Songs of a Lost Tribe: An Investigation and Analysis of the Musical Properties of the Igbo Jews of Nigeria
AuthorShragg, Lior David
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThis document examines the musical performance practices of the Igbo Jews of Abjua, Nigeria. Amongst the 50 million Igbo, an estimated 5,000 are currently practicing Judaism. Despite prior research conducted by Daniel Lis (2015), William Miles (2013), Shai Afsai (2013), Edith Bruder (2012), and Tudor Parfitt (2013), there is little to no discussion of the role of music in this community. This study of the musical practices of the Igbo Jews of Nigeria reveals that the Igbo combine traditional Nigerian practice with modern Jewish and Christian elements. This combination of practices has led to the development of new traditions in an effort to maintain a shared sense of individualized Jewish identity and unity in a time of persecution and violence towards the Igbo from terrorist organizations. This study demonstrates that the Igbo Jews view the creation of this new music as serving to rejuvenate their Jewish identity while preserving Igbo traditions. The analysis draws upon theories of Eric Hobsbawm, Philip Bohlman and Alejandro Madrid to explain Igbo practice. Data includes material gathered from fieldwork conducted in the summer of 2014 in Abuja and in the cities of Kubwa and Jikwoyi. My observations focused on the musical properties of the Shabbat prayers and zmirot (para-liturgical table songs). While the Igbo are often considered one of "the lost tribes of Israel," my research indicates that "lost" is not so "lost" as previously believed.
Degree ProgramGraduate College