Creative arts and cultural dynamism: a study of music and dance among the Abagusii of Kenya, 1904-2002
Nyamwaka, Evans Omosa
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This study was set out to trace the historical development of music and dance among the Abagusii of Kenya in a period extending from 1904 to 2002. It further investigated the dynamism of these cultural aspects and how music and dance changed the cultural history of the Abagusii community overtime. The study was guided by diffusion, structural functionalism, theory of musical change and syncretism theories. Diffusion theory facilitated the identification and analysis of Gusii music and dance cultures which compare favourably with those of other parts of the world gained through the process of diffusion. Functionalism theory was applied in the study of the functionality of music and dance among the Abagusii. The theory of music change was used in the study of changes that took place in Gusii music and dance due to their contacts with other peoples. The theory of syncretism was used to study the relationship between Gusii musical instruments with those of other parts of Africa and outside Africa.It was found out that music and dance has a direct role in the understanding of the cultural history of the Abagusii and those of other African communities. This was especially so in the traditional societies where other forms of communication such as written word had not fully developed. It was also evident that traditional music and dance among Abagusii transformed immensely as a result of the community's contact with other African communities and the Europeans. Most of these transformations came with missionary education, Western policies and cultural practices, World Wars,World Economic order among other events. After independence,Gusii music and dance seem to have undergone major changes as a result of emergent cultures both in Gusiiland and Kenyan society. Purposive sampling procedure was used to obtain a total of 61 informants from whom data was collected, analysed and documented. Both primary and secondary sources were utilized in data collection. Primary sources involved filed interviews while secondary sources included published works. Data analysis was done using descriptive as well as inferential statistics. Findings from this study provide useful information which adds value to the repertoire of African art of music and dance. Further, it will provide reference material and theoretical approach for music and dance analysis to researchers of African creative and performing arts. Teachers and students in schools and colleges where subjects such as poetry, music, dance and creative arts in general will find this work valuable in the promotion and preservation of Gusii music and dance and those of other African societies.