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THE AESTHETIC FEATURES AND SOCIAL RELEVANCE OF FOLKTALES TO OKPARA INLAND COMMUNITY

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CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

PURPOSE OF STUDY

The purpose of study of this essay is to examine the aesthetic features and social relevance of folktales in Okpara Inland community of Delta State.

The educational relevance of the folktales, the effectiveness of the oral artist’s performance is measured by the influence of his stories on the young people. They are expected to derive knowledge and wisdom from these stories and through these stories they would become acquainted with the customs and ways of life of the people. Usually the tale represents vices like greed, wickedness, jealousy and laziness. So the main purpose of the topic is to make people see beyond the tales and realize its beauty and relevance to the society.

SCOPE OF STUDY

In writing on the aesthetic features and social relevance of folktales in Okpara Inland,there seems to be no better way to commence than to highlight the fact that Okpara Inland folktales like all other folktales are communal works of art with social values.

Aesthetic features such as symbolism, personification will be discussed; such basic functions of these tales such as entertainment, preservation of culture and education which is a major social relevance will not be left undiscussed.

METHODOLOGY

The method adopted in the writing of this essay involves the use of internet research, use of related materials,such as F.B.O.Akporobaro’s Introduction to African Oral Literature, Anthony Obakponovwe Ukere’s Esia, will also be useful in the course of this essay and other books on oral literature in general which will be highlighted in the works cited.

ORIGIN AND HISTORICAL BACKGROUND OF OKPARA INLAND

The traditions of the origins and migrations of Okpara as one of the Urhobo group is still shrouded in obscurity and uncertainty. However, Okpara claims descent from one progenitor called Agbon who is said to have migrated from Benin at a point in time to settle in Agbon town, predicated upon this belief of common descent from Agbon people, even till today. When Agbon people finally got to Isiokolo, they made contact with Benin to make an earth fetish for them. The Oba sent a messenger to Agbon children. The messenger buried the head of an Orhokpor boy in a place. On that spot, he planted an Iroko and Oghriki tree. He then proclaimed that from then on, Agbon would be subject to the Oba. He gave a horsetail symbolising authority to the eldest man called Okarorho. Automatically all the children of Agbon regarded this fetish as their god of war. They worshipped it from time to time. Moreover, the common tradition of origins and migrations shared by Okpara people is fundamental in explaining their relations in the pre-colonial era. This for instance, had served as a unifying factor among them. In any critical moment of decision between them, they oftenevoke the memory of their common origins by the saying: we are all one. Agbon people have a long migrational history, their various traditions and accounts, a man called Ukonorhoro, who migrated from Udo in Benin, gave birth to Agbon. Agbon migrated through Kwale, probably from Erhowa, settled at Ehwen and Erhivwi or Irri in present Isoko division of Delta State. From there he moved down to Utokori, close to Ughwerun; then to Olomu and through the present Ughelli territory of Ekuigbo to found OtorhoriAgbon now known as Isiokolo. The Okpara people further migrated from Agbon to their present position due to local instinct and avoidance of competition. On arrival on this new land via migration, Okpara also birthed few sons which would become sub-sections of the present community. They include: Eregbe, Erhi and Etorogba. Erhi in turn gave birth to Osia, Isaba, Uvwiaghwa, Onoriaro and Okei among others Okpara was already dead at the time of migration from Isiokolo.Thus Osia and others led Okpara to a new settlement. Osia planted an Oghriki tree near the present site of Okpara hospital on reaching Okpara. The essence of this was to allow their people make love, for the tree symbolises that, that place was a settlement.It was a taboo among them, for people to make love in the bush. One of Osia’s descendants must be a chief priest of the Oto shrine because it was Osia who planted the Oghriki tree.

