Nigeria mourns Dan Maraya Jos

Nigerian folk singer Dan Maraya Jos passed on June 20 at the age of 69 after a lengthy illness. The announcement was made by his friend Mallam Ladan Salihu, a director at the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria.

Dan Maraya was born Adamu Wayya in 1946 and lost both parents while still an infant. It was an experience that found its way to the name he is most known by: ‘Dan Maraya Jos’ translates to ‘the little orphan of Jos.’ After his father’s death Adamu was cared for by the Emir of Bukuru, a town in North-Central state Plateau. Dan Maraya’s father had been a court musician for the emir.

Dan Maraya would later become renowned for playing the Kontigi, a single-stringed lute with a covering of goatskin. He played praise-singing songs and wove social commentary into his Hausa lyrics. His praise-singing was exceptional in its non-recognition of class lines: he praised both the rich and the poor, the powerful and the commoner with highly melodious tunes.

Although he sang praise songs for Nigerian troops during the 1967-1970 Biafran war, Dan Maraya craved a united Nigeria. ‘When I visited him two weeks ago,’ Salihu said in announcing Jos’s passing, ‘he spoke passionately about the unity of the North and a united Nigeria.’

A statement by Yakubu Dogara, Speaker of Nigeria’s House of Representatives, said: "Dan Maraya’s death came to me as a shock…I want to…condole with the Dan Maraya family, the government and the people of Plateau state and all Nigerians over the irreparable loss."

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