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REVUE INTERNATIONALE DE RECHERCHE EN COMMUNICATION, EDUCATION ET DEVELOPPEMENT

(RIRCED)

Publiée par :

L’INSTITUT D’ENSEIGNEMENT SUPERIEUR

SONOU D’AFRIQUE (IESSAF - UNIVERSITE)

Autorisation N° 008/MESRS/CAB/DC/SGM/DPP/DEPES/SP du 05 Janvier 2011

Sous la direction du :

 

Prof. Thomas HOUESSOU-ADIN

&

Dr. Cyriaque C. S. AHODEKON

 

 

 

Vol 1, N°01 – Janvier  2012,   ISSN   1840 - 6874

 

 

Editions Sonou d’Afrique

01 BP 3950, Porto-Novo,

République du Bénin

 

Janvier 2012

REVUE INTERNATIONALE DE RECHERCHE EN COMMUNICATION, EDUCATION ET DEVELOPPEMENT

(RIRCED)

 

 

Publiée par :

 

L’INSTITUT D’ENSEIGNEMENT SUPERIEUR

SONOU D’AFRIQUE (IESSAF - UNIVERSITE)

Autorisation N° 008/MESRS/CAB/DC/SGM/DPP/DEPES/SP du 05 Janvier 2011

Site web : www.iessaf-universite.com

Sous la Direction du :

Prof. Thomas HOUESSOU-ADIN

&

Dr. Cyriaque C. S. AHODEKON

 

Editions SONOU d’Afrique

01 BP 3950, Oganla, Porto-Novo, République du Bénin.

Tél : (+229)  93 99 30 29 / 97 29 65 11 / 97 98 78 10

 

 

Janvier 2012

 

REVUE INTERNATIONALE DE RECHERCHE EN COMMUNICATION, EDUCATION ET DEVELOPPEMENT

(RIRCED)

Copyright : IESSAF-UNIVERSITE  & ESAF

 

v  Tous droits de reproduction, de traduction et d’adaptation réservés pour tous les pays.

 

v No part of this journal may be reproduced in any form, by print, photo-print, microfilm or any other means, without written permission from the publisher.

v Dépôt légal, N° 5616  du  30 / 01 / 2012, 1er Trimestre,

Bibliothèque Nationale, Porto-Novo, République du Bénin.

ISSN  1840 – 6874

Impression

Imprimerie Les Cinq Talents Sarl,

03 BP 3689, Cotonou  République du Bénin

Tél. (+229) 21 05 33 16  / 97 98 19 23.

 

Editions SONOU d’Afrique :

01 BP 3950, Oganla, Porto-Novo, République du Bénin

Tél : (00229)  93 99 30 29 / 97 29 65 11 / 97 98 78 10

 

Janvier  2012

RIRCED :

REVUE INTERNATIONALE DE RECHERCHE EN COMMUNICATION, EDUCATION ET DEVELOPPEMENT

Vol. 1,  N° 01,  Janvier  2012,  ISSN 1840 - 6874
1.0. Comité de Rédaction

Nom et Prénoms

Poste occupé dans le comité

1

Prince Théophile G. KODJO SONOU

Directeur de Publication,

Président de l’IESSAF Université, Porto-Novo, Bénin

2

Prof. Thomas HOUESSOU-ADIN

Rédacteur en Chef

3

Dr Cyriaque AHODEKON

Rédacteur en Chef Adjoint

4

Dr Raphael YEBOU

Secrétaire à la Rédaction

5

Dr. Julien Koffi GBAGUIDI

Secrétaire Adjoint à la Rédaction

 

2.0. Consultants et Conseillers à la Rédaction

 

1

Prof. Augustin AINAMON

Département d’Anglais,

Faculté des Lettres, Arts et Sciences  Humaines,  Université d’Abomey-Calavi, République du Bénin.

 

2

Prof.  Taofiki KOUMAKPAI

Département d’Anglais,

Faculté des Lettres, Arts et Sciences  Humaines,  Université d’Abomey-Calavi, République du Bénin.

 

3

Prof. Albert NOUHOUAYI

Département de la philosophie, Faculté des Lettres, Arts et Sciences Humaines, Université d’Abomey-Calavi, République du Bénin.

4

Prof. Urbain AMOA

Recteur, Université Charles Louis de Montesquieu, Abidjan, Côte-d’Ivoire.

5

Prof. Gabriel BOKO

Département de la Psychologie et des Sciences de l’Education,

Université d’Abomey-Calavi,

- Directeur Exécutif de l’IESSAF – Université, Porto-Novo, Bénin.

6

Dr Cyriaque C. S. AHODEKON

- Institut National de la Jeunesse, de l’Education Physique et du Sport, Université d’Abomey-Calavi ;

-Directeur des Etudes de l’IESSAF-Université, Porto-Novo, Bénin.

 

7

Dr King AMOUSSA

Département des Relations Internationales et de la Diplomatie, Institut d’Enseignement Supérieur Sonou d’Afrique  (IESSAF Université), Porto-Novo.

8

Dr. Akambi ILUPEJU

Université de Lagos, Nigeria.

9

Dr. Alexandre A. GBECHOEVI

Département de la Communication et des Relations Internationales, Institut d’Enseignement Supérieur Sonou d’Afrique (IESSAF-Université) Porto-Novo, Bénin.


3.0. Contributeurs  d’Articles

Nom et Prénoms

Articles contribués

Adresses

1

Dr Yomi Okunowo

 

Not what Bigger is but what made Bigger: Richard Wright’s thesis in native son

Page 10 - 43

 

Department of English, Tai Solarin University of Education, Ijagun, Ijebu-Ode, Ogun State, Nigeria.

 

2

Dr O.O.E. BALOGUN

 

The Relation Ship Between Religion and Politics in the 21st Century World.

Page  44 - 61

 

 

College of Social and

Management Sciences,

Tai Solarin University of Education,

Ijagun, Ijebu-Ode, Ogun State, Nigeria.

3

Dr. Dare OWOLABI

The English language needs of science and technology students in second language English environment and the ESP teachers’ response

Page  62 - 84

 

Department of English and Literary Studies, Ekitti State University, Ado-Ekitti, Ekitti State, Nigeria.

 

4

Dr. Olufadekemi  ADAGBADA

 

Dualising the narrow bridge: a sociological appraisal of traditional religious festivals in yorùbá films

 

Page  85 - 111

Department of Nigerian and Foreign Languages

and Literatures, Faculty of Arts, Olabisi Onabanjo University,

Ago-Iwoye, Ogun State, Nigeria

 

5

Dr Dele OLANISINMI

and

Dr Ayotunde Oladeji  AMUSAN

 

 

Academic journal publishing in Nigeria: issues, challenges and prospects

 

Page 112 - 127

 

 

 

Tai solarin College of Education, Omu-Ijebu,  Ogun State, Nigeria.

6

Dr Beatrice C. EGWUOGU

 

Staff and Students preference for National varieties of English at Tai Solarin University of Education

 

Page  128 - 166

 

Department of English,

Tai Solarin University of Education, Ijebu-Ode, Ogun State, Nigeria.

 

7

 

 

Théophile G. KODJO SONOU

 

 

Femmes et Politique en République du Bénin

 

Page  167 – 184

 

Département de la Communication et des Relations Internationales, Institut d’Enseignement  Supérieur Sonou d’Afrique (IESSAF-Université), Porto-Novo, République du Bénin.

 

8

Rev. S. K.  ADEKUNLE

&

Mrs A. M. TABI AGORO

 

Religion, Culture and Society : an Assessment with particular reference to Yoruba people

 

Page  185 - 200

Christian Religious Studies Unit,

Department of Religious Studies, Tai Solarin College  of Education, Omu-Ijebu, Ogun State, Nigeria.

 

&

Yoruba Department,

Tai Solarin University of Education, Ijebu-Ode, Nigeria.

9

 

Emmanuel Ufuoma TONUKARI,

 

Force surnaturelle dans le roman africain : une etude critique d’allah n’est pas oblige d’ahmadou kourouma.

 

Page  201 - 221

Department of Languages & Linguistics,

Delta State University, Abraka,

Delta State, Nigeria

 

10

Simeon Oluunso  SONDE

 

The context of proverbs use in Ola Rotimi ….

 

Page  222 – 261

 

Dpartment of English Studies, Tai Solarin University of Education, Ijagun, Ijebu-Ode, Ogun State, Nigeria.

 


NOT WHAT BIGGER IS BUT WHAT MADE BIGGER : RICHARD WRIGHT’S THESIS IN NATIVE SON

Dr. Yomi OKUNOWO

Department of English,

Tai Solarin University of Education,

Ijebu-Ode, Ogun State, Nigeria

 

 

Abstract

A major legitimate question one can ask, albeit in general term, is what is Richard Wright’s project in Native Son? The basis of this question is provided by Wright (1937) :

The Negro writer who seeks to function within his race as a purposeful agent has a serious responsibility. In order to do justice to his subject matter, in order to depict Negro life in all of its manifold intricate relationships, a deep informed, and complex consciousness is necessary; a consciousness which draws for its strength upon the fluid lore of a great people, and moulds this lore with the concepts that move and direct the forces of history today. (59)

In trying to articulate a response to this question, one is also reminded of Wright’s response to a critic, saying that his project is not what Bigger is but what made Bigger[1]. My articulation of the question will also simultaneously be examining the purpose; I think, the project is supposed to serve. The question itself appears like a “practical criticism” question, and I will use it as a platform on which to pursue what can be described as Wright’s proletariat-like thesis in Native Son. From this perspective therefore, I will take Bigger Thomas both as a metaphor and a parable with which to explicate the mundane reality and outcome of the “Negro condition” in America.

Keywords : Natine son, Bigger, Proletariat-like tnesis, Negro conditions.

 

Introduction

Bigger commits the most bestial crime. Bigger must die and be buried, he does not deserve praise but condemnation. However, in all, we note that Bigger is an American and a Negro, he carries the burden of What Du Bois (1903) calls “double-consciousness” which he describes thus:

…the Negro is a sort of seventh son, born with a veil, and gifted with second-sight in this American world,- a world which yields him no true self-consciousness, but only lets him see himself through the revelation of other world. It is a peculiar sensation, this double-consciousness, this sense of always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others, of measuring one’s soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity. One ever feels his two-ness,- an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two waring ideals in one dark body…(243)

The African American will necessarily have to define his identity and condition on the Du Bois’s thesis of this “double consciousness”, a situation, to paraphrase Rawls (2000), which constructs the African American’s identity from the rabidly racist whims and caprices of others and fear-entrapped ‘Self’. At any rate, Wright’s “double consciousness” will continue to be a recurring decimal in black-white racial discourse. In following up, I take the position of treating Arthur Miller’s The Crucible as being parallel to the tragic and inhumane social dynamics America has constructed for herself. That social dynamic becomes, in a sense, the crucible within which Bigger Thomas was formed, and as the saying goes in Yoruba Omo o le jo baba e ki inu bini[2]- a child’s resemblance to his father, surely, cannot and should not attract our annoyance.  The puritan society, the setting of Miller’s The Crucible, with its thematic sense of marginalization and intolerance of a section of the society, is full of misplaced hysteria which engenders the disintegration of that “fictional” society that some profited from it notwithstanding, and it is expected in such a social order. It is within this sense and understanding that I want to discuss what I call “Bigger Thomas’s crucible”, that is, the socio-economic and political chemistry, including historical perspective that create the condition  that make Bigger Thomas.

 

The Thesis of history

We cannot read Native Son in ignorance or neglect of its material history, more so, among other things, considering the personal historical experiences chronicled in Wright’s (1940) “How “Bigger” was Born”.  To overlook history is to jeopardize and undermine the interpretation of the novel and understanding of the present. I must therefore begin with a temptation of and a romp through history: By the token of history books, we know that slavery, between 1640 and 1865, was a legally sanctioned industry in America, even though slavery dates back to 1619. America declared her independence from imperial Britain in 1776, and the foundation of that declaration, we note, is freedom and liberty both for the geographical entity and the people inhabiting it. Freedom and Liberty become the foundation and the defining elements of the American constitution, where “All men are created equal, endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights- among these life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”. It is ironic to observe that between 1776 and 1861, slavery flourished in America, only to be mitigated by a civil war lasting five years, that is between 1861 to 1865. In any case, as Colombo et al (2007) observes, the extolled “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness” in that declaration did not apply to all Americans. Colombo says further:

Indeed, the Constitution itself didn’t ban the practice of slavery until the Fourteenth Amendment was adopted at the end of Civil War, and another century would pass before equal treatment under the law was extended to African Americans during the civil rights movement of the 1960s. (759)

That civil war put paid to slavery and ended it, but it projected itself into a more vengeful racism, creating a segregated society of blacks and whites, with segregated living zones “black belt” and ‘white belt’, and in the twenty-first century; whites neighborhood and blacks neighborhood. This racial divide shut out the black population from America’s socio-economic political discourse and makes a mockery of America’s claim to equality, freedom and liberty. The differences between the attitude of the North and South of America to slavery at that time was more of  a changing economic fortune than to the abhorrence in human trade, particularly as being claimed in the North. As noted elsewhere[3], the increasing manufacturing and industrial activities makes slave merchandizing unattractive in the North, while the agrarian rural life imperative of tobacco planting and other agricultural produce made concentration of slavery inevitable in the South. Thus the difference between the abolitionist North, with a toga of holier than thou, and the slave-holding South was only a shift in economic paradigm; the South provided the raw materials produced with slave labor used in the manufacturing industries of the North and therefore the North was a direct beneficiary of slavery activities of the South. In addition, trade in fugitive slaves was booming in the North; a situation where escaped slaves from the South to the North were being recaptured and sent back to the South at negotiated prices.

In time, this social equation develops into hatred and dangerous animosity, an animosity between the oppressed and the oppressors which at recorded moments in history find attestation in violence and deadly confrontations. The grid of these confrontations has always been denial of opportunities, injustice, lack of equity, equality etc. These are the crucible of evils into which Bigger Thomas finds himself entangled. He becomes evil in the process. Thus, his statement “They wouldn’t let me live and I killed” (428) is an apt metaphor of denial and the aftermath bestial violence. Bigger’s struggle is a struggle against racial hierarchy of white supremacy; his violence seeks to break the iron wall of traditionally held privileged position of whites. Violence therefore becomes Bigger’s game and job. The attempt to disentangle himself is his inner struggle and the fuel that propels him into crimes and ultimately murder and the capital punishment of the electric chair. There is a sense in which this empathy of denial, in a deliberate self-simulation, can be used to understand the black folks conditions, and according to Langston Hughes poem “Dinner Guest: Me” to probe into “The why and wherewithal of darkness U.S.A”.

This sense of history becomes an instrument and the basis of the defense employed by Max: “Your Honor, I must still speak in general terms, for the background of this boy must be shown”, and he goes on into history:

 

Our forefathers came to these shores and faced a harsh and wild country. They came here with a stifled dream in their hearts, from lands where their personalities had been denied, as we have denied the personality of this boy. They came from cities of the old world where the means to sustain life were hard to get or own. They were colonists and they were faced with a difficult choice: they had either to subdue this wild land or be subdued by it… But in conquering they used others…Lives to them were tools and weapons to be   wielded against hostile land and climate.(388-9).

The use of human beings as tools is a reference to slavery, and so American forefathers shut their eyes to the humanity of black slaves to build the nation called America. And according to Max, the equation is ‘man eats man’: ­­ “Men once oppressed our forefathers to the extent that they viewed other men as material out of which to build a nation; we in turn have oppressed others to such a degree that they, fumblingly as yet, try to construct meaningful lives out of us! Cannibalism still lives!” (398). Let us take inspiration, again, from Hughes’s “Freedom’s Plow” (1943):

A long time ago, but not too long ago, Ships came from across the sea Bringing the Pilgrims and prayer-makers, Adventurers and booty seekers, Free men and indentured servants, Slave men and slave masters, all new- To a new world, America!

To Hughes, and of course from the logic of history and slavery, “Thus together through labor,/All these hands made America”, that is “Out of labor-white hands and black hands”. However, that collective labour, the nation having been built, is now being denied. Thus, “Now it is Me here, and You there./Now it’s Manhattan, Chicago,/Seattle, New Orleans…”, and according to Bigger “We live here and they live there. We black and they white. They got things and we ain’t” (20). Consequently,   “Every white man considers it his duty to make a black man keeps his distance. He doesn’t know why most of the time, but he acts that way. It’s the way things are…” (346). By this, the racial line, and literally, the battle line is drawn, and American forefathers said “But we have told them: ‘This is a white man’s country!’ ” (393). History sows the seed of “hate”, intolerance and racial hysteria among the ethnic groups, particularly, the black and white population of America. This evil that grew out of history, according to Amis (1974) has cast all “niggers” as worthless, dishonest, irrational and inherently violent. This thesis, tragically, finds conviction in both the white community and the Negro himself. The experience of being the object of suspicion and distrust is permanently imprinted on the consciousness of the Negro. This social phenomenon is well rooted into the socio-economic and political fabric and psyche of American society. It will therefore be a miracle for the Bigger Thomases of this world to be immune from it. It is a social situation that is passed consciously or unconsciously from generation to generation of American society.

When under cross-examination over his estate renting tactics, Mr. Dalton says, “Well, it’s an old custom” (327). When asked if the custom is right, he says “I didn’t make the custom” (327). Whatever the blacks or whites have become are consequences of evils perpetrated in the course of history. Anything contrary to that social malady, the basis of social tension in America, is considered, tragically and paradoxically, an anathema and strange, bordering on taboo and suspicion. It is this understanding that informs Max’s statement in his argument when he says:

Your Honor, the most pathetic aspect of this case is that a young white woman, a student at a university, ignorant and thoughtless, though educated, tried to undo as an individual a gigantic wrong accomplished by a nation through three hundred long years, and was misunderstood and is now dead because of that misunderstanding. …She was acting toward him in such a way as no white face usually acts toward a Negro, and as a white face acts only when it is about to fleece a negro of something. He did not understand her. She confounded him. Her actions made him feel that the entire universe was tumbling about his head.(396)

 

Again, by the token of history, the façade of  segregation and thousand years of suppression, which effectively shut out the black folks from the main stream of American socio-economic civilization, has produced a separate nation; the whites “Self” and the blacks “Other”, an ontological binarism that is colour-based. Blacks, Max contends, “Taken collectively, they are not simply twelve million people; in reality they constitute a separate nation, stunted, stripped, and held captive within this nation, devoid of political, social, economic, and property rights” (397). Put in another way, the black folks are not just an ethnic group, from the vestiges of racism, they have become an ethnic nationality baked with the strands of hate and antagonism that produce it within the geographical entity call America. Separatism breeds isolationism and by implication subjective sets of principles with which the individuals or groups regard and relate to one another do too. The legacy of segregation endures in America, making true integration impossible. This submission is understood by Mary’s confessional observation:

You know, Bigger, I’ve long wanted to go into these houses…and see how your people live. You know what I mean? I have been to England, France and Mexico, but I don’t know how people live ten blocks from me. We know so little about each other. I just want to see. I want to know these people. (69-70).

For thousand years this social dynamic is allowed to fetter as a component of American civilization and sips into the consciousness of the American Bigger Thomas, making him a ‘son of the soil’- a real native son of America as constructed by “The hate and fear which we have inspired in him, woven by our civilization into the very structure of his consciousness, into his blood and bones, into the hourly functioning of his personality, have become the justification of his existence” (400). It is in this connection too that Johnson (1940) asserts, “The great masses of Negroes carry in their hearts the heavy heritage of slavery, and their present degradation. Such has been their past, it is their present, and, as far as they can see, it is their future” (92). In a way therefore, racial confrontations and the million Bigger Thomases have become social land mines exploding regularly in the face of racial inequality and lack of space to realize their ‘American dream’, and Max, making reference to the American civil war of which slavery is one of the causes, metaphorically paints a picture of apocalypse threatening, and yet to come: “Your Honor, another civil war in these states is not impossible; and if the misunderstanding of what this boy’s life means is an indication of how men of wealth and property are misreading the consciousness of the submerged millions today, one may truly come” (402).

