Aesthetics of funeral performance in Ọka Akoko Ondo State, Nigeria

Published in: Journal of the Musical Arts in Africa
Volume 13, issue 1-2, 2016 , pages: 17–29
DOI: 10.2989/18121004.2016.1263912


The paper explores the aesthetics of funeral music performance in Oka Akoko, south-west Nigeria, through a discussion of the nature and functionality of this traditional performance. Funeral performance in Oka Akoko combines songs, dance and verbal utterances that share the same principles of excitement, reprobation or censure with other African traditional performances or verbal arts. The songs garnered from the traditional repertoire have been transformed into poetic statements by the performers for the transmission of moral values among the Oka Akoko people. The paper describes the nature, values and the significance of funeral music performance in Oka Akoko. The study is based on field research conducted in this community between 2010 and 2011.The song texts were purposively selected to display some peculiarities of existence among the people so that the performance itself represents the interrogation of the people’s reality about the world around them – its social, cultural and traditional outlook. This suggests that in Oka Akoko funeral music performance many ideas compete for recognition: it historicises a people, defines socio-cultural nuances, conveys invective, praises positive values and condemns negative stereotypes. It allows for fabrication as well as hyperbolic masking. All these ideas constitute the markers of the aesthetic values in funeral performance.

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