The Practices And Functions Of Akata Music Of The Ibibio: A Case Study Of Akata Cultural Group, Adadia In Uruan Local Government Area

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CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1       Background of the Study

Ibibio is the core ethnic group in what is now known as Akwa Ibom State. The Ibibio are believed to be of the Bantu stock. Their language is Ibibio. They have two main seasons in a year: the dry season and rainy season. Their traditional occupations include farming, hunting, carving raffia works, local art and craft as well as other in door games.

The Ibibio are long religious. They worship the Supreme Being (Abasi Ibom) and they believe in life after death (reincarnation) and spiritism. Their minor deities are Ekpo, Ndem, Ibok, etc. They rely on numerous traditional ceremonies like new yam festival, traditional marriage (Usá»rá» Ndá»), harvest festival (usá»rá» Idá»k) and so on, for spiritual rejuvenation.  They also believe in superstition, divination, rituals, myths, oracles, and a lot more.

The Ibibio have one of the most ancient writings “Nsibidi”. The Ibibio, according to Ukpong (2001),“generally have a low lying topography with a few hills around Itu in the North and Oban in the East, Ukpong also states that Ibibio is the largest ethnic group in Nigeria after Hausa, Yoruba, and Igbo.

The Ibibio are governed by traditional institutions like Ekpe, Idiong, Akata, etc. These groups use music as one of their media of communication, and historical store house. Ibibio songs serve as historical documents and as a means of communication (Udo, 1983). This simply explains that Akwa Ibom State is a state with abundant cultural heritage.

In Akwa Ibom State, there are many cultural groups. There are about two or more of such groups in each of the local government areas. Some of these groups are gender-related; that is, some of them are purely male cultural groups and some are purely for women only. Among the male dominated groups include Akata cultural group or society. It is a secret society, and one way of identifying it is through its masquerade play, in which all the initiate members participate.

Akata is perhaps one of the widely accepted Ibibio cultural groups in Akwa Ibom State. It could be best described as a socio-cultural organisation whose functions are to perform songs of social control mostly at night and reported social misbehaviours with a view to sanitising the society, among others.  Traditional Akata is performed only at night by members who are all male as being practised in Adadia in Uruan Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State.

1.2       Problem of the Study

Music and dance are the fabric of every social activity of the Ibibio. Ibibio also believe in decent living, that is, not engaging in acts that tarnish her image and reputation. However, these are seriously threatened by rapid social change, especially their values, attitudes, ideas, beliefs, technology, and institutions. These changes, as a result of Western education, technological development, and alien musical cultures pose serious threat on the survival of Akata traditional music and performance. Hence, Akata music needs to be conserved through documentation. Moreso, for Akata music to survive the changing times, it must change, but in changing, it must retain elements of its essence so that it is not mistakably perceived otherwise. Thus, this study was to investigate and document Akata and its music.

1.3       Purpose of the Study

The study was primarily designed to investigate and document the Akata music of the Adiadia people of Uruan Local Government Area. Aside this, the specific purposes set for the study include:

  1. documenting the history and origin of Akata from primordial beginning to contemporary times.
  2. examining the role of Akata music in contributing to the development of moral, aesthetic, social, intellectual. and cultural values of the people of Uruan.
  3. examining the methods and techniques used in composing Akata songs by the group.
  4. suggesting ways of improving and sustaining those aspects of Akata music for cultural identity.

1.4       Significance of the Study

This study will be of significant value in the following ways:

  1. The study will serve as a useful resource material to the Criminal and Civil Investigation Department Bureau to expose wrong doings and social ills.
  2. The study will enhance the knowledge of Akata music in its original form for posterity and the cultural identity of Ibibio.
  3. This study will serve as a pedestal for further research.

1.5       Research Questions

  1. What is the origin of Akata music in Uruan Local Government Area?
  2. What role does Akata play in Uruan and Ibibio culture?
  3. Does Akata have specific songs and how are the songs composed?
  4. Are there ways of improving and sustaining those aspects of Akata music in Adadia for cultural identity?

1.6       Scope of the Study

This study was on Akata cultural group in Adadia, Uruan Local Government Area. It examined the performance practices and songs used by this group.

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