 

The Thesis of Religion

Richard Wright’s position on religion is unambiguous: “We Negros have no religion that teaches us that we are “God’s chosen people;” our sorrows cannot be soothed with such illusions”[4]. This conclusion is both a satire on America as “God’s Own Country” and a rejection of religion as a solution to the “sorrows” of the Negro. Religion is projected as an ambivalent element in Native Son. It is used both as a rhetorical device and a thematic confrontation. Communism is not an ally of religion, it abhors it. No doubt, the communist ideal is projected in this novel, and it sees religion as “the opium of the people” providing cold comfort and unrealistic solutions to socio-economic and political inequality in the society. The emotional support which religion seems to be providing weakens and crumbles in the face of real life tragic drama and this failure becomes the basis of its rejection by Bigger Thomas. Bigger’s mother’s religious rituals of songs and prayers, together, become a source of irritation to him; “The song irked him and, he was glad when she stopped…” (10). Again, Rev. Hammond’s prayer is a reminder of guilt and condemnation, and of “suffering and hope”. All these are unfathomable to Bigger, “And he loathed it because it made him feel as condemned and guilty as the voice of those who hated him” (283). Rev. Hammond’s rendition of Creation rather than make Bigger’s “heart glad…” (283), it makes him think:  “To those who wanted to kill him he was not human, not included in that picture of Creation; and that was why he had killed it. To live, he had created a new world for himself, and for that he was to die” (285). He is not one of the “God’s chosen people”. For Bigger therefore, “there was nothing in it. Aw, all they did was sing and shout and pray all the time. And it didn’t get ’em nothing.” (355)

Consequently, the confrontation between Rev. Hammond and Max with Jan is an epical confrontation between religion and communism. It is a duel that ends with a firm and violent rejection of religion and a grotesque portrayal of its practitioners as having nothing to offer in the face of human tragedy and immediate needs. Thus, while capitalism may be encouraging the piety of religion surreptitiously for its own aggrandizement, it is confronted head on by communism, constantly encouraging Bigger to fight on:

But there ain’no usa draggin’ no Communism in this thing, Mistah. Ah respecks yo’ feeling’s powerfully, suh; but whut yuh’s astin’ jus’ stirs up mo’ hate. Whut this po’ boy needs is understandin’. (289)

For Jan and Max, Bigger “… got to fight…” (289), “This is your life, Bigger. You got to fight”. (379). Rev. Hammond’s prescription of “understandin” is a foolish unworkable option in this context.

In a way, Bigger’s last breakfast with his family is symbolically analogous to Jesus’ last supper with his disciples. “Bigger sat at the table and waited for food. Maybe this would be the last time he would eat here. He felt it keenly and it helped him to have patience.” (105) This event is contextualized with the bloody murder that Bigger has just committed at the background, and therefore it becomes a mockery of the biblical Christ’s last supper with his disciples prelude to the salvation of humanity, and as we know Bigger never experienced salvation but damnation. In another sense, Bigger is a disfigured and bastardized figure of Christ, in which his gang members (Gus, G.H and Jack) are his crime disciples. They become ‘fishers of crimes’. Bigger, by his metaphorical representation, however, fails to purge (or leave that possibility) or ‘save’ his society of its hysteria; ‘sins’. This is in spite of what has been made of his humanity and what he has become in American racial society. Bigger’s death signifies nothing but racial brutality and waste, and because no lesson is learnt, his resurrection, unlike Christ, becomes impossible, and by a token of symbolic implication, making that society seems irredeemable of its racial prejudices.  A corollary of this is the forced acceptance of Bigger to pray, which his mother sees as the only means of saving him, not from death but his soul- “You got your soul to save. I won’t be able to rest easy as long as I’m on this earth if I thought you had gone away from us without asking God for help” (299). “The wages of sin is death” says the Scriptures, and Bigger, the mother seems to be saying, must die because he is a sinner whose only salvation lies in the acceptance of Christ in the form of prayers. When eventually he agrees to pray to the happiness of the whole family, a prayer session ensues which can symbolically be read to mean a rite of passage or requiem for Bigger before his confrontation with the electric chair. To the indignation of communism, religion seems to be encouraging emotional bigotry and promoting human problems instead of solving them by suggesting practical realistic solutions.

In a more tragic turn of events, after Bigger has grudgingly accepted religion, even though forced down his throat, albeit to satisfy his mother with the hope of a final soul-saving refuge, he is, again, denied that opportunity of eternal salvation by the savagery of the white community. The flaming cross (336), the symbol of white savagery, stands in his threshold of redemption, contradicting the crucifix, as preached to him by Rev. Hammond, as a symbol of meekness, piety, forgiveness and ultimately, salvation. Wright seems to be saying that the piety of religion is not capable of appeasing the gods of white racism nor assuaging its blood-sucking goddesses.  Bigger’s contemplation of the situation is instructive:

He looked up. Atop a building across the street, above the heads of  the people loomed a flaming cross…The cross the preacher had told him about was bloody, not flaming; meek, not militant. It had made him feel awe and wonder, not fear and panic. It had made him want to kneel and cry, but this cross made him want to curse and kill (337-8).

Religion is therefore projected as a burden and an entrapment and, paradoxically for the purpose of its rejection, as the last means of redemption that must be denied Bigger by the ever looming fear and perplexing dehumanizing image of the whites. In a symbolic final show of rejection of religion simultaneously with denial of redemptive opportunity, Bigger violently assaulted Rev. Hammond and throws away the cross “the preacher had hung round his throat”. “He gripped the cross and snatched it from his throat. He threw it away, cursing a curse that was almost a scream” (338).

The Thesis of Power and Violence

Steele (2007) opines that “Whenever much importance is given to race, power is the primary motive”. The enveloping imagery of white dominance in the rhetoric of Native son is so preponderant that it becomes a possible motif for violence on the part of Bigger, while the threat to that dominance is a motif for counter violence, making violence to beget violence. Somehow, Wright seems to be playing a racial game, where, according to McCarthy (1972), “Victim and victimizer are locked together, the fear and violence of one inevitably producing the fear and violence of the other”. (99) This paradigm is the model that becomes emblematic and runs the current of violence, in its many forms, throughout the novel. Slavery, we must add, produces the trajectory of the nuances of racial discourse in America, and Duster[5] in his Chronicle article hits the nail on the head when he provides the trajectory synopsis: During slavery, when white racial domination and political and economic supremacy were uncontested, there was no need for a ku klux klan…when that supremacy was challenged, did the kkk emerge to “put blacks back in their place”. Duster says further that “the klan sought to protect the position and privilege of white people…’’ and that “Threat to the racial hierarchy of white supremacy have always been met with symbolic violence, even when physical violence was not used”. It is projected that the white community of Bigger provides the structures of power with which he defines and ascribes meaning to his impoverished, living-dead condition. In his consciousness, the white community is the cause of his cursed life, and he does not always hesitate to put that blame on the door step of his white enemies. In this regard, there are many “ifs” in Bigger’s consciousness which are derived from the power position of whites, and which he desperately desires. Beckley’s campaign poster is symbolically one, and Bigger wishes he were in Beckley’s shoes; “if I was in his shoes for just one day I’d never have to worry again”. (13). The plane weaving motion above him (16) symbolically overpowers him and constructs some kind of power. Bigger assumes this power, enacting it by “playing whites” (17). It provides a buffoonery, pitiable and unreal entry into the white world, which he fears to dare in reality. Bigger’s yearning for power can be seen as legitimate because it interprets to mean crying for opportunity to get into the ennobling socio-economic tradition of America. However, his idea of power is stunted and it seems to be contingent on revenge and violence against white supremacy, which is the inducer of such a state of mind in the first place, producing the pathological fear that cages Bigger. To pursue power on the basis of colour, says Steele (2007) is shallow. He opines further:

The distinction of race has always been used in American life to sanction each race’s pursuit of power in relation to the other. The allure of race as human delineation is the very shallowness of delineation it makes. On this shallowness—mere skin and  hair—men can project a false depth, a system of dismal attributions,  a series of malevolent or ignoble atereotypes that skin and hair lack  the substance to contradict. These dark projection then rationalize the pursuit of power. Your difference from me makes you bad, and tour badness justifies, even demands, my pursuit of power over you—the oldest formular for aggression known to man.

Bigger’s eloquence of abject poverty and debilitating frustration in the face of white opulence find no listening ears, except in the Daltons’ lousy ping-pong gift (355) and their robbing-Peter-to-pay-Paul philanthropic gesture of the capitalist orientation (328) toward the Negro education funds, again, helping to propagate and sustain white dominance and supremacy to “put blacks in their place”. Bigger is shackled down in all front and his humanity dangles between shame and fear. Shame of his inadequacy defined by his skin colour and white discourse, shame of not being able to fulfill basic responsibilities to himself, his family and black community. To rub off this shame and fulfill himself he would need to break into white power circle but the wall of fear created by whites into his consciousness remains his obstacle, and needs to be surmounted. That fear spurns dialogue and engenders full circle violence between white and black folks. Bigger’s genuine grievances are missed and lost within the mindset that constructs racial stereotypes  and within the option of violence, shutting down dialogue and fortifying further the wall of racial segregation.

At no time does Bigger divest himself of weapons. His armory of gun and knife are emblematic of his fear and violence, and for him it is the only means to power. For his tormentors, it is the reason he must be gotten rid of because he threatens the power base of the white community. Ironically, in spite of his weaponry bravado, he is a weakling, he is enveloped by ‘white’ fear; he is incapable of using that resource of violence in attacking that which he fears, save  accidentally, which, itself, is propelled by fear of sexual taboo constructed by the white community. This is with the background of a more mundane mutual emotional interaction between Bigger and Mary Dalton which finds reality in a tipsily condition. The white community seems to be bereft of any humane sympathy toward Bigger and the black community for fear of inadvertently creating the possibility of an integrative society which would seek to challenge their power and make them look ordinary or equal to their erstwhile slaves. To the white community of Bigger, it is an unthinkable proposal, and so, instead for Bigger’s condition to provoke guilt and shame, it fuels an attitude of Bo baa ko pa. Bo baa ko bu lese[6].

The Thesis of Justice

The judicial system as a regulator of society is made a partial arbiter in the resolution of conflicts in Native Son. Even in the face of an unambiguous crime that attracts capital punishment, justice is expected to be seen as free and fair to all. In addition, the law seeks to promote and uphold equity, freedom and liberty, as it were, without regard to race, gender, socio-economic and political status and religious affiliation. It is on the basis of these ideals and idea of the law that one must measure the reality of the courtroom and the quality of justice meted on Bigger Thomas. Having been overwhelmed by the angst of Bigger’s crime, the malice of racism and xenophobia of black threat, the atmosphere of the courtroom is inflicted with prejudices and biases and it must be said that it projects Bigger as guilty before he is proved as such. Beyond the preponderance of racial prejudices which are made glaring, the courtroom is also turned into a fertile ground where individuals and groups promote and project their political and ideological interests and thoughts, including race-constructed hatred to the detriment of the defendant and the spirit of the law, and by implication burying Bigger before his death.

The courtroom serves as a campaign ground for politician Buckley who is seeking reelection into a political office. He constantly appeals to the sentiment of the prejudiced vengeance-seeking electorate-society symbolized by the mob and plays to the gallery of their whims and caprices:

Buckley again looked at the crowd in the court room. “it is not, Buckley continued, “that a representative of the people finds the masses of the citizens who elected him to office standing literally at his back, waiting for him to enforce the law…” The room was quiet as a tomb. Buckley strode to the window and with one motion of his hand hoisted it up. The rumbling mutter of the vast mob swept in “kill ’im now!” “Lynch ’im!” (373)

The letter of the law is made peripheral to the public emotional demand for the head of Bigger. That demand symbolically suggests a call for   public mob action- the lynching of Bigger Thomas (414). Max attempts much to point the attention of the presiding judge and the court to this obviously retaliation-seeking mob to no avail: “How can I, I asked myself, make my voice heard with effect above the hungry yelping of hounds on the hunt?” (384-5). It is clear that Buckley is exploiting the situation to make political gains towards his reelection into the office of State Attorney. He therefore throws into the wind all sense of fairness demanded by law. He coerces and threatens the court by inciting the race-propelled public sentiments, becoming a “mob-master”. Max is very much aware of this when he asks “Who, then, fanned this latent hate into fury? Whose interest is that thoughtless and misguided mob serving?” (386), and he gives the answer: “The State Attorney knows…” (386). Thus, to Buckley, Bigger’s trial becomes a utilitarian tool with which he seeks personal political aggrandizement. Buckley’s torrents of racist abuse by denigrating name calling (407-413) smacks of personal attack and hatred on Bigger. Tragically therefore, the courtroom and the process of law are invested with an atmosphere of morbid fear and the draconian thoughtless hysteria of that society. The mob, urged on by Buckley for his own political agenda and “a ravenous desire and cannibalistic instinct”, to use Soyinka’s words[7] “offers us the human equivalent of scrofulous canines whose hysterical whelps are designed to drown out genuine alarms of imminent danger” that is capable of annihilating the conscience of a nation on the alter of racism.

The fear of communism is the beginning of wisdom for capitalism. This is very rife in the story, and indeed many critics have interpreted the novel as a piece of communist propaganda, and as Gibson (1984) suggests “The interpretation of the novel as a propaganda piece for the communist party stems from the notion that Max is Wright’s spokesman”. The communist thesis seems to form part of the undercurrent project in the novel, it is made explicit as a defense mechanism in Max’s defense of Bigger Thomas, and this gnaws the prosecuting party as aptly demonstrated by Buckley’s outburst: “I shall not lower the dignity of this court, nor the righteousness of the people’s cause, by attempting to answer the silly, alien, communistic and dangerous idea advanced by the defense” (407). Consequently, Kinnamon (1984) rightly opines that “The courtroom arguments of Max in the final section… are patently leftist. He equates racial and class prejudice, both being based on economic exploitation”, the communist concept of the time, concurring that “Not all Max’s courtroom speech reflects so directly communist doctrine, but none of it is inconsistent with party line on racial matters”. The fervent attempt by Max to save Bigger’s life is therefore conjectured  by the opposing foes within the communist context rather than be seen as an effort to save a human life as a redemptive process to ask the society to divest itself of a deep rooted hatred that has eaten deep into its fabric. It is within this understanding that I see the subversion of the law as having been blatantly committed. It also follows that while Bigger is on trial; communism is also inadvertently put on trial, meaning that the condemnation of Bigger’s soul is, in a way, the condemnation of communism. To have spared Bigger Thomas’s life would have amounted to a victory for communism against that society’s abhorrence. To have also allowed this position to factor into the judicial process is nothing but a miscarriage of justice. The whole courtroom spectacle reeks of vendetta directed at the Negro community and their unsolicited communist allies / friends. Buckley’s vituperative language and malevolent speech very well fit into the racial symphony in the court, and this sweetens the bellies of the white community, becoming the epicentre of the court biases and judgment.

Against the general critical judgment of Bigger’s voice being ‘collapsed into a cause’ (making him voiceless), I take the position that the absence of Bigger’s voice is its being conspicuous, and the addition that his voice remains caged in his “unconscious” under the grip of fear, finding attestation in violence and absolving him of responsibility. Moreover, this absencing of voice seems to suggest hopelessness which demands a sympathetic representation in the face of an atmosphere of overwhelming fear. At the end, his voice makes a solemn transition into his “consciousness” during the process of his purgation, finding attestation in the reality of his condition and acceptance of responsibility with the possibility of a change, the sanguinary opportunity which he is never afforded by the fact of being consigned into the electric chair.

Drawing a conclusion on the subject of justice, the occasion of Bigger’s trial should have been used, drawn on to display the pristine of American law and judicial system. However, it does appear that the quality of justice is predicated and paraded on race, personal ambition, group interest and political affiliation. What Wright therefore confronts us with is not really the enormity of Bigger Thomas’s grisly crime but a protest and the danger therein of the racial dynamics of the society that provides the context in which Bigger Thomas was born and bred. While the novel imposes accountability, it also  warns and  indicts  the collective conscience of America. The rather pathetic statement of Max “If I can make the people of this country understand why this boy acted like he did, I’ll be doing more than defending him” (292) seems to suggest that Wright would have wished, I think, that Bigger be seen as a sacrificial figure who should be used to put the society in a pensive, redemptive and purgatory path. Indeed this is what Max primarily seeks in court when he says:

 

I say, Your honor, that the mere act of understanding Bigger Thomas will be a thawing out of icebound impulses, a dragging of the sprawling forms of   dread out of the night of fear into the light of reason, an unwilling of the unconscious ritual of death in which we, like  sleep-walkers, have participated so dreamlike and thoughtlessly. (383)

 

After all, as Macdonald (2007) notes: the idea of “right” as a primary meaning of “freedom” took hold in postwar American culture. The cry for “Freedom now”, the rhetoric of liberation…” and civil rights movement, we add, “the refusal to be ignored, the method of passive resistance—African American precedent provided models and inspiration for other movements in the following decades.” (206). But, alas! The symbolic models of Jan’s humanity, the self-reconciliation of Bigger’s real consciousness with the reality of his condition and his society, and the model of the  consequences that  racism is capable of engendering are all lost on the community of America in Native Son.

 

Conclusion

Following Hakutani (1996), “The meaning of Native Son derives not from crime but result”, and I hasten to add, its utilitarian value. In this regard, Bigger’s self-purgation, realizing his own existence and claiming his true consciousness (“I didn’t want to kill. But what I killed for, I am”) has widely been acknowledged as a piece of masterly literary stroke. However, what is not noted is the realization that its value has no throw back into the society of Bigger, it is lost in the orgy of racism, it remains and goes with Bigger to the electric chair. A similar loss to the society is derived from Bigger’s betrayal of Jan’s sincere friendship and camaraderie. That betrayal is a test of Jan’s humanity.  Jan’s offer of forgiveness and legal assistance and Bigger’s positive change of attitude toward him as a white man should have been used by that society as a threshold of dismantling distrust and fear of one another. Again, it is lost on the alter of racism and fear of communism. Bigger’s “moves from determinism to freedom”, to borrow Hakutani’s words, on a path laden with blood is therefore wasted, and the lesson which would have formed the basis of his heroism is also tragically lost on his society. Woefully therefore, Max’s polemic  fails to make the death of Mary Dalton mean (393) and what the life of Bigger would have meant if he were saved from the electric chair.

Let me close this paper on a rather grim and didactic note. For the former, as a food for thought, I take the liberty of copiously quoting from Orlando Patterson’s article[8]:

America has more than two million citizens behind bars, the highest absolute and per capita rate of incarceration in the whole world. Black Americans, a mere 13 percent of the population, constitute half of this country’s prisoners. A tenth of all black men between ages 20 and 35 are in jail or prison; blacks are incarcerated at over eight times the white rate…one in three male African-Americans in their 30s now has a prison record, as do nearly two-thirds of all black male high school dropouts.

Patterson goes on to ask why it has taken the African American community so long to address “this racially biased and utterly counterproductive situation, wondering “How, after decades of undeniable racial progress, did we end up with this virtual gulag of racial incarceration?”

