The use of symbols in the praise-naming of chiefs in selected Igbo folk music
Praise names are repositories and means through which ideologies and socio-cultural identitiesare transmitted in Igbo culture. In ‘praise naming’, symbols with socio-cultural meanings aredeployed to represent ideological realities of Igbo naming in communities. The symbols which are infused with the Igbo beliefs of philanthropy and display levels of stratification have not been subjected to adequate linguistic studies. This study, therefore, undertakes a critical appraisal of the strategic deployment of symbols in praise naming chiefs in selected folk songs of two popular and foremost Igbo folk musicians with a view to uncovering the underlying ideological meanings and significance of the symbols. Analysing the data through the lens of Martin and White’s appraisal theory reveals that symbols derived from five sources – plants, animals, nature, body parts and deities – construct the chiefs in terms of five images of God as protector, benefactor, saviour, dreaded being and as the almighty. While the plant symbols conceptualise chiefs as impartial and all-round providers, the animal and god symbols represent them as supreme and as inspiring dread. The nature symbols depict them as unquantifiable, while body parts represent them as rescuers. These culturally-based symbols, which have both positive and negative connotations, have generally reconstructed the rich as gods of the poor in the songs.