Making Meaning in Lamentation: A Cultural Appreciation of Death in Ìgbálá, an Ẹ̀gbá Funeral Lore

  • Abayọmi Adeigbe Department of Linguistics, African & Asian Studies, University of Lagos, Akoka-Yaba, Lagos, Nigeria
Keywords: Ìgbálá; Ẹ̀gbá-Yoruba; funeral lore; dirge; culture


Death is a universal phenomenon that signifies the expiration of life in any form and at any stage. For the Yoruba and indeed the È̩gbá people as captured in this study, death is a transcendental occurrence which aggregates communal, social and philosophical aspects of its meaning. However, this cultural knowledge is found to be increasingly diminishing over different generations thus creating concerns for cultural preservation. This paper highlights and examines the idea of death in È̩gbáland as portrayed in the traditional Ìgbálá funeral lore and dirges. The paper employs a philosophical approach as entrenched in hermeneutic phenomenology. It engages textual extrapolations underlying the literary and semiotic appreciation of death as an existential occurrence relatable at both universal and specific contexts of culture. As part of its findings, the paper offers a revisionist perspective for understanding and appreciating death for its culture-specific imports which implicate biological, folkloric, spiritual, existential and philosophical aspects of the human existence. It concludes that new understanding and appreciation of Ìgbálá funeral tradition reposition the folk practice and offers new grounds for its preservation and cultural sustainability.