Finally, for the latter, the white folks/black folks American social paradigm and its socio-economic racial equation in Richard Wright’s Native Son places a burden of choices to be made, and to take a cue from Ola Rotimi (1995), that choices have become a “twingle twangle twyning tayle”; the story of a twins brothers- Taiwo and Kehinde whose destiny lies in their hands in the choices they make between peace and war as they go forth into the world. And as the questions go “Would they choose to live in Ereko, perpetuating the heritage of force and violence, or Etido, sowing the seeds of life and peace? What would they prefer to use- brain or brawn? Questions, questions, questions and more questions”. The answers lie in the hands of white folks and black folks of America, and as the saying goes in Yoruba T’oro ba ti le ju, erin laa fi nrin. Oro ki tobi ju ka f’obe laa[9]- a knotty  matter that seems beyond solution, we laugh at, whereas no matter how ‘big’ a word (a matter of concern) is, it will not require a knife to cut it into pieces but only our mouth in talking about or discussing it.

 

Bibliography

Amis, L.J. (1974), “Richard Wright’s Native Son: Notes” in

Negro American     Literature Forum. Vol. 8, No. 3, pp.

240-243.

 

Colombo, G. (2007), Reading America:  Cultural Contexts

for Critical Thinking and Writing. Boston. New York:

Bedford/St. Martin’s.

 

Du Bois, W.E.B. (1997), The Soul of Black Folk. (ed.)

Blight, D.W et al. Boston: Bedford Books.

 

Gibson, D.B. (1984), “Wright’s Invisible Native Son” in Macksey et al (ed.), Richard Wright: A collection of Critical Essays. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, Inc.

Hakutani, Y. (1996), Richard Wright and Racial

Discourse. Columbia: University of    Missouri Press.

Hughes, L. Poems in Norton Anthology of Modern and Contemporary Poetry.

 

Johnson, J.R, (1940) “Native Son and Revolution” in New International, Vol.6 No.4,  pp.92-93.

 

Kinnamon, K. (1984) “Native Son: The Personal, Social, and Political  Background”  in Macksey et al (ed.) Richard Wright: A collection of Critical Essays. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall,      Inc.

 

McCarthy, H.T. (1972), “Richard Wright: The Expatriate as Native Son” in American Literature, Vol. 44, No. 1. pp. 97-117.

 

Mcdonald, G. (2007), American Literature and Culture 1900-1960. Malden: Blackwell Publishing.

Miller. A. (1953), The Crucible. London: Penguin Classics.

 

Rawls, A.W. (2000), “Race as an Interaction Phenomenon: W.E.B. Dubois’s “Double Consciousness” Thesis Revisited” in Sociological      Theory. Vol. 18, No2. pp 241-274.

 

Rotimi, Ola. (1995), Twingle Twangle: A Twyning Tayle. Ibadan, Nigeria:           Longman.

 

Steele, S. (2007), “I’m Black, You’re White, Who’s

Innocent?” in Colombo et al (ed.) Rereading

America:Cultural Contexts for Critical Thinking and

Writing. Boston: Bedford/St.Martin’s.

 

Wright, R. (2005) Native Son, New York: Harperperennial, Modern Classics  edition .

Wright, R. (1937) “Blueprint for Negro Writing.” in New Challenge 2.2   pp.53-65.

 

THE RELATION SHIP BETWEEN RELIGIONS AND POLITICS IN THE 21ST CENTURY WORLD.

Dr.  O. O. E.  BALOGUN

College of Social and

Management Sciences.

Tai Solarin University of Education,

Ijagun, Ijebu-Ode, Ogun, Nigeria

Abstract

Prophecy and religion in Israel seemed to have gone hand-in hand and both made Israel what she was. In religion the community was spoken to, while in prophecy it was the individual who was concerned; hence the prophets saw themselves not just as people speaking for themselves but as messengers of Yahweh to his people.

The prophets of the Old Testament spoke of Yahweh’s will to the people and interceded for the people. They were conversant with the will and purpose of Yahweh. They also seemed to have had a profound insight into the political and social events of their time.

The prophets believed that Yahweh order history. It is this interpretation of providence that drew the prophets into the politics of their days. They read from the events, God’s providence; hence they could counsel a line of action in some cases. It is this part of their prophetic function that informs this write-up.

This paper intends to examine the role played by these prophets in the socio-political and religious life of their people and how successful they were in seeking to influence their nation on policy making.

This paper will also relate the role played by these ancient prophets of Israel with the role played by prophets of today. This paper intends to find out, in the face on national crisis, what can be done as opposed to what are being done presently. The prophets of the Old Testament were able to stand and speak against the state. In our own case, should we look on.

 

Introduction

ISRAEL’S CONCEPT OF STATE

When Israel entered Canaan, Joshua divided the land into a host of principalities. Two centuries before this time, the Amarna letters reflected this same state of affairs and showed that other countries like Syria were divided into principalities too. These types of political units were confined to a fortified city with a small surrounding territory.

There were also vast empires in contrast to these small states, viz; Assyria, Egypt, e.t.c. they were highly organized states with heterogeneous population across vast territories won through conquest.

Towards the end of the 2nd Millennium B. C. some national states appeared - Ammon, Edom, Moab and Aram. They were confined to their territories, they did not make an attempt to spread by conquest, they defended their countries not by professional army but by the nation in arms, by mobilization all the menfolk in time of danger. In Isam. 8:5, the Israelites demanded for a king in order to be “like other nations”. They made this demand imitating the Cannanites whom they had pushed out of place. It should be noted that there were striking differences in the political organization between Israel and the surrounding nation at that time. While Edom, Ammon and Moab had Monarchy, and Canaanites Cities remained organized as city state, Israel was a loose confederation of tribes without any central political figure; but binded by a religious bond, the material symbol of which was the Ark of covenant in the central sanctuary of Shiloh.

Several attempts were made without success; Gideon rejected this type of royal rank with hereditary succession (Jugg. 8:22 ff) and the failure of abimelech’s kingdom at shedrem was based on when our nation is falling into a policy that would spell disaster should we then folds our arms? Should the prophets of today fold their arms in the new dispensation? Should they be the champion of the oppressed of instrument used for oppression? Should they be afraid of the state and shy away from the truth?

Non-Israelite elements (Judg 8: 31, 9: 1ff)

R. De Vaux (1961:92) likened the idea OF STATE IN Israel to that of the Aramean Kingdoms of Syria and Transjordan. The kingdoms of Israel and judan were like Trausjordan and Syria national kingdoms – first it was Israel as one, later, it was Israel and Judah. It is apposite to note that Israel was not only the name of a tribe like the aforementioned tribes but a sacred name; the name of the covenant people that formed the “community of faith”. It has twelve tribes for its fundamental national structure which bear the name of the twelve children of Jacob right from the formation of the religions and covenant (Ex. 24: 4) they were a religious group, both their religious and political lifes were intertwined, and hardly can a distinction be made between the two.

The concept of state is foreign to Israel. The idea of state to Israel is not like the ones we see in Ammon, Syria or Egypt, though the Israelites at a point in time copied these people in establishing the monarch with Saul as the first king, Israel remained Yahweh’s people, has no other Master but: him; that is why from the beginning to the end Israel remained a religious community. The idea of a state in the monarchy sense, did not last, though it spread over centuries but it was not a permanent thing. It was religion which federated the tribes of Israel when they came to settle in Canaan. It was this religion that gathered these people on their return from Babylon through Nehemiah and Ezra, Religion also presented the unit of Israel under the Monarchy, the king was seen as an agent of the Kingship of Yahweh, a representative of Yahweh. He was choosen and accepted by God, as Yahweh’s subordinate, judged by his degree of fidelity to the convenant between Yahweh and Israel. On the whole the state which in practice means the Monarchy can be said to be merely an accessory element. In actual fact, Israel lived without it for the greater part of its history. During the exile, nothing like monarchy existed in Israel and even the post exilic, community returned to the pre-monarchical type of life which suggests the continuation of the institution of the tribal confederacy.

PROPHETS AND PROPHECY IN ISRAEL

Any mention of prophets and prophecy calls to mid Old Testament prophets of ancient Israel as if prophecy was the peculiarity of Israel alone, but the phenomenon actually pervaded the whole area of the ancient near east known as the Semitics. It is to this range of human race that the human belong. The senutes are naturally a people who are distinguished by character (language, nomadic, life) and appearance from the rest of making. The group includes nor only the people of Israel but also the inhabitants of Arabia, and Mesopotamia.

Prophecy is a general phenomenon which could be found in every race, no matter how crude it may appear. Among the action people of North pole, there was a group of people called the shaman who mediated between the spirits and the people, there was also the Arabic paganism, the KAHINS who were seers and soothsayers and whose taste it was to communicate with the spirit world through oracles. They were regarded as the mouth-piece of the Divinity.

In ancient Egypt, prophecy was not very common but some ancient texts contain what has sometimes been regarded as prophetic utterances, for example in Egyptian mantic texts there are prophetic sayings, but, these saying are more political than religious. In the Mari texts that were discovered in the 18th century B. C. in Northwest Mesopotamia, there were some striking parallels to Hebrew prophecy. The Mari prophets were believed to be acting or prophesying under divine inspiration, they spoke the word of Yahweh. In these texts, according to J. Lindblom (1962: 30) the two key words for prophet are ‘Muhhum’ (an ecstatic one) and ‘apilum’ (the one who responds). Though many of their sayings were political but there were also oracles that dealt with the king’s duty to protest the poor and needy, indicating that an ethical dimension was present among the Mari prophets.

Although prophecy is universal, nevertheless prophecy in ancient Israel is unique in the sense that it has continued to attract attention for study for some time. There is no doubt about the fact that Hebrew prophecy stands out clearly as one that has made impact not only on its immediate society but to the world at large. The Hebrew religion gave content and meaning to the word ‘Nabi’ which applied originally to a person who is in a state of uncontrollable emotion and excitement, proclaimed message which his hearers attributed to gods and afterwards became the title of the preachers of monotheism and social justice.

 

ETYMOLOGY OF THE WORD PROPHET

The Hebrew word for prophet ‘Nabi’ is a common noun accepted in the Old Testament, which is thought to have been derived from Akkadian word ‘nabu’, ‘naba’um’ ‘to call’ or ‘to annouce’ Nabi means, one subject to the inspiration of a god.

Albright’s (1963:232) own theory stated that:

All Hebrew verbal forms from the root are transparent denominations from the noun nabi and throw no light whatever on the derivation of the latter. There can be no question that the root means ‘call’ or ‘speak’. The prophet is “one called (of God)”.

The terms ro’eh and hozel both mean ‘seer’. Both words, ro’eh and hozeh are participles and come from two synonymous verbs ra’ah and hazah respectively meaning “to see”. the two participles means “ one who sees” or seer. The term “seer” was used for Samuel by Saul and his servant (Isam 9: 11) the distinction between the two terms is that each of them has its own period of popularity. Re’eh was in the time of Samuel with eight of the twelve occurrences appearing then and hozel in the days of David, with four of the seven persons so designated living in his time (Isam 9:9).

 

THE CALL AND RECEPTION

The prophets received their call through dreams, words, and participation in Yahweh’s council and so on. The call of the prophet, reception and his understanding of himself in the society are the three things that give us insight into what he does among his people.

The authority of the message of a prophet and his legitimacy are established by his call (Lindblom, 1962:182).

There are differences in the call of the prophets, but there is one important element that is common in them: that is, the divine human encounter. The call of a prophent was a basic and fundamental experience in his life, for it was legitimate of his office; it gives authority to his message and urgency to his preaching. The divine compulsion to preach the word of God as in Jer 20:9, that which distinguish the true nabi from the false was the validity of his call (Lindblom, 1962:182).

The prophets responded in different ways to the call. Jeremiah like Moses was reluctant to accept the divine commission because he was a boy and did not know how to speak (Jer 1. 6). Isaiah accepted his vocation with clarity and willingness as the blowing of Yahweh overwhelmed him in the year king Uzziah died, (Is. 6: 1-8).

It is interesting to know too that in no case was the individuality of the prophet or his personality and this gives account for the reason why we do not have kaleodoscoped behavior among them, for example, the anstere of desert life of low income life pass over into the message of Amos; Isaiah remained the aristocrat, and therefore operated in the sphere of the court, both Hosea and Jeremiah brought their preaching’s deeply sensitive hearts and a concern for a personal aspect of religion. Habakkuk was bold enough to question the character of Yahweh in the light of oppression in the land and the possible consequence of the plan of God to eradicate the oppression, and Jeremiah too accused Yahweh of deceit and treachery. The uninvited and undaunted Israelite prophets stood before the kings and the people is Yahweh’s messengers of will and use. They speak out not minding whose ox is gored.

 

FUNCTIONS OF THE PROHETS

Prophecy has the meaning of one who gives divinely inspired messages. These messages often concern the present and future, therefore prophecy will have the meaning of the art of forth telling and foretelling.

It is also clear that the general function of the prophets was to interpret Yahweh in his relation to human experience and to fashion the life of their nation according to the divine purpose. This they do by applying the ideas acquired directly from God to the conditions and problems of human history.

The prophets owen it a duty to show the people of God their transgression and sins:

Cryaloud, spare not,

Lift up your voice like a

Trumpet; declare to my people

Their transgression to the

House of Jacob their sins – is 58: 1

It was their duty to admonish and reprove the people to be faithful to Yahweh they were to denounce the admiration of the people and threaten them with the ternor of divine judgment upon the simmers. They were watchdogs, their message was of emotional confrontation with reality. According to Wardle (1953:174) they were also to remind the people constantly of their election obligation to Yahweh. Though some prophets did not speak of this. They were the pastors and ministers of the elected nation, declaring to the people the message of consolation and pardon (Is. 40: 1-2, Jer. 6:17, Is. 62: 6ff).

The prophets acted as the intermediaries, they conveyed Yahweh’s message to his people; even they said things against their will and desire:

The lion has roared:

Who will not fear?

The Lord has spoken;

Who can but prophesy? Am 3.:8.

They interpreted and re- interpreted the law to the people, they did not hesitate to tell the kings when they go against the will of God. Nathan who hold enough to accuse David of adultery, Elijah did not fear Ahab when he predicted the famine, also Amos went from Judah to spell doom for Jeroboam II in Northern Israel.

They were patriots playing a leading role in the socio-political development of the kingship. The prophets rose in protest against the oppressive governance, misuse of power and the despotic nature of their political leaders. These prophets seemed to have maintained a position which put God first before any other thing.

PRESENT DAY RELEVANCE OF THE PROPHETS

Recent events have once more brought to the lime light the prophets and their messages. We seem to find some relevance for them now and they seem to be giving us some answers to the political, social and religious problems confronting us.

In early state societies of the near east where religion was not a sub-system, charismatic criticism had religious basis; in other wards, the prophets came forth in the name of the gods then kingship was a divine institution, the prophets were the watchdogs of the king, they, also gave directives in the names of the same gods. This criticism was directed to the powerful, but as in the case of Israel, her prophetic invectives did not leave anybody out.

In the Israelite State, the prophets appeared in the name of Yahweh, especially those are referred to as the writing prophets. According to Lohflik (1990:104), the prophets were the pre-eminent religious personalities and as such were the quickest to hear and most responsible for Israel. The representatives of the state find it difficult to accommodate this opposition and they tried to integrate to a certain extent into the institution this prophetic, where some of the prophets were fed, managed in connection to the court of the king. This gave another meaning to prophecy, regarded as professionalization of prophecy. The court prophets that is, the domesticated prophets affirmed the status quo and proclaimed the salvation of the state while Nathau, Elijah, Amos. Micah just to mention few, were critical of the status quo and therefore proclaimed judgment. They did not only announce judgment they also caused upward. Isaiah walked about Jerusalem barefooted clad only in loin cloth like a prisoner, symbolically protesting the disastrous results of reliance upon foreign nations (is 20).

Now, how do we view the relationship between the state and prophetic in Nigeria today? And where how do today’s prophetic activities correspond to the Old Testament prophetic?

If we should ask that where does prophetic criticism of the state exist in the world today, the spontaneous answer is: in the Church. This implies that Christians are prophets; this is because every baptized person shares in the threefold junction of Christ (Lumen Gentium 31) the three functions are those of Priesthood, Prophets and Kings with Christ. It is the second of these three functions that is relevant for our discussion.

If these people are seen as sophespersone in their teaching and preaching, then we being to wonder why all official statements of these church leaders (that is demanding for reforms in the existing religious and social conditions of our time) seem to have fade away and showed no effect in our lives.

In Nigeria today, some of the church leaders shy away from their responsibilities; that is, to speak on behalf of Christ to the corrupt and depraved society that we live in. Looking at the issue of their call and reception critically, one will discover that the way some of there prophets – 21st century prophets receive their call is questionable.

The number of churches in Nigeria today leaves one to ask why we still experience moral decadance among our rulers and the citizens. The incursion of the military into politics which destroyed all fabrics of our society did not leave the institution of prophecy out. In the last 15 years more churches have sprange up and most of them enjoyed the military Governments patronage. They tend to provide suciour for our corrupt leaders. They talk more of prosperity than securing a place in the kingdom of God. They cannot afford to remain silent, unconcerned about the conditions of things. About poverty, ignorance, disease, un-employment, a prophet who remain silent in the face of the these ills is either dumb, inert or quite simply dead. Like every one of us, the prophets, if not more than anyone else have a role to paly in the sustenance of democracy in Nigeria.

It must be said at it, this junction that Rev. Father Mathew Hassan Kukah the secretary General of the Catholic Church in Nigeria, Archbishop Abiodun.

Adetiloye, the head of the Anglican Church in Nigeria, Primate Dr. Sunday Mbang, the prelate of the Methodist Church i9n Nigeria, Bishop Gbonigi of Ondo state, Prophet T. O. Obadare, Prophet Fakeye, the late Archbishop Benson  Idahosa, Pastor Tunde Bakare have distinguished themselves among the prophets of today. They were consistent and persistent in their attack on the bad policies of the military and have remained so in the new dispensation.

Other prophets who have not joined the train of progressive prophets should do that now. There is need for them to see religion and politics as related. Jeremiah counseled his people in exile with the word of hope and encouragements; ‘’it is for our prophets today’s to do the something’’.

 

Conclusion

The prophets of the Old Testament maintained the standard of God in their own time. They participated in everything that happened in their time - politics religion and social. They challenged those policies found unwanted.

The playing their role as critics of the state, they were acting the part of Yahweh who is both the Lord of history and of nations. We can see clearly that even of the prophets of the Old Testament were not experiences in the science of government, they influenced the political activities in Israel to the extent that they stood as important factors over the kings, as chief exponents of both the internal and external political policies of the state. They also succeeded in registering on the face of the history of their time, God’s that is, they must see that every law , every political measure, every policy of the state must also be checked against God’s law. Nigerian prophets should take a cue from this.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Albright, W. F. (1963) Samuel and the Beginning of the

Prophetic Movement in Israel. New York: Double-day Anchor

books.

 

Anderson, B. W. (1957); the living World of the Old

Testament England: longman Group.

 

Black, Met al (1963): Peake’s Commentary on the Bible

London: Thomas Nelson Ltd.

 

Bright, J. (1981): A History of Isreal London SCM Press.

 

Brown R. E. (1981): Jerome Bl\iblical commentary London

Geoffery Chapman

 

Buber, N (1949): The Prophetic Faith, New York: Harper and

Rew.

 

Clement, R. E (1975): Prophecy and Tradition, Oxford Oxford

University Press.

 

Heschell, A. (1963): The Prophecy New York: Harper and

Rew.

 

Lindblom, J. (1962) Prophecy in Ancient Israel Oxford: Alden

Press.

 

Lohfink, N. (1990): “Where are Todays Prophetes?” Theology

Digest Vol. 37. No. 2. Summer.

 

Rendforff, R. (1985): The Old Testament: An Introduction

London: SCM Press.

 

Wardle, W. L. (1953): The history and Religion of Israel,

Oxford: Clarendom Press.

