A SOCIOLINGUISTIC APPRAISAL OF TRADITIONAL FESTIVALS IN NKARI (A CASE STUDY OF UWAISON)
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The main thrust of the work is to investigate the Sociolinguistic appraisal of traditional festivals inNkari, one of part that make up Ibibio socio ethnic group inAkwaIbom State, Nigeria. In the course of this work, four objectives were set and four research question were also formulated. Elicitation method in form of oral interviews and personal interaction was used for data collection while simple random sampling technique was used to choose its respondent. A descriptive research design was used in the study. The population of the study was twenty people selected from Nkari community in IniLocal Government Areas of AkwaIbom State. In the course of this research, various traditional festivals were surveyed of which two (2) kinds of Uwaison was used for this research purpose. Anthropology theory was used in this research it. It was also discovered that different types of traditional festivals in Nkari community portrayed different significance and as such had diabolic representation. Traditional festivals were seen as means of social unity and community bonding strategy therefore, it was recommended thatthere is need for educating people about family responsibility in regards to practices that can bond the community and Children should be taught about different festivals that takes place in their community as at when due. Furthermore,Community members should take responsibility for securing and passing down of the community’s culture through medium like traditional festival while, Parents, teachers, and counselors should be of great concern about community programs that brings socialization and peace to the community.
Traditional festivals serve as rich cultural arenas where language, social dynamics, and cultural expressions intertwine, offering a fascinating landscape for sociolinguistic appraisal. The study of language within the context of these festivals unveils a complex interplay of verbal and non-verbal communication, cultural symbolism, and social structures. This examination explores how language is used, adapted, and transformed, reflecting the values, norms, and identity of a community. By delving into the nuances of linguistic expressions, social hierarchies, shifts in communication, and the influence of globalization on these celebrations, the sociolinguistic appraisal of traditional festivals provides an illuminating lens through which to understand the intricate relationship between language, culture, and society. This exploration offers insights into the ways in which language shapes, and is shaped by, the cultural fabric of a community during these vibrant and deeply-rooted cultural celebrations.
- BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Nkari is a clan in Ini local Government area of AkwaIbom State in the South – South Geo-political Zone of Nigeria. It is one of the clans that make up the Ibibio ethnic group of AkwaIbom State. It is also one of the communities that make up Ini Local Government Area and one of the 10 administrative wards in the present Ini Local Government Area.Nkari clan is one of the inter-state boundary zones of AkwaIbom State. This boundary divides Akwa Ibom State from her Abia State counterpart. Ini Local Government Area is an offshoot of Ikono Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State created in 1991 by the Federal Government of Nigeria. The physical relief of the area is flat although some villages are located in areas where the topography of the land is undulating. Also, there are valleys, creeks, swamps and some areas are quite hilly (Utin, 2020).
Nkari like every other clan in Akwa Ibom is not void of cultural heritage such as folksongs, traditional festival, language and knowledge among others that makes it significant and outstanding.Traditional festivals often hold significant cultural, historical, or religious importance. They are occasions that reinforce cultural identity, heritage, and community bonds. The “Nkari” festival reflect the values, beliefs, and history of that community.Ukpong (2017) opined that festivals usually involve specific ceremonies, rituals, or performances that hold symbolic meaning. These might include dances, processions, music, and theatrical performances that have been passed down through generations.
Uya (2021) festivals are often a time for communal gatherings, where people come together to celebrate, share food, stories, and participate in collective activities. It’s a time for social cohesion and unity. Participants often wear traditional attire or specific ceremonial costumes during the festival. These garments might hold cultural significance, representing the history or values of the community. Food plays a significant role in many festivals. Special dishes or traditional cuisine might be prepared and shared during the celebration, reflecting the culinary heritage of the community (Effiong, 2021). In Nkari traditional festival, certain objects, symbols, or totems might be central to the festival, carrying spiritual or symbolic significance. These objects could range from art pieces to religious artifacts.
