Present Day Hunter’s Festival in Yorubaland and Their Music

An IFRA Guest Lecture by Cécile Délétré (University Paris-Sorbonne/Conservatoire National Supérieur de Paris)

On Friday, 2nd of March, IFRA Nigeria was delighted to host Cécile Délétré for a guest lecture entitled “Present Day Hunter’s Festival in Yorubaland and Their Music” at Draper’s Hall, Institute of African Studies, University of Ibadan.

Cécile Délétrée is a musicologist and a specialist of Yoruba hunter songs, on which she is currently undertaking a PhD. She teaches at the Music Academy of Gennevilliers and the Music and Dance National Academy of Paris. She developed a keen interest on the role of music in communication throughout West Africa, mostly in Benin and South-West Nigeria. She has been recording traditional Yoruba music for more than twenty years for the purpose of her research.

In her presentation, Cécile Délétré notably addressed the specificities of Ijala and Saka music programmes in the Yorubaland in places like Sepeteri and Ijo (Oyo State, Southwest Nigeria). Ijala and Saka are two types of poems chanted in the course of festivals organised by hunting communities. Ijala and Saka festivals differ in many ways, including the kind of religious homages, offerings, entertainment and displays at stake. The sacrifice of animals also figures prominently in the festival. Additionally, the role of professional drummers is critical in paying homage to Ogun (a powerful spirit in the Yoruba religion) by following specific beat rhythms considered as sacred.

Several interesting audio and video recordings portraying festival scenes punctuated the presentation and illustrated the various aspects of Ijala and Saka festivals. They enabled Cécile Délétré to detail the complex relationships between music lyrics, rhythms, sonorities and social practices in the contexts of the festival.

As several of the University of Ibadan postgraduate students and staff who attended the lecture had an acute knowledge of Yoruba traditional music, the Question&Answer session was very dynamic. Members of the audience picked up on technical aspects of music played at Ijala and Saka festivals while had much to ask about the animal sacrifices, metaphorical meanings and ritual narratives contained in the festival.

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A traditional Yoruba musician getting ready

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Cécile Délétré lecturing in Draper’s Hall

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Sites of Ijala, Saka and other musical contents as identified by Cécile Délétré

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