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Sunday, June 19, 2022

Ajabue traditional burial rites and taboos in Owo

By Adenibuyan Olatunde

Death is inevitable. Nobody will ever remain on this planet for eternity. This implies that everybody will experience death. In Owo town, when hero dies, his/her death is always celebrate with pomp and pageantry, because the community believes in life after death.
The people of Owo believe that the celebration of the life of an hero determines the life he/she will live after death.
According to Chief Elegba, if a dead hero is not celebrated, the implication is that his/her spirit will continue to haunt the family until the burial rites are performed.
Therefore, the Ajabure (ajabue) had been in existence in Owo kingdom before the importation of western civilization to the country.

The dance is performed as part of the funeral rites for the dead. The Owo community hold the belief that there is life after death. The dead is expected to live the rest or part of his/her life either in heaven (Orun rere) or hell (Orun buruku/Orun buburu).
So, for the dead to be able to enter heaven, certain rites must be performed to usher the dead into heaven. One of such rites is Ajabure. This rite is performed in honour of the dead by the children or relatives.

According to Tunde Onibode, the tradition of the land permits the children to feature in this rite. While dancing, the male hold ceremonial swords known as (Ape and Agada) and ya-sin while (Horse tail) is held by the female.
With this rite in practice, the embalmment of the dead was uncommon in the past. When an elderly person dies, he/she is expected to be buried the same day. The dead is laid in a coffin wrapped with traditional clothes, such as “Asigbo seghosen, olori-meji, Ainose, ugbero, keghojo, iketa, and so on. Then the coffin is carried on the shoulders round the community.

Ajabure ritual dance in Owo land, like most rites in the Yoruba ethnic group, has its associated taboos to regulate its performance. The rites must not be performed on an Ukoko market day (Oja Ukoko or Ogwagbe). The market is one of the markets in Owo. It is observed once in five days. The reason adduced for the taboo is that the sound of the drums beaten by the people and the merry making could distract the watchmen in the market.

Ajabure is not danced on the Ukoko market day because the market used to be a ritual market. The laghalogbo and usijin drums are usually beaten for the ajabure dance. These drums are made of chains and gongs and the drums are never beaten on Ukoko market day. It is not done for any deceased that is below 60 years of age.
To maintain the cultural and traditional value of Owoland , Ajabure in Owo is one of the traditions that have not been abolished. The people of Owo still observe and maintain this burial rite. It is believed in Owo that without Ajabure traditional burial dance, the final burial rites are yet to be completed.

It also improves the socio-economic value of the community. Performing the celebration gives a boost to the economy of Owo kingdom. They patronize cloth sellers. The female weave their hair and most of the items needed for the merriment are bought from the market. So, the exchange of money takes place. This rite helps in showcasing the cultural properties located in Owo kingdom.

Olatunde sent this piece from National Museum, Owo

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