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MAGIC POETRY: A STUDY OF ARUGBA INVOCATION

IN OSUN OSOGBO FESTIVAL

AN ESSAY SUBMITTED TO THE DEPARTMENT OF ENGLISH,
IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENT FOR
THE DEGREE OF BACHECOR OF ARTS (B.A. HONS) IN
ENGLISH
FACULTY OF ARTS, UNIVERSITY OF ILORIN, ILORIN,
NIGERIA.

BY

LAWAL OLATEJU KHADIJAT
07/15CD107

APRIL 2011

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CERTIFICATION
This essay has been read and approved as meeting part of the requirements for
the award of a Bachelor of Arts degree (HONS) in the department of English, faculty
of Arts, university of Ilorin, Ilorin. Nigeria.

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Supervisor

Date

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Head of Department

Date

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External Examiners

Date

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DEDICATION
This project is dedicated to the Almighty God, my protector who saw me
through my programme. Also to my priceless parents, for all their indefatigable effort
to see me successful in my line of course. And to my fiancé, who supported me
morally, financially and spiritually through out the duration of this course.

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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
My sincere appreciation goes to God almighty, the creator of heaven and earth.
I acknowledge with reference, your mercy grace and favour towards the completion of
this course. Thank you Lord, All that I am and hope to be, I owe to you.
My gratitude also goes to my supervisor Mrs Aliu Abraham, silver or Gold, I
have none, but I pray that your own children will meet favour in their various
undertakings.Thank you ma for your positive attitude to the supervision of this project,
your motherly advises, criticism and your words of encouragement that have in the end
led to the successful completion of this project.
I wholeheartedly express my thanks to my loving parents, for the great role you
have played in my life, in making my dreams come to reality. I can never forget your
impact in my life. May you live much longer to reap what you have sow.
To my adorable love Adewoye Abimbola. Thanks so much for giving me moral
and emotional support during the course of this research. I will always cherish you and
I pray that God Almighty will bind us together in his love. Amen.
My heart felt and utmost thanks, to my younger sister for their love in my life.
Opeyemi and Temitayo Lawal, I say thank you.
And remembering my colleagues and friends, Onibonoluta Temi, Ogunsanya
Funmilayo, Fagbayi Grace, Yemi Alao, sukky Babalakin Abiola, Bello Wunmi,
Oyeyipo Bukunmi I will live to remember you all.

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ABSTRACT
Oral literature is an unwritten relation that encapsulates African values and
aspiration through which their philosophy, customs, beliefs, history etc. are preserved
and transmitted from one generation to another by word of mouth. The critical
examination of festivals in Nigeria presents highly Aesthetics performances, debunking
the Euro Centric assertion that Africans have no literature. The focus of this research
work is to attempt/investigate the aesthetic value of Osun festival celebrated by the
osun people through the invocation rendered during the festival, which makes it
magical in nature. This falls under the category of Religious poetry.

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1.1.TABLE OF CONTENTS Title Page i Certification ii Dedication iii Acknowledgement iv Abstracts v Table of contents vi CHAPTER ONE 1. Introduction 1 1. Introduction to Oral literature 14 6 . Methodology 12 END NOTES 12 CHAPTER TWO LITERATURE REVIEW 2.4. Purpose of study 11 1.6. Justification 11 1. Osun Osogbo annual festival 3 1.7.3.2. Scope and delimitation 11 1.5. History of Osogbo 2 1.

2. Aesthetics of Osun Osogbo festival 26 3.2 Praise poetry 19 2. Invocation poem in Osun Osogbo festival 28 3.2.2.5 Funeral poetry 20 2.6 Religious poetry 21 END NOTES 24 CHAPTER THREE 3.2.1. Analysis of the magical poetry in Osun Osogbo festival 30 END NOTES 37 CHAPTER FOUR 4.2. Forms of oral poetry 17 2. Findings 38 4. Summary and Conclusion 40 END NOTES 41 BIBLIOGRAPHY 42 7 .1 Proverbs 18 2.2.3.2.3.1.2. Recommendations 39 4.

public funeral. it is part of what makes up literature. (Taylor 1) The beauty of our culture can never be underestimated because. whether in oral or written works of art. Believe. Lullaby. occupational. oral prose. the main focus of this study. the traditional or oral literature and written literature. drama and poetry. socially acquired traditions of thought and behaviors found in human societies “ Taylor (1871:1) holds the view that culture: … Taken in its wide ethnographic sense is that complex whole which includes knowledge. p1) says “culture refers to the learned. is forms which are either chanted on sung. poetry. morals. 8 . law. African literature is classified into two parts. The Eurocentric scholars believe that African is with neither culture nor history which leads this research into some scholar’s definition of culture Harris (1971. which is the focus of this research work on the Osun Osogbo festival. customers. praise poetry. and any other Capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society. There are different forms of oral poetry. Oral literature. Invocation is one of the sub-parts of religious poetry. religious poetry.CHAPTER ONE 1. The oral poetry. arts. which is the focus of this study can further be classified into three parts.1 INTRODUCTION It is said that literature reflects life.

