Nigerians are famed for throwing extravagant parties but the Yoruba people of South-western Nigeria know how to really tilt this overboard. Their parties are most times characterized by a wide array of food and drinks but nothing distinguishes a Yoruba party like their kind of music. From Fuji to Apala, Juju to Waka, anywhere, anytime, a typical Yoruba indigene would groove to these beats.
Fuji: Named after Mount Fuji in Japan, Fuji emerged in the late 60s/early 70s, as an offshoot of “Were/Ajisari” (similar to the Apala) music genres, and was made popular by certain Ibadan singers/musicians notably the late Sikiru Ayinde Barrister. Fuji has been described as “juju without guitars”.
Juju: is a style of music, derived from traditional Yoruba percussion. The name comes from a Yoruba word “juju” or “jiju” meaning “throwing” or “something being thrown.” Juju music was pioneered by Tunde King with its predominant instrument, being the gangan (talking drum).
Apala: This style has roots in the songs and rhythms that were used to wake worshippers after fasting during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. An Apala group would likely consist of three gangans (talking drums), one agidigbo (a large, three-key-piano), the maracas, one akuba (a small conga-shaped drum) and the konongo.
Waka: It is a special genre of popular Yoruba Muslim song that was developed in the 1950s and is performed exclusively by women. One of the pioneers of the genre was Alhaja Batile Alake from Ijebu province, in Western Nigeria and more recently Salawa Abeni.
Sakara: is a form of popular Nigerian music based in the traditions of Yoruba music. It is a Moslem-influenced style, mostly in the form of praise songs, that uses only traditional Yoruba instruments such as the solemn-sounding goje violin, and the small round sakara drum, which is similar to a tambourine and is beaten with a stick. The music is often brooding and philosophical in mood. One of the first performers of this type of music in Lagos was Abibu Oluwa, who started playing in the 1930s.
Sekere: This is a traditional Yoruba musical genre that was pioneered and popularized by the late Alhaji Alamu Atatalo from Ibadan, Nigeria. Cowrie shells or Beads are wound around a large and polished gourd; the musician violently shakes the sekere and also uses his fists to beat the gourd thereby creating a percussive sound that gladdens and delights the spectators.
Other worthy mentions include Were and Ajisari – which like the Apala is used to call Muslim worshippers to prayer. Afro-juju which was made popular by the Sir Shina Peters, is a fusion of Juju and Afrobeat.