Sunday, February 14, 2016

The Tiv Kwagh-hir

The origin of Kwagh-hir as performed by the Tiv people of central Nigeria, just like the origins of other art forms in pre-literate societies, will continue to be shrouded in mystery and researchers subjectivity.
However, a personality considered by many to be the originator or modifier of the Kwagh-hir Theatre as it is practiced and performed today is one Adikpo Songo from Akpagher, Mbatyav in the present Gboko Local Government of Benue State. According to Adikpo Asongo he brought the art-form to Tiv Land in the form and style as practiced today after been tutored by the Adzov (Spirits). He had watched similar performances by the Adzov in the spirit world, when he fell into a trance in the night while travelling back to his village from Gboko.

By and large the Kwagh-hir art-form became very popular among the Tiv people and competitions among the many groups that doted the whole Tiv land became common. Notable groups such as Anande Chieshe, Adikpo Songo, Adasu Jirgba, Ayange Gwer, Kende Kaase, Apev Akaa, Chia Gbagir and as many as 50 groups engage each other in competitions both at the local and State levels to the admiration of throngs of spectators.
The art-form is woven the story telling tradition of the Tiv Nation which extends  beyond the gathering of children by elders in the homestead under the eaves in the moonlight to tell them stories that teach morals, give instructions and punishment of offenders as the case may be. It dramatizes the stories in the large arena of the village square to create lasting impression on the audience.
Basically, the Kwagh-hir comprises many art-form which include story-telling, poetry, puppetry, masquerade, music, dance and dramatization, most times juxtaposed in a single production.
A typical Kwagh-hir group comprises of Drummers, Dancers, Musicians, Manipulators and Performers who in combination narrates a story through the "Dagbera" (puppet on platform), "Adzov" (Masquerades" "Nyam" (Animals", "Eev" (Magical display of Maniatures: items such as buildings, vehicles and other items) and the ever ubiquitous light carriers who direct the performers as they move around the arena and the narrator who introduces items as they come on stage.
All the items for the performers usually involves weeks or months of painstaking work by the Sculptor, Carpenters, Tailors, Blacksmith, Painters etc to produce.


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