It is 237 kilometers or approximately three hours drive from Lagos. the capital of Oyo state. oba Larooye gave orders that all the remaining people should immediately move to the bank of river Osun which had earlier been 9 . there by carrying out the capital territory. Wenger was one of Osun devotees. the celebration of which attracts people from far and near places every year. Osogbo’s situation has tremendously changed Osun state since she became the capital city of osun state on 27th of August 1991. and find solace in another place. After some bold explorations.1. who were Ijesa men. Timehin discovered Osun River and went back to oba Larooye. They had to migrate from Ipole(Omu). the Nigeria’s economic nerve– centre. Timehin and other hunter courageously took up the challenge and moved out in search of a better place. the staging of plays for devotees and visitors that come to pay Osun visit in her house. a town in Osun state. And generally educating people about Osun. because of the serious and devastating droughts there. The history of origin Osogbo begins with both Olutimehin and oba Larooye. at Oja Oba. They formerly lived in Ipole(Omu) a village which is about ten kilometers from present site of Ibokun. The other tourists attractions include Osun shines and Susan Wenger’s cultural activities which include. Her area of operation of law has been expanded. in Osogbo. The town has become a tourist centre for her famous Osun festival. Although a Britain. On hearing the news.2 HISTORY OF OSOGBO Osogbo is situated about 96 kilometers by rail and 96 kilometers by road north– east of Ibadan.

in her lifetime as a human. It is believed that Osun has powers to treat any barren woman. was one of the wives of Sango. Oya was sango’s favorite. The male irunmole went back to Olodumare to inquire about the female member of the group and was told of her exclusion by the male irunmole. which admonished them to move up to the present site now known and called OSOGBO 1. a former trouble shooter and Alaafin of Oyo. Osun was excluded on account of her being a female.3 OSUN OSOGBO ANNUAL FESTIVAL Osun Osogbo festival is an annual event where Osun is worshipped and beseeched for blessings and healings.found by Timehin and his entourage. kind hearted. They kept moving until their dilemma was solved after a consultation with ifa oracle. The consequence of this was total chaos. which made oba and Osun to be always jealous. which they did. Osun reacted by gathering unto herself the women on Earth and formed the iya mi cult (witches). Osun has been described as a very beautiful humane. there after peace and normalcy returned to Isaluaye (Earth) Osun. Oya and oba (now river oba ) were the other two wives of sango. if properly approached It was said that when Olodumare created the sixteen Irunmole (Premarital deities) and sent them on earth. which engulfed the whole Earth. motherly 10 . Olodumare advised them to go back and make peace with Osun.

The Osun Osogbo festival is the most pronounced. She was powerful and a great fearless warrior among women. a quarrel occurred on their journey. Rituals are performed on some of the days leading to the grand finale of the festival. when she made up her mind. and therefore the first of the twelve–day festival. iya osun. popular and prominent among the other festivals in Osogbo. The Federal government of the democratic republic of Nigeria recognized it as an important fund raising and remarkable festival that attracts international attention. she could not live without her husband. This gives the people who want to pay homage to the king and his entourage the 11 . with the act of singing and walking. when both oba and Osun told sango that they could not go along with him because Oya is his favorite. (Osun priestess) Aworo (Osun priest). It has of recent attained international recognition and standard for tourism. Oba and Osun went their different ways after ward. princes and princesses. Sango was exiled from Oyo. chief. and that neither would she die. The king. In order to continue her assistance of barren women and the needy. twelve days prior to the finale. IWOPOPO (Matching through a road called popo) This usually falls on Monday.and highly respectful woman. she transformed into Osun River. Osun as a human did an aquatic transmogrification on herself. The annual celebration spans over twelve days usually held in the early August of every year. devotees and well wishers proceed to Gbemu through other streets and then return to the palace.

He also gives alms to beggars and other indigent people. the king dances around it three times before he is joined by his wives. This is the day Ataoja calls into reminiscences the lives of his ancestors and former kings. Ataoja feasts his chiefs.{sixteen. This act represent the traditional clearing of the town’s main road of weeds. other family members and friends.OBA {Ataoja committee’s day} This is a day. dirt. a deity in charge of healing. The lamp is ignited at about 7:00pm on Thursday. particularly the iwefa {Priests in the palace} and devotees. 12 . that may obstruct free movement on the last day of the festival. princes.opportunity to do so. It is a taboo to allow the lamp to burn out before the stipulated time OJO AJO. It is believed that both Larooye and Timilehin found the lamp in the forest. All the beaded crowns are assembled at a place.point lamp} It was initially a spirit’s lamp {Osanyin}. stagnant water and other things. Also the clearing reflects the removal of any obstacle in the spiritual realms that may hinder the success of the festival. The lamp is about 17 centimeters high with sixteen lamps points on it. Iya Osun and her companion do the singing and dancing until the next day which is Friday. princesses. This occurs on three days after the igniting of the sixteen-point lamp. chiefs. inside the palace and sacrifices are offered to them. The following Monday is set aside for sacrifices to the beaded crowns and heads of Osogbo king. when they first settled at ontoto. ATUPA OLOJUMERINDINLOGUN:. which is now a street in Osogbo.

They sing praises to Osun. These guests include the ogboni group {a cult group that serves as a police force} and other well wishers. Young ladies or damsels dance around the town in groups. This is one of the greatest and remarkable days in Osogbo. She is acclaimed to be general and kind. Many visitors. who fervently prays for children are always found on the road that leads to the groove on the day of the festival. except there are very important unforeseen and unexpected incidents or circumstances.The next sacrifice comes before the last day of the festival. carrying cane stick in their hands thrashing one another with abandonment. the kind hearted and philanthropic spirit of the water. Its holds on Thursday. when the king is either not around or busy) on behalf of Ataoja receives and entertain guests in the palace. This serve as an exhibition of valor. when the town receives very important personalities and visitors both from within and outside Nigeria. The Alare (a chief that attends to visitors. It is indeed a historic day. giver of children to barren women. who came to watch and add to the glamour of the festival. OSUN FESTIVAL FINALE Osun festival finale often falls on the second Friday of August in every year. well wisher. particularly barren women from all over the world. The king himself remembers and offers sacrifices to the past Ayaba or Olori {wives of his Predecessor}. the thrashing feasts. inquisitors. gunshots into the air and regular supply of pulsating rhythms from 13 . The glorious day witnesses. It is also characteristic of the day to see excited young men.

