A Raisin In The Sun By Lorraine Hansberry

1314 words - 6 pages

In the play A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry, one of the main characters Beneatha Younger tries to find herself and figure out exactly who she is. She is a twenty year old black woman who attends college in the South Side of Chicago. One of her closest friends, Joseph Asagai, is from Nigeria and he really has Beneatha’s best interests in mind. Nigerian culture is very significant in the play because Asagai tries to teach Nigerian culture to Beneatha, in order for her to discover who she wanted to be. Right when Beneatha first met Asagai she said, "Mr. Asagai — I want very much to talk with you. About Africa. You see, Mr. Asagai, I am looking for my identity" (A Raisin in the Sun). So Asagai began to teach Beneatha African and about Nigerian culture. After visiting his family in Nigeria, Asagai brings back Beneatha Nigerian music, beautiful Nigerian robes and even invites her to come and live in Nigeria with him, to try to teach her to respect and embrace this other culture that she is somewhat connected to. Nigerian culture is a key factor in A Raisin in the Sun, and Nigerian music, Nigerian clothing and other aspects of Nigerian culture is very important to Beneatha on her quest to discover who she is.
One of Beneatha’s gifts from Asagai was a record of Nigerian music. Nigerian music is a big part of Nigerian culture, and it is so different than most of the music that Americans are used to. The main differences or some key aspects of Nigerian music that differ most forms of American music are the elaborate drumming patterns, the unique instruments and the language. There are different regions of Nigeria, and each region’s style of music is a little bit different. “Two common percussion ensembles found widely today are the dundun and the bata. Other Yoruba percussion instruments include bembe, koso, abinti, shekere and sakara” (The Music of Nigeria). One of the most popular Nigerian styles of music was highlife. “Highlife was performed and enjoyed across ethnic lines, taking its inspiration from Ghanian style and American jazz and fuelled largely by brass and wind instruments” (The Music of Nigeria). Another very well-known style of Nigerian music is afrobeat. “Afrobeat is a combination of traditional Yoruba music, jazz, highlife funk and chanted vocals, fused with percussion and vocal styles, popularized in Africa in the 1970’s. Its main creator was the Nigerian multi-instrumentalist and bandleader Fela Kuti, who gave it its name” (Afrobeat). The most popular type of Nigerian music is juju, which is dance music centered on multiple guitarists playing intricate melodies and drummers creating a wall of rhythm. Juju really became a huge sensation after the Second World War, with the advancement in electrical amplifiers. “Tunde Nightingale was the first real juju star, and during the mid-‘50s, he was eclipsed by the legendary I. K. Dairo, who greatly expanded the ensemble (from four musicians to around ten) and became the first juju...

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