leg on the riser facing the drummer thus the performance started following the tempo giving by his pendulum-like body movement with right leg still on the riser. This was at exactly 1.00 min of the performance. Every time he had to put his leg on the riser, the drummer must respond to him with certain fill-ins on the drum set. Performance was 2.03 min on, then he raised up his left hand calling for soft playing, the drummer responded as usual but others seemed not to concentrate; then he looked back with same signal and all complied at this time – audience clapped their hands. At exactly 3.46 min of play, he led a song as follows,

KSA: VC maa gbo.       

Translation: [VC – (Vice Chancellor) please listen]

This was repeated about four times and as soon as he led the next vocal line by saying,

KSA: Sun mo wa nibi

Translation: [Come nearer to us here]

He ran to the riser, briskly marched on it with his right leg, raised up his right hand, lowered the hand and the trap set drummer responded to the lowering of the hand with a strike simultaneously on both the snare and the ‘hi-hat in closed position’. The end of the display ushered in the response to the lead voice call – as they responded,

Chorus: To ri i sunmo ni la n mo ‘se eni

Translation: [Because we can only detect your character only when you are closer]

Ending the chorus was immediately followed by vigorous dance steps for some moments after which he (KSA) bent down on his back and touched his shoes hence putting a pause to the performance in recognition of the audience’s response as they were captivated by the stream of his display through directing. All the mentioned actions occurred in succession of seconds thus the display at this time ended at 4.16 min of the show. As he was giving-out the directing, the band boys were conveniently following his directive on their respective instruments. The trap set drummer hitting hard on the snare and the hi-hat to create a fulfilling effect on the directing, talking drummer responding promptly, likewise every other instrumentalists such as the guitarists and keyboardist. The back-up vocals quickly joined KSA to perform the dance steps and as soon as he bent down to touch his shoe toes with his hand, the trap set drummer gave a rhythmic signature tune and every accompanying instrument went into a long pause.

After the pause at 4.16th min of the performance, he allowed audience reaction for about eleven seconds and at exactly 4.27th min of the performance he repeated the same song unaccompanied  with more emphasis on the phrase “maa gbo” [keep listening]. He was seen bending down while repeatedly singing the “maa gbo” and at a time, in his usual briskly manner, he raised up his right foot and touched it with his right hand – the directing put an end to ongoing repetition and paved way for the next chorus line, that is, sun mo mi nibi tori sun mo nila n mo se eni (come nearer to me because when you do so, I will learn to understand you). The last syllable of the word eni, that is, ‘ni’ saw KSA gave a directing with his elbow, the trap set drummer responded adequately while singing continued in an unaccompanied style. At the ending of the song was a kind of jovial singing – a usual behaviour of juju musicians mostly while on stage. This was noted by Waterman (1990) when he noticed same gesture on “Uncle Toye’s” stage thereby reported that “the chorus singers smile and began moving more fluidly, teasing one another”. There is always the moment to tease and taunt in reaction to some other development either on the stage or around the audience. Teasing could take verbal form or a relative singing style. It serves as a form of relaxation for the band even while working or performing. The jovial mood continued in a singing style with intermittent reactions from the audience till the 5.52nd min into the performance.

The next second saw a new chorus emerging still unaccompanied,

KSA: Boo ba w’emo                  [if the house rat likes]

Chorus: Ko ji ire l’opo ile            [let it wake well in the house]

The end of the chorus was embellished with drumming and dancing until KSA through body movement that saw his hands, legs, head and all part of the body moving in a graceful venture directed a pause with both elbows at the 6.02 min of the performance. Audience kept on reacting in favour of his performance display. They were greatly amused as KSA had already performed for over six minute with mostly unaccompanied lyrics yet the audience were not bored owing largely to his directing efficacy. It is a strong tool in the hand of any African performer that can manipulate well the imports of directing. The song continued till it was concluded unaccompanied. At the prompt of 6.38th min into the performance, he took on another song at the end of which he gave a directing by raising up his right hand and brought it down with the beats to put an end to the vigorous drumming and dancing which started at the call of the new song that went as follows,

KSA: Great Ife npe mi o [Great Ife is calling me]

Chorus: Mo n je             [I am answering]

It was 7th min of the performance; the singing was welcoming the Vice Chancellor to his sit in the usual jocular manner. He went as far as pronouncing the Vice Chancellor’s name “Michael” in various forms thereby creating a flippant atmosphere. The whole of the hall was alive and light hearted till the 7.45th minute when KSA led another song as follows,

KSA: Mo boju wo ‘waju   [I looked at the front]

Chorus: Mo ti r’eni mi     [I already saw my fellow]

The end of the chorus was greeted with a jump by KSA from the centre lower stage to the trap set riser – an action which demanded the trap set drummer’s extemporization for a couple of seconds. As the improvisation was on-going, KSA was tapping his feet on the stage to dictate a slight increase in tempo of the music till he achieved a desired balance. This display was on for about thirty seconds. Then he picked up his microphone which he had already dropped while directing the trap set drummer. He descended the riser to the lower floor and led another song.

KSA: Eni l’eni nje           [Today is the D-day]

Chorus: Eni a be l’owe    [For someone on an errand]

This call and response was repeated three times followed by a vocal line and next is another song.