an image of Osun is created. The statue of Osun is surrounded by cowries which indicate that Osun was a wealthy woman in her time. while the other takes place in the palace of Ataoja. 14 . which serve as prelude to the arrival of Arugba (votary maid) There are two sacrificial places in Osogbo where Osun is appeased. the lower part of Osun river. brass mortar. and messengers when she was alive. One in the groove. Two women would have taken some of Osun relics to the groove in order to bring the consent of the spirit goddess before Arugba majestically arrives and the final sacrifice is made. There are guns and sword made of brass around her to depict how powerful and mighty she was there are also a mortar made of brass and soup pots to symbolize her legendary motherly attributes. Iyun beads. After the sacrifice the traditional calabash is filled with some relics of Osun. brass sword and pots (concoction pots) The calabash is then ready to be carried by a virgin princess (who would have been chosen before now) to the groove. The ritual is performed by Iya Osun (Osun priestess) who is helped and supported by other Osun devotees. segi beads. There is a house at the palace of Ataoja of Osogbo where.native and artistic drummers. singing to the process of the great celebrant. surrounded by other antiquities that depict her chiefs aides. These relics include cowries.

She was chosen when she was just eleven years and has been a virgin since that time. Arugba is always chosen by the ifa priest through divination. It is compulsory for the Arugba to be a virgin and she must remain so for as long as duty calls. During this research Araba of Osogbo. nothing can hold her back. Arugba can never be overlooked or underestimated that is why whenever she is sighted by the huge around. during the divination. However.ARUGBA The Arugba (votary maid) is the most glamorous and important aspect of the festival. Even if the king dies and a new one has not been installed. It is compulsory that the Arugba comes from the reigning king’s family. but the one with the most advantage carries the calabash. 15 . She has been the Arugba of Osogbo for the past eight years. She carries the sacrifice to be accepted by Osun. Chief Elebuibon made it known that. the festival will be held. It is her purity that makes it worth while it worth. The Arugba tends to be the most important person during the festival. two or more princesses can be acknowledge. the festival can never be held. the present Arugba hails from Matanmi’s family. A young virgin princess is traditionally scheduled to carry the calabash from the palace to the shrine in Osun groove. Without her. there is ecstatic shouts of joy in the air. Irrespective of this child’s age once the divination picks the person. For example.

The outing of the Arugba to the shine is always heralded by the traditional talking drums. Immediately the drums sound. She is protected by Osun in all ways and from any form of danger. save me Good mother 16 . person in this festival. She is the delicate. The ritual calabash is always covered with a light red velveteen cloth.Arugba is not allowed to eat certain foods like. Oore yeye o Osun Osogbo gba mi o Olomo yoyo gba mi o Oore yeye o This means Good mother Osun Osogbo save me Mother of many children. fish. with beads on her neck. She ties white wrapper. snail. because Osun does not take them. most precious. everybody bursts into songs of joy and praises. The Arugba herself is fashionately dressed with while bangles on her two arm wrists and ankles. guinea corn. most important.

After the celebration at the groove the king leaves the shrine with other dignitaries. Arugba the Osun priest and priestess. priestess fervently prays for the Ataoja. Meanwhile the chief priest. Osogbo and participants. She alternates between dancing and walking until she. Ataoja moves back to his seat and people move to the water to take out of it in the belief that the water can solve their problems. This is because she must not hit her feet against stones neither must she fall. when the sacrifice is carried to the river by the chief priest for offering. He offers prayers then the priest. She is surrounded and supported by the chief priest (Baba Osun). followed by the people. Invocation is raised by the priest. iya Osun (Osun priestess ) and devotees. priestess and other relevant devotees enters the Osun shrine with the intention of making sacrifice. hunters and drummers.Arugba is always unconscious during the procession to the Osun groove. Ataoja is called into the shrine where he sits on the monumental stone of which the first oba Larooye sat on. while the whole groove is filled with silence by the people. gets to the shrine. Aworo (Osun priest). other relevant devotees are the last to 17 . Chants are chanted after her and devotees pray for her get to the shrine without accident. The gate is the entrance to the sacred stream to which many of the visitors usually throng when the Arugba arrives. there are always loud ovations with beating drums and dancing. Arugba and her chaperones are dressed in while attires which symbolize purity The groove is a large open space with the river surrounding two thirds of the land. it adds to its credit a sculptured metal gate with images of mermaid.

It is restricted to 18 . With this study I believe it will serve as a reliable literary metrical for future study in religious poetry particularly in the area of Osun festival. 1. This research will explain the religious poetry aspect of the festival that makes it to be different any other form of traditional celebration. Through this the importance of Arugba in Osun Osogbo festival will be fore grounded.4 PURPOSE OF STUDY The main purpose is to examine the aesthetics in the invocations rendered during the festival.leave the shrine. 1. 1.5 JUSTIFICATION The study is to justify that good. the metaphysical attribute in it that makes it important to the festival. She symbolizes purity.6 SCOPE AND DELIMITATION The study is focusing on the invocations rendered during Osun Osogbo festival. the invocative poetry rendered during the Osun festival makes its religiously dynamic with metaphysical attributes. However the Arugba enters the palace first before the king. After the calabash has been taken off her she goes to sleep immediately. so she enters into the palace first to cleanse it for the others.

1. Print. 1996. Print. visitation to Osun shrine during and after the festival. Osun Seegesi –The Elegant Diety of Wealth. O. 2003. Trenton: African world press. Print. Power and Femininity. People Nature: An introduction to general Anthropology. M. 1871.the invocations done on the last day of the festival especially as it concerns the Arugba that carries the calabash. Primitive culture London: Murray press. 19 . Taylor. E. Olajubu. Harris. 2010. Culture. END NOTES Badejo. Hence the data collection method will be by interviews which will take place at different location. Library and internet search from other scholars about the topic will also be reviewed. Women in the Yoruba Religion sphere Albany: State university of New York press. This will ensure that actual performance is also witnessed. 1997. Interview with the Arugba: Adebola Matanmi at her resident in Osogbo on 4th of September.7 METHODOLOGY This research is based on the study of poetic forms in the Osun festival. New York: Longman press. D. Print.

