Nigerian Music: Education & Religion

Throughout the years before 1945 music was introduced to many Nigerian individuals. Nigerian composers were actually introduced to European classical music through the churches and schools that they attended (Sadoh 79). These schools were predominantly Christian and the assimilation to Christianity for many Nigerians drove them to learn these new types of music around the time of the 1840s (Sadoh 79). Western education arose in Nigeria around the year of 1842 according to Robert Kwami (Sadoh 79). During this period of the addition of Western education, the school curriculum encapsulated many forms of singing and music (Sahoh 79). If a Nigerian composer or individual wanted to delve deeper into the musical field, they would have to attend schools that taught specifically about the new music that was being introduced to Nigeria (Sadoh 80). Although music was originally introduced to Nigerians by the European colonists, music has grown to a much greater level even currently within Nigerian society. I find it interesting how important music was within Nigeria before 1945. It almost seems as if music was of higher importance within the education of Nigeria.

Most of the music that had been created by Nigerian individuals related to the beliefs of the composers who were composing the particular music (Edet 111). This new music was often performed at calendar festivals and religious rituals (Edet 111). Music seems to have had a strong connection to religion within Nigeria. Music was played at almost every religious celebration and in church services (Edet 111). I have even delved deep enough into my research to uncover information on early Nigerian music. Most indigenous music within Nigeria connects to beliefs from the past (Edet 111). Each group of early Nigerian individuals placed a different value on music from one another (Edet 111). Some groups placed higher value on music within society than other groups did (Edet 111).

Nigeria seems to have placed great value on music within every day society before the year of 1945. Although a new type of music was introduced to the Nigerians during the time the Europeans attempted to assimilate the Nigerians, many Nigerian musical cultures were also developed solely through the beliefs that the Nigerian peoples possessed. When the Europeans were sharing their Christian religious beliefs with the Nigerians, they also introduced a style of music that would be performed or utilized during these religious practices. Along with the assimilation of the Nigerians, schools were also introduced and music played a large role in Nigerian education as I have uncovered. I personally see music as an important aspect of pop culture within any society. Music has shaped me personally and from my research it seems as if it shaped Nigerian society pre-1945. I would love to listen to the style of music that was introduced into society when the European colonists arrived in Nigeria as well as the music that the Nigerians created. It’s unfortunate that music isn’t an important part of education within our society today because I feel it serves as a stress reliever and almost enables individuals to delve deeper within their thoughts and education. Music was a great advancement in the popular culture of Nigeria before the year of 1945. If this style of music was forced into Nigerian society, I believe that there would be some sort of conflict within Nigerian society. The assimilation didn’t force this music upon the Nigerian inhabitants but it introduced it to them in a way that would potentially catch their interest. They were not told they had to practice this particular religion and listen to this particular music. It was something that caught the interest of the Nigerians, when the Europeans began to spread their values throughout Nigeria.




Edet, E. M. “Music in Nigeria.” African Music 3, no. 3 (1964): 111-13.


Sadoh, Godwin. “Modern Nigerian Music: The Postcolonial Experience.” The Musical Times 150, no. 1908 (2009): 79-84