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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Regal Repression versus Egalitarian Expectation in Enuani Igbo Tales
Author:Okoh, Nkem
Periodical:Africana Marburgensia
Geographic term:Nigeria
oral literature
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
Education and Oral Traditions
Abstract:Oral literature provides society with a potent tool for introspection, reflection, regeneration or reform. With this in mind the author examines the institution of government in the traditional Enuani Igbo society of Nigeria, especially the role and image of the ruler and the relationship between ruler and ruled, on the basis of tales which he has collected in the course of extensive fieldwork in the region. He finds that in Enuani tales the largely egalitarian expectations of the society are at variance with the usually repressive actions of the Oba or ruler. This is not the only contradiction. In real life the Oba is accorded great respect, but in the tales he is depicted in a bad light. Within the Igbo political setup, which is basically democratic, the king has great responsibilities. Failure to carry out his functions in proper fashion entails grave consequences and threatens the moral health of the society. Because the ruler engages in actions directly opposed to societal expectations, he is depicted as wicked and particularly insensitive. Thus the image of the king which emerges from the tales is a highly unfavourable one. In this way the tales provide a powerful commentary on the vicissitudes of life in general, and on the use and abuse of power in particular. Bibliogr.