Imagery and meaning in selected Runyankore Riddles.
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Isidore Okpewho defines a riddle as a verbal puzzle in which a statement is posed in challenge and another statement is offered in response to the hidden meaning or the form of challenge (239). According to Aaron Mushengyezi a riddle is a word puzzle that challenges a person to decipher the literal or figurative meaning behind a given statement (14). I define a riddle as a phrase or statement or a question paused to a person to give an answer after an effort or making associations between the question or statement and the possible answer. Although riddles have attained some status of excellence through long use and they bear the same mark of sensitive observation of life and nature as the proverb, they are used primarily for entertainment or play (Isidore Okpewho, 236). He further gives the source and themes of riddles for example he says riddles a rise basically from an intelligent observation of aspects of human life and the environment in which people find themselves; the household, the world of animals and plants the heavens, the landscape of mountains and rivers and so on. “Observation of life and nature is thus the chief source of riddles” (Isidore Okpewho, 240). These voices are carried on by Finnegan (1970:426) who notes that, a riddle is a short fixed form intended for Riddles have two main types and these are; enigma that play and not for significant use then and Okpewho (1992:7) says he would not devote much space to the riddle while Miraka (1994:2) argues that riddles are of no significant impact to the text. These misunderstandings have shaped African riddle scholarship causing many scholars to regard riddles as insignificant literature as it looks at problems expressed in allegorical or metaphorical language requiring careful thinking and ingenuity to solve them and conundrum that looks at questions that reply on punning for creating effects in a question. Riddles in Runyankore tell us that we cannot answer some questions without hours of perturbed and head scratching and these riddles relate to the world of animals, human life, plants, the landscape and many others. The process of performing these riddles is called “Okushakuza” in Ankole and this is riddling in English. These riddles have got elements of which one of them is imagery and it’s an important component in Runyankore riddles. Imagery is a literary device which appeals to the five human senses (Richardson, 2015). These images are in form of visual, motile, tactile and auditory. This is where the performance of these riddles appeals to our senses like sight, smell, touch, smell and hearing. Agyekum (2013:14) defines imagery as a way by which oral written literature employs word to paint mental pictures that appeal to our feelings and understanding. He further posits that imagery is basically based on comparisons of items by listing their specific attributes and lining them up to see areas of resemblance and contrast. Giddon (1997:41) in his own view sees imagery as term used to represent objects, actions, feelings, ideas, state of mind and sensory experience. He defines imagery as the images produced in the mind through use of language. The term imagery is associated with mental pictures. These riddles also carry some meaning and by this, meaning is the information or concepts that a sender intends to convey in communication with a receiver. The purpose, significance or definition of a riddle is what we term as meaning in riddling. In the article “bantu wisdom-lore” (1947), C.M. Doke talks about three kinds of riddles and these are the simple riddle, the problem and the song-riddle. He defines the simple riddle as the type of a riddle in which one person throws a question or challenge another person offers an answer or solution. In this research. I am focusing mainly on these simple riddles in Ankole and specifically discussing the relationship between imagery and meaning in these riddles. Runyankore riddles have many or various images and symbols that represent different important aspects in Ankole. For example, the riddle “Amashani” which calls for a respondent to draw some visual images because this riddle requires things that look alike and answer to things that look alike and the answer to this riddle can be “Entanga ne Kyozi” or “Ekikaijo ne Ekiibingo” (a sugar cane and a reed”). Another example of a Runyankore riddle is “Ogambire Nyokozara Atagarukakurabaha Nayomba” (tell your mother-in law to stop passing here shouting) and the answer is “enjoki” (a bee) therefore this riddle appeals to the sense of hearing and thus requires the respondent to get some audio images thus imagery is an important aspect in as far as drawing meaning from the Runyankore riddles is concerned. This is closely related to Isidore Okpewho (1992:240) focus on the sources and themes of riddles, the metaphorically structure of riddles, the play of sounds in the riddles, the internal qualities of a riddle and states that “the riddle is fundamentally (though not solely) an exercise in imaginative play. This statement connects to my topic of study because it focuses on how imagery relates with meaning of the riddles statement. However, Isidore Okpewho does not go on to show the effectiveness of this imaginative play that he states. This creates a gap between imagery and meaning in Riddle and this, my research is set to fill this gap by identifying the relationship between imagery and meaning.