Steelpan Women In Pan - Pan Woman Revolution
Celebration of Women
and the Steelpan Art Form

Tribute To Women In Pan - 2005

Bowie Sonnie Bowei

It is now twenty-eight years since Steel Pan came into Nigeria.  Amazingly, the growth of this art has been rather too slow for pan enthusiasts in Nigeria.  So far, only two steel bands exist – Xcel Steel Band and the Nigerian Army Steel Band, which is an all-male band.

Pan is widely accepted in Nigeria, especially amongst the female folk who cannot resist the tunes of different pan instruments while playing.  The female interest in pan goes as far as the desire to know how the instruments were constructed and how the tunes are produced.  But it is sad to say that despite this interest, there is only one female pannist in Nigeria, currently training at Xcel Steel Pan school.  This may likely be attributed to shyness and timidity, a characteristic of most Nigerian women, or probably due to unavailability of adequate training facilities as only one training facility exists in the country – Xcel Steel Pan Training School.

Ebere Ngerem, 25, the female pannist, joined Xcel Steel Band in July 2004 as a vocalist.  She later picked up an interest in the steel instruments, particularly the double guitar pan, and has since then been undergoing training on that instrument at the training school.  Dedicated to the task ahead of her, Ebere is highly enthusiastic about her instrument and is eager to complete her training on the rudiments of playing the double guitar pan.  Her routine is quite intensive, as she trains three hours a day, six days a week.  Though, not yet very perfect, she plays the instrument with the band when she is not singing during functions.  She hopes to complete her training by September 2005 to graduate as the first and only female pannist in Nigeria.

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Ebere hopes and plans towards recruiting six other females for training on the art of playing other steel pan instruments at Xcel Steel Pan training school later this year.  On completion of their training, they are meant to form an all female gospel steel band.  This is indeed going to pose a challenge and a great encouragement to Nigerian females who have already developed interest in steel pan to take the bold step of realizing their dream in steel pan playing.  It would also bring out, develop and enhance more female interest even in steel pan making.

In this month of March, which is dedicated to female pannists, we encourage and also challenge the women, both old and young to “pick up a pan”.


© 2005 and courtesy Bowie Sonnie Bowei



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