Art, Society, and Performance: Igede Praise Poetry

Synopsis

"This is the first detailed study in African oral literature that examines the complementary elements of praise and criticism in traditional oral poetry.... One of the few studies today that give us an insight into the folklore of less well known African communities, as against the vast majority of works that concentrate on larger groups like the Yoruba.... There is a freshness about this work that recommends it greatly" -- Isidore Okpewho, Suny-Binghamton

"A very important and welcome addition to the growing scholarship on song traditions in Africa". -- Helen Nabasuta Mugambi, California State University, Fullerton

Conventionally, scholars of oral literature have studied works of praise and criticism as distinct from one another. Ogede examines the ways in which praise and criticism work in tandem in the oral performance of the Igede of West Africa. He explains how they are used in negotiating social relationships and in navigating the political, religious, and spiritual spheres. He further demonstrates how oral performance among the Igede is not the exclusive preserve of any particular group but is ultimately a means of public expression, available to and employed by all in dealing with powerful emotions and events.

Ogede focuses on the minority Igede of Nigeria's Benue State in order to extend the study of oral literature beyond such familiar majority ethnic groups as the Yoruba, Igbo, and Zulu. By drawing from work by leading oral artists and younger composers, he examines how oral materials are created and transmitted among the unlettered Igede, how they vary from one performance to another, and how mutual influences between the audience and the artist are essential to thepower of the oral performance.

Additional information

Contributors:
Publisher: Place of publication:
  • Gainesville, FL
Publication year:
  • 1997