Traditional festival and political stability in Yoruba communities: Ifá and Ajé festivals in Ìbògùn-Òwu Kingdom

Author: Owoade Sunday Caleb (Queen’s University Belfast, United Kingdom)
Speaker: Owoade Sunday Caleb
Topic: Ethnography of Communications
The GLOCAL AFALA 2023 General Session


Festivals and rituals are primarily meant to influence political stability and encourage the well-being of members of the society. A careful examination of previous works on Ifá and Ajé festivals reveals that much has been done on the origin and performance of the festivals from the descriptive perspective in relation to other Yorùbá communities, but its significant role in socio-political spheres of Ìbògùn of Òwu Kingdom is yet to receive sufficient performative analysis. This study investigates the role of Ifá and Ajé festivals in the socio-political affairs of Ìbògùnland in Òwu Kingdom of Southwestern Nigeria focussing on the performative analysis of the festivals. The Performance-Centered Approach provides us with a framework of concepts and ideas that is helpful to thoroughly examine Ifá verses, songs, and rituals performed during the festivals. The data for this study were collected through an ethnographic approach which includes participant observation, and in-depth interviews. The King of Ìbògùn, Ifá priests and Òͅsͅun devotees who performed in the events were interviewed. Audio-visual recorders were used for data collection and documentation of the performances. The study analysed the performances of Ifá verses, songs, and rituals of 2021 Ifá and Ajé festivals celebrated in Ìbògùnland. This study argues that a performative analysis of Yorùbá traditional festivals contributes to understanding the socio-political realities of the Yorùbá society and its political stability. The study concludes that Ifá and Ajé festivals play significant roles in transforming and building sustainable communities as well as maintaining and transforming Yorùbá lives and culture. References Bascom, W. 1969. Ifa Divination: Communication between Gods and Men in West Africa. USA: Indiana University Press. Bauman, R. 1978. Verbal Art as Performance. Rowley: Newbury House. Bell, E. 2008. Theories of Performance. California: Sage Publications, Inc. Carlson, M. 3rd ed. 2018. Performance: A Critical Introduction. New York: Routledge. Dòͅpámú, A. (2004). Traditional festivals. Understanding Yorùbá Life and Culture. Eritrea: African World Press. Fáshéùn, M. and Adénúgà, F. (2018). A Comparative Study of the Dramatic Elements in Selected Traditional Festivals in Ondó Kingdom. In S. Segun and R. Iyanda, eds.; Trends in African Oral Literature, Creative Writings and Contemporary Society. Ibadan: University Press PLC. Omojola, B. (2011). Òṣogbo: Power, Song and Performance in a Yoruba Festival, Ethnomusicology Forum, 20:1, 79-106. Lawuyi, O. and Olupona, J. (1987). Making Sense of the Aje Festival: Wealth, Politics and the Status of Women among the Ondo of Southwestern Nigeria. Journal of Ritual Studies, Vol. 1 (2): 97- 109.

Keywords: Festival, Performance, Ibogunland, Socio-political realities, Verbal arts