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The Rigid Genre in the Dynamic World: A case of Ballads of Borno Shehus (1221 – 2017) A.D.

Bulus Wayar


The ballads are sung though in words but through a traditional musical instruments -  algaita and drums. The poet is the algaita as well as the composer of the ballads of the Borno Shehus. Thus, the algaita provides the words – sounds while the drummers respond by discerning the wordings. The analogies are of sounds, meanings and rhythms. Thus, the algaita poet uses his partners to sort of, ‘tell’ the unspoken words to the audience. This formula requires good listening skill so as to make appropriate or accurate discernment. The whole exercise is that of a thread: the collaboration between the algaita performer, the drummers, and the dancers as they are all bound by the social functions. There is a synergy between the spoken algaita and the songs as the two vocal modes of expressions convey the same meanings. The drums also provide mimetic contents. Thus, the ballads of Borno Shehus are best regarded as speaking art -drama since the dancers carry swords in demonstration of brevity of the Shehus and the role of wars in the dynasty. As a phenomenon transmitted through mouth - to – mouth, the ballads of Borno Shehus under the period under review are rigid due to preservation of the cultural values and interest.  

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