Nuptial poetry among the Tiv of Nigeria

Moses Tsenôngu


This essay first introduces briefly ethnological data of the Tiv, focusing particularly on their marriage forms. The important place
of the marriage dance in their marriage ceremony is identified. Also identified is the involvement of poetry in the dance. Three
kinds of poetic performances are highlighted. These are the solicited poems from professional poets, the solos performed
individually by elderly women during the dances, and the dominant antiphonies that are of general participation. The
antiphonies are divided into those that welcome the bride, those that abuse bad wives, those that praise smart grooms, those
that demonstrate men’s courting manipulations and those that celebrate sexuality. Each of these divisions is exemplified with
poetic illustrations. In conclusion, the artistry and functionality of Tiv nuptial poems are re-emphasised. Key words: Benue
State (Nigeria); Nigeria oral tradition; nuptial poetry; Tiv ethnology.

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