Language and Society: Analysing Hausa Words on Power and Authority in Classical Hausa Court Songs

Author: Abubakar Ayuba (Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria-Nigeria)
Speaker: Abubakar Ayuba
Topic: Applied Sociolinguistics
The GLOCAL AFALA 2023 General Session


Classical Hausa court songs are considered a genre of Hausa orature that express emotion in creative imagination. Thus, speak to audience in words, to affect them regarding legitimate power and authority of traditional leadership in Hausa society. The aim is to remind their patrons about the expectations of their official functions. The court singers primarily eulogise pedigree, dedication to creed cum piety, military prowess, administrative excellence and munificence. The language of Hausa court singers expresses the linguistic and social phenomena while praising a patron, they do it by depicting physical environment through rhetorical pattern where metaphors are the accolades for the rulers with gamzaki (eastern morning star), jeji (wilderness), zaki (lion), giwa (elephant), zaure (entrance hall of a house) etc. Literally, amale (camel), damo (iguana lizard), ruwan zuma (honey juice), and ruwan da]i (natural water) etc are close to physical environment, but they are used metaphorically with wider meaning as symbols to social environment in concordance with their patron’s popularity, generosity, endurance, determination, dedication and their extreme patience in the discharge of administrative justice in daily affairs. Kinship terms are employed by Hausa court singers to praise patrons for them and their subjects to strongly believe in the legitimacy of the ruler, his ancestors’ names are mentioned with different purpose to uplift his supremacy. Language of court singers almost always commends steadfastness to truth and objectivity of a patron, as they avoid taboo such as }arya (untruthfulness) and other illicit language, which means, even the singers utterances to a ruler while praising, manifest societal values. The aim of this paper is to analyse Hausa words on power and authority from classical Hausa court songs, to show to the world the influence of language and society through African languages (Hausa). This will be done through a selection of a corpus from Hausa court songs and to discuss their relevance to language and the physical environment, the social environment, and the societal values.

Keywords: Language and Society, Power and Authority, Hausa Words and Classical Hausa Court Songs