 

Welhousen, J. (1961): Prolegomena to the history of Ancient

Israel, Translated by Menzies and Blanck, London.

 

THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE NEEDS OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

STUDENTS IN SECOND LANGUAGE ENGLISH ENVIRONMENT AND THE ESP TEACHERS’ RESPONSE

Dr. Dare OWOLABI

Department of English and Literary studies,

Ekitti State University, Ado-Ekiti,

Ekitti State, Nigeria.

Abstract

The importance of English as a global language and that of science and technology makes it imperative for those desirous of advancement to have more than a mere smattering knowledge of it. It is observed, generally, that many students inclined towards science and technology show little enthusiasm for linguistic aptitude. This paper answered three research questions to identify the English language needs of Science and Technology students. From the data collected from 196 respondents using a questionnaire pretested with 0.90 correlation coefficient, the results showed no significant difference in the needs of science and technology students and those in Arts and Social Sciences. This shows that desire for linguistic competence may not be peculiar to students in the latter categories. The findings also revealed a preference for English, and special English in particular, over the indigenous languages, in the teaching and learning of science and technology. The study recommends that the standard of English language teaching need not be lowered for science and technology but ESP, as an approach, should be encouraged using team/collaborative teaching with specialist teachers in science and technology supplying registers which the ESP teacher will integrate in producing study materials with purpose-specific. Finally, it is also recommended that management of institutions keen on quality graduate output should adopt the Kuwait University approach.

 

Introduction

Since the introduction of the English Language in Nigeria by the colonial masters, it has entrenched itself as a colonial legacy that is difficult to drop like a habit.  The prevalence of many languages in Nigeria notwithstanding, the influence of English continues to rise in leaps and bounds. Without any gainsaying, it has taken roots as a language of national importance; rising from the status of a foreign language to become a second language and indeed the language of wider communication. As Kachuru (1995) observes, the English language is no longer foreign to the linguistic ecology of West Africa, to which Nigeria belongs, but an integral part of the linguistic family.

Over the years, Nigeria education has been west oriented with the English language as the medium of instruction in schools.  The National Policy on Education (NPE) (1981) makes the use of the English language imperative in Nigeria’s education system with its adoption as the medium of instruction at a latter level after the initial instruction in the mother tongue or language of the immediate environment in the early primary school.  In other words, instructions in schools after the lower level of the primary school are given in English. Scholars continue to lament the low level of competence in the English language with the attendant ripple effects on performance in other school subjects at all levels of education.  Oyetunde (2006) cites the concern of some of these scholars to show the dismal level of competence of Nigerian students to whom English is no longer a foreign language (Aliyu, 1983; Omojuwa, 1989; Mohammed, 1995; Adejare, 1995; Akere, 1995).

The falling standard in English and the ripple effect on other school subjects taught and learnt in the medium of English has always been a course for concern.  This led to the emergence of the use of English Programme in Nigeria’s tertiary institutions to stem the tide of eroding standard of English usage for effective manpower development and transfer of technology which the language enhances: It is to aid undergraduates in following the substance of class lectures in note taking and assignments writing, thereby enhancing the quality of students’ activities, not only in the course of their studies but after (Akere, 1997).  It is an undeniable fact that a nation’s development is directly tied to the level of its educational attainment.  This is the age of science and technology and modern man has transcended primitivism through inventions in science and technology, a feat far from the pre-science age. Man, for example, has conquered space and bridges the worlds through the Internet.  If any nation is not to lag behind, there has to be improvement in the use English in our own case, being the language of the Internet as well as that of science and technology. The English language is, therefore, not just a subject, on the school curriculum, but “a tool subject, the essential vehicle for learning other subjects” (Oyetunde, 2006). Oyetunde goes further to affirm the belief that successful education is a factor of success in language education.This language is English, the subject around which other subjects revolve, and without which appreciable progress cannot be made. However, the English language needs of students in tertiary institutions differ, and identifying the learning needs will ensure effective communication as this will determine the teacher’s method of delivery to ensure that individual learner’s course differences are not completely ignored. Since language in different situations varies, English language teachers should, therefore, explore the possibilities of tailoring language teaching to meet the needs of learners in specific contexts (Adelabu 2006).  This is the domain of English for Specific Purposes (ESP) which, according to Bablola (2003) quoting Robinson (1991), “rests on the ends to which the English is put and the needs of the learner who experiences those needs”. Furthermore Strevens (1997) says ESP is different from General English both in objectives and content because it is based on the specifications of the learners’ need, equipping them to effectively discharge their educational, occupational or vocational pursuits.

The Problem

English is the language of science and technology, which means most textbooks and instructions in science classes are in the English Language. The number of students in core sciences, engineering and technology attests to the unpopularity of science among the younger generation of both sexes.  This may not be unconnected with the poor mastery of the English language.  There is no demonstrable evidence of improvement among Nigerian undergraduates in the use of English in and outside the classroom.  For as long as there is no improvement in the standard of English, there can hardly be improvement in performance in science, and this will affect the nation’s technological development.

It is generally observed that many science and technology oriented students do not have a flair for linguistic deftness. This has support in Coupland (1984) that students of science and engineering display a certain lack of competence when producing the sort of texts meant to fulfill the function of describing, evaluating, summarizing, drawing inferences, recommending, etc. Such students are usually more at ease and more adroit at figures and calculations that require little or no language use.  It will therefore be counter-productive to subject this category of students to the same English language programme as other students in the Liberal Arts and the Social Sciences.  This type of teaching method, which Akeredolu Ale (2006) calls High-formality-approach tends to create considerable disincentives and constitutes an obstacle when it comes to ensuring adequate interest, enthusiasm, motivation and effective participation on the part of the learners.  So ignoring the learning needs has not helped science and technology students master appropriate English to advance their studies.  This is where English for Specific Purposes (ESP) and English for Academic Purposes (EAP) become relevant.  ESP is a response to the dwindling competence in English that hinders effective performance in different vocations and professions.  It is the use of English in which the command of English is imparted to meet specific job or subject or purpose (Jibowu 2006). Moreover, it is the study of English for a clearly utilitarian purpose and not the study of language for the sake of it.  It helps to stem the tide of poor performance in study areas that require English as a medium of communication and instruction for teaching and learning.  Coffey (1985:79) holds the view that “ESP is intended above all to be of clear and particular usefulness to the student, his actual needs having been the subject of careful analysis”.  English for Academic Purposes (EAP) is an offshoot of ESP, in which “the student’s needs may be the quick and economical use of the English language to pursue a course of academic study” (Coffey, 1985: 79). EAP promotes discipline-specific and skills-specific contents in its literature Onukaogu (2005)  Focusing on the use of language in real communication led to the emergence of ESP. Adelabu (2006:38) posits that “learning only the relevant tasks of English to the specific needs of the learner will help him focus and learn in-depth only the relevant areas”.

The main thrust of ESP/EAP is the adoption of the communicative method to language learning, as against the traditional grammar-translation method which treats “language learning on a par with any other academic subject” leaving “students quite ignorant of how the language is used” (Yule, 1997:193). The communicative method is based on functions rather than the forms of language. In other words, it is based on what language is used for rather than correct grammatical or phonological structure (Yule, op/cit). This, by extension, means the learner’s needs are held uppermost. Needs can be defined here as the actual, instead of perceived, requirement of a learner in a learning situation to aid his comprehension and assist him acquire necessary skills for optimal performance. An ESP course therefore, is concerned with the purpose which are usually expressed in functional terms and for which learners need English (Brunfit, 1979).  Having been educated and learnt in the General Purpose English (GPE) at the primary and secondary levels, and come to tertiary institutions, grossly linguistically handicapped, a special approach may be required to help students advance in their studies through the instrumentation of English. This is so because a poor mastery of the language of instruction will, no doubt, detract from the quality and output of learning.

 

Research Objectives

The objectives of this study are to identify:

(i)  the actual English Language needs of science and

technology  students in second language English environment.

(ii)   the language in which science and technology students

can best

be taught for better comprehension and whether the level of

performance in science and related courses has anything to do

with the mastery of English.

Research Questions

The study set out with specific objectives in mind to answer the following research questions.

(a)        What are the actual English language needs of science and technology students in second language English environment?

(b)        In what type of language should science and technology students be taught for better comprehension?

(c)        How does the mastery of English affect the performance of students in science and technology?

 

Methodology

This study is a field survey to identify science and

technology students’ needs in the English language in second language English setting.  Like all surveys, this study investigated the current status of things by collecting and analyzing data from a fraction of the population considered representative enough and generating the result to the entire population.  Usually, a survey research cannot provide the basis for testing hypothesis since there are no variables that can be manipulated; rather answers are provided to research questions based on available data. Survey is a popular design in humanities and linguistic research.

Study Population

The population of this study comprised science

and technology students in Nigerian tertiary institutions.  The 2009 University teachers’ trade dispute with the government afforded the researcher the opportunity of using undergraduates from various tertiary institutions which include the Federal Universities of Technology in  Akure (Ondo State) and Minna (Niger State), Joseph Ayo  Babalola University, Ikeji in Osun State, University of  Ado-Ekiti in Ekiti State and Rufus Giwa Polytechnic, Owo  in Ondo State. In all, a total of 196 students were used.

Data Collection Instrument

For this study, Science Students’ Needs in English

Questionnaire (SSNEQ) designed by the researcher was  used.  This instrument was validated by an expert in Test and

Measurement and pretested using Person Product Moment

Correlation Co-efficient for reliability.  The result is a

correlation coefficient of 0.90 showing a high degree of

correlation which ensures the instrument reliability.

The co-efficient of reliability has been put at the

maximum value of 1, and the closer it is to that value, the more

reliable is the instrument

(Jen, 2004).

 

Samples and Sampling Technique

The method adopted in distributing copies of the questionnaire for the survey was giving the instrument to undergraduates spread across five tertiary institutions in four states in Nigeria.  The respondents were purposively selected. The purposive or judgment sampling adopted is a choice of sampling technique by a researcher when he is “guided by what he considers typical cases which are most likely to provide him with the requisite data information.” One hundred and ninety six copies (196) of the questionnaire were duly filled, returned and used for the final analysis.

Data Analysis

For the analysis of data in this study, descriptive statistics, using simple arithmetical percentage and frequency counts, was adopted to answer the research questions.  The parameter used was to regard a higher percentage in the frequency counts as a positive evidence to answer the research questions and vice versa.

The table below shows the responses to the items in the questionnaire.


SCIENCE STUDENTS' NEEDS IN ENGLISH QUESTIONNAIRE (SSNEQ)

Questions

Agree

Disagree

No Response

1

I need English to

function well in life

185 (94.38)*

11(5.61)

-

2

My English needs are

different from my fellow

students in the Liberal Arts

and the Social Sciences

84 (42.86)

112 (57.07)

-

3

I will perform better

in Science If I am taught

in my native language

28 (14.29)

168 (85.71)

-

4

I understand my science

subjects well when I am

taught in English

196 (100)

0 (0)

-

5

I will understand my

science subjects better if

I am taught in special

English for Sciences

126 (64.29)

56 (28.57)

14 (7.14)

6

I do not understand

much when I am taught

science subject in English

0.(0)

196 (100)

-

7

My level of performance

in sciences has nothing to

do with my mastery of

English

98 (50.0)

98 (50.0)

-

8

I need good English

specifically as a Science

student to: describe

science terms clearly

196 (100)

0 (0)

-

9

define science terms clearly

196 (100)

0 (0)

-

10

explain science terms clearly

184.(93.88)

12 (6.12)

-

11

report experiments appropriately

196 (100)

0 (0)

-

12

tell stories

112 (57.14)

84 (42.86)

13

understand my science textbooks

196 (100)

0 (0)

 

14

understand my teachers well in class

182 (92.86)

14 (7.14)

-

15

pass my examinations well

196 (100)

0 (0)

-

16

relate with fellow students

196 (100)

0 (0)

-

17

relate with all my teachers

196 (100)

0 (0)

-

18

relate well with strangers

186 (94.89)

10 (5.10)

-

19

speak fluently to impress people

182 (92.86)

14 (7.14)

-

20

argue convincingly and win arguments

154 (78.57)

42 (21.43)

-

21

entertain people

112 (57.14)

84 (42.86)

-

* Percentage in brackets

 

Discussion

Respondents’ answers, with corresponding percentages in brackets, to the items in the questionnaire are as presented in the table above, and used to answer the research questions set at the beginning of the study.

Research Question 1: What are the actual English needs of science and technology students in second language English environment?

From the responses to question 8, item a-m, on the possible English needs of science and technology students, it was generally agreed that all the highlighted items are their needs.  However, 84 (42.86) disagreed with items e & n.  These are the only fairly high responses; although still far lower than those that agreed with the items.  The implication of this is that science and technology students may not require the kind of English that will enable them tell stories as they may not have to tell one or entertain others as they may not have the time.  Besides, a few of them also agreed that they do not need English to argue convincingly and win arguments (Q.8m, 42 (21.43), a need some feel is lawyers’. Other areas where few of the respondents agreed that they did not need English are to: explain science terms clearly (Q.8c, 12 (6.12); understand teachers in class (Q8g, 14 (7.14); relate well with strangers (Q8k, 10 (5.10) and speak fluently to impress people (Q. 8l. 14 (7.14).

The implication of the findings above is that the English Language needs of science and technology students in second language English environment are not significantly different from those of their colleagues in the liberal arts and the social sciences. This goes to show that science and technology students believe that linguistic competence is not the prerogative of students inclined towards the liberal arts and the social sciences. This negates the general opinion about the linguistic competence of science and technology students and confirms the opinion of Ayodele, (2004) that the ideal expected of our learners is a perfect mastery of English which has become the official language.

Research Question 2: In what type of language should science and technology students be taught for better comprehension?

The responses generally tend towards preference for English (Q.4, 196 (100) as against the use of the indigenous languages.  In fact, a good number of the respondents (Q.3, 168 (85.71) seemed to be averse to the use of indigenous languages to teach science and technology.  The above responses notwithstanding, however, majority (Q5, 126 (64.29) agreed that they would understand science subject better if they are taught in special English for science and technology.  The implication here is that English is still the preferred language for teaching and learning science and technology and there is no possibility of the indigenous languages replacing it, not even in the nearest future.  Since there is preference for special English for the specific purpose of science and technology, teachers of English, especially at tertiary level should start considering the possibility of adopting ESP.  This is particularly necessary since language varies from one situation of use to another, there is, therefore, the possibility of determining the features of specific situations and make such features the basis of the learners’ course (Hutchinson & Waters (1987).

Research Question 3: How does the mastery of English affect the performance of students in science and technology?

The responses to item 7 in the instrument show that the level of performance in science and technology may not have anything to do with the respondent’s mastery of English as the responses are at par on agreeing and disagreeing 98 (50.0)) either way.  The implication of this is that with English taught with purpose-specific to science and technology students, those on the negative divide may benefit more and be “more communicative and functional in the society” (Amoruwa, 2007:39).

Conclusion and Recommendations

Although this study did not reveal significant difference in the English needs of science and technology students from those of the students in the liberal arts and the social sciences in second language English environment, it revealed, however, that special English for sciences will enhance better understanding of courses in science and technology.  This is also in addition to those, though few, who also believe that science and technology students do not need English to tell stories, argue and entertain people.

Moreover, the findings of this study have shown that linguistic competence is desirable by all as part of the total man (Otagburuagu, 2000).  It is therefore germane that science and technology students should strive to master the English language since it is the language of science and technology. It is also a basic fact that ‘research findings are of limited value until they are written up and published’ (Crystal, 1987:38) and to accomplish this, a standard form of English is required. Besides, Ayodele, (2004:14) advocates the attainment of the very highest standard if indeed English has come to stay as our official language.

From the findings in this research, the following recommendations are made:

1.         The standard of English language teaching should not be lowered for science and technology students;

2.         adopting the English for Specific Purpose approach to teaching English to science and technology students should be encouraged at tertiary level:

3.         If the ESP approach is encouraged, there should be team/collaborative teaching between the ESP teachers and the specialist science and technology teachers, with the latter supplying the specialist terms that the ESP teacher will incorporate in his teaching to make the English Language teaching purpose-specific;

4.         the ESP teacher should be involved in materials production to enable him teach to target after first engaging in needs analysis, which will help him identify what the learners need English for so the teacher can teach the type of English needed by the learner (Hutchinson & Waters, 1987) and

5.    management of institutions desirous of quality graduate output should adopt the Kuwait University approach where there is a language centre divided into seven units to correspond with the number of faculties in the University:  medicine, engineering, science, economics, arts, law and education with an English unit attached to each faculty to assess the language needs of the students and offer courses which meet the identified needs (Ghani, 1989). An effective ESP approach to teaching and learning may be expensive, time consuming and skill-intensive (Hyland, 2002) but it is worth the while.

 

Suggestions for Further Research

The findings in this research may not be final or exhaustive, and so the following suggestions are made for further research:

(a)        replication of this research by using a larger sample since it is recommended that “researchers employing the use of surveys should use large samples” (Jen, 2004: 4) and

(b)        doing an experimental study of two groups; one group taught in General purpose English and the other in English for Specific Purposes (ESP) and compare the outcome.

Appreciation

I acknowledge the assistance of undergraduate research assistants who helped in administering the questionnaire.  Equally worthy of my appreciation are Mr. Faloye, the Test and Measurement consultant and Mr. Olojo, J.O. who serves as my statistician and computes scores for instrument reliability.

References

Adelabu, B. (2006).  English for Specific Purpose.  English Language Teaching Today (ELTT)

5,35-41.

Akere, F. (1997).  English Across Discipline. Ikeja: Punmark Nigeria Limited.

 

Akeredolu-Ale, B. (2006). Rethinking the Pedagogics of the General Studies Sub-Programme: Lessons fromUNAB.  English Language Teaching Today (ELTT) 5, 24-34.

Amoruwa, R.T.(2007).  English for Specific Purposes in Adamawa State Polytechnic, Yola: Problems Prospects and Pedagogical Implications.  Journal of Language, Culture and Communication (4&5) 36-41.

Asika, N. (2000) Research Methodology in the Behavioral Sciences. Lagos: Longman Nigeria Plc.

Ayodele, S. O. (2004). The Language Question and Nigerian Education. 4th Annual Public Lecture. Research and Publications Committee: Oyo State College of Education.

Babalola, E.T.O. (2003).  English for specific purposes (ESP):  An overview.  In Oyeleye, L and Olateju, M (ed) Readings in Language and Literature. Obafemi Awolowo University Press Ltd. Nigeria.

Brumfit, C. (1977).  Commonsense about ESP.  In Holden J (ed.) English for Specific Purposes Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Coupland, J. (1984). Writing Texts:  Cohesion in Scientific and Technical Writing.  In Ray Williams, et al (ed).  Common Ground:  Shared Interests in ESP and Communication studies . Oxford:  Pergamon Press

Coffey, B. (1985). ESP- English for Specific Purposes.  In Kinsella, V.(ed.) Cambride Language Teaching Surveys 3. London: Cmabridge University Press.

Crystal D. (1987). The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Federal Republic of Nigeria (1991).  National Policy on Education (Revised). Lagos. Federal Government Press.

Ghani, S.A. (1989). Remedial English. Modern English Teacher. 1 (3&4), 75-80.

Jen, S.U. (2002) Fundamentals of Research Methodology. Yola: Paraclete Publishers.

Jiboku, O. (2006). An Assessment of Pedagogical Approaches in ESP Classrooms of selected Nigerian Science/Technological Institutions.  Paper presented at the 4th ELTT Annual National Conference at the University of Agriculture, Makurdi, 2-5 August.

Hyland, K (2007).  Specificity revisited : how far should we go now? English for Specific Purposes 21 (4) 385-395.

Hutchinson, T and Waters, A. (1987).  English for Specific Purposes Cambridge :  Cambridge University Press.

