A Pragma – Semiotic Reading Of The Mythopoetic Symbols In Nigerian River-Ritual Chants

Binta Fatima Ibrahim


This research examines the chants used by the fishermen across the river Niger, in Nigeria during annual river ritual theatrical regatta; a phenomenon known by this occupational set of people as eniyanwo. The chants of the fishermen are realized to be of pragmatic and semiotic relevance to the context of their use. The chants are collectively rendered and dramatized during ritual proceedings in paddled canoe race on the river. No known research done on the river Niger geographical setting of Nigeria has realized that, the nature and mode of the people’s myth, ideology and subsequent religious practices are represented in the people’s folkloric poetry collated into chants.. This research observed that the people’s worldview, philosophy and vision are signalized in their annual aesthetic practice mainly sustained by the poetic chants analyzed here. These chants reflect the mythological imaginations of the riverside setting and origin. The research methodology here is based on the archetypal theory which best accounts for the ways the fishermen chants are produced and transmitted to symbolize the people’s historical and mythical basis. The ultimate comprehensibility of the traditional forms (chants) should be through archetypal placement of the socio-ritual poetic compositions. In addition to the archetypal theory, the writer has used an eyewitness approach during personal participation on the river theatre. All chants were recorded. And rather than rely on translations, coinages and code-switching methods used by foreign researchers on the area, the writer used the advantage of being a native speaker to get the most valuable interpretations. Part of the findings of this research is that a review of the chants helps to reconstruct aspects of the Niger people’s oral traditional composition. As aesthetic poetic forms, the chants serve as the major ritual factor that unify the river Niger people’s geographic and economic livelihoods. The focus of this article is on the use of chants as symbols of the people’s mythological reference.

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