2010. 2010. 20 .Interview with the Iya osun (Osun priestess) at her osogbo residence on 4th of September. Interview with the Araba of Osogbo : chief Yemi Elebuibon at his residence Ayetoro. Osogbo on 21st of August.

we shall attempts to examine the various definitions and assessment of both scholars and draw a reliable. First. and what we are.1 INTRODUCTION TO ORAL LITERATURE Oral literature is the embodiment of African values and aspiration which includes what we do. unbiased and accurate definition of the subject.CHAPTER TWO 2. what we think. (Ekpenyong 31) The African oral literature is a complex and controversial genre that has generated debates and arguments among African and European scholars. This has to do with culture traditions. However. what we say. According to Ekpenyong (1981:31) Festivals are periodic recurring days or seasons of gaiety or merry-making set aside by a community tribe or clan for the observance of sacred celebrations religious solemnization or musical and traditional performance of social significance…. which could be expressed through traditional performance such as folklore and festivals. looking at the European perception of Africa oral literature in Dunde’s word (cited in Okpewho 1992:43) states that:- 21 . customs and way of life of the Africans.

This is why Okpewho (1992:5) boldly disapproves and to object to the Eurocentric assertion thus saying. misconception of African literature as well as reflecting their prejudiced mind as touching anything African. who after a thorough research of this subject was convinced about what truly oral literature is all about According to Finnegan (1970:6) The concept of an oral literature is an unfamiliar one to most brought up in cultures which like those of contemporary Europe. In the popular view it seems to convey on the other hand. and so not valuable.Your pages have so often given evidence of the interest which you take in what we in England designated as popular antiquities or popular literature (through bye the bye ) it is more of lore than literature and would be most aptly described by a good Saxon compound. “The word folklore implies much more than just literature and in some quarters underplays the literacy aspect of what folk do” (Okpewho 5) A European scholar. (Cited by Okpewho 43) The above statement reveals the European. long stress on the idea of literacy and written tradition. the idea of mystery on the other crude and artistically 22 . which they believe to be cruel and uncivilized. folklorethe lore of the people ….

under developed formulations. (Nmowa 50) According to Anyidolho (1976:25) A great deal of the vitality of oral literature in performance is due to its ability to update the past to make the past a life and relevant to the present and its ability to project the present into the future. a poem or the text of a play. it can be seen that African oral literature is a product of African community and it appeals to the generality of the people within a particular community due to the fact that it combines 23 . Nmowa (1984:50) affirms that: An oral text implies the unwritten move or less standard version of hereditary tale. praise song or chant which in general. (Finnegan 6) In festival. members of the community can recite without much difficulty and reproduces in the same ways as literate people read and recite a novel. (Anyidolho 25) From all the above definitions of both European and African scholars. chants and invocation are based on the tradition of oral text. In facts. neither of these assumptions is generally valid.

It is a medium of instruction. since there are no written records of the past. oral literature is a useful device and means of preserving relevant information relating to the culture. oral prose.2 FORMS OF ORAL POETRY The forms of African poetry are numerous and vary in form from one society to another. Each form is further divided into smaller genres and sub – genres.2 Praise poetry 2.1 Proverbs 2. In other words. African oral literature can be classified into three forms namely. 2. which reflects social and political values. The functional aspect of oral literature in the literary form is communication. oral drama and oral poetry.1.1. cultural presentation and springboard of written form. It is a versatile genre which can be categorized into forms and sub-genres.3 Lullabies 2. It serves as an essential tool for cultural survival and continuity.1. communication pleasure.4 Occupational poetry 24 . but knowledge of it is well known by people and highly recognized. social customs and ethics of the people. Oral literature performs the same function as written literature. No definition has been given to oral poetry as such. It has the sub –parts which are: 2. religion.aesthetics with functionality’s.1. oral poetry is the main study in this research work.

Christmas. ceremonies etc. Proverbs occur informally in day to-day verbal communication.6 Religious poetry These oral poetries are differentiated by the tone used by the oral poets or performer. either festival.5 Funeral poetry 2. 2.2. Their reference being a person or a situation known to both the audience and the user before they are uttered According to Abraham (2008:30) “Proverbs are poetic lines that make use of contracted language that are pregnant with meanings” (Ibraham 30) 25 .1 PROVERB Proverbs are relevant short saying used in easing up speech and elaborate linguistics content.2. In the words of Beier in Olajubu (1975:65) Yoruba poetry is classified not so much by the contents or the structure but by the group of people to which the reciter belongs and the techniques of recitation he employs. they are to enjoy it with their eyes and ears.1.1. (Olajubu 65) When these poems are chanted openly for audience to appreciate. which means that the real nature of oral poetry can be realized through performance in whatever nature.

and originate from the observation of natural phenomena and human relations.2 PRAISE POETRY Ibrahim (2008. old people are regarded as a repository of proverbs. society or drive home in a nutshell loaded of messages that would other wise needed wordy explanations. 2.Olatunji (1984:170) states that: Yoruba value proverbs are very highly. p32) says “Praise poetry involves giving pet names and appellations to person based on their genealogical trees and praising people” (Ibrahim 32). for they are considered to be the wisdom lore of the race. And because proverbs are considered to be traditional. (Olatunji 170) Proverbs do not only reveal thoughts of the pasts but also predict the future. Akporobaro (2005:50) he says “Praise poetry is a form of poetry that 26 .2. It is a short popular saying of expressing some general truth or superstition. This type of poetry is mostly used by the elders of the society. either in family matters. They are used to settle conflicts and also serve as speech embellishment for winning audience admiration and appreciation.

