A poetic `voice' scans the rhythm of academic research, telling of the encounter with odun; then the voice falls silent. What is then raised is the dust of a forgotten academic debate on the nature of theatre and drama, and the following divergent standpoints of critical discourses bent on empowering their own vision, and defining themselves, rather, as counterdiscourses. This, the first part of the book: a metacritical discourse, on the geopolitics (the inherent power imbalances) of academic writing and its effects on odun, the performances dedicated to the gods, ancestors, and heroes of Yoruba history.
But odun: where is it? and what is it? And the `voice'? The many critical discourses have not really answered these questions. In effect, odun is many things. To enable the reader to see these, the study proceeds with an `intermezzo': a frame of reference that sets odun, the festival, in its own historico-cultural ecoenvironment, identifying the strategies that inform the performance and constitute its aesthetic. It is a `classical' yet, for odun, an innovative procedure. This interdisciplinary background equips the reader with the knowledge necessary to watch the performance, to witness its beauty, and to understand the `half words' odun utters.
And now the performance can begin. The `voice' emerges one last time, to introduce the second section, which presents two case studies. The reader is led, day by day, through the celebrations -odun edi, Moremi's story, and its realization in performance; then confrontation by the masks of the ancestors duing odun egungun (particularly as held in Ibadan). The meaning of odun becomes clearer and clearer.
Odun is poetry, dances, masks, food, prayer. It is play (ere) and belief (igbagbo). It is interaction between the players (both performers and spectators). It is also politics and power. It contains secrets and sacrifices. It is a reality with its own dimension and, above all, as the quintessential site of knowledge, it possesses the power to transform. In short, it is a challenge - a challenge that the present book and its voices take up.