Ifá festival and Ìbògùn Socio-political Spheres: A Performative Analysis

Author: Owoade Sunday Caleb (Queen’s University Belfast, United Kingdom)
Speaker: Owoade Sunday Caleb
Topic: Performance and Performativity
The (SCOPUS / ISI) SOAS GLOCAL AFALA 2023 General Session


Verbal arts such as festival and rituals influence political stability and encourage citizens’ wellbeing. They abound in people’s daily lives to “give meaning and significance to experience” (Bell, 2008), and their performances involve “decisions that are linked to political circumstances, … [as they] contain an intrinsic element that makes it a particularly potent tool for political action” (Askew, 2002). Hence, this research examines the role of Ifá festival in the socio-political spheres of Ìbògùn, Òwu kingdom focussing on the performative analysis of the festival. In the appraisal of the contexts of the performance as a spoken verbal communication, the study employed Bauman’s performance centred and Kelly Askew’s approach, the politics of performance to thoroughly analyse Ifá verses, songs, and rituals performed during 2021 Ifá festival. The data for this study were collected through participant observation, and in-depth interviews where King, Ifá priests and Òͅsͅun devotees who performed in the event were interviewed. The study argues that a performative analysis of Yorùbá traditional festivals contributes to understanding the socio-political realities of the Yorùbá society and its political stability. It as well concludes that Ifá festival plays significant role in building sustainable communities as well as maintaining and transforming Yorùbá lives and culture.

Keywords: Festival, Performance, Ìbògùnland, Socio-political realities, Verbal arts