Accepted paper:

Space, sex and sexualities in Osiezi ritual performance of the Ika people of Nigeria: a conceptual discourse


Eunice Uwadinma-Idemudia (Redeemer's University)

Paper short abstract:

Ritual is the mainstay of traditional African Society. The space of ritual practice is constructed in the language of maleness, thus typifying a gendered preference to the macho. Ironically, the Osiezi ritual of Nigerian Ika people is suspended for nearly forty years because the King is unmarried.

Paper long abstract:

The space of ritual in any African society is both religious and cultural. It is defined by the power and intensity of actions that is generated before, during and after a ritual performance. In the Osiezi ritual performance of the Ika people of Nigeria for instance, it is a taboo to construct the ritualised space of performance with inclusive sexuality. The language, action and practice of the ritual are bound in an exclusive masculine space that exclude any form of gendered role. Whereas, the ritual ceremony function to connect and maintain a peaceful relationship between the natural world of man/woman and the spiritual world of the ancestors for the peace and unity of Agbor people and their kingdom. This paper adopts the theory of Structural Functionalism in interrogating the sexuality clause that grounded the ritual ceremony of Osiezi for almost forty years. This research therefore questions the authenticity of biased sexuality in the ritual practice of Osiezi. It finds that even though taboo is ascribed to the issue of ritual sexuality; the space of ritual practice is only complete with the presence of both genders against the known practice of masculinity in the space of ritual.

panel Anth37
Ritual as performance space