Strategies in obituary announcements of married Igbo women: a review

  • Chiamaka Ngozi Oyeka
Keywords: death, discourse, deceased, strategies, face, and politeness


Death is a necessary end for every mortal. Conveying the news of a married woman’s death to her ancestral home in Igbo land is a delicate task that requires tact and skills. This work sets out to investigate how the message of the passing of a married woman is conveyed to her ancestral home to find out who breaks the news, the strategies involved in doing so, and the reason(s) behind employing such strategies. Five communities were purposively selected in Anambra State for the study. A mixed-method was used to source data. Face and Politeness theory propounded by Penelope Brown and Stephen Levinson serves as a guide for the study. Findings reveal that a spokesman from the deceased’s marital family or the deceased’s children might break the news of their mother/wife’s death. The breaking of the news is done stage by stage - from the stage of their daughter taking ill, to the stage of the ill-health being severe and finally leading to death. The stages involve the use of both verbal and non-verbal communications like idiomatic expressions, proverbs, euphemisms, snapping of fingers, and hisses to show members of her ancestral family how important their daughter was to them, the efforts they made to save her life, and indirectly exonerating themselves from complicity in her death. Additionally, a eulogy is outstanding as a rhetorical device in the exchange between the two families. The study concludes that the Igbo attach a high premium to a wife’s ancestral family, hence the tact in conveying the message.


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eISSN: 1595-1413