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Documenting drums and drum language in Ibibio traditional ceremonies


Language Ibibio
Depositor Bassey Okon
Affiliation University of Calabar
Location Nigeria
Collection ID 0322
Grant ID SG0162
Funding Body
Collection Status Collection online
Landing Page Handle


Summary of the collection

Documentation of endangered knowledge about drums and drum language among the Ibibios of the south-south Nigeria. The use of drum and its language, though essential in most traditional ceremonies, is greatly endangered.


Group represented

Ibibios of the south-south Nigeria.

The Ibibios have drums like obodom ubong (royal drum), obodom enyong (the drum played on the tree top) obodom mbre (drum used by masquerade group) obodom usuan etop or obodom ikod (drum for message dissemination) and the skin drum among others. It is worthy to note that the obodom enyong and obodom ubong are fast disappearing. From a preliminary interview carried out, it was discovered that most of the drum types that have been in existence are no longer in use and are not even known to the younger generation. The obodom usuan etop is now being replaced with the use of a bell which cannot travel the distance that the vibration of the obodom (drum) can travel.

The documentation of the different types of drums aims to revitalize and preserve this aspect of the culture of the Ibibios for this generation and generations yet unborn to appreciate the rich culture that is fast dying. It emphasizes the use of instruments (drum) in communication.


Language information

Ibibio is one of the 500 languages spoken in Nigeria. Like other languages that are fast going into extinction, Ibibio is an endangered language because the cultural aspects and artifacts of the people in terms of names, events, instruments of use during events like coronation, burial, etc are no longer being used. In the same vein, the younger generation of Ibibios do not even know them for instance: obodom enyon (the talking drum on a tree top). The younger generation cannot even identify them nor give adequate interpretation to the beat of the drum. Similarly, they do not know the functions and times of use for these drums.

Ibibio is listed as ISO 639-3:ibb (Ethnologue 2005). As a language that is being developed, Ibibio has attained some level of linguistic description as found in the following works:

a. Ibibio orthography 1985 Lagos: Federal Ministry of Information

b. Ibibio language writers Association (ILWA) Kufre mme Ndifereke: Edikood nwed ke iko Ibibio. Ibadan: University press.

c. Essien, O. 1986 Ibibio names. Ibadan: Daystar publisher.

d. Essien O. 1990. A grammar of the Ibibio language. Ibadan: University Press.

e. Urua, E. 2000, 2007. Ibibio phonetics and phonology, Port Harcourt: Emhai publishers.

f. Udo, E.A. 1983. Who are the Ibibios? Onitsha: Africana – FEP.

g. Ukpong, E.A. 2007. An Inquiry into culture: Ibibio names. Uyo: Dorand Publishers.

h. University of Uyo – Project works at undergraduate and postgraduate levels.

Though the University of Uyo is doing a great work in documenting the endangered languages in Akwa Ibom State, most of the researches tilt towards linguistic analysis and description. Therefore, there is an urgent need for the documentation of traditional ceremonies, the language and cultural instruments for instance: the use of drums needs to be documented.

Ibibio is a media language used by the Akwa Ibom Broadcasting Corporation (AKTV) and (AKBC). The language is used for news broadcast, songs, advertising and announcements etc. It is taught in the primary, secondary and tertiary institutions. Though Ibibio is spoken in fifteen of the thirty-one Local Government Areas, so far, it has only achieved some degree of linguistic description.


Collection contents

Audio and video recordings and photos to show the drums, their beats and rhythm, vocabulary, and information such as how they are used.


Other information

Documenting drums and drum language in Ibibio traditional ceremonies.


Acknowledgement and citation

To refer to any data from the collection, please cite as follows:

Okon, Bassey. 2014. Documenting drums and drum language in Ibibio traditional ceremonies. Endangered Languages Archive. Handle: Accessed on [insert date here].

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