This chapter considers the figurative expression of metaphor through proverb, praise epithet, and wordplay in Hausa wa'ko'ki. Where they occur, these figurative expressions occasionally are straightforward metaphors. More often they are new images created by the performer herself, though they are modeled on well-known forms of figurative language. Understanding that they are innovative creations couched in familiar form is central to an understanding of Hausa literary aesthetics. Studies of ambiguity in Hausa poetry indicate that this device is necessary to criticism in a hierarchical society. An entertainer must be able to couch criticism in terms with satisfactory surface meaning, where members of the audience who share with the performer an awareness of the subject's situation and the existing criticism of the subject understand criticism. The ambiguity inherent in metaphor is the keystone of successful Hausa praise singing, and has become an integral part of the written as well as orally composed wa'ko'ki performed by Hausa women in Nigeria.


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pp. 43-60
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