Destiny Idegbekwe


Incantatory poetry features in many ancient and modern African festivals. Studies on the genre show that this genre of oral poetry is performed in the context of ritual and religious observances in festivals. The medium draws attention to the dualism that frames the outlook or worldview of worshippers and the general audience or spectators, namely, the mundane world of the living and that of spirit beings and ancestors. Incantatory performance is one of the means through which the relationship and interactions between the two realms of existence are expressed, reinforced, and transmitted. Incantations represent the verbal keys that communicate the deep, philosophical and esoteric messages. This paper attempts a linguistic, conceptual and metaphorical analysis of the images and meanings transmitted by the chief priest in the Utu Festival of the Alisor-Ika people of Delta State, South-South Nigeria. The approach adopted is an exegetical and expository one, with emphasis on the nature and mechanism of meaning transfer between two sets of active agents in the communication process: the cantor (chief priest) and the audience/spectators. The study reveals that in African festival events, there are special codes of communication that can be deciphered by applying the tools of linguistic, conceptual and metaphorical analysis. It is further shown that this ritualized form of language use constitutes a category of communication and cognition in which the chief priest is the main vessel of transmission and mediation.


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incantations, communication, conceptual metaphor, Alisor, Utu Festival

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