Journal of
Media and Communication Studies

  • Abbreviation: J. Media Commun. Stud.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 2141-2545
  • DOI: 10.5897/JMCS
  • Start Year: 2009
  • Published Articles: 222

Full Length Research Paper

The communicativeness of incantations in the traditional Igbo society

Walter Duru
  • Walter Duru
  • Department of Communication Arts, University of Uyo, Uyo, Nigeria.
  • Google Scholar

  •  Received: 06 June 2016
  •  Accepted: 19 September 2016
  •  Published: 31 October 2016


This paper examines the communicativeness of incantations in the traditional Igbo society. Incantations are given force by oral tradition, a practice whereby the social, political, economic and cultural heritage of the people is communicated by word of mouth from one generation to another. It was the most predominant part of communication in many parts of Africa. Prior to colonialism, the African society, including the Igbo used oral tradition as a veritable tool in information gathering, sharing/dissemination and indeed worship. They lived normal and satisfactory lives, cultivated, built, ate, sang, danced, healed their sick, created and communicated. Incantation is one of the modes of communication in the traditional Igbo society. In an incantation, all words stand for something and are meaningful. Most of the cultural displays of the Igbo society employ incantations in communicating with spirits. While some aspects of the practice may appear fetish and obsolete, several others are purely traditional and, destroying it out-rightly amounts to throwing away a baby with the dirty water. This article traces the effectiveness of incantation as a mode of communication, examines its uses and purposes, while highlighting the implications of allowing it go into extinction. It recommends that the people’s way of life should not be extinguished, but preserved. 

Key words: Communication, incantation, African traditional religion, Igbo, kolanut.