Name: Chelsea Olaitan Ibisanmi
Instructor: Professor Agorde Wisdom
Course: WAME 444
Date: March 21, 2018
Bata Dance in Oyo Alafin of Yoruba Land
In history and recent times, oral performance genre like dance is part of African oral traditions. Dance in recent time is generally seen as an entertaining exercise, however “dance in Africa is a way of life, a source of communication and history reenacted through movement” (Green, 26). African traditional dances attributes to historical significance such as kingship, war, puberty, famine and so on. For instance, there are “dances which celebrate puberty and they are performed after a person has successfully completed the rites of puberty” (Green, 19). Most African dances pass messages to the people and in part retells the history of a particular society where the dance originates. There are many African dances but this essay focuses on ‘bata’ dance of the Yoruba people in Oyo empire. Oyo state is in the western region among the thirty-six states in Nigeria. It originates from Osun state in 1976 and later splits off in 1991. There are many stories about the origin of bata dance among the Yoruba people. In history, bata dance originates from Oyo state in Yoruba land because a powerful man named ‘Bata’ in Igbo Ora was maltreated by people around him. He became irritated and transformed to drums which are used to play bata dance. The drums and dance were later called bata drums and bata dance.
Also Yekini-Ajenifuja mentions that “Darius Thieme recorded that it was shortly after the reign of ‘sango’ that bata was made to ark his reign. In that view, the use of bata drums and dance started in Oyo Alafin and later spread to other part of Yoruba towns” (626). Sango is the third king in Oyo state which later became a deity. So the worshippers of Sango communicates with the deity through bata dance. African dances goes along with music as a form of accompaniment. That is, “African dance is an integrated art that is controlled by music” (Green, 13). African music consist of drum signals and drum languages that goes accompanies dance movements. Therefore bata drums generates sounds to bata dance.
Green, Doris. African Dance. Philadelphia: Chelsea House Publishers, 2004.
Yekini-Ajenifuja, Isaac. “Performance Practice of Bata Ensemble of the Awori People” Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences MCSER Publishing, Rome-Italy, vol. 5 no. 9, 2014,