by John Pemberton, Funso S. Afolayan
Yoruba Sacred Kingship explores the creation and transmission of political memory and authority, focusing on the tradition of kingship in the Igbomina Yoruba town of Ila Orangun in southwestern Nigeria - a "crowned town" that traces it lineage to the ancient city of Ile Ife. Drawing on two decades of research and interviews with civic and religious leaders, the authors argue that oral traditions, rituals, and festivals are not ahistorical but rather preserve, transmit, and shape social norms and historical identity. Yoruba oral histories and praise songs of both royal and nonroyal houses contain a cluster of memories that reinforce the sociopolitical traditions of the area. These complex memories, at times conflicting and subversive, reflect the fabric of history, with all its loose threads and contradictory tones. Examining the structure of enthronement rites and the cycle of annual festivals in which a king participates, the authors show that these rituals serve both as public acknowledgment of underlying doubts about the town's moral basis, and as affirmation that the crown's wearer possesses "a power like that of the gods."
Hardcover: 256 pages