Autour de la mort prématurée dans l’oralité igbo

Ugochukwu, Françoise (2011). Autour de la mort prématurée dans l’oralité igbo. Journal des Africanistes, 81(1) pp. 119–135.


This study, based on nine folktales recorded between 1972 and 1987 in Anambra, Enugu and Imo States of Nigeria, considers the traditional attitude towards untimely deaths, especially repeated children’s deaths as presented in oral literature. The article focuses on three of these folktales, told by the same story-teller from Umuida, in Enugu-Ezike (northern Igboland) and recorded in September-October 1986 and March 1987, which provide a clear picture of the phenomenon. Traditional Igbo society has always explained these untimely deaths as having a supernatural cause, and oral genres, especially folktales, embed this explanation in narratives centred around young characters described as ogbanje (o gba nje « traveller ») children who come and go and cannot/choose not to stay in this world.

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