Out of the many traditional dances in Nigeria comes the Onisibi dance. It is an indigenous and traditional dance peculiar to a group of traditionalists in Akure, Ondo state. Nigeria is a verse land rich in culture and traditions, the Onisibi dance is just one of the numerous traditional dances in the country.
Akure, the capital of Ondo state is found in the southwestern part of Nigeria. Just like many other parts of the country, it has its own unique features in folklore, music, dance, and so on. One of the prominent figures in the town’s traditional festivals is the Onisibi dance. The Onisibis (traditionalists) are more than dancers; they are part of the cultural system of the town.
All You Need to Know About Onisibi
As much as Onisibi is known as a traditional dance, it is actually more than a dance as it includes other performances from the traditionalists. Their style of music is known as ‘Sibi’. The performers or traditionalists are therefore called ‘Onisibi’.
The sibi dance always take place during one of the major festivals in the town called ‘Airegbe’ festival (where all shops are locked for the day and anyone that open is being looted by the traditionalists). The onisibis are in full action during this particular festival that has its origin in Oba-Ile (a part of Akure kingdom).
The traditionalists dance around the town in seven days as a form of rites to appease the gods for peace in the town. The Onisibi dancers which are either male or female are always half-dressed (females are seen in wrappers tied up to their chest while the males only wear big skirts and are both adorned with beads and cowries). At the end of the festival, they share drinks with the town’s monarch, the Deji of Akure as well as performing other rites in the king’s palace.
Asides their performance during the festival, the Onisibi also perform in the streets. In their local Akure dialect, the sibi performers sings by abusing people in their lyrics especially during traditional ceremonies (burials, coronations, etc.) and they end up being paid for their services.
They would sing to abuse people including the people of high status such as chiefs who sees it as fun and then give them money for their performances. The performers are led by a vocalist who sings in the Akure dialect and is backed by other members of the band. They perform using an object called ‘’apapara’’ which is a cow skin on a rod that looked like a hand fan. This is beaten with a stick as they perform.
They could use simile in their abusive lyrical contents. They may say ‘you are as fat as a pig, dark as charcoal’ to make others laugh to their jibes on whoever they are performing for. The Akure people are known to be wordy; the Onisibis are an epitome of their speech.