Arts of Being Yorùbá: Divination, Allegory, Tragedy, Proverb, Panegyric

Arts of Being Yorùbá: Divination, Allegory, Tragedy, Proverb, Panegyric

Arts of Being Yorùbá: Divination, Allegory, Tragedy, Proverb, Panegyric

Arts of Being Yorùbá: Divination, Allegory, Tragedy, Proverb, Panegyric

Synopsis

There is a culturally significant way of being Yorùbá that is expressed through dress, greetings, and celebrations—no matter where in the world they take place. Adélékè Adéèkó documents Yorùbá patterns of behavior and articulates a philosophy of how to be Yorùbá in this innovative study. As he focuses on historical writings, Ifá divination practices, the use of proverbs in contemporary speech, photography, gendered ideas of dressing well, and the formalities of ceremony and speech at celebratory occasions, Adéékó contends that being Yorùbá is indeed an art and Yorùbá-ness is a dynamic phenomenon that responds to cultural shifts as Yorùbá people inhabit an increasingly globalized world.

Excerpt

In this book, I conceive of culturally significant ideas, objects, and motions in two ways. the first concerns the gestures that people who self-identify as Yorùbá construe and circulate to articulate their proclamations to others, both in ordinary circumstances and at critical life passages such as birth, death, and marriage. the second principle of cultural being that I deploy requires that those who identify as non-Yorùbá concede as intelligible, tacitly or implicitly through various means of reciprocation and participation, those gestures that the Yorùbá present as theirs. in the grounding assumptions of this book, two individuals can be acting as Yorùbá while haggling over the price of a packet of spaghetti in English language at a market in Ilé-Ifẹ̀, Nigeria, every time a bargain seeker, even if non-Yorùbá, appeals to the seller with the name of the Yorùbá divinity of commerce, saying “ajé,” and the Yorùbá seller tries to maintain her price position by pleading, even in English, “You are my first customer today” to convince the buyer into believing that he or she is the embodiment of his or her good fortune for the day. in the interpretation presented here, the non-Yorùbá person who says “ajé” to the seller acknowledges as Yorùbá the intelligence of those who use the word to call down the spirit of trade to adjudicate benevolently in a commercial interchange. the self-avowed Yorùbá seller who quotes, albeit in English, the Yorùbá verbal formula regarding good fortune and timeliness presumes his or her customer’s acquiescence to the logic. As lived today, being Yorùbá entails administering several registers of mutual recognition and exchange at different degrees of self-awareness.

I assume that the type of clothing worn, the manner of greetings exchanged, and the sense of order considered acceptable can make a person Yorùbá while holidaying in Dubai, or getting married in Tbilisi, or celebrating a daughter’s first Holy Communion in Broomfield, Colorado. Even if the implicit meaning of the trappings of appearing as Yorùbá in these circumstances is not obvious to the immediate sociopolitical environment, that the individuals are left alone to indulge in them validates the projected desire to be so construed. When a nonYorùbá appears at a Yorùbá wedding engagement in a manner that indicates the individual concerned is making an effort to be like those who call themselves Yorùbá—say, a fellow looking anxious in flowing agbádá or a woman whose body language suggests awkwardness while wearing a skirt made of Swiss lace in the middle of winter in Dublin, Ireland, or at the peak of harmattan in Maiduguri— the obvious act of reciprocation acknowledges the cultural certitudes that the . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.