by Ebenezer Amadi
In a 1994 interview, the late literary giant, Chinua Achebe once said “Until the lion learns how to write, every story will glorify the hunter.”
Earlier this year, the Intellectual Property Lawyers Association Nigeria filed a public interest law suit asking a Customary Court sitting in Pyakasa, Lugbe, Abuja to recognize Bata Dance as the origin of Salsa Dance. The case was filed to establish a judicial and documentary record of Bata as the cultural and historical source and origin of Salsa.
Bata Dance originated in ancient Yoruba land. The musical instruments, style and dance were made popular by Alaafin Sàngó, the fourth Alaafin of Oyo, following Oranmiyan and Ajaka. Sango, an intense warrior who was loved by all, brought cohesiveness to the old Oyo Empire. At its peak, the Oyo Empire spanned over Yoruba land in Southwest Nigeria to towns and villages in nearby African states, including the Fon Kingdom of Dahomey in the Republic of Benin.
Bata music and Dance are a traditional cultural expression and the intellectual heritage of the Yoruba. Like wing chun and tai chi to the Chinese, wrestling to the Samoans, and the waltz to the British, there is a need to document and protect African and Nigerian contributions for posterity sake.
This judgment reinforces the immense contributions by ancient Africa to the world in music, dance, science, innovation and technology.
Download the judgment here.