Pragmatic acts in selected Ilorin Waka  

Published: June 2019

AuthorFatai Dare

About Author: Department of Linguistics, African and European Languages, College of Humanities, Management and Social Sciences. Kwara State University, Malete-Nigeria

Download PDF


The Ilorin Waka is an islamic and  cultural oral entertainment form, usually performed at a given ceremony. During its performance, people gather to savour the melody that the solemn danceable local rendition provides. The Waka is an interplay of education, sermonisation or sensitisation and other sundry messages bothering on serious matters of life, skillfully and meaningfully woven together in unique language. However, this form of poetry has not received enough schorlarly attention to underscore its pragmatic values. The purpose of this study is to analyse the Waka lyrical poetic discourse with the objective of highlighting how Waka performances serve as acts of doing things. The data selected for analysis is a snippet of Waka rendition taken from one of the earliest Waka exponents, late Alhaji Imam Laro Mohammed as documented in Jimba (1997). Mey’s (2001) Pragmatic Acts and Altieri’s (1975) Poem as Acts theories are adopted as theoretical framework for study. Findings from the analysis reveal the multiplicity of activities being performed in just a snippet of an utterance to include the acts of challenging, assuring, seeking, avoiding, warning, advising, referring, declaring, asserting and describing, all being speaker-based. At the level of the hearer, the acts of imagining, self-probing and being resolute were also shown. The study is also a revelation of some psychological, metaphorical, referential and inferential acts at the textual part of the Waka pragmeme. In all, the study validates the fact that beyond the entertainment value of any typical Waka rendition it is characterised by several pragmatic acts in which both the speaker and the hearer are implicitly engaged.

Keywords: Ilorin Waka, Pragmatic Acts, pragmeme, practs, contextual