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Adeolu Akinsanya

Dan Maraya: Profile

Dan Maraya Jos: The People's Musician

THERE was a time in Nigeria in the 90's and 80's when to add a Northern touch to any show, the one and obvious choice was Dan Maraya Jos. Till date, that tenet still, holds to some extent.

Such is the popularity of the man that he easily became a reference point, of sorts, for any mention of Nigerian musicians from the north, or even of Nigerian musicians that command national appeal

He became the yardstick for measuring public appeal in terms of what a national musician (traditional or contemporary) should be and how such should conduct his or her performances, on or off the stage.

In fact, between the 80's and 90's, in Nigeria, no national event or gathering was ever complete without the conspicuous stage presence" of Dan Maraya Jos. which is on the strength of the fact the man's enthusiasm to affect his audience is unparalleled and became his greatest weapon.

As much as he acknowledges the hard fact that his language is to some extent a hindrance in expanding the scope of popularity of his brand of music, Dan Maraya Jos nevertheless is not dampened as all through his major performances he is upbeat and so far has remained the most electrifying and enthusiastic performer in his class of music.

Born in 1946 in Bukuru, Jos, Plateau State of Nigeria , and named Adamu Wayya, Dan Maraya lost his father, Mallam Wayya, a court musician and his mother in quick successions as his father died almost immediately after his birth and his mother while he was still an infant.

However, with the death of the young Dan Maraya's father, the Emir of Bukur, in whose court Dan Maraya's father played, took over responsibility of looking after young Adamu after both his parents died, and first sent him to a Quranic school. But as fate would have it, the emir also died a few years later, leaving Dan Maraya to fend for himself at that tender age.

After enquires about his father, Dan Maraya resolved to play music just like his father. For a start, he played Kotso (talking drum) like his father and later, tried his hands on Kalangu drums, Garaya (two-stringed guitar) Molo (three-stringed guitar) and Violin.

Eventually, he settled for Kuntigi, a locally made small gourd with stringed harp which he discovered during a musical trip to Bauchi.

Dan Maraya Jos, whose name means "The Little Orphan of )os", showed an early interest in music and came under the influence of local professional musicians. During a trip to Maiduguri , in Borno State ," while he was still a pre­teen, he was impressed by musicians there and made a kuntigi, with which he has accompanied himself ever since.

The Kuntigi is a small, single-stringed lute. The body is usually a large, oval-shaped sardine can, covered with goatskin. Dan Maraya and other kuntigi players are solo performers who accompany themselves with a rapid ostinato on the kuntigi.

During instrumental interludes they repeat a fixed pattern for the song they are playing, but while singing, they will often change the notes of the pattern to parallel the melody they are singing.

Like most professional musicians, the mainstay of Dan Maraya's repertoire is praise singing, but Dan Maraya singles out his personal heroes rather than the rich and famous. His first, and perhaps still his most famous song is "Wak'ar Karen Mota" ["Song of the Driver's Mate"] in praise of the young men who get passengers in and out of minivan buses and do the dirty work of changing tires, pushing broken down vans, and the like.

Noted for being a social critic and commentary figure who employed music as a tool of communication, Dan Maraya Jos, " during the Nigerian Civil War, composed numerous songs in praise of soldiers of the federal. army and incorporated vivid accounts of scenes from the war in his songs.

With over 1000 songs and 150 released singles and records, Dan Maraya Jos also has enlightened people on government programmes. He sang; Pereshan " Fidoneshan when the Obasanjo regime launched the 'Operation Feed The Nation. Yara Manyan Gobe to stress the importance of the U.P.E (Universal Primary Education) Programme launched by the Gowon regime and Munafikin Yaki, among others, to depict war as a bad phenomenon.

Waxing stronger on the traditional music scene, Dan Maraya acquired the "reputation of a custodian of Hausa culture and tradition. In spite of modern technology, he preferred the use of local violin to a more sophisticated instrument and also refused to expand his one-man band.

His style has earned him both national and international acclaim. Dan Maraya has" represented Nigeria at both local and international festivals like FESTAC '77. Commonwealth Games and the 1978 Horonzonte International Festival in Berlin , among others.

