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This programme is a compilation of films from different; sources and different areas of West Africa, about the part played by music, and dance in particular, in African religions. Introduced by Pro...fessor John Ferguson, the programme draws on evidence from the activities of people of many different tribes and religions to examine a phenomenon which is remarkable for its wide spread. At the simplest level, among the Dogon people, a rhythm plucked out on a stringed instrument accompanies a prayer and sacrifice. Among the Cross River people of Nigeria, possession of a spirit takes the form of rhythmic movement to western eyes closely akin to dancing. For many other peoples dancing is one of the natural forms taken by religious practice.
Metadata describing this Open University video programme
Module code and title: A101, An arts foundation course
Item code: A101; 20
First transmission date: 02-07-1978
Published: 1978
Rights Statement:
Restrictions on use:
Duration: 00:25:00
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Producer: Edward Hayward
Contributor: John Ferguson
Publisher: BBC Open University
Keyword(s): Africa; Cross people; Dance; Dogon people; Gelade people; Religion
Footage description: John Ferguson introduces the programme using a studio map of West Africa to show which tribal groups he will examine. He explains the nature of West African Religions, listing their five essential Characteristics. Film of a Dogoo Priest offering sacrifices of farm animals to household gods. He is accompanied by music from a stringed instrument. In voice-over Fergtison relates details of the film to the Dogon world view. Film of a Kalaban religious festival in which priests travel by canoe and offer a sacrifice in the Cross River. Two men are possessed by Gods. Ferguson provides explanatory comments throughout. Film of the Gelede secret society of the Yorub preparing for a night dance to protect a woman in childbirth. Ferguson indicates the importance of the ceremonial mask. Ferguson explains the significance of masks. Footage of Dogon Tribesmen making masks. Ferguson explains the purpose of different masks and the strict division of labour used in mask-making. A Dogon mask society is seen performing a vigorous dance in a village, then processing to a sacred point. Black and white footage of a women's dance in northern Nigeria, Ferguson comments on the music. Film of the Gelade society performing dances for entertainment purposes. Ferguson explains the symbolic features of costume and movement, and suggests the purpose of such non-religious dances. The final sequence shows three dances of the Nigerian plateau people: a moral tale for children; a women's dance including puppets; a spectacular dance of spirits. Ferguson comments briefly on each.
Master spool number: 6HT/72615
Production number: 00525_3248
Videofinder number: 2610
Available to public: no