Ikolo : an Igbo idiophone of indigenous religious sacred sound among the Aguleri people of Anambra State, Nigeria.
This study investigates the meaning Aguleri people of South-Eastern Nigeria attribute to the Ikolo as a sacred drum. In the perception of the Aguleri people, the sacred sound of the Ikolo is an aspect of African indigenous religious practice which they engage with through the mediation of its symbolic functions in order to create meaning for life. In this regard, Ikolo sound plays a significant role in nurturing, structuring and shaping their religion and culture. The objective of this work is to investigate the symbolic functions of this indigenous sacred drum as it concerns those aspects of its use in Aguleri society to bring out its religious, cultural, political, ethical and economic significance. The referent point of Ikolo as an instrument of indigenous sacred sound is loaded with the ritual symbolism it evokes, which imbues it with mystical power and a sacredness that is played out in the gendered nature of Aguleri rituals. The Ikolo represents partriarchal privilege. Born out of fieldwork and interviews, I found that in traditional Igbo religion and especially among the Aguleri people, the Ikolo sacred sound has three significant and related functions. The first one is that it enables the indigenous people of Aguleri to bridge the gap between the seen and unseen worlds and thus, bring them into contact with all those forces that are believed to control the destinies of man. Secondly, through its auditory authority the Ikolo makes possible the invocation and possession by ancestral spirits in a highly ritualised contexts. Finally, the sacred sound of the Ikolo upholds and sustains the Aguleri religious system, and a complex traditional religious rituals which uphold the privileges of those men who have been initiated into the ancestral cult. Nonetheless, the Ikolo sacred sound provides a channel through which the indigenous Aguleri community activates and sustains unique religious communication with their deities and ancestors. Ultimately, this thesis points to an understandings of sound as integral to religious identity and practice in African traditional religion.