Arts and Culture

Biripo: A Nigerian Traditional Music

Biripo is one of the folklore music out of Nigeria; it shows the rich culture and tradition of its people. Nigerians are creative people and has made different kind of music genre which has traveled far all around the world. Popular among this genre of music are Afrobeats, Highlife, Fuji, Juju, Apala, and waka. Biripo is another form of music peculiar to some groups of Nigerians. This is not just a music genre but a classic one which also have a dance step to it.

Biripo music is a traditional music among the Ilaje, Apoi and Ikale peoples in Ondo State, Southwest Nigeria. These people live close to the seashores of Ondo state. Along with their locally-made gin and fishes from its rivers, these people relax and entertain themselves with Biripo music. This kind of music is not for entertainment only but also teaches cultural values among which are peace, unity, productivity, and citizenship.

Biripo Among the People

Biripo is an essential part of the way of life of the riverine people of Ondo state. You can’t visit the riverine areas of Ilaje, Apoi and Ikale in Ondo state without being treated to this unique music style called Biripo which is a Yoruba word for ‘whirl around’ which is likely to be as a result of the dance pattern to this form of music. It is used to entertain at social functions, Oro festivals, and seasonal cultural displays. It is also the identity of the people which makes them unique among other groups in the state. It has been among the people since centuries.

All you Need to know about Biripo Music

This form of music dated back to early 20th century. It is the dominant classical Ikale and Ilaje music identity. Biripo music emanated from light music entertainment after the return of folks from the farm and trading ventures in the evening. Biripo music is deeper than the literary translation and was popularized by the legendary Papa Zebilon Omoranmowo.

Biripo music also called ‘Amuludun’ by the Ikale people consists of powerful vocals by the lead artist in the local dialect. This is complemented by instruments such as the fundamental and traditional ‘’Rolling Drum’’ which has two threads lined horizontally and across the face.

Modern form of Biripo music is the self-styled ‘Asiko’ music of Comfort Omoge. It’s a bit different from the main Biripo music which is versed in the local dialect and has the introduction of English and the general Yoruba language. It has also been complimented by pockets of Highlife Orchestra and Juju bands to entertain its numerous listeners.

Progenitors of Biripo Music

Many indigenes of Ilaje and Ikale has made this kind of music to the listening pleasure of its audiences. Notable among them is Papa Zebilon who popularized it in the early days. Queen Comfort Omoge is the progenitor of the modern brand that liberalized its content. She incorporated Christian songs into her style and made Biripo music which she rebranded as ‘Asiko’ to travel wide.

Comfort Omoge released several songs with this form of music. Some of her songs were sampled by Hip-hop artists in this modern day. Popular among her hit is the slow-tempo song that has the lyrics ‘’Olorun mi, iwo ni ma sin titi aye o, amin o’’ which can be translated as ‘’My God, I’ll serve you till eternity, amen’’. She played prominent roles in the promotion of this indigenous music and her music reportedly competed with Afrobeat (another indigenous music popularized by Fela-Anikulapo-Kuti) in the foreign airwaves.

One of the artist that has really made this kind of music in this modern day is Jephter Cliff Sama, an Ilaje musician who is well known for his powerful vocals. He has used the style to call for peace and unity among the Ilaje people. Notable among his collections is the song titled ‘Ayemafugee’.

Biripo music which is orchestrated by a lead vocal and back-up singers is also accompanied by a dance step called ‘Biripo dance’. It is a form of choreography that makes this form of music stand out. You cannot but enjoy this form of music even as a non-speaker of the Yoruba language. The melodious tune and beats will definitely sweep you off your feet.

Thanks for taking time in reading this piece.

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