Ma'di bowl lyre music and dance

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Inscribed in 2016 (11.COM) on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding

© Alex Kiyaga, Uganda, 2015

The Ma’di bowl lyre music and dance is a cultural practice of the Madi people of Uganda. Passed on by the community’s ancestors, the songs and dances involved in the tradition are performed for various purposes, including weddings, political rallies, to celebrate good harvests, educate children, resolve conflict or mourn the passing of loved ones. Several rituals also take place regarding the production and use of the lyre: preparing a special meal to bless the instrument while it is being made; placing pieces of broom and stone taken from a ‘quarrelsome woman’ inside it and praying to the ancestors so the instrument will resemble a similar sound; naming the instrument; and shaking it before and after playing to show respect for it. The traditional practice is a tool for strengthening family ties and clan unity, as well as educating younger generations about their community’s history, values and culture. Associated knowledge and skills on the practice are transmitted from senior bearers to young people. However, the tradition’s continuity is at risk due to it being perceived as old fashioned by new generations and materials that are used to make the instrument coming from plants and animals now being considered endangered.

Madi community members in Moyo District in a consultative meeting at Moyo Multipurpose Centre discussing the modalities of nominating the Madi Bowl lyre music and dance (O'di) in to UNESCO Urgent Safeguarding List
O'di practitioners performing the Madi Bowl lyre music and dance in an ensemble at Moyo Multipurpose Training Centre, Moyo District
Solo o'di performance accompanied by singing and dancing during the consultative meeting with practitioners in Adjumai District
O'di performance by women showing the sliding dancing style and gettle waist wriggling during interviews
Women in Panyanga village, Moyo District, preparing a meal for o'di makers. Cooking and eating food is one of the rituals performed when making an o'di instrument.
O'di makers placing the turtle shell on the skin for naming o'di. Naming of o'di is another important ritual that happens before an animal skin is laced on the turtle shell. An o'di is referred to by such a name throughout its lifespan.
Picture showing the ritual of inserting a piece of broom and stone picked from a quarrelsome women into the sound bowl of the Madi Bowl lyre. This is a ritual performed to make o'di sound loud and enjoyable.
Picture showing Mzee Juluga Thomas playing a newly made o'di and a colleague singing together with him at Laropi, Moyo District
A picture showing children consenting to nominate the Madi Bowl lyre music and dance (O'di) into the UNESCO Urgent Safeguarding List
A picture of one of the clan elders and an o'di practitioner, Angeliko Negro, signing a consent form to nominate the Madi Bwl lyre music and dance (O'di) into the UNESCO list of elements in Need of Urgent Safeguarding. The picture is taken at his home in Agojo village, Adjumani District, after an interview with him.