Context, Performance and Beliefs in D?w??-igbela (?j? Funeral Poetry)
Keywords:d?w??-?gbela, the ?j?, funeral dirges, beliefs, Barakubu
Scholars of African oral literature have been paying critical attention to funerary poetry in Africa ever since the publication of J. H. Nketia’s Funeral Dirges of the Akan People. Nketia’s book generated awareness on the existence of this endangered form of traditional poetry and pointed out the need to investigate and document it in the various ethnic groups for posterity. However, a great deal of this attention is devoted to the dirges of the major ethnic groups on the continent. Therefore, this study examines the context, performance and beliefs expressed in d?w??-igbela, a specialised type of dirge among the ?j?—referred also to as Ijaw or ?z?n of the Niger Delta region of Nigeria. The article, among other things, demonstrates how each song expresses a belief about the ?j? view of the dead. It concludes that these songs, which are no longer practised, preserve their ancient rituals, customs and beliefs.
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