Kachuru, B.B. (1995): Foreword to Bamgbose, A., Banjo, A and Thomas A. (eds). New Englishes (a West African Approach).  Ibadan.  Mosuro Publishers and Booksellers.

Onukaogu, C.E. (2005). Literacy for Empowerment: Making Things Happen in the Use of English Programme:  English Language Teaching Today: (ELTT)   4 (1) 1-15.

Otagburuagu, E.J. (200).  The Use of English Course and the Question for a Total man:  The Challenge of Universities in Nigeria.  Journal of Liberal Studies 8 (1) 131-136.

Oyetunde, T. O. (2006).  Teacher Development and Effective English Teaching as a Second Language. English Language Teaching Today (ELTT)  5,16-23.

Strevens, P.C.{1977).  New Orientation in the Teaching of English Oxford:  Oxford University Press.

Yule,G. (2007).  The Study of Language. Cambridge:  Cambridge University Press.

 

 

 

 


DUALISING THE NARROW BRIDGE: A SOCIOLOGICAL APPRAISAL OF TRADITIONAL RELIGIOUS FESTIVALS IN YORÙBÁ FILMS

Dr. Olufadekemi  ADAGBADA

Department of Nigerian and Foreign Languages

and Literatures, Faculty of Arts,

Olabisi Onabanjo University,

Ago-Iwoye, Ogun State, Nigeria

Abstract

This paper examines critically the socio-cultural contributions of Yoruba films, especially the ones whose themes are on traditional festival, to the advancement of the society. Our view is that the dictates of the phases of the changes that occur in the course of the advancement of a society, determine the works of arts produced in such a society. The traditional religious festivals of the Yoruba – a bridge that links the more culture-conscious rural dwellers and the lettered, urban, sophisticated elite, need to be widened and dualized. This is important for the achievement of functional documentation and preservation of the festivals as cultural heritage. Further, the periods of the festivals, when all airs of sophistication are dropped, when everyone relate to the other freely, and are more opened to receiving information, commissioned feature films can also be used to disseminate information on governmental programmes meant for the general advancement of the society. On the other hand, putting infrastructural amenities in place will minimize urban drift. This way, joint custody of the original contents of cultural heritage and retention of traditional technocrats at the rural base will augur well for detailed documentation of traditional religious festivals in the film format.

 

Key words :   Festival-drama, Urban-drift, Linkages, Custodians,  Documentation.

Introduction

The rationale behind the first instances of ritual performance has been widely theorized by many scholars to have had its origins in the attempt by the primitive man to psychologically come to terms with his fears about his complex self as a physical being, the reason for and the sustenance of his existence on one hand, and his vast, terrifying and mysterious environment, on the other. In rituals, he imitated the sound and actions of the living beings around him and most likely also sacrificed to appease the mysterious and imposing inanimate ones (Adagbada, 2005; Ogundeji, 2000; 2003; Enekwe, 1987)

Legendary heroes and heroines, mountains, hills, rivers or rocks, that have in one way or the other provided succour or protection for the early inhabitants of the earth’s different communities, were also deified after their demise if humans, and remain continuously relevant to the people if they were inanimate objects. Such are celebrated in periodic commemorations, most often with rituals, to appease them, in order to continuously receive their protection and blessings, apart from showing them appreciation. Examples of such ritual commemorations are the religious traditional festivals1 held in various communities of Yorubalands e.g. Òkèèbàdàn festival in Ìbàdàn, Ògún festival; celebrated more in Òndó and Ìjerò towns than in other Yorùbá towns, Òrósùn festival in Ìdànrè, Olósunta festival in Ìkéré-Èkìtì, Òrùnkén festival in Àgó-Ìwòyè, Agemo festival in Ìjèbúland, Yemoja festival in Ìjèbú-Ìlónè and Ògènègenè festival in Ilaporu-Ìjèbú. The names given to these festivals are those of the gods or goddesses being celebrated.

The rituals performed during these festivals usually manifest dramatic and theatrical features in various kinds and degrees (Ogundeji, 2000:5). Though the seven phases of drama development as opined by Southern (Adeniyi, 1997: 44 – 49) are visible in these religious traditional festivals, apart from their possessing the characteristic features of ‘western/modern’ drama like the use of costumes, masks, special venues, actors, spectators and music, scholars like de Graft (1976) and Echeruo (1971) have tagged them merely ‘embryonic’ or ‘pre-drama’. This is largely due to the fact that they have limitation of literary scope (Ogundeji: 2000: 6), especially as it concerns restriction of dialogues and virtual absence of plot. Another group of scholars including Ogunba (1978) and Enekwe (1987) have on the other hand argued that these traditional festivals must be accepted in their own terms as a type of drama by dispensing with the western dramatic and theatrical conventions. What is important as far as this second school thought is concerned, is the function of the festivals and the response they evoke from the spectators, which is similar to that of the “western drama”. Adeniyi (1997: 44) sees no reason why European or western form of drama should be the yardstick by which festival performance are measured to be classified as drama or not. He opines that:

It is the Yorùbá who would know whether a performance is wholly ritualistic (and not meant for entertainment) or it is a mere re-enactment of ritual, and is meant for entertainment and religious/moral instruction.

 

We are of the opinion that these festivals, to the Yorùbá, are drama in their own right and they are accepted as such, because of the needs and circumstances that helped to shape their courses. Duvignaud, quoted by Bamidele (2000: 29) is therefore right in his observation that the resulting alliance between art and society is so close that during festivals or seasoned rituals, a unique and constant identification between the two (art and society) is noticed. The fact that contemporary drama practitioners continually relate to and with these festivals as themes and sub-themes in their textual, theatrical and filmic productions is an attestation to the suggestion that traditional religious festivals as drama, are borne out of explainable psycho-social impediments.

It is inevitable that the trado-cultural heritage of the Yorùbá people (or any other people for that matter) experiences paradigm shift, because culture, like the society where it is practiced, is dynamic. The knowledge and practice of the values and traditions inherited must be put to dynamic uses in such a way that the inheritance brings about advancement in all the ramifications of the word, to the society. The focus of this paper therefore is the examination of the portrayal of traditional religious festivals in Yoruba video films. The theoretical framework on which the paper hinges is Sociology of Literature as opined by Bamidele (2000); Karlsruhe (1983) and Duvignaud (1972). In their opinions, as the society changes, new roles and new attitudes are assigned to the literary artist. Suggestions are also made on ways by which the festivals can be used for socio-economic development in the various sub-ethnic areas of Yorubaland.

 

Traditional Festivals in Yorùbá Films

Producers of Yorùbá (video) films use the celebration of traditional religious festivals in their productions to point out that more often than not, the villages and ancient towns where these festivals are mostly celebrated2 are the roots of the sophisticated and lettered urban migrants. Love for aesthetics and sense of belonging compel these urban dwellers to return ‘home’ during festival periods. A traditional festival therefore can be likened to a kind of bridge that removes the would-have-been, gap that separates the urban dwellers and their rustic, unlettered and humble relations. In Ibinu Olukoso for  example, Kémi, Tólá and Bukky her friends go to Bádékú village from Lagos city, to watch the celebration of Sàngó3 festival during which Kémi acts as a votary for the divinity. In the same vein, Bísí follows her friend to her (the friend’s) village to enjoy their annual Egúngún4 festival, living behind all the hustle and bustle of the city and its various types of environmental pollutions in Torí Tìe. Adétutù too in Arugbá, leaves the sophisticated and academic environs of her university campus in the city, to be part of the Òsun festival in Ìlú-Ńlá, her home town.

Studying Yorùbá films, we found out that love for cultural aesthetics, evident in the rich display of acrobatics, dancing, singing, drumming and costumes of devotees and other celebrants, is another reason why people attend traditional festivals celebrations. In Òrùka Àgbà for instance, the masquerades are clad in very attractive and expensive garbs. The crowd cheers as they emerge from their sacred grooves and move towards the dancing arena. These devotees sing cheerily:

Àwa ò je gbèsè aso tí a dá féégún

Àwa ò je gbèsè aso tí a dá féégún

Ará e wá wò wá

E wá wo bàbá àwa

Àwa ò je gbèsè aso tí a dá féégún

 

We are not indebted for our masquerades’ garbs

Folks come and watch us

Come and see our ‘fathers’

We are not indebted for our masquerades’ garbs

 

The garbs are so fascinating that maidens may be tempted to befriend the masquerades or their devotees, so they sing:

Lílé:    Ìyá n ó féléégún o jàre

Ègbè:  Féléégún

Lílé:    Ìyá n ó féléégún o jàre

Ègbè:  Féléégún

Lílé:    Bódún bá dé won a dáso fúnjó

Ègbè:  Féléégún

Lílé:    Bódún bá dé won á lérò léyìn o

Ègbè:  Féléégún

Lílé & Ègbè:  Òrò yìí á dariwo béè jé ń féléégún

 

Solo:   Mother, I wish to marry an Egúngún devotee

Refrain:  Marry an Egúngún devotee

Solo:   Mother, I wish to marry an Egúngún devotee

Refrain:  Marry an Egúngún devotee

Solo:   During festivals they sew new clothes

Refrain:  Marry an Egúngún devotee

Solo:   During festivals they are followed by a large crowd

Refrain:  Marry an Egúngún devotee

All:     I will cause a great confusion if you do not let me marry one.

 

City dwellers too, who are familiar with the festival songs, throw away all airs and cautions, and let off steam by joining the singers. In Arugbá, enlightened and royale Chief Oníkòyí leads the jocular song below at the dance arena of Òsun festival when he sets eyes on the regal votary dancing towards the arena:

E bá wa tójú omo wa o

E bá wa tójú omo wa

Àwa ò pé e má yan àlè mó o

E bá wa tójú omo wa

 

Please take care of our children

Do please take care of them

We are not telling you to desist from having concubines

Please take care of our children

 

The panegyric-filled chants about the divinities being commemorated during traditional festivals is another reason some people go to watch these dramatic displays. In Ìbínú Olúkòso, one of the male devotees, clad in red gbérí (jumper) and yèrì (flared skirt) with braided hair chants merrily;

Sàngó olúkóósoooooo!

Àyánrán iná oooooo!

Àkàkà yerì yerì oko Oya

Iná lójú, Iná lénu, Iná lóòlé páàànù

A-wón-léyinjú

Olójú orógbó

Eléèké obì ooooò

Sángiri, làgiri

Ò-là-giri-kààkà-figba-edun-bo-bè

Okùnrin alágbára inú aféfé

Tí í tibi gegele bókèé jààà…

 

Sàngó the king who did not hang!

Fast flash of fire!

Flaming glow, Oya’s husband

Fire in the eyes, fire in the mouth, fire atop the roof

Dearie-eye-balls like bitterkola

Cheeks-made specially for kolanuts

He-who-breaks-walls-to-insert two hundred thunder bolts

The mighty man in the whirlwind

Who attacks from vantage points…

 

‘Sàngó’ emerges as if from nowhere and the crowd bursts into this chorus:

Sàngó de o ekùn oko Oya o

A-gbena-genge

A-feke-lénu-ya…

 

Here comes Sàngó, the fierce tiger, Oya’s husband

He-who-gingerly-carries-fire

He-who-splits-the mouth-of-a-liar…

 

This type of chant is also enjoyed during Òsun festival in Osogbo. An example is this one below in Arugbá:

Yemoja arewà obìnrin oooo

Asòògùn-fún-ni-mámà-gbèjé èèèé

Yemoja o!

O-gbórí-ìtàgé-polóbì-lójà

Yemoja! Yèyé omo eja

N ò mohùn o jù sódò

Tó dàgbo wéré …

Lílé:    Yemoja oò eku ìgbà o

Ègbè:  Éèè eku ìgbà o

Lílé:    Ìyálódò eku ìgbà o

Ègbè:  Éèè eku ìgbà o

Lílé:    Afideremo ò eku ìgbà o

Ègbè:  Éèè eku ìgbà o

Onísègùn odò koko lara ó le …

 

Yemoja the beautiful woman!

She-who-gives-free-treatment

Yemoja I hail you!

She-who-stays-on-the-stage-yet-buys kolanut in the market

Yemoja! The mother of fingerlins

I know not what goes on between ant and sand

Yemoja I hail you!

I know not what you dropped into the river

That turns it into medicinal concoction

 

Lead:  Yemoja the timely rat

Refrain:  Hail the timely rat

Lead:  River goddess the timely rat

Refrain:  Hail the timely rat

Lead:  She who pampers the child with bronze

Refrain:  Hail the timely rat

The riverine healer who makes one healthy…

 

Yorùbá film producers also portray these religious festivals’ periods as times when even, if it is for a short while, a level playing ground exists for both the rich, enlightened and sophisticated people from the urban centres and the rural, unlettered and rustic ancient towns and village dwellers can interact, wine and dine together with little or no inhibition. During Òkèèbàdàn and Edì festivals in Ìbàdàn and Ifè respectively, vulgar utterances and satirical songs that boarder on human private organs, which are frowned at in normal everyday life, are rendered “as means of psychological outlet for bottled up passion and desire for frivolous and immoral talks” (Ogundeji 2000:9). It is this sort of freedom which makes it possible for Dàpò; the unlettered village carpenter, to dare show affection for Bisi, the beautiful, well-lettered and sophisticated girl from Lagos in Nítorí Tìe, when the latter accompanies a friend to her (the friend’s) village to watch the Egúngún festival. It is the same air of freedom that allows Òjélàdé from a humble background to ask Àtùpa the beautiful princess, to be his girlfriend in Àtùpà. In some cases, city dwellers come purposely to seek for life partners in the ancient towns and villages during traditional festivals periods. This is because rural dwellers are more tradition-conscious, and as such they are custodians of cultural values. Male and female youths from this background are usually simple and uncorrupted. Bísí in Nítorí Tìe for instance, is thrilled by Dàpò’s timidity, simple life-style and sense of devotion to the course of love. When  Dàpò goes to Lagos to look for Bísí, the girl’s elder sister offers him money, so that he may leave his heart-throb to marry Òtúnba, a richer suitor. Dàpò pledges his natural and unattached love for Bísí:

N ò fé e nítorí pé ó ń lo okò tàbí torí pé ó ní láárí jù mí lo. Níjó tí mo kókó rí i, ni mo ti féràn rè dókàn.

Ìfé àtokànwá ni, owó ò lè ra ìfé àárín èmi àti è…

 

I do not love her because she owns a car or because she is wealthier than me.

I fell heartily in love with her at the very first sight. It is a natural affection. Our love is of an inestimable value; money can not purchase it.

 

In Arugbá (the bearer), Mákinwá is able to understand and appreciate Adétutù’s reserved attitude in their courtship, when he follows the maiden to her home town during the Òsun festival celebrations. There, he comes to realize why Adétutù is and must remain undefiled as a medium of the river goddess, and the awe and respect her people have for her. This makes Mákinwá to love the votary more, and propose marriage to her, after playing the votary role for two seasons consecutively.

The Yorùbá film producers also show the ‘stupidity’ of some educated people as regards traditional festivals. To such people, ‘sacrificing to some idols, trees, rivers or dead heroes’ is ‘a waste of precious time and resources’. The festivals belong to a past they will wish to forget. In Òrùka Àgbà (the elders’ ring), Ìyá Adétúnjí (Adétúnjí’s mother) advises her son who has just returned from America, to visit her village in order to attend Odún Ìwúre (festival of supplication), so as to seek blessings and protection. Adétúnjí (crown is revived) declines and tells his mother:

Mummy, mi ò like superstitious something béèyen. Gbogbo nnkan tí ó bá ti jo mó ká máa bo nnkan, ká máa forí balè fún nnkan, I just don’t like it. Àwa yìí ti advance kojá gbogbo ìyen…

 

Mummy, I do not like anything superstitious. I am not interested in anything that has to do with offering sacrifice or worshipping anything. People like we are far too enlightened for such…)

 

Adétúnjí regrets this utterance when he begins to have experiences that cannot be explained scientifically and has to seek traditional healers’ help.

In renaissant attempts to make attendance and full participation in the festivals attractive to the viewers, Yorùbá film producers show in their films which have traditional festivals as themes that being a medium, devotee or votary for the divinities being celebrated, is a thing of pride. In Ìbínú Olukoso, the people of Bádékú village refer to Sàngókémi as Ìyá (mother) and accord her due respect as a priestess. One of the men says if he were the girl, he would hold on to Sàngó all the rest of his life, “for whoever finds the god’s favour will be blessed to high heavens” (Adagbada, 2004). In Arugbá too, the king envies Adétutù’s esteemed position of arugbá and wishes it is one of his promiscuous princesses who holds the position. He tells one of his wives, who is of the opinion that Adétutù be left alone to play the role:

Irú kátikàti wo lò ń so lénu? Ìwo ò moyì tó wà nínú kéèyàn ó rugbá ni? Ilé Adéwálé ni yóò tún gbayì lódún yìí? Rárá, n ò gbà!

 

What rubbish are you saying? Dont you know the respect that goes with being a votary? For Adewale’s family to be the cynosure of all eyes this year again? No, I won’t allow it!

 

Another important portrayal of the import of traditional religious festivals in Yorùbá films is the potency of the supernatural powers of the divinities being celebrated in the festivals. Most Africans still practice traditional religious even when they have been converted to foreign ones like Islam and Christianity. Many Yorùbá people, for instance believe and sing thus:

Àwa ó sorò ilé wa o

Àwa ó sorò ilé wa ò

Èsìn kan ò pé, o yeee

Èsìn kan ò pé káwa má soorò

Àwa ó sorò ilé wa o

 

We shall perform our traditional rites

Yes we shall

No religion can forbid us from doing that

We shall perform our traditional rites

 

These people freely and openly participate in traditional festivals. There are some who, because they have taken up other religions, will not want to have anything to do with traditional festivals or religions. However, a large percentage of this group of people are known to seek for spiritual assistance from priests and priestess during the celebration of traditional religious festivals when they encounter problems that cannot be solved physically. Ìbínú Olukoso (the wrath of Sàngó) Màmá Kémi (Kémi’s mother) and father (Bàbá Kémi) are initially without an offspring after many years of marriage, despite all orthodox means to procure a pregnancy. It is not until they go to attend Sàngó festival that they are eventually blessed with Sàngókémi (Sàngó pampers me), who in a pact between them and the divinity, must be a votary for Sàngó, if she is to live and grow without any problem.

Apart from aiding pregnancy, good health and wealth, the divinities are also portrayed as being able to fortify their devotees with supernatural powers. In Arugbá, Adétutù is able to overcome her (supposedly) physically stronger male attackers. One instance is when three young men accost her and her two other female friends on their way to the lecture hall and try to molest them. The other one is when she and some children are kidnapped and locked up in a hide-out in the forest, and how she is miraculously filled with physical power when one of the kidnappers sprays water from a sachet on her, when she demands for water to drink. Sàngókémi too in Ìbínú Olukoso has balls of fire gutting out from her eyes and blinding Tìmíléyìn (her boyfriend) and Bukky (her closest friend) that poison her and drop her ‘dead’ body in a thick forest.

 

Dualising the Bridge

The Yorùbá film producers as we have exemplified, are doing a great job about the promotion of the Yorùbá heritage, especially as it relates to traditional religious festivals. However, their scope of operation can be likened to a narrow one-way bridge, through which they seek to arrest the attention of the enlightened, lettered and more sophisticated urban dwellers and alienated Yorùbá citizens, and beam it (the attention) towards traditional festivals. This is however without reciprocates from the elite from the cities who are being informed about the pulse of the rural dwellers; their challenges and desires. The methods employed by the producers appear to follow the Yorùbá maxim:

Ká se é bí wón ti ń se é

Kó lè rí bí í ti máa ń rí.