He has also performed in several countries like Unites States, Jamaica, Cuba, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, " Venezuela, The Netherlands, and prominent European cities like; Geneva, Bonn, Frankfurt and most African countries and cities.

Dan Maraya who is a well known soloist hugely credited with the invention and popularization of the Kuntigi musical instrument in contemporary Nigerian music, is also a composer, poet and a National Award Winner in Nigeria .

Dan Maraya has a long list of awards to his credit. They include; Member of the Order of the Niger (MON) and the United Nations Medal of Recognition in 1982 and 1984 respectively. He also won Performing Musicians Association of Nigeria (PMAN) award in 1990 and was recently conferred with a PhD honoris causa degree (honorary doctorate degree in Law) by the University of Jos . He is also the recipient of the United Nations Peace Award.

A musician with several albums to his credit, Dan 'Maraya was the first African musician to perform live on BBC. He has also performed for some African heads of state like President Mohammed Usman of Niger Republic .

With a musical career spanning well over four decades. Dan Maraya Jos presently, has about 62 songs for the studio and has recently decided to limit his performance to special command performances only.

A worthy musician who has represented Nigeria all over the world and indeed contributed greatly to the development and growth of the music industry in Nigeria . Dan Maraya is a living human treasure whose message of peace, unity and development has been invaluable to his several admirers.

 

Culled from DailyChampion

 

Born in 1946 in Bukuru, Jos, Plateau State of Nigeria and named Adamu Wayya, Dan Maraya (little orphan), lost his father, Mallam Wayya, a court musician and his mother in quick successions.

After his father's death, the chief of Bukuru took over responsibility of looking after young Adamu and sent him to a Koranic school. But as fate would have it, the chief also died a few years later, leaving Dan Maraya to fend for himself at that tender age.

After enquiries about his father, Dan Maraya resolved to play music just like his father. For a start, he played Kotso (talking drum) like his father and later, tried his hands on Kolangu drums, Garaya (two-stringed guitar) Molo (three-stringed guitar) and Violin. Eventually, he settled for Kuntigi, a locally made small gourd with stringed harp which he discovered during a musical trip to Bauchi.

Gradually, Dan Maraya who is fond of spicing his songs with humour and comedy, warmed his way into the hearts of his Hausa fans. By 1967 when the Nigerian Civil War broke-out, Dan Maraya's music had become so prominent that he was taken to the battle field to lift the spirit of the Federal Troops with his music until the end of the war.

With over 1000 songs and 150 released singles and records, Dan Maraya Jos also has enlightened people on government programmes. He sang Pereshan Fidoneshan when the Obasanjo regime launched Operation Feed The Nation, Yara Manyan Gobe to stress the importance of the U.P.E (Universal Primary Education) Programme launched by the Gowon regime and Munafikin Yaki among others to depict war as a bad phenomenon.

Waxing stronger on the traditional music scene, Dan Maraya acquired the reputation of a custodian of Hausa culture and tradition. In spite of modern technology, he preferred the use of local violin to a more sophisticated instrument and also refused to expand his one-man band.

His style has earned him both national and international acclaim. Dan Maraya has represented Nigeria at both local and international festivals like FESTAC '77, Commonwealth Games and the 1978 Horonzonte International Festival in Berlin among others. He has also performed in several Countries like USA , Jamaica , Cuba , Trinidad , Guyana , Venezuela , Geneva , Holland , Bonn , Frankfurt and other European and African Cities .

Dan Maraya has a long list of awards to his credit. They include Federal Medal of Nigeria (FRM), Member of the Order of the Niger (MON) and the United Nations Medal of Recognition in 1982 and 1984 respectively. He also won PMAN award in 1990 and was conferred with the honourary doctorate degree in Law by the University of Jos .

He was the first African musician to perform live on BBC. He has also performed for some African heads of state like President Mohammed Usman of Niger Republic .

In his 42 years of musical career, Dan Maraya Jos said he has had no single sad experience. Therefore, he thanked God for his mercies. Presently, he has about 62 songs for the studio and has recently decided to limit his performance to live shows.

He said he stopped recording as pirates have infiltrated the music industry, thereby making the average musician find it difficult to make profit. This worthy musician has indeed contributed greatly to the development and growth of the music industry in Nigeria.