Poets as Historians: The Case of Oriki among the Ijebu People of South Western Nigeria
AbstractThis paper examines the role of poets as historians within the Yoruba society using the Ijebuland as case study. The data on which this paper is based is Oriki among the Ijebu people of South-western Nigeria, using Marxist theory as the theoretical base. The primary data were drawn from oral performance of Oriki from selected Ijebu towns namely Ijebu –Ode, Omu, Ikorodu, Aiyepe, Idowa, Imodi, Ijebu-Igbo; selected obas; some warlords and some notable personalities of Ijebuland. The secondary data were the gramophone records, waxed by Ijebu speakers and non-Ijebu speakers, written records, as well as library and archival documentations from the Universities in the Southwestern part of Nigeria. The study reveals that poets are historians and the Ijebu, a people hitherto believed not to have Oriki indeed have. The study throws more light on the history of the origin of the Ijebu people, the people are a Yoruba people and that the Ijebu people are linked with Ife. It also proves that the Ijebu people are connected to the larger Yoruba race and that the Ijebu are still a people despite their presence in more than one state and towns. The Ijebu people also have their own warlords like other Yoruba people. The study reveals that there is connection between the Ijebu people and the remaining Yoruba society from the Ijebu praise poetry studied. Through the oriki of Ijebu people, we can locate their source, origin and points of migration to their present location. The study contributes to the development of Yoruba literature in that it has added to our corpus of Oriki. This work would be of immense value to scholars of not only literary study but also other fields such as history, linguistics, sociology, anthropology, ethnography and cultural study.
LWATI: A Journal of Contemporary Research, 8(3), 91-99, 2011