Nupe Dance

In the Middle Belt of Nigeria are several ethnic groups. This is due to the bleak nature of the majority ethnic group in the geographical area. One eminent state in the Middle Belt is the Federal Capital Territory. The lack of a clear majority ethnic group allows for several minority groups. Among these ethnic groups is the Nupe ethnic group also known as the Nupawa by the Hausas and Tapa by the Yorubas.

The Nupe ethnic group is dominant in Niger state and is also, an important minority ethnic group in Kwara state. The Nupes are also present in Kogi state and in some parts of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. Having a total approximate population of 4.5 million, the Nupes are mostly Muslims. Some notable persons of the ethnic group are Aliyu Makama, San Nda-Isaiah and Honourable Justice Idris Legbo Kutigi.

In identifying the Nupes, among the non-material cultural aspect, is their dance. While they can be mistaken with the Yorubas of Kwara or the Hausas of Kogi and Niger, in some material cultural aspects like dressing, their dance is unique and uncommon. Having Hajiya Fatima Lolo, Ndako Kutigi and Alhaji Nda’asabe amidst others as singers, the dance is seen in their music videos.

The Nupe dance is known to be the Tsakan ( Miyo ) dance. This movement of the body is done mostly by females. The name is gotten from the language. Traditionally, the dance is performed at festivals and ceremonies, which includes but is not limited to marriage and naming ceremonies. Indeed, in this present day, the dance is performed officially in Nupe hosted or graced parties and environment. A thing to note is that this dance may seem difficult to the non-indigenes of Nupe but extremely easy to the indigenes. Indeed, one man’s meat is another’s poison.

In performing the Nupe dance, the outfit, which traditionally is a top and wrapper ( long skirts can be worn though), is worn by the dancers. Tying the wrapper is another breathtaking part of the dance preparation. The ọ̀ọ̀já (that is a shorter and smaller wrapper that covers just the hips ) is tied on. This tying is done from the back to form a tight knot at the front. Now that the attire has been made, the next is to form the position. The position of the Tsakan is started by spreading the two legs about 2m apart and relaxing the body while standing firm. When that relaxation yet elegance has been set, next is to begin the dance. And what is the highlight of the female Tsakan dance? The rolling of the hips.

Some persons are of the opinion that there are no common cultural elements in Nigeria. With the Nupe dance, one can see a common element; such as that of the hips roll. This is also seen in Yoruba, Igbo, and Hausa dance cultures. The major distinguishing competence in which the Tsakan dance differs from these other ethnic groups dance is the way in which the hips are rolled and the rhythm of the rolling. The Tsakan dance forms an alternate rhythm on performance. It goes all around; north, south, East, and West continuously. By so doing, there is no boredom in watching the dancers or individuals performing the dance.

YUSUF, Fathia Abolore

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Abdulbasit Toriola
Abdulbasit Toriola
September 25, 2021 9:55 pm

Nice Exposition!