Agbaji, Kwara community where drumming is taboo

Date: 2013-08-25

Beating of drums ordinarily elicits danceable tunes. Also some people see dogs as pets and reliable companions.

But this is not the case in Agbaji community in Ilorin East Local Government Area of Kwara State.

Uniquely, rearing or the presence of dogs in the area and beating of drums for any reason are taboos in the community.

Agbaji is a Muslim settlement which comprises 11 communities. They are Manjo, Maiye, Opeloyeru, Singinni, Agoro, Kejebu, Adara, Babasare, Aburo, Imam and Saura.

The settlement has about 250 houses. It has two entrance gates. The one near the Oke-Kura Prisons is newly painted with green and white combination while the one facing Ajikobi Road appears neglected and rusty.

Agbaji settlement is mainly inhabited by low and medium income earners, although there are few wealthy individuals in the community.

It is also the family home of the late ‘Strongman of Kwara Politics’ and Senate leader in the Second Republic, Dr. Olusola Saraki.

Some members of the community toldnewsmenthat there was no known history that a dog was seen in Agbaji, adding that they were proud of the tradition.

An Islamic teacher, AbdulRahman Agoro, said he was proud of the customs and was sure it would not change.

Agoro, an indigene of the community, who resides in Kaduna, said people in Kaduna usually respected him because of the Agbaji tradition.

“I feel very proud being a son of this community. I currently reside in Kaduna and I am an Islamic scholar.

“People respect me because of this tradition. There are 11 compounds in Agbaji but you can hardly differentiate them due to the mutual relationships that exist among the inhabitants. It is indeed a great thing to be an indigene of this community,” Agoro said.

A lecturer at the Kwara State Polytechnic, Ilorin, Na’Allah Abdulmumin, also lauded the community’s age-long tradition.

He stated that ban on drumming in the area made the community quiet and peaceful at all times, Abdulmumin added that social activities in the area were usually devoid of music.

Twenty-nine year-old Abdulmumin also said dogs were not acceptable in Islam, stating that he was always happy and proud to tell people about the taboos.

He said he was unaware of the origin of the tradition but learnt that they were inherited from their progenitors and had since been passed from one generation to another.

“I am very proud to be an indigene of the community. The tradition is unique and it makes sense. Our programmes always go smoothly. I don’t like dogs even.

“I want the elders to continue to sustain the customs. When my friends or other people ask me about the taboos, I tell them that our forefathers neither reared dogs nor beat drums. The tradition is okay. When I am outside Agbaji and I hear people drum, I always resent it. Dogs are not acceptable in Islam. The founders of the community were mallams. I think that is why they avoided anything that could tarnish the religion.”

Another indigene, Mr. Hazan Afodun, said the ban on drumming and dogs made the community serene and allowed people to concentrate on their religious activities.

Afodun, 63, also said they inherited the traditions, adding that it could not be changed.

“I want my children to abide by the traditions because they will give them a sense of belonging. But if they are outside Agbaji, they can do anything they like, provided it is acceptable in that community and it is not immoral,” he said.

He described dogs as cursed animals in Islam. He however added that drumming was not forbidden in Islam but the community’s position on it was an inherited tradition.

“When a dog rubs its body on one’s cloth, such cloth cannot be used for prayers until it is washed. Although the dog is a domestic animal, it can be fierce at times.

“Beating of drum is not wrong in Islam. But in Agbaji, our forefathers forbade it. I do not know why they did that. As long as I am in this environment, I feel proud but when I am outside it, I join others to do what they do in their own communities,” Afodun said.

Another unique thing about the community is that people, even young ones, take Quran recitation as an occupation.

Our correspondent met some of the youth reciting Quran at a building calledIle kewu(Arabic school). Newsmengathered that the school was a market before its conversion to a learning centre.

An elder in the community, Abdulraheem Adaara, also stressed that the community’s forebears revered the taboos.

According to him, the prohibition of drumming is to stop any form of distraction for worshippers and clerics.

He added that dogs were also prohibited because they were perceived as defiling animals.

Adaara said, “A popular cleric in the community, Sheik Musa Al-Waishu, during his reign directed that people should not divert his attention with drumming when he was observing his spiritual duties such as supplications, and recitation or teaching of the Quran.”

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