A Sociolinguistic Analysis of Gender Differentiation in Yoruba Burial Rites

Opoola Bolanle Tajudeen

Abstract


This paper focuses on socio-hermeneutic study of gender differentiation in Yoruba burial rites. There are many types of oral genres in Yoruba society. These genres have different functions for different occasion. In essence, Ìrèmọ̀jé eré ìṣípà ọdẹ (hunters funeral dirge) and ìsàà ró (women funeral dirge) are used during men and women funeral rites respectively in Yoruba land. Ogun deity is the founder of Ìrèmọ̀jé chant. Ogun was the first hunter with many adherents who were hunters too. Before the death of Ogun, he ordered his adherents to chant Ìrèmọ̀jé during his funeral rites. He also instructed them to do the same during the funeral rites of fellow great hunters, that is, the hunters that were succeeded by viable children. Ìrèmọ̀jé ìsipaọdẹ is specifically for men and not for women. Ìsàà ró is the final burial rite for the aged women in Yoruba land. This burial rite marks the exit of the aged women from this world to the world beyond. In essence, ìsàà ró is a traditional send-forth for the dead. This type of burial rite was popular in Yoruba land in those days but it was more popular among the Oyo-Yoruba than other Yoruba ethnic groups. Ìsàà ró burial rite is often performed by the Alágbaà (chief head of masquerade) from Ọ̀jẹ̀ family (family of masquerades). It is mandatory for the children of the dead to perform this final burial rite for their dead mother because if they fail to do it, things may not be moving well for either the dead in the world beyond or for the children she left behind in this world. The emergence of western civilization has made great changes both negatively and positively on the popularity of Ìrèmọ̀jé and Ìsàà ró burial rites respectively. This paper discovered that there is that of valuable documentation of Iremoje/Isipa (Hunting chants and funeral rites for Men) and Isaaro (The final funeral rites for Women) in spite of the existence of enormous works on Yoruba Verbal arts and oral literature. The implication of this finding reveal that if a study of this type is not promoted, Yoruba traditions and valuable oral renditions would be endangered. This could further prompt Yoruba journeys to extinction as many studies have shown that English dominance of Yoruba is changing the language attitude of Yoruba native speakers oral and written discusses. The Yoruba natives have flair for us of English than the use of Yoruba because of the inherent values of English in Nigeria and the world at large. This paper concludes that, despite the negative effect of western education and foreign religions in the foregoing, the technological advancement on Ìrèmọ̀jé and Ìsàà ró has shown that the future of both genres are bright as long as the Yoruba race exists.

Keywords


Ìrèmọ̀jé, Ìsàà ró, Burial Rites, Gender Differentiation, Western Civilization, Language Extinction and Language Attitude

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