Meaning and Symbolic Communication Circle: In Okpe Igoru Music

By Ovaborhene Idamoyibo.

Published by The Humanities Collection

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The writer hereby acknowledges, as required by the regulation of his Alma matter that this paper derives from the doctoral thesis submitted to the University of Pretoria Pretoria, South Africa, for the award of the Doctor of Music (DMus) degree. It investigates the issue of meaning in symbolic communication circle in igoru music of Okpe culture. Okpẹ is an ethnic nationality in the central district of Delta State, Nigeria within latitude 6º and 5º North and longitude 5º 50¹ and 6º 25¹ East (Onigu Otite, 1973: 4). It occupies a large expanse of landmass about 500sq kilomitres of mainland, mangrove, swamp and rivers (Otite, 1982: 121). It is politically divided into Okpe and Sapele Local Government Areas of the state. It is one of the 374 ethnic groups in Nigeria (Otite, cited by David Dafinone, 2000: 8 [Internet) and about the largest ethnic group in Delta State, with population density up to 248, 314 in 1991/1992 census commission report (Onokerhor aye, 1995: 48). Some authors use the colonial political grouping that put the Okpe and Urhobo together and claim that “the Urhobo [and Okpe] people are the 5th largest ethnic group in Nigeria and constitute the largest single ethnic group in Delta State (, anon), or claim that “In land area, Urhobo [and Okpe] is larger than Switzerland (Dafinone, 2000: 3 [Internet]).

Igoru musicians undertake different processes of selecting and permutating various elements from the language and linguistic phenomenon of the Okpe culture, as well as those of music. These elements unify and become a product that transmits messages to the public in symbolic forms. They use symbols in skilled language forms that employ figures of speech, imagery and other poetic elements to put together tones and tunes that convey messages with coded meaning. The messages are often not presented directly or in such details demanded by ordinary speech. They are rather fragmentised and presented in manners that require the listener’s further reasoning to deduce the full meaning of the songs and relating them to different situations. This paper examines the terms song, text, speech and oral poetry and distinguishes between their uses in musical communication in close relation to meaning. It also examines the concept of the terms poet, composer, performer and persona as they relate to musical composition and performance in Okpe in particular and Africa in general. It further presents circles of symbolic communication in Igoru music, in order to explicate how changes in character amongst the musicians form circles of symbol that transmit messages to the audience.

Keywords: Music, Okpe Culture

International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 8, Issue 11, pp.209-224. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 732.339KB).

Dr. Ovaborhene Idamoyibo

Senior Lecturer and Special Assistant, Department of Music and Offica of the Honourable Commissioner Abraka, Nigeria and Special Assistant to the Honourable Commissioner Ministry OF HIGHER Education, Delta State University, Abraka, Abraka/Asaba, Nigeria

Dr. IDAMOYIBO, Ovaborhene Isaac was born on June 5, 1964 at Ogiedi Elume, Sapele, Delta State Nigeria. He had National Certificate in Education (NCE) from the College of Education, Agbor in 1992; Bachelor of Arts (BA Hons) degree from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka in 1995; Master of Arts (MA) degree from the University of Ibadan, Ibadan in 1998 and the Doctor of Music (Dmus) degree from the University of Pretoria, South Africa in 2006. He taught at the Federal College of Education, Special, Oyo, Nigeria (1997-2000) and has been a don at the Delta State University, Abraka-Nigeria (2000-2008), where he was head of Department (2007-2008). He was a visiting scholar to the University of Salento, Lecce, Italy, in 2008. He is currently Special Assistant to the Honourable Commissioner for Higher Education in Delta State. He has 10 published journal articles, 4 chapters in books and a book already accepted for publication by the German Publishing House. He has attended 8 local and 3 International conferences where he presented papers. He has 30 compositions, 27 poems, operatic and choral CDs of concert performances. His extra-curricular activities include play-acting and directing; table tennis and volleyball.


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