Traditional Elegiac Poetry of the Igbo: A Study of the Major Types.

Uzochukwu, Samuel. Udezuligbo. (1981-07)


This thesis is an in-depth of the poetic qualities of one distinctive form of Igbo traditional elegiac poetry, abu akwamozu. In chapter 1, after a general survey of Igbo traditional poetry there follows a brief review of the existing literature on this material as well as a critical look at the classification. Chapter 2 starts with a discussion of the sociological background of Igbo traditional elegiac poetry. The emphasis here is on the significance attached to death, burial, and funeral celebration by the Igbo. Thereafter, the role, the performance, and the audience of the traditional funeral artists are discussed. Chapter 3 treats the general features of the traditional elegiac poetry by examining how emotion and thought, the kernels of any poetic experience, are portrayed in this form of poetry. Two parallel classifications of the poetry are here proposed based (a) on the content criterion and (b) on the performance criterion. Chapter 4 deals with the content of the poetry. Three themes which feature prominently in Igbo traditional elegiac poetry, namely the theme of death, the theme of religion, and the theme of social value and norms, are here discussed. Chapter 5 comprises an analysis of the structure of each of the types of the poetry, namely chants, songs, and reactions. Chapters 6 and 7 deals with the style of the poetry under study. In chapter 6 there is an examination of the nature of Igbo poetic rhythm in general as well as a description of the constituents of Igbo poetic rhythm as manifested in Igbo funeral chants, songs, and recitations. Chapter 7 is concerned with the various ways that the Igbo language is manipulated for stylistic effects in the traditional elegiac poetry being studied. The conclusion of the thesis is set out in chapter 8. Briefly, this is the observation that Igbo traditional elegiac poetry is age-old, and its multifarious oral material very enormous.