(Babalola 24) 2.5 FUNERAL POETRY According to Akporobaro (2005. Ibrahim (2008. p52) “… Is the lament in poetic form of a mourner for a departed loved one”(Akporobaro 52).2. and if they are then away from home. According to Babalola (1966:24) It is traditionally believed that the correct performance of praise poetry in honour of a progenitor gladdens the progenitor in the worlds of the spirits and induces him to shower blessings on his offspring on earth the reciting or chanting of the appropriate praise poetry in honour of the ancestors of a particular family causes members of that family who hear the performance to feel very proud of their pedigree. p35) in her words define funeral poetry as“Is a means of defining the philosophical existence of man in 27 . they also feel exceedingly homesick.is specifically designed for the eulogistic portrayal of the virtues of a given subject” (Akporobaro 50). This type of poetry is usually full of images and parallelism with other poetry features.

The words may also be recited along with the performance of a ritual or festival that has some magical element existed in it. Akporobaro (2005:52) further explains that It is a highly stylistic form of expression that is governed by specific Poetic recitative conventions used to express the feelings of the mourners in a determinate form and performance procedure.this world”(Ibrahim 35). (Akporobaro 52) 2. chants and incantatory poetry. The main purpose is to prepare the deceased for the journey to the other world and a communion with the ancestor. The main study of this research work is in the aspect of invocation.2. for the actual point of either offering prayers or making evil request. The words being chanted are always believed to have magical power either by the chanter or listener. gods & goddess or God. It is for the chanter to 28 . According to Ibrahim (2005:33) “Invocation is as a level that is beyond the ordinary comprehension of the common man” (Ibrahim 33). The invocation is always at the level of spirituality either by invoking the spirit of objects spirited man. devotional divination. These forms of poetry are chanted towards the purpose of bringing about a desired state of affairs.6 RELIGIOUS POETRY Religious poetry has sub.parts that include invocation.

This is why is so important when calling out the objects. (Olatunji 153) Akporobaro (2005:52) States that For some communities and individuals the offering of libations to a God often involves a highly literary use of language that has supernatural tone in them. there are many which operate by the sheer power of being spoken. According to Olatunji (1984:153) Invocation is the first element in ofo. Not all incantations are an accompaniment to herbal preparations.invoke this spirit for the procurement of cure. the symbolic 29 . personages or objects. for an illness. may be invoked by special names to which they are expected to answer with out fail. and achieve success in his\her endeavor or for evil purposes. This means the spoken names. spirit or personages with words that make them feel important for this spirit to answer without fail. (Akporobaro 52) The relevance of this study is the magical power in the spoken word. which consists of the summoning of the incantatory agents … the agent. origins. overcome an enemy.

In what is worth noting. the content may be religious as in verse about mythical actions of gods or direct religious instruction or invocation. Secondly. invocation means the various magical expression that is filled with mystical power of emotions and loaded with word images. the poetry may be recited by those who are regarded as religious specialists. the purpose is to achieve certain magical effect in the invitation of either good or evil force. The theme can either be the wish for good or evil contained in the request after the invoking of the spirits.correspondence between the names of an agent are believed to work the desired effect once the wishes of the enchanter are spoken. The features of invocation is the personal nature of the words being rendered as a poem. to physical reality. Thirdly. Firstly. In all that has been said. it may be performed on occasion which are generally agreed to be religious one. things that he/she can do for him /her to answer the calling and make all man ever wishes for. the form of recitation possesses intrinsic literary qualities of either form structure or imagery. the act of word play. even unknown to the reciter. The themes in invocation are dictated by the multifarious desires and Varity of human wishes. Finnegan (1970:167 -168) State that. (Finnegan 167 -168) 30 . calling the spirit to be invoked special names. that has content of highly mytho-poetic and when these incantation or invoking words are rendered or sung. becomes poetry.

Okpewho. Lagos: Princeton publishing company.The underlying features of any religious poetry in Africa are the philosophical cosmology belief system it operates in. 31 . Print. Nairobi: Oxford University press. Babalola A. Mythmaker and Mythbreaker: The oral poet as an ear witness. A Dramatic Tradition of the Igbo. African Oral literature : Background character and continuity. Nmoira . 1970. Lagos: University press. 2008. Anyidolho. Lagos: Emaconprint limited. Print. 1984. Festival in Nigeria. Ekpenyong. Finnegan . Theme. The Content and Form of Yoruba Ijala. The belief of Africans towards the supernatural forces that gives birth to religion. I. 2005. Print. R. B. K. N. which embraces the rituals. G. Ibrahim. Oral Literature in African. Austin: University of Texas. Ilorin: Haytee press and publishing company. 1981. Clarendon: press oxford. Print. 1976. Print. Print. END NOTES Akporobaro. Bloomington: Indiana university press. sacrifices and other activities that sustain the existence of the people. Print. 1992. A bibliography Nigeria Magazine. Patterns and Oral Aesthetics Forms in Nigeria Literature.Print. Introduction to Oral Literature. 1966. F.

) Yoruba: oral tradition poetry in music. Ife: Department of African languages and literature series. 32 . 1984. 1975. Ibadan: university press Limited. Composition and Performance of Iwi Egungun in wande A (ed. Features of Yoruba oral poetry. Dance and Drama. Print. Olatunji.Olajubu. Print. O. O.

