The Cultural Politics of Power in the Yorùbá Dùndún Drumming Tradition


In every society, social values are constructed and monitored by those who have power and influence - kings, queens, politicians, media barons, priests, priestesses, etc. However, Michel Foucault, a French philosopher and social theorist, does not only see power as something that some people possess and some do not possess, but also as an effect of a particular social discourse. The operation of power is fundamental to the production of a discourse. The discourse about the dùndún drum, among the Yorùbá group in Nigeria, is represented through the myths about Àyàn Àganlú, their god of drumming, and because of the place of the gods within the Yorùbá belief system, both the practitioners and the dùndún drumming tradition are powerful. Therefore, for the practitioners to exercise their power, they draw upon the discourse that allows their action to be considered acceptable. However, while the myths reinforce the power of the practitioners and Yorùbá men in general, they also undermine the power of women. Foucault also believes that power somehow inheres in institutions and not in the individuals that make those institutions function, and individuals do not have power outside the institutions. The power of the practitioners is contained in the dùndún drumming tradition. What part does religion play in the myths about the dùndún? How does power play out within the tradition? What is the effect of power on individuals within the Yorùbá society? These and many more questions will be examined and analysed in this paper.

Author Information
Dennis Oladehinde Eluyefa, Bishop Grosseteste University, UK

Paper Information
Conference: ACAH2015
Stream: Arts - Performing Arts Practices: Theater

This paper is part of the ACAH2015 Conference Proceedings (View)
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon