Skip to main content

Singing the Biography: Media Mesh and Aesthetic Reconstitution in an Ethno-Musical Life Narrative

  • Chapter
  • First Online:
Decolonial Aesthetics II
  • 115 Accesses


If the current predominant format of disseminating biography in writing has unwittingly led to the perception and therefore constitution of writing as the mode for transmitting and ‘receiving’ the life story, the immaterialness of biography—meaning its nature as an intangible cultural good or lexically transmitted information—contests the essentialism by implicitly asserting its modal flexibility. Following this supposition, this contribution shows how biographical content is grafted to the medium of music and micromanaged to perform the same role of relating the life story. I argue that this cross-border cooperation of genres and media necessarily entails a reconstitution of aesthetic modes to enhance wider spatial and temporal dissemination of content.

“… music-making must always be regarded as intentional action, and… the actors’ reasons for what they do must be taken into account”.

John Blacking (2001, 21)

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this chapter

Subscribe and save

Springer+ Basic
EUR 32.99 /Month
  • Get 10 units per month
  • Download Article/Chapter or Ebook
  • 1 Unit = 1 Article or 1 Chapter
  • Cancel anytime
Subscribe now

Buy Now

USD 29.95
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Available as PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever
USD 49.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Available as EPUB and PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever
Softcover Book
USD 64.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Compact, lightweight edition
  • Dispatched in 3 to 5 business days
  • Free shipping worldwide - see info

Tax calculation will be finalised at checkout

Purchases are for personal use only

Institutional subscriptions


  1. 1.

    Interview with Sammy Sparkle, conducted at his recording studio in Awka, Anambra State, on 3 March 2021.

  2. 2.

    Interview with Mrs. Nebolisa, widow of Chief John Nebolisa, Igwe of Awkwuzu, conducted at the Palace on 3 March 2021.


  • Adejumobi, Moradewun. 2011. Revenge of the Spoken Word? Writing, Performance and New Media in Urban West Africa. Oral Traditions, 26/1:3–26.

    Google Scholar 

  • Barber, Karin. 1991. I Could Speak Until Tomorrow: Oriki, women and the Past in a Yoruba Town. Washington DC: Smithsonian Institution Press.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  • Barber, Karin. 1997. Preliminary Notes on Audiences in Africa. Africa: Journal of the International African Institute 67(3):347–362.

    Google Scholar 

  • Barber, Karin (ed, trans). 2012. Print Culture and the First Yoruba Novel: I.B. Thomas’s ‘Life Story of Me, Segilola’ and Other Texts. Leiden & Boston: Brill.

    Google Scholar 

  • Blacking, John. 2001. Making Artistic Popular Music: The Goal of True Folk. In Popular Culture: Production and Consumption, ed. C. Lee Harrington & Denise D. Bielby. Malden, Oxford and Victoria: Blackwell Publishing.

    Google Scholar 

  • Collins, John. 2016. Highlife Giants: West African Dance Band Pioneers. Abuja: Cassava Republic.

    Google Scholar 

  • Gerard, Albert. 2001. The Literary Influence of the West on Written Literatures of Modern Africa. In Essays in Comparative African Literature, ed. Wilfried F. Feuser & I. N. C Aniebo, 55–63. Lagos: CBAAC.

    Google Scholar 

  • Iwuagwu, Obi. 2010. Title Acquisition as Manifestation of wealth and Power Among the Igbo of Southeast Nigeria. In Nigerian Social Science Education Review 111:146–167.

    Google Scholar 

  • Jedlowski, Alesandro. 2013. From Nollywood to Nollyworld: Processes of Transnationalization in the Nigerian Video Film Industry. In Global Nollywood: The Transnational Dimensions of an African Video Film Industry, ed. Matthias Krings and Onookome Okome, 25–45. Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Nwaozuzu, B.S.C. 2005. Achebe’s First Novel and Eurocentric Criticism. In The Eagle in Ascendance: More Papers from the Chinua Achebe International Symposium, 1990 with new papers added, ed. Damian U. Opata. Ibadan: Heinemann Educational Books.

    Google Scholar 

  • Nyamnjoh, Francis B. 2017. Drinking from the Cosmic Gourd: How Amos Tutuola Can Change Our Minds: Bamenda: Langaa Research & Publishing CIG.

    Google Scholar 

  • Obiechina, Emmanuel. 1973. An African Popular Literature: A Study of Onitsha Market Pamphlets. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Ong, Walter. 1982. Orality and Literacy: The Technologizing of the Word (2002 Edition). London & New York: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  • Orimogunje, Oladele. 2016. The Yoruba Indigenous Psychotherapeutic Healing System: A Case Study of Oriki. International Journal of Humanities and Cultural Studies 2(4):856–865.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Patrick Oloko .

Editor information

Editors and Affiliations

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

Copyright information

© 2023 The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer-Verlag GmbH, DE, part of Springer Nature

About this chapter

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this chapter

Oloko, P. (2023). Singing the Biography: Media Mesh and Aesthetic Reconstitution in an Ethno-Musical Life Narrative. In: Oloko, P., Ott, M., Simatei, P., Vierke, C. (eds) Decolonial Aesthetics II. Ästhetiken X.0 – Zeitgenössische Konturen ästhetischen Denkens. J.B. Metzler, Berlin, Heidelberg.

Download citation

  • DOI:

  • Published:

  • Publisher Name: J.B. Metzler, Berlin, Heidelberg

  • Print ISBN: 978-3-662-66221-2

  • Online ISBN: 978-3-662-66222-9

  • eBook Packages: J.B. Metzler Humanities (German Language)

Publish with us

Policies and ethics