33 . beliefs and skills to the coming generation. etc. All the cultural expressions mentioned earlier make positive contribution to this community.1 AESTHETICS OF OSUN OSOGBO FESTIVAL Festivals are the means through which man expresses his awareness of a transcendental being outside himself. Culture manifests itself in many dimensions. It serves as the means of handling down information and opinion. customs and institution of the people. They have spiritual importance and values for people who have belief in them. The festival also serves as an avenue for asking for blessings of the divinities through incantatory or invocative words.CHAPTER THREE 3. modes of dressing and political system. gods. Osun festival. This accounts for the fact that everyone in the community participate in Osun festival whole heartedly. funerals etc. sustaining and passing of value attitude. They are largely appreciated for their past blessings and protection. These deities or supernatural beings are believed to control the world through certain indictable laws. in which Osun as a deity is one of them. goddess. Festival may accompany birth initiations. Man has always believed that there are certain cosmic forces that manifest themselves in deities. as the cultural institution of Osogbo fulfills its role in educating. It shows itself in art architecture.

then which makes for the institution of literature is richer or better than one which does not. The festival also affords the people of Osogbo a golden opportunity to interact with their metaphysical goddess through the words used in moving her spirit. This narration ensures the passing of information from the elder to the younger generation. hints of past events and problems with reference of Osun as a deity are narrated. as a means of cultural revival through which the people can expose their most cultural heritage to the world at large. historical sculpture and metaphysical attributes. for her to hear and answer their request. of social identity. thereby enhancing and proclaiming the communal laws. The festival ensure a unique experience in socio cultural solidarity.According to stein (1978:22) A culture. because it offers a source of enjoyment. which the other culture does not. because during the festival. forms through its uniquesress and 34 . with her as a significant person. the most cherished culture of Osogbo people is thus critically emphasized. These constitute aesthetic pleasure as well as serving. (Stein 22) Therefore through Osun festival. the community has the opportunity of exhibiting its local art. In the same stories. This gives the community satisfaction with reinforcement. in each year’s performance. reference in made to the history of the community rites to Osun and their success in the smooth running of the community as kings. who contributed as a unique mythical figure. Also.

Invocation is identified by its magical and mystical intention to subject the entire universe to man’s wishes. who has a practical knowledge of the various metaphysical grant in the power and magic that exits in the words. Psychology satisfaction is thus achieved as the performance links with authentic aesthetic experience of the community. INVOCATION POEM IN OSUN OSOGBO FESTIVAL During the festival. urged or pleaded to carry out these wishes through the poetic form of rendering the lines. 3.2. Both the performers and audience are united into an inseparable hole through their co-expectation and participation. plants. some poetic lines are rendered by the Aworo of Osun (Osun priest). animals or even the supernatural beings are summoned. invoke her presence during the festival for her to accept their sacrifice and answer their prayer or request. In it therefore. The performance of invocatory poetry is for a specific individual with its audience. The invocation rendered to invoke the spirit of Osun during the festival goes thus: Osun oni ji Oye gun le Ola de koju Oira yarim wa yarin kowosi Eleti ti eko 35 . the powers in objects. These lines are rendered in order to call upon Osun. in the groove.wholeness.

mo gbekele osun Oroki ti ba eja nla soro. ire aiku bale oro Ore yeye ooo It is translated thus:Osun. ire omo. creator of shelter The anvil of chieftaincy A person of everlasting wealth A person who keeps her money in the gravel Owner of bundle of parrot feathers Mother of all Owner of pots of dye 36 .Abijamo tin reti Igbin Eleyele Aro Olode Ega Ega sunsun ni yen ra Awede wemo Osun onile iki Olode de iyun Osun to fi gborogidi ide se opo Ogun ogbodo ja mi mo. ti ran iki mii Osun Osogbo rere ni so fun mi Ire owo.

It is believed that since her spirit has been invoked. anything asked of her at that particular point in time will be granted. who has beautiful beads Osun that uses a big bronze to make her pillar No war can be initiated against me again. Lucky Children and Everlasting life Good mother ooo After these lines have been rendered. I rely on Osun Oroki which conversed with big fish and sends the biggest fish on an errand Osun Osogbo please get me favourable water Lucky money. the devotees pray immediately.3 ANALYSIS OF THE MAGICAL POETRY IN OSUN OSOGBO FESTIVAL Osun oni ji Oye gun le Olade koju Osun. 3. creator of shelter The arrival of chieftaincy A person of everlasting wealth 37 .A weaver bird with plenty children One who cares for children greatly Owner of palm tree house A person.

but one that the old and young revere. This can be seen. how kindhearted. and what she can do or is capable of doing. She is also described as someone of everlasting wealth. she came to their rescue. she is a well disciplined woman who will not condone indiscipline. The reciter moves on praising her by acknowledging that she is a chief. such that she is not easily robbed of it. If anyone describes a part of her wealth. In the first line. In these three lines. she must first be asked. the reciter tells of her importance.Here. particularly recalls us how Osun keeps her money/wealth. This refers to the first time she arrive on earth not as an ordinary being. when Larooye and Timehin were looking for where to stay and they approached her. she can be to people. it can not be taken from her force fully. Eleti ti eko Abiyamo tin reti igbin Eleyele Aro 38 . The next line that says: O wa yarin wa yarin ko wo si (A person who keeps her money in the gravels) This line. the reciter stresses on Osun’s importance and capability with the hope that this will make her heed his call. This implies that no matter how good Osun is. by allowing them to settle in what is now called Osogbo. she is described as somebody who has the ability and power to create good shelter for people.

who has beautiful beads Osun that uses a big bronze to make her pillars 39 .Owner of bundle of parrot feathers Mother of all Owner of pots of dye This line says Osun hears when people call her for help (eleti ti eko). Osun is described as a great warrior. used for clothes. This shows that she is a good mother as earlier said by the reciter. She is likened to a weaver bird. because a weaver bird is a kind of bird that takes adequate care of its young. The chanter describes her as someone that is rich and sophisticated thus: Osun onile Iki Olode de Iyun Osun to fi gborogidi ide se o po Owner of palm tree house A person. This is why the reciter includes this to show Osun that the person calling or invoking her spirit for help knows her very well. Line 7 refers to the fact that Osun was a woman who made dye. She listens to people’s pleas and answers to their call as long as they believe in her abilities to help. From lines 8 to 10 of this poem. that is to say. who has many children and cares for them all. The 6th line describes her as a mother of all. it is believed that she is a great mother that cares for all mothers and children.

