Secularizing the Occultic: Social and Religious Trajectories of Bata Performance in South-Western Nigeria


African Humanities Program Postdoctoral Fellowships


Performing Arts


The energy-sapping Bata performance is generally reputed to be difficult as an indigenous Yoruba dance associated with the worship of Sango, Yoruba God of Thunder and Lightning. Over the years, however, Bata dance has been increasingly secularized, demystifying its sacredness much to the annoyance of its religious devotees. This study examines the s ecularization of Bata in southwestern Nigeria. It applies the participant observer method, descriptive approach and comparative analysis based on information from performing groups and other drumming and dancing traditions. Specific geographic areas identified for the study include: Oyo, Ikirun, Ibadan, Ifetedo, Oke-Igbo and Erin-Osun, considering the degrees of style, form, language, instruments, and nuances employed in social ceremonies, ritual performances, masquerade displays, and worship of Yoruba gods. The study will further enhance Bata's application in secular events, allowing scholars and would-be dancers the opportunity to understand Bata's kinetic language of instruction.