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ABSTRACT

This appraisal is on Udje dance songs of the Urhobo people. The study looks at the aesthetic qualities that abound in the Udje songs of the Urhobo people. The researcher analysed songs collected from field work and some collected by G. G Darah. In analysing the songs, the contextual theory was used as its analytical frame work which eventually brought out the forms and beauty that abounds in the udje songs. The research is divided into four Chapters, the first Chapter deals with the background to the study, the historical background of the Urhobo people, its theoretical frame work, statement of the research problem, aims and objectives, research methodology, limitation to the research and its literature review. Chapter two deals with the aesthetics of oral literature, the processes involved in the performance of udje carnival, the hybrid nature of udje and the poetic functions of udje. Chapter three is its analysis and Chapter four is the conclusion of the study.

INTRODUCTION

The Urhobo people have a very rich culture which is noticeable in their unique dresses, food, building technology, marriage, naming ceremony to mention just a few. Songs and dances are common features at their festivals and ceremonies, which include Eni festival (celebrated in honour of a hunter who killed an elephant at Okpara), it is celebrated once in every twenty five years (25 years) and the amount of Eni festivals an individual experiences in life determines his/her age, Emeteyavwo festival (clitoridectomy), Ore festival (ancestral worship), Omanuku festival (celebrated in honour of a water goddess) and the udje carnival which is our topic of discussion in this thesis.

The udje dance is as old as the Urhobo people, the origin cannot be traced since the Urhobo people cannot state exactly how it started. The udje dance was originally performed by seven (7) of the twenty-two clans in Urhobo land, they include Eghwu (Ewu), Okparabe, Olomu, Arhavwarien, Udu, Ughievwen and Ughwerun. The dance is performed by these communities at different times and dates fixed by their members. In most cases it is performed alongside special festivals, for instance, the Udu and Ughievwen people are respected for the passion they have in the celebration of festivals which is accompanied with the udje dance performance. These annual festivals include Emeteyavwo, (clitoridectomy) and ore (ancestral worship). The Ughievwen exclusively celebrates the Ogbaurhie. The celebration of Ore usually takes three days of which the first day is meant for sacrifice to Ekpako-ide (Grand ancestors), the second day is for Esemo (fathers) and the last day is for the worship and sacrifice to Iniemo (mothers). As the gaiety and celebration of Ore lasts, it goes along with the Udje performance. In Udu and Ughievwen, the udje carnival begins some few days after the performance of Ore festival, since the udje dance is used as the grand finale to their communal festivals.

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