 

Let us do it the way it has always been done, so that the outcome will be as it has always been.

 

In the opinion of Bamidele (2000: 29), as the society changes, new roles and new attitudes are expected of (literary) artists and to art. Karlsruhe (1983) distills the artists’ roles better by saying:

What is requires of every work of art – and has always been required – is that its parts are synthesized and harmonized to form a sublime whole that is more than simply the sum of the parts. The works of art should always be in a state of perfect equilibrium, providing us an image of reconciliation… a counter-image and model rather than a mirror-image of the society.

 

This is to say in effect that art is not just to reflect social reality, but more actively, to seek to change it, in a way that will be dynamic with changes that occur. Bamidele, cited above, opines further and we agree that these expected functions of the artist are consequent upon the type of society where he finds himself; for the artists must seek to proffer solutions to the challenges faced by their societies. To this, Karlsruhe (1983) adds that “every work of art reflects and represents the form of society which produced it”.

In his/her attempt to move with the dynamics of culture and society, a literary artist may need to deconstruct, synthesize, and/or harmonize those images of life which are becoming mere illusions and conundrums (Bamidele 2000: 33), that are just to idealize the past. This is in order to revolutionize, to bring about the state of perfect equilibrium suggested by Karlsruhe (1983), by influencing human thoughts and actions.

Attempts must be made by Yorùbá film producers, not to just portray the aesthetics and religious values of these festivals alone, but to let the urbanized and lettered people, who are usually the ones in political control (in modern times), feel the pulse of the people at the grassroots. They should reflect the challenges faced by the rural dwellers at least as sub-themes in their films that have festival as themes. Some of such challenges are the absence or shortage of portable water, roads, electricity, health and educational facilities, among others. This can be achieved by moving close to the rural dwellers to know their desires while scriptings of the films are being done.  These ancient towns and villages can also be used as recording locations for the films, rather than using props at locations in cities to connote rural settings.

When infrastructural amenities are put in place at these rural towns and villages, they will serve as means by which migration to urban centres are limited. Effectively, it will minimize the erosion of jointly preserved inheritance as conserved by the community. This is especially so for traditional technocrats and performers like aborè (priests), àyàn (traditional drummers), korin (chanters/singers) and several others like them. Otherwise, as people migrate to these cities, much of the (orally) preserved values will thin out gradually, until nothing substantial is left of our values for posterity. This basic reason shows why documentation alone may not suffice for the preservation of our cultural heritage in their various forms.

The dynamics of present times in Nigeria, if viewed socio-politically, is such that the government, especially at the local and state levels, must take up, identify and assist with the former roles of supervision, preservation and documentation of our traditional religious festivals played solely by elders and traditional rulers. These they should make to become integral parts of their administrative responsibility. One very visible way by which this can be achieved via the Yorùbá film industry, is for the government to give the necessary financial and monitoring assistance to film makers. Yoruba films then will become an avenue by which these festivals can be documented, popularized and preserved in an entertaining medium for generations yet unborn. Apart from this, if this bridge (the festivals) is widened and dualised, in such a way that a symbiotic relationship exists, whereby the urban dwellers do not only ‘take’ from the rural communities, but also ‘give’ back by way of infrastructural and other social development. The films will be put to more functional uses.

The Èyò traditional festival celebrated periodically in Lagos, for instance, is a good period for film producers to show premiere of their films. Such films if commissioned by government agencies, will be functionally themed on the Èyò festival, and will become useful for the socio-acculturation of generations yet to come. Apart from this, such films may include sub-themes that enlighten the citizens of Lagos about government programmes like forestations, proper disposal of refuse or information about census, immunization or HIV/AIDS.

Among the Rémo people of Ogun State, the Orò (bull-roarer)4 festival is usually celebrated around July or August every year. During this celebration, females5 (and un-initiated men too, in the past) are forbidden to behold the Orò. As such they are to remain in-doors for the three days the festival lasts. To be part of these Ìsémo (being in-doors), many female indigenes (whether Muslims, Christians or from any other foreign religious inclination), travel to towns like Ìkénné, Ilishan and Iperu, just to be in-doors; winning, dinning and re-uniting with friends and relations, while the males dance round the town in procession after the Orò. Apart from film producers using this festival as a theme for their productions, commissioned feature films by government agencies wherein popular artistes star, and have themes not only on culture, but also on women-related programmes like family planning, pre-natal, natal and ante-natal care, educating the girl-child, risks of female genital mutilation, Child Right Acts and others like these, can be shown to these women in secluded town halls daily, while the festival lasts. Talks, seminars, conferences and workshops on these programmes can also be organized for such periods.

 

Conclusion

In this paper, we have shown that Yorùbá religious traditional festivals are a kind of drama in their own right, even as they are different from conventional western forms. We have used five purposively selected Yorùbá films that have themes on traditional festivals as the source of our exemplifications. We point out that Yorùbá film producers use these festivals as themes and sub-themes of their productions, portraying the aesthetics, spiritual, cultural and romantic values and functions of the festivals. The villages and ancient towns are pointed out to be the most usual venue for these celebrations. We see the one-sided relationship of just deriving enjoyment from these festivals at the rural level, as a one-lane bridge between the people at the grassroots and those at the centre of political power in the urban areas; which needs to be dualized to augur for symbiosis. Our suggestion is that the Yorùbá film industry must be given financial and monitoring  assistance, so that they can document these festivals as feature films in order to arouse the interest in generations yet unborn to gain socio-acculturation while getting entertained. Again, in our opinion, putting infrastructural amenities in place at the rural areas will minimize urban drift of traditional religion technocrats who are the custodians of our cultural heritage. We suggest further that for our festivals to be relative to the dictate of modern times, their periods of celebrations can also be used in many ways to disseminate information about government projects to the people through the (feature) film format.6

 

Notes

1.         These traditional religious festivals are different from the yearly towns’ Day festivals, wherein all the indigenes and friends of a town gather to felicitate and raise funds for community projects like sinking of wells, construction of town halls, health centres or raising scholarship funds for brilliant indigent students. Examples of these are Òyó Day, Àgó-Ìwòyè Day, Lísàbí Day and Ìlápòrú Day.

2.         Only in very few modern towns and cities like Lagos are traditional festivals given much recognition, as it presently witnessed with the Èyò festival.

3.         Sàngó is the divinity in charge of thunder and lightning,. He was once a king in Òyó town, known for his fierce temper and magical powers. For further readings see Adeoye C.L. (1980), Johnson Samuel (1961).

4.         Among the Yorùbá, Egúngún is the cult of ancestral spirit (see Adeoye and Johnson above)

5.         Adagbada 2006; Sheba 1999; Ilesanmi (1991(a); 1991(b)

6.         Of all the video films under study, Arugba is the only one that has enlightenment about HIV/AIDS and child care and misappropriation of public funds among other issues as sub-themes.

 

References

Adagbada, O. (2005) “Womenfolk in Yoruba Video Film Industry”. Doctoral Thesis, Department of Linguistics and African Languages, University of Ibadan, Ibadan.

 

Adagbada, O. (2004) “Devotion to the Divinities in Gynocentric Yoruba Films” ORISUN: Journal of Religion and Human Values, Dept. of Religious Studies, Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye Vols. 2 & 3. 2003 – 2004, pp. 20 – 33.

 

Adeniyi, T. (1997) Theatre on Wheels. The Yoruba Travelling Theatre of Nigeria: Origin, Organisation and Structure. Ontario: Impact Communications.

 

Adeoye, C.L. (1980) Àsà àti Ìse Yorùbá. Ibadan: Oxford University Press.

 

Bamidele, L.O. (2000) Sociology of Literature. Ibadan: Stirling Horden Publishers.

de Graft J.C. (1976) “Roots in African Theatre” in African Literature Today. No 8, pp. 1 – 25.

 

Duvignaud, J. (1972) “Art in Society Read Society in Art” in The Sociology of Art. London: Paladin.

 

Echeruo, M.J.C. (1971) “The Dramatic Limits of Igbo Rituals” in Research in African Literature. Vol. 4, No 1, pp. 24 – 27.

 

Enekwe, O.E. (1987) “Igbo Masks: The Oneness of Ritual and Theatre” in Nigerian Magazine. Dept of Culture, Federal Ministry of Social Development, Youth, Sports and Culture, Lagos.

 

Ilesanmi, T.M. (1991a) “Ipò Obìnrin Nínú Awo Ibile”. Paper presented at the 2nd Odujinrin Memorial Lectures, Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye.

 

Ilesanmi, T.M. (1991b) “No Women, No Deity: A Test Case of the Yorùbá Ìjèsà Priestess”. Paper presented at the International Conference on the Images of Women, University of Ife.

Johnson, S. (1921) History of the Yorubas. Lagos: C.S.S. Bookshop.

 

Karlsruhe, J.W. (1983) “Art Forms and Society: Sociological Aesthetics” in Universitas. Vol. 25, No 1, pp. 13 – 17.

Ogundeji, P.A. (2000) Ritual as Theatre, Theatre as Ritual. Ibadan: Ibadan Cultural Studies Group.

 

Ogundeji, P.A. (2003) “Forms of ‘Traditional’ Theatre Practice in Nigeria” in Dapo Adelugba on Theatre Practice in Nigeria. Ibadan: Ibadan Cultural Studies Group, pp. 3 – 33.

 

Sheba, J.O. (1999) “Jíje Gàba Okùnrin Lórí Obìnrin Nínú Awo àti Odún Ìbílè Yorùbá in Inquiry in African Languages and Literatures, University of Ado-Ekiti, pp. 31 – 41.

 

Videography

Arugbá. Túndé Kèlání (2008). Mainframe Productions.

Atupa. Foláké Àrèmú (1998). Corporate Pictures.

Ibinu Olukoso. Bímpé Adékólá (1997) Olasco Film & Record

Co.

Nítorí Tìe. Dàpò Ògúnníyì (2006). Ultimate Film Productions.

Òrùka Àgbà. Andy Abuede (2002). Empro Video Link

Productions.

 

ACADEMIC JOURNAL PUBLISHING IN

NIGERIA: ISSUES, CHALLENGES AND PROSPECTS

Dr Dele Olanisinmi

Dept of Counselling Psychology

Tai Solarin University of Education

Ijebu-Ode, Nigeria

&

Dr Ayotunde Oladeji AMUSAN

Dept’ of Counselling Psychology

Tai  Solarin University of Education

Ijebu-Ode, Ogun State, Nigeria.

 

Abstract

Academic publishing describes a system of publishing that is necessary in order for academic scholars to review work and make it available for a wider audience. Through publications in such journals, researchers communicate their methodologies and findings to the wider audience. The modern process of scholarly communication relies heavily on books, monographs and conference, proceedings, but most commonly on academic journals. This paper therefore elucidates the issues that are germane to the development of the academic journal publishing in Africa, the challenges and prospects. The publishing process is explained.

Recommendations are proffered for the improvements and development of journal publishing in tertiary institutions in Nigeria and Africa in general.

 

Key words : Academic Journals, Publishing, Issues, Challenges, Prospects

 

Résumé

Une publication académique décrit un système de publication qui est nécessaire pour les intellectuels pour leur permettre  de produire à travers la revue de quelque travail et leur rendre disponible à une audience plus large. Cependant à travers les publications dans les revues, les chercheurs communiquent leurs méthodologies et les résultats de leurs recherches à large audience.

Le procédé moderne de communication des intellectuels se repose grandement sur les livres, monographies et les conférences, les articles et autres travaux, mais plus souvent dans les revues académiques. Ainsi donc cet astice élucide. Les faits ayant rapport au développement de la publication de revue en Afrique, les défits et prospectives. Le processus de publication est expliqué. Des recommandations sont proférées pour l’amélioration et le développement de la publication de revue dans les institutions tertiaires au nigéria et en Afrique en général.

Mots-clés : Revue académique, publication, faits défits, prospective.

BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY

Compared to the situation up to the late 1970s, academic publishing in Africa and its concomitant effect on scholarly research has declined in terms of output, quality and regularity of publications (Olukoju, 2002). This reflects the general decline in the standards and funding of education, a consequence of prolonged military rule characterized by lack of accountability and thinly veiled culture of obscurantism (Olukoju, 2002). He also stressed the problem of collapsed currency, owing to plunder and mismanagement by the country’s military rulers, and their civilian collaborations.

This state of affairs generated the brain drain syndrome; and led to the disillusionment and despair among the academics who were distracted from their primary assignments of teaching, research and supervision of students. This situation further led to ceaseless strikes, which consequently led to the collapse of established reputable journals and academic publishing in Nigeria.

Globally, however, among the earliest research journals was the philosophical transaction of the Royal society in the 17th century. At that time the act of publishing academic enquiry was controversial, and widely ridiculed. It was not at all unusual for a new discovery to be announced as anagram; reserving priority for the discoverer. Robert K. Martin, a Sociologist found that 92% of cases of simultaneous discovery in the 17th century ended in disputes. The number of disputes dropped to 72% in the 18th century, 59% in the 19th century, and 33% in the 20th century. The decline can be credited to the increasing acceptance of the publications in modern academic journals (Abba, 2004).

 

PUBLISHERS AND BUSINESS ASPECTS

In the 1960s and 1970s, commercial publishers began to selectively acquire job quality journals which were previously published non-profit academic societies. Unlike most industries, in academic publishing, the most important inputs are provided, virtually free of charge. There are the cuticles and the peer reviewed process. Publishers argue that they add value to the publishing process through support of the peer review group; including stipends, type settings, printing and web publishing investment analysts. However have been skeptical of the value added by the profit making publishers exemplified by Deutche Bank analysts which stated that the publisher adds relatively little value to the publishing process.

SCHOLARLY  PAPER

In academic publishing, a paper is an academic work that is usually published in an academic journal. It contains original research results or reviews of existing results. Such a paper also called an article, will be considered valid if it undergoes a process of peer-review by one or more referees (who are academic in the same field) in order to check that the content of paper is suitable. A paper may undergo a series of review, edits and re-submissions before finally being accepted or rejected for publication (Aboyade 1978). The process often takes several months. There is often a delay for many months before publication, particularly for the most popular journals where the number of acceptable articles ont number the space for printing.

 

PUBLISHING PROCESS

In academic publishing, the process is divided into two distinct phases: The process of peer review is organized by the journal editor and it is complete when the consent of the article together with any associated images or figures are accepted for publication. The peer review process is increasingly managed combine, through the use of proprietary systems. Like E Journal Press, or Open Journal Systems.

Once the peer review has been completed, the original author will modify them submissionism were with the reviewers comments, and this is repeated until the editor is satisfied. (Aina, 1997).

The production process, controlled by a production editor, or publisher the takes the article through a copy editing, typesetting, inclusion in a specific issue of a journal; them printing and online publication. Copy editing seeks to ensure that an article conforms to the journal house style, that all the referencing and labeling is correct; and that there is no spelling and grammatical mistakes. Typesetting deals with the appearance of the article-layout fronts, headings.

In the 20th, such articles were photographed for printing into proceedings and journals and this stages is known as camerals-rewy copy with modern digital submission, such as PDF, this photograph is not longer necessary, through the term is still sometimes used.

 

CITATIONS

Academic authors cite sources they have used. This gives credit to authors whose work they have used and avoids plagiarism. It also provides support for further assertions and arguments and helps renders to find more information on the subjects.

Each scholarly journal uses a specific format for citations, among the most common formats used in research papers are the APA, CMS, and MLA styles. The American  Psychological Association (APA) styles is often used in social sciences. The Chicago Manual of Style (CMS) is used in business, communications, economics and history. The CMS style uses footnotes at the bottom of pages to help readers locate the sources. The Modern Language Association is widely used in the humanities.

 

CHALLENGES OF ACADEMIC JOURNAL PUBLISHING

By the early 1980s, Nigeria had entered in to a period of economic crisis, culminating in the adoption of Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) by 1986, an immediate consequences like brain drain, crash in currency value, marginalization of courses, repressive policies in delay with the legitimate demands of the Academic staff Union of Universities; many old generation of Scholars were preoccupied with other things, especially university administration and external politics, hence they never handed over to the younger generation have been accused of insufferable annoyance (Olukoju, 2004).

Given the above mentioned challenges, many academic journals ceased to exist. The question arising is how did the new generation scholars cope with the collapse of journals and other outlets for their scholarly efforts?

 

PUBLISH OR PERISH: STRATEGY FOR COPING IN ACADEMIC WORLD

Scholars that don’t want to perish in the academic jungles take steps to salvage them and others. These include: establishing a number of journals, Departments and faculties in Universities across the country, with its attendant problem of limited market (students). Hence, the various subscribes have to pay for the publication of their articles in the journal.

Another method of coping is to affiliate with specialist networks and professional associations which find research and participation in international conferences. Taking advantage of electronic and internet facilities (such as the H-West Africa Network) enterprising researchers access announcements of calls for papers and submit abstract of papers which then selected will qualify them for partial or fall support. Participation in the conference will depend on the benevolent of the sponsors. Membership or affiliation with bodies as the council for the development of Social Research in Africa (CODESRIA) (Akande, 1980).

 

Table 1: List of academic Journals in Institutions of Higher learning in Kano State, Nigeria

s/n

Institutions

Active Journals

Ceased Journal

University based Journals

Faculty Journals

Dept Journals

Total

1

Bayero University Kano

15

08

02

06

14

23

2

Fed. College of Edu. Kano

07

01

02

05

01

08

3

Kano State Coll. of Edu. Kumboso

04

-

-

03

01

04

4

Kano College of Edu. (Technical, Bishi)

01

-

-

01

-

01

5

Kano State Polytechnic

01

-

1

-

-

01

Total

27

09

5

15

16

37

Hammed, 2008)

Bayero University, Kano procedures the longest number of journals, 23, including both ceased and active.

Lists of Academic Journals Available in Institutions of Higher Learning in Learning in Kano State.

