Performance, Space and Spirituality: Music and Ori-Oke Christianity in Nigeria

Key information

5:00 pm to 6:30 pm
Russell Square, College Buildings
Djam Lecture Theatre (DLT)

About this event


Dr Samuel Ajose (University of Ibadan) & A.G. Leventis Fellow at SOAS University of London


In this study, I seek to explore the expressive forms of religion as a means of understanding religion and its meaning in contemporary Africa. By focusing on Ori-oke (prayer mountain), I will examine how Ori-oke ritual practices specifically–prayers and music, serve as both religious and artistic conduits for performing spirituality. Furthermore, I will analyse the symbiotic relationship between prayer and music, as well as ways each element is used to heighten the other in Ori-oke worship. Ori-oke spirituality is a popular practice among Christians to visit natural sites for round-the-clock prayer activities in Nigeria. Since the 1920s, leaders of indigenous churches have always designated and consecrated some mountains for day-and-night prayers and devotion away from the ‘distractions’ of urban life. Religious practices–fasting, prayer and music–are central to Ori-oke worship as participants extensively engage them to facilitate connection with the transcendental to attain victory over enemies–real or imaginary–and achieve prosperity–spiritual and material. Much of the scholarship on Ori-oke has only explored its historical, social and religious significance. Despite its visibility and vibrancy in the Nigerian religious milieu, much is yet to be known about Ori-oke soundscape and how it shapes Ori-oke spirituality. The study draws from an ethnography conducted in southwestern Nigeria between 2017 and 2020 and employs spatial and ethnomusicological theories as its interpretive and analytic tools. By drawing parallels between musicology, ecology, sociology and anthropology of religion. I argue that Ori-oke music is a symbolic ‘space’ for a better interpretation of people’s spiritual and existential aspirations amidst the social, economic and political uncertainties in Nigeria.

Event recording

PowerPoint presentation

Presentation - Performance, Space and Spirituality: Music and Ori-Oke Christianity in Nigeria

Powerpoint document, 12.19MB

Speaker biography

Samuel Ajose is a lecturer and the immediate past acting head of the Department of Music, University of Ibadan. He completed his doctoral programme in Ethnomusicology at the Institute of African Studies, University of Ibadan. His teaching and research intersect music, religion/spirituality, education, and popular culture. His ongoing project explores Christian-Muslim entanglement in Nigeria by focusing on music, gender and Islamic ‘Pentecostalism’ in southwest Nigeria. Samuel is a visiting scholar at SOAS University of London and an ACLS/AHP postdoctoral fellow. Presently, he serves as the National Public Relations Officer for the Association of Nigerian Musicologists (ANIM), Council Member of the Society for Ethnomusicologists (SEM) and the Music Director of the Chapel of the Resurrection, University of Ibadan, Nigeria.

Chair: Dr Wayne Dooling (SOAS)

Discussant: Prof Marloes Janson (SOAS)

Organiser: SOAS Centre of African Studies

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