successes and capabilities have been rendered the chanter gives the assertive statement: Ogun gbodo ja mi. so that she answer the call of the chanter. Instead of using mud to make her pillars. who needs her help. She is a woman who provides shelter with the use of palm tree. she used bronze. ti ran eko ni se No war can be initiated against me again. l rely on Osun Oroki which conversed with big fish and sends the biggest fish on errand 40 . In all the years that these lines have been rendered.All the items mentioned above are believed to be expensive things that people sought after when Osun was a human being. This refers to the groove that has palm trees growing every where. These lines are to praise Osun so much. This is meant to show Osun that the person invoking her spirit is familiar with her shrine and is thus one of her worshippers. Soro. mo gbekele Osun Oroki ti ba eja nla. Aworo Osun made this to be known. making it a shelter for people who come to worship during the festival. In other words. it has always worked especially after all the necessary sacrifices have been made. She is said to posses beautiful and expensive beads as a woman. she is rich and fashionable Osun is shown a lot of respect by the chanter from lines 1 to 13. After all her contribution.

In the last three lines of this poem. Her name Osun was used at the beginning of the poem and in other places. Olode Ega E ga sunsun in yen ra A great weaver bird A weaver bird with plenty children 41 . the audience believes that the spirit of Osun which has been called upon. blessed children and long life Osun Osogbo rere ni o sun fun mi Ire owo. There are also some literary terms that can be found in this poem. ire omo. Other words were also repeated such as “A person”. ire aiku bale oro Ore yeye ooo When the chanter finishes with all these lines. believing that whatsoever they ask for at that particular moment will be given to them by Osun. The use of repetition is simply significant in the case of “Osun”. that can also be terms as referring to Osun. the chanter askers for money. It has been used in this poem as significant figure that the whole poem is all about. then every on who is in need of one thing or the other starts praying.This shows not only the chanter‘s belief and assurance that Osun has answered him. has answered them and in fact is in their midst. but it also lets osun know this fact. The invocation is for the calling of her spirit presence for requests to be answered.

to represent Osun as a strong woman. there are some aspects that praise Osun. These words would make a being. But a metaphor has been implored in this poem. The sacrifice carried by Arugba on the day of the festival and others already done before the festival. Oroko ti ba eja nla. The difference is that for a deity such as Osun.Osun was human before she transformed to a supernatural being. because a weaver bird is strong. It is said that praise poetry is designed for eulogistic portrayal of the virtues of a given subject. it gladdens the world of such spirits. no matter how many they are. Where Osun is seen. sacrifice would have been done along with the recitation. soro. Where the reciter tells us of how she is beautiful. These can be seen from lines 1 to 13. In these invocation rendered during the Osun festival. She was never a bird. Also that when praise words are rendered in honour of a progenitor. rich caring etc. Some elements of praise poetry can also be found in invocations. talking to the big fish and sending the biggest fish on an errand which symbolism power of how Osun can do unimaginable things. and indeed a deity answer to such calls. And that she takes care of her children. ti ran iko nise Oroko which conversed with big fish and sends the Biggest fish on an errand The use of imagery is seen in this line of the poem. 42 .

The performance involves the participation of the king of Ataoja of osogbo. he too knows what is necessary to be done in pleasing Osun. prosperity. and the entire people of osogbo. in the view of the alias they had with Osun. neither is the magical effect on people during the festival can be under estimated. every year. Audience plays a significant role in the realization of the performance. a year before. Osun herself kept her side of the bargain. Audiences are also permitted to bring sacrifice items with them. He knows what sacrifice is to be offered. Osun festival is not a myth. The audience joins in the singing of Osun praise. He helps the audience or devotee 43 . by answering their requests. They participate in the drinking of the medicinal water and bathing themselves in it. who are the audience and the special devotees The audience is the combination of the entire people of Osogbo. tourist and everybody who witness the performance of the festival. Aworo is the chanter that recites the invoking words. beaten during the festival. Iya Osun (chief priest and priestess). both in times of peace and pestilence. Arugba (votary mad) Aworo Osun . outside Osogbo even Nigeria. and like Iya Osun. fertility. This means that. asking for protection. how it should be offered and whether or not what is offered is adequate and acceptable to Osun divinity. and that is why osun still has devotees and worshippers Aworo Osun is the priest to Osun. Journalist. This level of gifts shows that. He performs together with Iya Osun in the worship of Osun divinity everyday and during the annual festival. They also pray to Osun. dance to the songs and drumbeats.

chief Yemi Elebuibon at his residence Ayetoro. which is to be placed under oral poetry. they know the words to use in invoking very well and is been rendered accurately every year. People have history and nobody jumps up in a day to start writing history of ceremonies. All been said. 1978. Oral poetry is not lore but the beginning of literature in Africa. festival Christmas. Print. Hence. bean cake. 2010. it makes it a religious poetry. The structure of literary understanding Cambridge: Cambridge university press. before the final day for offering like orange. not only in Africa but anywhere in the world. Interview with the Aworo Osun : Baba Ibeji at his residence in osogbo on 4th of September. and obeying the rules of Arugba remaining a virgin. 2010. It all started with the act of passing the information through mouth from one generation to another. in osogbo on 2ist of August. rendered during the festival and with the believe of devotees. we can see that there are invoking words. Iya Osun Aworo Osun and the importance of Arugba add to the overall aesthetic and completeness of the festival whereby. O. the main point is that. 44 . END NOTES Stein. Interview with the Araba of osogbo. the essence of the symbolic and distinguish participation of the Ataoja. porridge etc.who would want to bring sacrifice offering for Osun during the festival.

