Dan Maraya Jos, whose name means "The Little Orphan of Jos", was born in 1946 in B'ukur, near Jos in Plateau State, Nigeria. His Islamic name is Adamu, but his father died shortly after his birth and his mother died while he was still an infant, hence the name by which everyone knows him. Dan Maraya's father was a court musician for the Emir of Bukur, who took Dan Maraya under his care when his parents died. Dan Maraya showed an early interest in music and came under the influence of local professional musicians. During a trip to Maiduguri while he was still a pre-teen, he was impressed by musicians there and made a kuntigi, with which he has accompanied himself ever since.
The kuntigi is a small, single-stringed lute. The body is usually a large, oval-shaped sardine can covered with goatskin. Dan Maraya and other kuntigi players are solo performers who accompany themselves with a rapid ostinato on the kuntigi. During instrumental interludes they repeat a fixed pattern for the song they are playing, but while singing, they will often change the notes of the pattern to parallel the melody they are singing.
Like most professional musicians, the mainstay of Dan Maraya's repertoire is praise singing, but Dan Maraya singles out his personal heros rather than the rich and famous. His first, and perhaps still his most famous song is "Wak'ar Karen Mota" ["Song of the Driver's Mate"] in praise of the young men who get passengers in and out of minivan buses and do the dirty work of changing tires, pushing broken down vans, and the like. During the Nigerian Civil War, he composed numerous songs in praise of soldiers of the federal army and incorporated vivid accounts of scenes from the war in his songs.
excerpt from http://www.linguistics.ucla.edu/people/schuh/Metrics/dan_maraya.htm