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.