As the population grew,both due to the birth of new immigrants like Esume, the people of Okpara began to spread out. Esume who was an inlaw, the street was named after Osia. Omovwiona founded urhu-iniovwona, one of Isaba’s children founded Urhu-Egbo, Ogene founded Urhu-ogene, Oonaro founded Imodje street. The descendants of Eregbe founded Eregbe quarters and Ete-ogba children founded Ogba quarters. Some Okpara people also moved away to found new settlements like Ovu, Okpara water side, Otumara, Ogba village, Obi village, Adarode, Okurofo, Aghwariore,ugbegbe, Ugbuwherhe, Okarunoh, Omude, Agborhoro among others. Today Okpara is a thriving sub-clan in Agbon kingdom with numerous villages and streets.

1.4OCCUPATION 

The people of Okpara are predominantly subsistent farmers who produce for their subsistent needs. The economy was anchored on farming. They were self-sufficient farmers. They however produced little above their subsistent needs to exchange for their complementary needs. The process of exchange was through barter. Agricultural products like food crops, for example water yams could be exchanged for okra. Although, with time, cowries came to be adopted as a medium of exchange. There was exchange between Okpara Inland and the nearby village, Kokori. Both communities had market days in which they disposed off their surplus produce or bought the ones they needed. Okpara market day is held every four days. It is called Edewor and nobody is expected to go to the farm on that day. Kokori market day is every eight days. It also has a mid-market day that was held every four days. Most farmers harvested their crops during harvest period, a day to the market day in view of taking them to the market place the following day. There was also hawking in the streets on ordinary days .Okpara traders patronized Kokori central market.



REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE

Oral literature is that literature that is composed and transmitted in spoken form rather than through writing or in printed form; and it is passed from one generation to another.

F.B.O. Akporobaro defines oral literature as ‘heritage of imaginative verbal creations, stories, folk-beliefs and songs of pre-literate societies which have been evolved and passed on through the spoken word from one generation to another’.

Language is the main vehicle of expression and embellishment or beauty. All these aspects of oral literature are called verbal acts. It is first created orally and then it is transmitted orally also. Therefore orality is the main characteristic of oral literature.

The essence of oral literature lies in its performance. Thus in the act of storytelling, the compositions and techniques used in the process of performance by the performer heightens the artistic and aesthetic effectiveness of the performance.

Folktales are part of most African countries oral literature. 

O. Obukesays that “folktales are stories which are purely imaginative;fictional and handed down by oral tradition.”

Folktale is a term for different varieties of traditional narratives. The telling of stories appears to be a cultural, universal, common to basic and complex societies alike. It is moralistic and didactic in nature, though told mainly for entertainment.

Aesthetics according to Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary of Current English, is the branch of philosophy that studies the principle of beauty especially in art. 

According to Wikipedia encyclopaedia, Aesthetic is a branch of philosophy dealing with the nature of beauty, art and taste, with the creation and appreciation of beauty.

F.B.O. Akporobaro indicated in his work Introduction to African Oral Literature that ‘some aesthetic features as dramatic opening, musical interlude, and fantasy.

Symbolism is defined in Oxford Learner’s Dictionary as ‘the use of symbols to represent ideas especially in art and literature.’

Hugh C. Holman in his book, The Standard Dictionary of Folklore describes symbolism as “an aspect of thinking or expression in which the process of association is brought into play so that a concept, or more often, a climate of thought is sign, gesture, object, deception, diagram and so on” (519).

Wikipedia encyclopaedia defines symbolism as “the practise of representing things by symbols or of investing things with a meaning”.

It can also be said to be the uses of object to present or suggest another.

Like other literary works, folktales use symbolswhich allow for better understanding of the society. They are indispensable in folktales; they serve as an important representation of society. The symbols used in the narrative are mainly ideas or objects which stand for various ranges of meaning. Folktales help in building the character of children and also in the preservation of culture. I will like to point out the fact that it is an honour to write an essay about the folktales of my community because by so doing, I will contribute to the preservation of the culture of my people.

1.7THESIS STATEMENT

The essay examines the aesthetic features present in Okpara Inland folktales, its social relevance to my community and to life.


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