Traditional festivals are rich in symbolism, often carrying multifaceted meanings that reflect the cultural, social, religious, and historical aspects of a community. In Nkari, traditional festivals symbolize a community’s cultural identity and heritage. They serve as a way to celebrate and honor customs, traditions, and rituals that have been passed down through generations (Otu, 2020). These celebrations act as a reminder of a community’s unique history, art, music, and folklore, preserving cultural elements that define the group. However, thesefestivals symbolizes unity and communal bonding. They provide a shared experience that brings people together, irrespective of social, economic, or political differences. These celebrations foster a sense of belonging and togetherness, promoting solidarity among community members. Many traditional festivals in Nkariexpress gratitude and reverence. For instance, harvest festivals signify gratitude to the land, nature, or deities for a successful harvest. Festivals often include rituals, prayers, or ceremonies acknowledging and showing appreciation for blessings or spiritual significance (Nya, 2022).
Some festivals mark transitions or changes, such as the passage from one season to another, coming-of-age ceremonies, or rites of passage. These celebrations symbolize transformation, growth, and the cyclical nature of life.Festivals are often deeply rooted in religious or spiritual beliefs. They symbolize faith, spirituality, and a connection to the divine. The rituals, ceremonies, and practices during these festivals hold spiritual meanings and are often dedicated to gods, deities, or ancestors. Ukpabio (2021) asserted that certain festivals symbolize renewal and rejuvenation. They might involve rituals or traditions aimed at cleansing, purifying, or resetting the community’s energies, welcoming new beginnings, and leaving behind the old.Many traditional festivals serve as a means to preserve and transmit cultural knowledge. They often include storytelling, oral traditions, or performances that pass down historical narratives, wisdom, and cultural practices to younger generations.
A sociolinguistic appraisal of a traditional festival involves examining the interplay between language, culture, and social dynamics within the context of the festival. Traditional festivals often serve as rich grounds for studying the intricate relationship between language and society. Observing the use of language during the festival is crucial. This includes the dialects, idioms, and specialized terminology used in rituals, ceremonies, performances, or traditional practices. It can reflect historical influences, societal norms, and even changes in the language over time. Communication during festivals encompasses not only spoken language but also non-verbal communication, such as gestures, body language, and symbolic elements. Amos (2019) said that understanding the nuances of these forms of communication adds depth to the sociolinguistic analysis.Language within traditional festivals often carries deep cultural meanings. It might be used to reinforce cultural identities, transmit cultural knowledge, or maintain societal norms. Investigating the role of language in preserving or evolving cultural traditions is integral to the analysis.
Examining the way language is used to denote power, hierarchy, or social structures during the festival is important. Language can be used to include or exclude certain groups, to maintain social order, or to challenge established norms. Festivals can be occasions for code-switching, where participants move between languages or dialects. Understanding why and how this occurs sheds light on the social context and the relationships between different linguistic groups. Festivals often involve performances, storytelling, or oratory traditions. Analyzing the language used in these contexts helps uncover how narratives are constructed, the use of rhetoric, and how they contribute to the collective memory and identity of the community.
- STATEMENT OF THE RESEARCH PROBLEM
Nkari traditional festival as every other traditional festival in other ethnic group are useful in diverse ways such as preservation of culture, community bonding,celebration and joy, educational information, economic benefits, cultural exchange, promotion of arts and crafts: among others.
However, in recent times, it has been noticed that Nkari traditional festival are rarely practiced, children are not taught the benefit of traditional festivals, and religious beliefs and misconceptions about traditional festival hinders the benefits that these festivals transfer to the society.Festival transfers messages to the people, as such, this research will go along way in preserving the folksongs of Ibibio, so that the present and upcoming generation will be exposed to the traditional festivals of their communities.This sociolinguistic examination of traditional festivals will present an opportunity to delve into the intricate connections between language, culture, and social practices. Addressing the gaps in understanding linguistic variations, cultural identity, language contact, technological influences, and documentation will contribute to a more comprehensive appreciation and preservation of these rich cultural practices.
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