Incantation as a Means of Communication in Yorùbá Land: ‘Eégún Aláré’ as a Case Study

Opoola BolanleTajudeen


Yorùbá oral literature is of three categories namely chant, song and recitation. This paper, therefore, focused on incantation as a means of communication among the masquerades in Yorùbá land with its data drawn from “Eégún Aláré”, a Yorùbá novel. Incantation is a combination of carefully arranged speeches or words in a poetic form and its use makes things work miraculously as the users wish or words that make human wishes come to reality with immediate effect. Before Christianity and Islam gained prominence in the Yorùbá society, Alárìnjó masquerades were among the well known traditional public entertainers and that during performances, incantation was often used to know who is who among the masquerades. However, Christianity and Islam have made the use of incantation, as a means of communication during masquerade performances, a thing of the past and what used to be a family profession in the past is no longer so because members of the Ọ̀jẹ̀ families who were in charge of this cultural profession in the past have now been converted to either Christianity or Islam or have been negatively influenced by Western education. This study nullifies the communication chain as the person to whom incantation is directed does not need to understand the language of the person that uses the incantation as the feed back would be the effect of the incantation in positive or negative form. The essence of this paper is to promote Yoruba oral literature through formal documentation of incantation as a Yoruba linguistic verbal art.


Deity, Incantation, Western education, Islam, Christianity

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