Institution

Title

Publisher

Active or Ceased

Bayero University, Kano

a)  Kano Studies: A journal of Savanna and Sudanic Research (1965)

University

Ceased

Federal college of Education,Kano

b) Harsunan Nijeriya (1971)

CSNI/BUK

Active

Federal College of Education, Kano

c) The Journal of Education in Africa (1978)

Faculty of Education

Ceased

Federal College of Education, kano

d) Geography Journal (1978)

Department of Geography

Ceased

Federal college of Education, Kano

e) Ganga: a journal of literature studies (1978)

Department of Nigerian Languages

Ceased

Federal

 

Department of English

 

 

College of Education, Kano

f) Kakaki: a journal of creative writing (1979)

And European Lanugaages (now English and French)

Active

Federal College of Education, Kano

g)Journal of General Studies (1980)

General Studies Department/ university

Ceased

Federal College of Education, Kano

h) Gata nan (1980)

Department of Nigerian Languages

Ceased

Federal College of Education, Kano

i) Journal of Tropical Architecture (1981)

Department of Geography

Ceased

Federal College of Education, Kano

j) Nigerian Journal of French Studies (1980)

Department of European Languages now department of English and French

Ceased

Federal College of Education, Kano

k) Dirasatul Arabiyya (1980)

Department of Araabic

Active

Federal College of Education, Kano

l) Journal of Social and Management Studies (JOSAM) (1994)

Faculty of Social and Management Science

Active

Federal College of Education, Kano

m) Journal of research in health and sports science (1996)

Department of Physical and Health Education

Active

Federal College of Education, Kano

n) FAIS Journal of Humanities (1999)

Faculty of Arts and Islamic Studies

Active

Federal College of Education, Kano

o) Bayero business Review (2003)

Department of Bussiness Administrative

Active

Federal College of Education, Kano

p) Bayero International Journal of Accounting Research (BIJAR) ( 2003)

Department of accounting

Active

Federal of College of Education

q) Journal of Engineering Technology (JET) (2001)

Faculty of Technology

The maiden issue is in the process of

 

Kano

Title

Publisher

Publishing

Federal College of Education, Kano

r) International Journal of Pure and Applied Science (JOPAS) (2001) now available online@ http: //www. ijpas. com

Faculty of Sciences

Active

Federal College of Education, Kano

s) Kano Journal of Education Studies (1994)

Department of Education

Active

Federal College of Education, Kano

t) Biological and Environment Sciences journal for Tropics (BEST) (2004)

Department of Biological Sciences

Active

Federal College of Education, Kano

u) International Journal of Adult Education and Community Development Services (JAECS) (2004)

Department of Adult Education and Community Services

The maiden issue is yet out

Federal College of Education, Kano

v) The west African Journal of Language, Literature and Critism: a Multi – Lingual Biannual) (WAJLIC) (1999)

Department of Nigerian Languages

Ceased

Federal College of Education, Kano

Bayero Journal of Interdisciplinary studies

University Based Journal

Active

 

Institution

Title

Publisher

Active or Ceased

Federal College of Education, Kano

TAMBARI: Kano Journal of Education (A Journal of Federal college of Education, Kano) (1993)

College Journal

Active

Federal College of Education, Kano

Women and Education: A journal of Federal College of education association, Kano (FEDWA) (1994)

College Journal

Ceased

Federal College of Education, Kano

Nigerian Journal of Educational research (1998)

School of Education

Active

Federal College of Education, Kano

WAZOBIA (2000)

Department of Nigeria

Active

Federal College of Education, Kano

Business, Agric, Home Economics and Fine/ applied arts (BAHF)

School of Vocational

Active

 

 

 

Kano

(2001)

Education

 

Federal College of Education, Kano

Nigerian Journal of Education Services (2000)

School of Education

Active

Federal College of Education, Kano

Nigerian Journal of Educational Review (2002)

School of Education

Active

Federal College of Education, Kano

Vocational Renaissance: A Journal of Vocational Education(2202)

School of Vocational Education

Active

Institution

Title

Publisher

Active or Ceased

Kano State College of Education, Kumbotso

Kano Journal of Arts and Social Sciences (1998)

School of social Sciences

Ceased

Federal College of Education, Kumbotso

Kano Journal of Sciences (2001)

School of Sciences

Active

Federal College of Education, Kumbotso

Kano Journal of Vocational Education (2002/2003)

School of Vocational Education

Active

Federal College of Education, Kumbotso

School of Education department of Educational psychology and Guidance and Counseling may (2005)

 

Active

Institution

Title

Publisher

Active or Ceased

Federal college of Education Technical Bichi

Bichi Journal of Education

College Journal

Active

Institution

Title

Publisher

Active or Ceased

Kano State Polytechnic (Central Administration)

TAMA Journal: a Multi disciplinary journal of Kano State Polytechnic

Polytechnic Journal

Active

 

RECOMMENDATIONS AND CONCLUSION

  1. Parent institutions should ensure that substantial amounts of money are budgeted to support journals production and distribution, which will subsidized the subscription rates and thereby attract subscribers.
  2. Higher  Education institutions should consider the budgets allocation for research and publication and encourage faculty member to embark on research projects.
  3. Lack of adequate and current materials in the libraries be stocked with adequate and current materials.
  4. Peer reviwers should be encouraged to review and return manuscripts in a timely way.
  5. Editors should published articles that meet publications criteria, and improve all quality of binding to attract patronage (Iya, 2001).
  6. Journals should be advertised to boost the financial base of the journals as they are displayed in seminars, workshops, conferences and others.

 

REFERENCES

Abba, I.A. (2004). University Faculty- Based journals. In consolidating the citadel: Bayero University, Kano (1994 – 2004). University faculty based Journals. In consolidating he citadel: Bayero University Kano (1994-2004) Edited by Attawu M. Jigga, Isa Alkah Abba and Haruna Wakili Kano. Centre for Democratic research and training Mamsaya House, Gwamaya, Bayero University Kano.

Aboyade, B.o (1978) Nigeria Historical and dissemination of Historical information. In Journal of Historical Society of Nigeria ix: 145-165.

Aina, L.O. (1997) Research and Writing Skills Workshop for Liberians in South Africa. A workshop proposal. Gabone. University of Botswana P. 1-15.

Akande, O. (1980) Publication of Scientific Journals in Nigeria. Problems and Suggested Remedies. Nigerian Libraries 16(1) 82-90.

Iya, J. (2001) Tambrai Kano Journal of Education. The Journal so far. Journal or Symposium. In Education. Available :

http/www2.ncsu.edu/nen/jamera.html.

Olukoju A. (2004) The crisis of Research and Academic publishing in Nigeria Universities. The twentieth century and beyond. Edited by Paul Tlyambe Zeleza and Adebayo Olukoshi Daukar, Senegal. CODESERIA. Pp.363-8

Hammed. M. (2008) The Development Academic Journals in Institutions of Higher Learning in Kano State Nigeria.

Available http/www.zncsu.edu.gen.jametahtml.

 

Staff and Students’ Preferences for National Varieties of English at Tai Solarin University of Education, Ijebu-Ode, Nigeria.

Dr EGWUOGU Chinyere Beatrice

Department of English

Tai Solarin University of Education,

Ijebu-Ode, Nigeria

Abstract

The simultaneous co-existence of three national varieties of English in Nigeria has given rise to the dilemma of choice of a variety to use among the educated speakers of English in Nigeria. While some educated speakers prefer the British English variety, others prefer the American English variety. Yet, some others prefer the Nigerian English variety. Linguistic choices of speakers of a language are usually influenced by such sociolinguistic variables as education, occupation, socio-economic background, context of situation as well as attitude of speakers towards the language itself or its variety. Also, choices may be influenced by inherent features of the language itself or its varieties. This paper is an attempt to find out the preference of the staff and students of Tai Solarin University of Education, Ijebu-Ode for national varieties of English in Nigeria and the factors responsible for such preferences.

Résumé

La co-existence simultanée de trios varieties d’anglais au nigeria a donné créeé un dilème du choix de la variété d’anglais a utilisé au nigeria par les locuteurs de la langue anglaise qui ont reçu une éducation formelle.pendant que certains locuteurs préfèrent la variété de l’anglais britanique, d’autres locuteurs préfèrent la variété de l’anglais americain. Poutant, certaines personnespréfèrent la variété de l’anglais nigérian.

Le choix linguistique des locuteurs d’une langue sont souvent influencés par une telle base de variété sociolinguistique de l’éducation, occupation, socio- économique, context de la situation aussi bien que l’attitude des locuteurs vis-vis de la langue elle-même ou ses variétés.aussi, les choix peuvent être influencés par les caractéristiquesinterentes de la langue elle-même voire ses variétés.

Cet article est une tentative de chercher la préférence du staff et etudiants de ‘’ Tai Solarin University of Education’’, ijelu Ode pour les variétés nationales de la langue anglaise au nigeria et les facteurs responsables de ces préferences.

Introduction

Background to the study

English was introduced in Nigeria following the coming of the colonial masters. The whites did not only come to trade and to civilize but also to evangelize. Following the activities of the European traders, British officials who acted as administrators, and the missionaries, British English (BrE) was implanted in Nigeria (Ogu 1984). This variety interacted with the local languages and culture of its new environment and became heavily influenced by the linguistic and socio-cultural environment of Nigeria. The result was the emergence of a new variety designated as Nigerian English (NE). This variety now has its own sub-varieties and features which identify it as different from other national varieties of English. These features have been well identified by Banjo (1993) and Bamgboe (1995) among other scholars.

The features of NE are distinguishable at the phonological, lexical, syntactic and semantic levels. At the phonological level, there is no distinction, for instance, between /i:/ in leave and /i/ in live, /a:/ in cart and /æ/ in cat, /t/ in tank and /Ѳ/ in thank, /d/ in den and /ð/ in then, /e/ in said and /ei/ in paid etc. Thus, indigenous languages sounds are substituted for English sounds. And there is the tendency to transfer the tonal features of Nigerian languages to the English language which is a stress-timed language and this is used to replace the stress, intonation and rhythm of the English language. The effect of this is the loss of melody, hence, Nigerian English tends to be less rhythmic. Also, there is the manifestation of the absence of consonant clusters in NE. This is a feature of Nigerian indigenous languages which have as their syllabic stricture cvcv rather than the C0-3VC0-4 of the English syllable. However, the inability to pronounce a cluster of 3 or 4 consonants is a feature peculiar with the less highly educated.

At the lexical level, words from Nigeria’s socio-economic cum cultural experience abound in NE. They include fufu, okro, agbada, austerity, decamp, cut-off-point, annulment, co-wife, head-tie etc. In addition to this, some words of BrE origin have been altered by semantic extension to acquire new meanings e.g. family kinship terms like mother , father, brother, sister etc. In this context, ‘father’ is not just one’s biological male parent but refers to any of one’s elderly relatives whether paternal or maternal. Other words include applicant, balance, amount, sorry etc. The meaning extension here depends on the context of usage. Also, there are coinages made through intra-lingual compounding e.g. tight-friend, bush-meat, home-training, go-slow, bride-price etc.

At the syntactic level, expressions coined from Nigeria’s economic and socio-political situations can be found e.g. Federal character, oil boom, drug trafficking, four-one-nine, child-trafficking, examination malpractices, step aside, yahoo-yahoo business, man- know- man, presidential zoning etc. Again, there are omissions and substitutions in Nigerian English as in ‘follow one’s footstep’, ‘blow one’s trumpet’, and ‘not by any stretch of imagination’ instead of ‘follow in the footstep’, ‘blow one’s own trumpet’ and ‘not by any stretch of the imagination; in BrE. Substitution of words in expressions manifest as follows:

i(a). Get cold feet (BrE) i.(b) Develop cold feet (NE)

ii(a).As quick as lightening (BrE) ii(b). As fast as lighting (NE)

Other syntactic features of NE can be seen in the use of prepositions. For examples, ‘congratulation on’ in BrE  is‘congratulation for’ in NE. Sometimes, the article is completely omitted as in ‘he wants to be lawyer’. There is also the pluralisation of non-count nouns such as equipments, evidences, furnitures, stationeries etc as well as tautology as in ‘assemble together’, ‘repeat again’, ‘can be able’ etc. The addition of the ’s’ plural marker to non-count nouns is a manifestation of the imperfect learning of the pluralisation system of English nouns.

Furthermore, features of NE can also be observed at the semantic and discourse levels. For example ‘step aside’ in NE has the meaning connotation of leaving for a while with the hope of coming back whereas it means to step down in BrE. On the other hand, discourse features manifest in the cultural way of making enquiry into one’s well-being and the flouting of titles which is part of the socio-cultural life of the people of Nigeria. Thus, people can bear titles like Chief Sir Dr. Evang..... or Alhaji Engineer Dr......

Today, NE exists side by side with BrE in Nigeria as attested to by the following forms and expressions:

 

BrE NE

Beef                                                 Cow meat

Alight/ disembark                            Drop

Guest                                                           Visitor

Lover                                               Boy/girl friend

Casanova                                         Womanizer

I lent him money                             I borrowed him mon

Fill in the form                                 Fill the form

There is power-cut               They have taken the light

Complete your work                        Finish your work

She is my elder sister                       She is my senior sister

 

The simultaneous existence of BrE and NE has created the dilemma of choice of forms and expressions in the use of English in Nigeria (Egwuogu 2005). Sometimes, scholars, teachers, students, examiners and indeed other educated speakers of English in Nigeria are faced with the problem of determining which form and or expression is BrE, AmE or NE (Igboanusi 2003). Which form or expression is a variant and therefore correct and which is an error? Which variant is more acceptable or more appropriate in certain domains and context? (Egwuogu 2001). In fact, it is alleged that part of the causes of mass failure in English language in public examinations such as Senior School Certificate Examination (SSCE), General Certificate in Education (GCE), National Examination Council (NECO) examinations is the examiners’ inability to identify and distinguish the different national varieties of English in Nigeria and accept them as correct. The effect of this is that students are marked down by the examiner who is not familiar with a particular form of expression, irrespective of whether it is from a national variety or not. For example, most examiners who are not familiar with NE would mark as wrong, an expression like ‘congratulations for your success’ which is an NE expression. They will rather prefer ‘congratulation on your success’ which is the BrE version. The reason for this is not far fetched. BrE is the variety taught and learnt in school and also used officially. Therefore, educated speakers are more familiar with it and would prefer it to the NE version which they are not even aware of or familiar with.

Incursion of American English into Nigerian English

While the problem of choice of forms and expressions between BrE and NE is yet to be resolved, the incursion of AmE which is relatively a recent development has worsened the dilemma of choice among the national varieties. This incursion which started around the 1960s (Bamgbose 1995, Awonisi 1994) increased around the 1980s with the activities of the ‘been-tos’-a set of Nigerians who travelled to America and came back with influence of American accent, slang and colloquialism (Igboanusi 2003). However, the spread of Americanism climaxed in the 21st century with the continuing growth and spread of American cultural, economic and technological domination of the world and the international relations policies exemplified in their Peace Corps and immigration policies as in the Visa Lottery. As a tool for the propagation of American ideals, AmE became an important variety.  Through films, books and magazines, travels, music, religion, cable network news, print and electronic media, internet etc, AmE infiltrated into NE and other Englishes in the world. Its spread which is synonymous with the spread of American ideals has left a lot of linguistic influences on the other varieties of English world-wide. These influences cut across the lexical, phonological, syntactic and even semantic levels in NE today.

At the lexical level, words donating distinctive American development in social, economic, political, artistic and technological fields are seen in NE e.g. baby-seater, salesgirl, movie, duplex, guy, presidential, gubernatorial, spaghetti, ranch etc. Apart from these, many words of AmEorigin can be found in NE.

Some of these words have BrE and NE equivalent e.g.

AmE                                    BrE                            NE

Vacation                              Holiday                      Rest period                             Petrol                          Gas

Fuel                                      Movie                         Film Video                             Generator                   Dynamo Plant                                     Eraser                         Rubber Cleaner                                  Loo                      Gents/Ladies Toilet                         Drugstore                   Chemist Medicine/Pharmacy             store                          Résumé

Curriculum vitae                  Particulars                   Shorts Knickers                                 Short knicker

However, the most significant lexical influence of AmE on NE is seen in the area of spelling. For now, NE has not evolved its own spelling system. Its spelling system is synonymous with BrE spelling system and this differs from AmE spelling system in the following areas:

i. Replacement of ‘our’ with ‘or’ as in labor, favor, harbor,

honor

ii. Replacement of ‘c’ and ‘z’ with ‘s’ an in defense, license,

realise, organise etc

iii Replacement of ‘re’ with ‘er’ as in theater, fiber, center,

meager etc.

Added to this is the love for short forms which manifest in the dropping of some letters of a word e.g.

i. ue as in dialog, catalog, prolog etc. me as in program

ii. l as in traveling, jewelry, counseling

These are carried over into NE and they have been a source of confusion in the choice of forms and expressions in the use of English by educated speakers.

At the phonological level, there are manifestations of AmE influences on NE especially in the pronunciation feature characterized by nasal twang, t-tap and retention of /r/ sound as well as loss of palatalization effects in the pronunciation of some words. Thus in the pronunciation of some Nigerians, football /futbɔ:l/ is pronounced as /fu?bɔ:l/, near /niә/ is pronounced as /nir/ while duke is pronounced is /dju:k/ is pronounced as /du:k/. Again, the word schedule /ʃedju:l/ in BrE is pronounced as /skedƷul/ in AmE and this has influenced the pronunciation of some Nigerian educated speakers of English.

It has been pointed out that differences in varieties are more observable at the phonological and lexical levels. Yet, minimal variations exist at the syntactic level between one variety of a language and another. Such syntactic variations between BrE and AmE can be distinguished in the following areas:

  • Use of collective nouns with plural verbs e.g.

BrE                                                                       AmE

The crowd is much the crowd are much. Government is working Government are working

  • Conversion of noun to verb e.g. partner with, author a book.
  • Use of ‘have got’ e.g. ‘I have gotten it’ instead of ‘I have got it’.
  • Use of ‘have gotten’ for became e.g. they have gotten fond of each other.
  • Use of double negative e.g. I don’t want to see nobody.

These AmE features have become part of the structures of NE. They provide alternatives from which the Nigerian educated speakers of English can choose. But whatever informs the choice is a sociolinguistic subject for discussion.

 

Statement of the problem

The simultaneous existence of three national varieties of English in Nigeria has created the conflict of choice among the educated speakers of English in Nigeria. The effect of this conflict is mostly felt in the education sector in which teachers who are not familiar with the different national varieties fail students for using the forms they do not know, whereas use of forms has to do with availability of choices which are mutually substitutable. Therefore, while some prefer one variety, others prefer the other varieties. Which particular variety do the staff and students of TASUED prefer? Are their preference based on linguistic or sociolinguistic factors or both? These are some of the questions which we intend to address in this study.

 

Research questions

For the purpose of this study, the following research questions were generated:

  1. Do the staff and students of TASUED prefer BrE spelling or AmE spelling?
  2. Do the staff and students of TASUED prefer BrE, AmE or NE words?
  3. Do the staff and students of TASUED prefer BrE, AmE or NE expressions
  4. Which model of pronunciation do the staff and the students of TASUED prefer?
  5. Which national variety of English do the staff and students of TASUED prefer?
  6. What informs their preference- is it attitudinal, linguist or sociolinguistic?

Significance of the study

The study is significant in the sense that it will provide an empirical evidence for the preference made by educated speakers of English in Nigeria. It will also rank the national varieties of English in Nigeria in a preferential scale and provide an explanation for such preferences and ranking. Furthermore, it will shed more light on the acceptability of NE, language shift and language loyalty. In addition, it will add to the bulk of scholarly literature on the characterization and development of NE.

 

Theoretical framework

The task of language analysis cannot be done without relating it to a linguistic theory relevant to the task at hand. The issue of language preference is a sociolinguistic matter since Sociolinguistics is a discipline that lays emphasis on the social significance of language i.e. it deals with the use of language in relation to the society while paying attention to, among other dimensions, the social identity of the speaker and the hearer, the social environment in which speech event takes place, the degree of linguistic variation of speakers and the language attitudes and preferences of a speech community. Tai Solarin University of Education, Ijebu-ode is a heterogeneous speech community comprising speakers of English at various levels of proficiency. Being the premier university of education in Nigeria, it is involved in a lot of linkages and collaborations with other universities especially in America and the United Kingdom. There has been an exchange of staff and students between TASUED and some America and U.K. universities and part of the effect of this collaboration is seen in the use of varieties of English among the staff and students of TASUED.  Many sociolinguistic theories such as Bernstein’s Deficit Hypothesis, Hymes Ethnography of speaking, Gardner and Lambert’s as well as Adegbija’s studies on Language Attitude and preferences etc abound which give explanation to language use in the society. But for the purpose of this study, Labov’s Variability Concept is considered the most appropriate since it deals with linguistic differentiations and descriptions of variation in the speech of members of a speech community as well as the choice an individual or members of a social class make in the use of language.

 

Variability Concept

Variability concept with its chief exponent as William Labov is an attempt to explain all linguistic differentiations caused by the intervention of social parameters and of their correlations with the social structure. It is interested in explaining:

The extent to which language systems interfere with one another on the   lexical, phonological, syntactic and semantic levels; how they are acquired, conserved and modified in these levels and on the basis of what relationships they co-exist or come into conflict. (Dittmar 1976)

Its basic ideas include the fact that:

Linguistic systems whether national, regional, standard or social are functionally equivalent in their expressive possibilities and capacity for logical analysis. In other words, no language or dialect is superior to the other in functional terms. Every language or variety of a language serves the functions to which it is put; language and language varieties change in the course of history through contact and modifications. This is the case with NE which was initially only BrE based but now, in the course of its history, it has been influenced by the incursion of AmE so that Americanisms can be seen in all the linguistic levels of NE.

