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Festival, Identity and Social Integration: A Study of the New Yam Festival in Otun-Ekiti, Southwest Nigeria

Issue: Vol 12 No. 1 (2017)

Journal: Fieldwork in Religion

Subject Areas: Religious Studies Linguistics

DOI: 10.1558/firn.28640


This study examines the “historical” role of the New Yam Festival in the social integration of Moba people over time, aiming to supplement the dearth of scholarly work on the festivals that had fostered inter-group relations through cultural identity among the Ekiti-Yoruba people of southwest Nigeria. Using a hybrid historical and anthropological research method, which includes oral interviews, participant observation, photography and video and tape recordings to document and elicit data, the study discusses the political and social interaction of the EkitiYoruba social group through the New Yam Festival. The study reveals that the New Yam Festival is traditionally rooted in kinship culture, and is motivated by social and political integration and enhancement within a socio-political space. The festival demonstrates how ritual can promote and enhance peace, cooperation and stability among the different ethnic groups in Nigeria. It is a long-standing festival that renews and celebrates kinship, identity and social relations, and could be used in significant new initiatives to promote national integration and unity among the diverse ethnic groups, promoting social integration in Nigeria, where inter-group relations have tended to become group competition, even among ethnic groups that have historical ties.

Author: Kayode Joseph Onipede

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