Sounding the Sacred Spaces: Musical Engagements in Orí-òkè in Osun State, Nigeria


African Humanities Program Postdoctoral Fellowships




Sacred spaces are prevalent in different religious and geographical contexts and are believed to facilitate human connection to the divine. In Nigeria, Orí-òkè (prayer mountains) are tangible and symbolic sites for negotiating the spiritual and material aspirations of worshippers amidst the socio-economic challenges in Nigeria. Despite their significance, the role of sound–music in achieving such a state of being in Orí-òkè is yet to be known. Therefore, the study explores musical engagements in Orí-òkè in Osun State, southwest Nigeria. It investigates how Orí-òkè sound-music shapes and sustains Orí-òkè culture and how it articulates and/or challenges local ideas–of spatiality, spirituality and wellbeing in Nigeria? Based on an ethnography conducted between 2017 and 2019, the study demonstrates how Orí-òkè music mediates religious and spatial experiences in Nigeria. The study concludes that Orí-òkè constitutes sounding spaces where people’s quest for a better life are audibly negotiated in Africa.