KSA: K’ori ko se mi l’olowo         [May I be fortunate to be a rich]

Chorus: T’owo n ba gbe              [The type that dwells in money]

At the instance of the response, he signaled and all the back-up vocals joined him in his usual vigorous dance steps and at exactly 9.14th into the performance he gave a directing by raising up his right knee and then tapped it with his palm thus successfully ending the whole display remaining the background rhythm that was on-going.

It is now necessary, for comparative purpose, to examine a schematic record of performance of the upcoming juju artiste. His name is Mr. Akinwehinmi Okiki Olakunle a.k.a Okiki Olakunle Samky. He is a well known juju artiste in Ondo town, Ondo State. His performance as recorded during the writer’s field trip demonstrated a high sense of understanding in the ‘art’ (juju performance). Hence, the details of his first eight minutes of performance are reported in this paper though his performance was documented in video format for twenty minutes.

Directing seems to be everything. This was obvious from the very first minute of his show. As early as the 27th s into the performance, Samky was seen bent towards the percussionists (Talking drummer, Omele Isaaju and Omele Atele), put together his two palms directing them to play softly to allow the guitar improvisation. As much as the instrumentalists understood him, there was a favourable response from them. At the 30th s of his show, he gave  a  verbal  directing by saying sh! sh! followed by die die – a Yoruba translation of ‘poco a poco’ and again they followed on and play softly. While it was 44th s into the performance, he raised up both hands, jammed them together; the jamming of hands and the trap set were on the click of same second thus the music went softer. This action was also accompanied with the verbal – sh!. This same kind of directing was given at exactly 1.08th min of the performance but both hands were left widely open at this time.

At the 2.58 min into the show, Samky raised his right hand and the talking drummer gave a signature signal compelling the accompaniment to go softer. It is time to introduce another song and when it was 3.56th min into the performance, the captain gave a verbal directing – die-die; to this the trap set drummer also gave a signature signal and every one complied immediately. After some minutes of play, the accompaniment was noticed to have assumed fortissimo and at 5.16 min Samky gave a verbal directing – Sh! The talking drummer gave a signature signal and the accompaniment went soft. At exactly 5 min and 30 s into the performance, Samky took a leap leaning on his right leg towards the talking drummer, jammed both hands in his usual manner and added his common verbal form – Sh!. The instrumentalist responded by bringing the accompaniment intensity to soft and he immediately demonstrated guitar playing posture – asking for the guitarist to improvise.

Getting to about 5 min and 56 s, the captain raised up his right hand and there was response from the instrumentalists. The same gesture was put up in the 7.24th min only to add his constantly used verbal ‘sh’; though same action was repeated in the 8.52nd min of his performance.


Directing is rooted in African performance.  It is prominent in the performance of arts among the Yoruba people of South western part of Nigeria. It is locally known among the Yoruba people as “titokun” – “directing” and “atokun” – “director”. In summary, the phenomenon – directing was conveyed from African art practices to the new arts, that is, the popular genres among which juju is one of the dominant examples. Directing in itself is the control tower for many of the African daily endeavours. It was in use in communal art gatherings, sports and sometimes communal work. Its practices in the Yoruba traditional settings include the use of words (verbal), use of material things (instruments – in case of music) and the use of body parts like eyelids, mouth and so forth (especially in the performing arts such as music, dance and drama).

It was discussed in this paper that juju music inherited the art of directing from its African root and at first, made use of western musical instrument like guitar to achieve directing in its performance while presently body language  (typical of African performance)  is prominently in use in directing juju performance. This paper had concluded by identifying three basic forms in “directing” during the performance of juju music. Those forms include “instrumental form” of directing, “verbal form” and “non-verbal form”.

It has been discovered that while the three forms exist, the non-verbal form seems to dominate the scene in the performance of juju music though others are well practiced. Individual juju band leaders seem to adhere to one form more than others. It was seen in the case of KSA, who employs body language in a vigorous manner while other sampled band like Okiki Ola Samky combines both verbal and non-verbal forms though he sometimes employs them separately. Directing, according to the findings of this paper, is sometimes motivated by cash reward given during the performance or at the end of the show. It is also used to achieve variations in dynamics, tempo, and intensity.

It is very obvious now that in the early years of juju performance, foreign elements thrived and dominated the scene. Such elements include the scale pattern and roles assigned to imported musical instrument. Example of such is using the guitar to achieve African phenomenon of directing but in the process of time, Africanisation began to grow and juju artiste began to employ African means of achieving directing. Such had been sourced for, analyzed and discovered in this paper. The performance of juju music today is more African in its orientation of which directing is one of the typical characteristics, yet there is the need for standardization of terms. It is a clear statement that the concept of ‘directing’ in art performance within Africa is quite different from its western counterpart – conducting. Its effects on African performance cannot be overestimated. 


There is the need for standardization of processes of the concept of directing in African performances in terms of its usages, applications and definitions of various terminologies in use. There should be a sort of forum to actually address so many African phenomena that are yet to be standardized. This will resultantly bring Africa to the level of creating, modifying and possessing common terminologies within the performing arts and other related arts in general.


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