children had to inherit their parent’s religion alongside their property. Improvement in medical facilities have made people to believe more in science for the ability to conceive and bear children than to worship and invoke deities like Osun for the cure to childlessness. which results from driven activity and man’s positive response” This means that the aim of festivals can only be met when divine activity and man’s positive response are in equilibrium therefore any contradiction or loophole might result in havoc or confusion. The arrival of Islam and Christianity has also had strong negative effects on the festival and the African traditional religion generally. Islam and Christianity. Urbanization. These two religions claim salvation and deliverance from such conditions like bareness that can be obtained through their own supreme deity However. improved medical facilities and the influence of the orthodox religions. They make the extraction of information on the 45 . for better education and jobs. one thing that cannot be left out is the cold attitude given by some of the people concerned with the festival. industrialization. But now children are free to choose their religion.1 FINDINGS According to Bolaji Idowu “he believe religion has an organic life of its own. There are some factors that are militating against the Osun festival. In the past.CHAPTER FOUR 4. Some parents send their children to urban places including foreign lands.

there is always the positive side. she hears and answer their prayers. This can be seen in the acts of people’s sacrifice during the festival. fruits inside the water. This documentation has a role in the proper propagation of cultural and intellectual products. placing of money on the water and so many other things. she indeed answers prayer when called upon. which shows that for the past 500years of celebrating Osun. as well as transmitting to the audience. People from all over the world come to witness this festival.2 RECOMMENDATIONS Much should be done to increase the documentation of our cultural festivals that is in line with art for future generation and upcoming youths. In every negative form. The aspect of the survival of Osun festival is the cultural activity. testifies that. Most of these people are educated. Some as tourist. These people are mostly seen during one problem or the other running to the tradititionalist for help in solving their problems. 46 .festival difficult by demanding for money before they can give information. to capture all aspect of the performance. Pouring of food items. The music. some to testify. dance and the beauty found in the rendition of the invoking lines. some to watch if the festival is actually real or is just a myth. Another factor in support of Osun festival is the unstable nature of the orthodox religious worshippers. in order to ensure the continuity of the refined and noble aspects of our tradition. 4. This facts is that people who believe in Osun‘s power.

it will be pertinent not to mention the positive efforts of some African scholars. at each level.A. These scholars include. So that the young generation would learn African ways of life. that will project and better country economically and socio – politically in a long way. 4. 47 . Africa culture and tradition should be included in the educational curriculum of the county’s education sector. values and skills to the coming generation. Babalola S. The invocation in Osun festival is to ask the spirit for help in the land and among the worshippers. It should also be made compulsory. These scholars have tried in no small way in making African oral literature thrive. as they grow. Isidore Okpewho. God for help with positive or negative intentions. gods. As a part of orature. Osun Osogbo festival is a sustainable cultural element that helps in sustaining our attitude. by either invoking spirits. therefore the aesthetics dimension of the festival will continue to intrigue literary scholars and the particular Yoruba ethos will still be intact.3 SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION In spite of the negative attitude shown by some.In the same vein. The festival should be well improve. object. Ibrahim Binta. Every human being prays. Finnegan and others. Some universities and other institutions have recognized the importance of African oral literature by introducing it into their studies.

Olodumare: God in Yoruba belief London : Longman. Print. I.END NOTES Bolaji. 48 . 1962.

Print. F. Badejo. Mythmaker and Mythbreaker: The oral poet as an ear witness. 49 . 2005. osogbo. 2010.2010. K. Print. Lagos: Princeton publishing company. Anyidolho. Interview with the Arugba : Adebola Matainmi at her residence in Osogbo on 4th of September. on 21st of August. Print. 1962. 1976. The Content and Form of Yoruba Ijala Clavendon: press oxford. Interview with the Iya Osun (Osun priestess) at her Osogbo residence on 4th of September. 1966. D. and Feminity.BIBLIOGRAPHY Primary source Interview with the Araba of Osogbo : chief Yemi Elebuibon at his residence Ayetoro. Print. Olodumare: God in Yoruba belief. 2010. Babalola. Austin: university of Texas. 1996. 1. Introduction to Oral Literature. London: Longman. Osun Seegesi: The Elegant Deity of Wealth Power. Trenton: Africa world press. A. Bolaji. Print. 2010. Secondary source Akporobaro. Interview with the Aworo Osun: Baba Ibeji at his residence in Osogbo on 4th of Adebola Matainmi at her residence in Osogbo on 4th of September.

2003. 1970. Olajubu O. Nmowa. Print. Print. 1981. 1978. Finnegan. Patterns and Oral Aesthetics Forms in Nigeria Literature. Culture. Print. 2008. 1992. Ibrahim . Features of Yoruba Oral Poetry. Olatunji. Print. Print. A bibliography of Nigeria magazine. Okpewho I. Harris. Print. Ife. Women in the Yoruba Religious Sphere Albany: state university of New York press. M. A Dramatic Tradition of the Igbo Lagos: university press. Ilorin: Haytee press and publishing company. Print. Olajubu O. Africa oral literature: Background Character and continuity.Ekpenyong. R. N. Nairobi: oxford university press. 1871. Oral literature in Africa. Taylor. Department of Africa language and literature series. O. Print. O. Ibadan: university press limited. New York: Longman press. E. Lagos: Emaconprint limited. 50 . Bloomington: Indiana university press. Festival in Nigeria. Print.Themes. B. Composition and Performance of Iwi Egungun in Wande A (ed) Yoruba Oral Traditional Poetry in Music. G. Dance and Drama. 1997. Print. Primitive Culture London: Murray press. Print. Stein. The Structure of Literary Understanding Cambridge: Cambridge university press. 1984. People Nature: An Introduction to General Anthropology. 1984. 1975.