Different classes of people in the society have peculiar ways of using language based on the determinant sociolinguistic factors of age, sex, socio-economy background, occupation, religion etc. We observe that different classes of people and institutions in Nigeria use different varieties of the English language at different occasions, depending on the functions, as functional varieties are connected with specific interactions, institutions, formal and informal situations, occupational conditions etc. Thus, speakers may prefer variety A in one context and variety B in another context or even both within the same context. In this way, they depict the smooth fluidity exhibited by speakers of a language in code-switching and code-mixing. While the highly educated and the older generation tend to prefer BrE to the other national varieties of English in Nigeria, observations have shown that those in the entertainment industry and the youths who constitute the younger generation tend to prefer AmE to the other varieties in both formal and informal occasions. However, an attempt will be made in this study to find out the exact reasons for such preference.

Part of the basic idea of the Variability Concept is the evaluation of two co-existing language or language varieties in relation to each other to determine which enjoys more prestige as ‘the High (H) variety and which is the ‘Low (L) variety (Ferguson 1958).

In order to achieve all these goals, Variability Concept among other things examines the acquisition of language systems, the degree of interference or influences noticeable at the various linguistic levels and within a speech community. It is believed that it is the attitude of the speakers towards a language or its variety that informs their preference.

Based on these facts, Variability Concept becomes the most relevant sociolinguistic theory which serves as the theoretical framework for this study.

 

Language attitude and language preference

In general terms, attitude could be regarded as a way of behaving, acting, thinking, perceiving or feeling towards something. As pointed out by Atkinson(1987), it deals with likes and dislikes i.e. affinities for and aversion to objects, persons, groups, situations or any  other identifiable aspects of the environment. Attitudes predispose people to respond

to objects, persons, groups, values, languages etc positively, negatively or in ambivalent ways (Saul 2004).

Language attitude deals with the way an individual or group views a language or its variety within a speech community. According to Adegbija (1994), it is the evaluative judgement and opinion whether temporal or lasting, superficial or deep-rooted, made about a language (or its variety), its speakers and on preference for its use. It is concerned with the feeling or perception of people in respect of a language or its variety. Corroborating this, Soyele (2007) states that the attitude of an individual or society can determine their language choices.

Garner and lambert (1972) as quoted by Adegbija (1994) identify two types of language attitude:

i. Instrumental language attitude which is indicated by pragmatic and utilitarian motives and characterized by the desire to gain social recognition and economic advantages.

ii. Integrative attitude which is oriented towards social and interpersonal relationships and is linked with the need for affiliation.

These two types of attitude are interwoven and are relevant to the language situation in Nigeria particularly as it relates to the three national varieties of English in Nigeria. Nigerians have different attitudes towards these varieties based on their association of these varieties with certain privileges and socio-economic advantages; and it is their attitude that is responsible for the choices they make.

Baker (1992) identifies three components of attitude:

i. Cognitive component which relates to thoughts and beliefs

ii. The affective component which concerns the feelings people have towards the attitude object which in this case is the language or its variety.  iii. The conative attitude which deals with the readiness or plan of action to describe the behavioural intention under defined contexts or circumstances.

For Baker, attitude necessitates action. People tend to have a positive attitude towards a language or its variety that performs important functions such as administrative, educational, integrative, interpersonal, and trade functions. BrE is saddled with these responsibilities in Nigeria and it is the model taught and learnt in school. So people tend to prefer it to either NE or AmE because of its prestige provision of opportunities for socio-economic advancement, although recently, it is observed that the youths are shifting towards AmE because of its role in globalization and the need to identify with such roles.

Williams (1974) representing the mentalist school of thought on language attitude sees attitude as an internal feeling expressed through stimulations that involve the cognitive, the conative and the affective perspectives. For the mentalist’s school, language attitude is indicated by instrumental motivation in which an individual associates a language or its variety with social recognition and economic advantage and is therefore motivated to use it so as to achieve socio-economic goals. However, for the behaviourists’ school, language attitude is a response to social situation. This reflects the choice of one language or variety instead of the other. For Adekunle (1995) language attitude is integrative, involving both social and interpersonal relations and the need for affiliation. In Nigeria, the attitude of Nigerians towards the national varieties of English differs according to their thought and feelings concerning each variety and these are based on the functions performed by each variety.

Language preference as a by-product of language attitude is predicted on the functions performed by a language and the features that characterize that language or its variety. It is a more reflection of individuals’ attitude towards their language. As pointed out by (Edward 1985), language variety preference is one of the ways of expressing values, altitudes and intentions towards others while for Medvedeva (2007), language preference influence frequency of language use and serves as a pre-requisite to change in language state and a change in language state or language preference is language shift.

Numerous social and demographic factors affect language preference directly or indirectly. These factors include among others, the number of speakers, frequency of use and conformity of use. Globally, it is established that AmE is spoken by a large population than any other variety of English (Crystal 1985) and it is the variety most often used due to its role globally. Moreover, as America is still in the forefront of Global leadership, AmE still stand the chance of continued usage and so offers opportunities for participations in the globalization process. Therefore, there is the tendency for Nigerian youths to prefer its use as a way of integrating themselves with the phenomenon of globalization.

 

Literature review

Due to the fact that the incursion of AmE into NE is relatively recent, not much work has been done on AmE in Nigeria. However, the first significant empirical study on AmE in Nigeria is Awonusi (1994)’s ‘The Americanization of Nigerian English’. Using 80 subjects from Lagos town only, Awonusi examined the phonological and lexical influence of AmE on NE and the lexical preference pattern of AmE speakers based on the sociolinguistic variables of age, sex and social class. The study discovered that NE is influenced by AmE phonologically and lexically. Another study on AmE is Igboanusi;s ‘Knowledge, use and attitude towards AmE in Nigeria’. Using data collected from newspapers, magazines, radio and television, Igboanusi discovered that many Nigerians are aware of AmE but do not use it. They show negative attitude towards it and prefer BrE to it.

Other studies on AmE in NE adopt theoretical approaches. In his ‘Heroes of Knowledge, Versus Dragons of Ignorance: language, identity construction, and intertextuality  in Nnamdi Azikiwe’s My Oddyssey’, Oha(2003), pointed out that the internationalization of English coincided with the Americanization of the world , thus making AmE the language of power and economic life that is tending to subvert and transform the context of the parent BrE. It has been argued that the internationalization of English particularly AmE ties into the global system of disempowerment of non-native or better still, non-Americanism speakers (Pennycook 1994, Oha 2003). As such, the Nigerian youth in his attempt to be empowered to become an influential member of his generation and in his desire to ‘check out’ of Nigeria, has no alternative than to prefer to speak and act Americanisms since this, according to Oha, ‘is the shibboleth used in determining inclusion and exclusion’.

In her contribution to the literature on AmE in Nigeria, Egwuogu (2007) examined ‘The Effects of Americanisms on the Teaching and Learning of English in Nigeria’. She pointed out that Americanisms have influenced NE at all the linguistic levels and have created the problems of confusion, choices and inconsistencies in the use of English in Nigeria. She lamented the unfamiliarity of most teachers of the English language with Americanisms, pointing out that their inability to identify or teach these is a major source of the problem encountered in the use of English in Nigeria. Considering the position of AmE in the globalization process, she therefore called for a retraining of the teachers and an incorporation of the teaching of AmE in the teaching of English in Nigeria as part of the measures towards curbing the problem of confusion of forms in NE.

None of these studies examined in details, the general preference for the three varieties of English by educated speakers of English within the university environment and again the studies failed to examine the preferences at all the linguistic levels. This justifies the present research which is an attempt to establish the preference for the national varieties of English not only in general but also in each of the linguistic levels among the staff and students of the premier university of Education in Nigeria.

 

Methodology

The study which is a descriptive survey combined the use of questionnaire and unrecorded interview. The questionnaire contained two parts. Part 1 was designed to collect demographic data while part 11 consisted of five sections A-E which were designed to collect data on preference for spelling, word, expression, pronunciation and factors responsible for such preference. Section D consisted of the oral interview on pronunciation. Section A-D contained five items each while section E contained 10 items, making 30 items altogether. The data collected were analysed using descriptive statistical tools of frequency counts, percentage and mean. The sample consisted of 50 subjects within ages 16-60, chosen from the population of staff and students who have had contact with America and the united kingdom and who also constitute a part of the educated  speakers of English at Tai Solarin University of Education. The sample was made up of 25 staff and 25 students. The staff consisted of both teaching and non-teaching and all were selected using simple random sampling technique. 50 questionnaires were administered and this was done by hand for immediate collection. 25 respondents were interviewed to determine their model of pronunciation.

Data analysis and discussion of findings

Research questions

Questions one sought to find out the spelling preference of staff and students of TASUED. Data collected on spelling preferences were analyzed and the results are presented in Table 1.

Table 1: Spelling preferences of staff/students of TASUED.

S/N

BrE

F

%

AmE

F

%

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

Labour

Défense

Centre

Jewellery

Programme

Total

Mean

43

42

42

24

41

192

38.4

86

84

84

48

82

76.8

15.36

Labor

Defense

Center

Jewelry

Program

7

8

8

26

9

58

11.6

14

16

16

52

18

23.2

4.64

 

Results in Table 1 revealed that all the responses except item 4 indicate preference for BrE spelling. When summed, a total of 192 responses representing 76.8% show preference for BrE spelling while a total of 58 reponses representing 23.2% show preferece for AmE spelling. NE has not developed its own spelling system. With a mean value of 38.4 as against 11.6 for AmE, it can therefore be concluded that BrE spelling is the preferable spelling system among the staff and students of TASUED.

 

Question two sought to find out the vocabulary choices of the staff and students of TASUED among the national varieties of English in Nigeria. Data for this question were analyzed and the results are presented in Table 2.

 

Table 2: Word preference

S/N

BrE word

F

%

AmE word

F

%

NE word

F

%

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

Petrol

Film

Knichers

Rubber

Cum vitae

Total

mean

17

16

18

8

26

85

17.0

34

32

38

16

52

34

68

Gas

movie

shorts

eraser

resume

9

25

24

22

14

94

18.8

18

50

40

44

28

37.6

7.52

Fuel

Video

Short/knickers

Cleaner

Particulars

 

24

9

8

20

10

71

14.2

48

18

6

20

20

28.4

5.68

 

Results in table 2 show that 94 responses representing 37.6 indicate preference for AmE words, while 85 responses representing 34% and 71 responses representing 28.4% show preference for BrE and NE words respectively. It can therefore be concluded that AmE words are preferable to the respondents. This is supported by the highest mean value of 18.8 as against 17.0 and 14.2 for BrE and NE respectively. However, the results also revealed a keen composition between BrE and AmE for lexical influence on NE. Again, that NE is growing lexically in not in doubt. As can be seen from the results, the difference between the preference for NE word and other varieties words is not alarmingly significant. This means that educated speakers are using NE words and use is one of the factors that enhance language growth.

Question three sought to find the expression preference of staff and students of TASUED. Data collected through the questionnaire were analyzed and the results are presented in table3.

 

 











 

 

Table 3 : Expression Preference

 

BrE

F

%

AmE

F

%

NE

F

%

See you on Friday

Fill in the form

Read in between the lines

The article was published

I loaned him

Total

Mean

38

19

26

35

18

136

27.6

76

38

52

70

36

54.4

10.8

See you on Friday

Fill out the form

Read in between pages

The article got published

I lent him money

5

9

8

10

18

50

10

10

18

16

20

36

20

4

See you by Friday

Fill the form

Read line by time

The article became published

I borrowed him money

7

22

16

5

14

64

12.8

14

44

32

10

28

25.6

5.12

 

-155-

 

The results in table 3 revealed that BrE has a total of 136 responses representing 54.4%, followed by NE expressions with 64 responses representing 25.6%, while AmE expressions has 50 responses representing 20%. It can therefore be concluded that BrE expressions are the most preferred by staff and students of TASUED. This is supported by a mean value of 27.6 as against 12.8 and 10.0 for NE and AmE. It is rather interesting to note that educated speakers of English are now using more of NE forms and expressions. This will further enhance the growth of NE.

Question four sought to find out the model of English pronunciation preferred by the staff and students of TASUED. The data collected from oral interview were analysed and the results are presented in table 4.

 

Table 4: Pronunciation Preference

Word

BrE Pro

F

%

AmE Pro

F

%

NE Pro

F

%

Bath

Schedule

Amen

Near

Water

Total

Mean

ba : θ

ƒedju :l

a :mẽn

niә

wכ :tә

10

8

4

6

6

34

6.8

40

32

16

24

24

27.2

1.36

Bæθ

skedzul

eimen

nir

wa :tә

3

5

18

4

3

33

6.6

12

20

72

16

12

26.4

1.32

Bat

ƒedl

amin

nia

wota

12

12

3

15

16

58

11.6

48

48

12

60

64

46.4

2.32

 

-156 -

 

The words used in this table were randomly selected, but they are among the common ones with variant pronunciations in the varieties of English under study. However, results in table 4 show that NE pronunciation has 58 responses representing 46.4% while BrE and AmE models have 34 responses represents 27.2% and 33 responses representing 26.4% respectively. It can therefore be concluded that NE pronunciation is more preferable to the staff and students of TASUED. An interesting revelation here is the close range between the preferences for BrE pronunciation and AmE pronunciation. This again confirms the keen competition between BrE and AmE in Nigeria which used to be exclusively BrE territory. The reason for the preference of NE pronunciation may be due to the inability of respondents to learn the models of either BrE or AmE pronunciations since their organs of speech have been conditioned for the pronunciation of the sounds of indigenous languages which they now transfer into English [Egbokhare 2004].

Question five sought to find out the national variety generally preferred by the staff and students of TASUED. To answer this question, the results of the preference at the various linguistic levels already presented were summed up and analysed. The results are presented in table 5.

 

Table 5: General preference for national varieties.

BrE

AmE

NE

Spelling

Word

Expression

Pronunciation

Total

 

Tf

192

85

136

34

447

%

76.8

34

54.4

27.2

192.4

Mean

38.4

17

27.6

6.8

89.8

Tf

58

94

50

33

235

%

23.2

37.6

20

26.4

107.2

Mean

11.6

18.8

10

6.6

47

Tf

-

71

64

58

193

%

-

28.4

25.6

46.4

100.4

Mean

-

14.2

12.8

11.6

38.6











 

From table 5, a total of 447 responses representing 51% indicate general preference for BrE while a total of 235 responses representing 26.8% and 193 responses representing 22% indicate general preference for AmE and NE respectively. With these result, it can be concluded that among the three national varieties of English in Nigeria, BrE with a mean value of 89.8 is the most preferred variety among the staff and students of TASUED. It therefore follows that among these respondents, BrE ranks first in order of preference followed by AmE, while NE ranks last in its native environment. A bar chart of the general preference for national varieties of English at TASUED is presented in figure 1.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



 

BrE           AmE     NE         Fig.1

 

Question six sought to find out the linguistic and sociolinguistic factors responsible for the respondents’ preference for particular national varieties of English. The data collected through section E of the questionnaire were analysed. The results are presented in Table 6:

Table 6: Factors responsible for respondents’ preferences.

 

BrE

AmE

NE

Linguistic factors

F

%

F

%

f

%

Easy spelling

Simple word

Simple sentences

Easy pronunciation

More flexibility

31

16

28

5

17

62

32

56

20

34

19

20

14

8

24

38

40

28

32

48

-

14

8

12

9

-

28

16

48

18

Sociolinguistic factors

Social interaction

Upward mobility

Acceptability / prestige

Sense of belonging

Resourcefulness

 

16

24

30

20

20

 

32

48

60

40

40

 

21

16

12

17

17

 

42

32

24

34

34

 

13

10

8

13

13

 

26

20

16

36

26

 

From table 6, BrE is preferred to the other national varieties due to easy spelling 62%, simplicity of sentences 52%, opportunity for upward mobility 48%, acceptability/prestige 60%, sense of belonging 40% and resourcefulness, also 40%. The reasons for preference for AmE by some of the respondents include simplicity of words 40%, more flexibility 48%, and enhancement of social interaction 42%. On the other hand, NE is preferable to some respondents because of easy pronunciation 48% and sense of belonging 36%.

 

Summary of Findings

The study dealt with staff and students’ preferences for national varieties of English at TASUED and reasons for such preferences. The findings of the study could be summarized as follows:

-          Among the three national varieties of English in Nigeria, generally, BrE is the most preferable. But in terms of preference at linguistic levels, while BrE is preferable in terms of spelling, grammar and pronunciation, AmE is more preferable in terms of words.

-          BrE is preferred among other things for acceptability, upward mobility, sense of belonging e.t.c. while AmE is preferred for social interaction, simplicity of words and flexibility.

-          NE is preferred only for easy pronunciation and sense of belonging.

The findings of this study have some implications for not only the teaching and learning of English, but also for the use of national varieties of English among the educated speakers of Englishu. BrE is still the preferred variety that is taught in schools, used officially and respected as prestigious and associated with economic upward mobility. However, it is interesting to find out that AmE is competing favourably with BrE for influences on NE. Considering the role of AmE in globalization and the opportunities it offers in the entertainment industry, there may be need to project AmE as equally capable of offering opportunities for economic upward mobility. That AmE is preferred for social interaction implies that it is the variety used in informal and interpersonal communicative activities. No wonder observations have shown that the youths tend to prefer it to BrE as a medium of socialization. BrE therefore remains the high (H) variety while AmE remains the low (L) variety.

Furthermore, that NE ranks third in its native land as the least preferred should be a matter of concern to language scholars and educationists. Efforts should be made to standardize and incorporate studies in NE into the curriculum to ensure that it is learnt and used as a way of promoting its growth and development. It is rather pertinent to point out that the influence of both BrE and AmE on NE is a welcome development that will enrich NE though the influence will lead to the emergence of a hybridized NE variety.

 

Recommendations

Following the findings of the study, the following recommendations were made:

  1. Educators should vigorously create awareness of N E and encourage its use since it is a carrier of our national identity.
  2. AmE like BrE offers opportunity for upward mobility especially in the entertainment industry, its knowledge and use should also be encouraged. It is an important variety because of the position of America in the political and economic affairs of the world.
  3. Efforts should be made to standardize and incorporate NE in the curriculum of English studies. This will help to promote its growth and development.
  4. For standardization to be possible there is an urgent need for the production of reference materials in NE. Language scholars and authors of textbooks should work along this line.
  5. Teachers and examiners should be aware of the three major varieties of English in Nigeria so as to teach and examine the students appropriately.
  6. AmE and NE expressions should not be rejected or neglected as inferior. However, consistency should be maintained in their use.

 

Conclusion

This study has established that BrE is the most preferred variety among the staff and students of TASUED because of their association of it with prestige and upward economic mobility .This is expected in view of the status and role of BrE in Nigeria. Again, the study has shown that there are competitive influences of BrE and AmE at all the linguistic levels but while BrE influences are more in terms of spelling, grammar and pronunciation, AmE influence is more in the area of lexis. With this keen competition for influence on NE between these two national native –speaker varieties, it can be concluded that within a few years, NE will be more enriched to develop and emerge as a hybridized variety .As the study revealed, presently NE is  at the rear among  the three national varieties of English in Nigeria , it is recommended that emphasis  be given to it in the teaching and learning of English in Nigerian schools and that educated speakers, particularly the youth should be encouraged to use it as a way of ensuring its standardization and stability . Language scholars, teachers and educationists are therefore called upon to intensify their efforts in the codification of NE.

 

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Femmes et politique

en République du Bénin

 

prince Théophile G. KODJO SONOU

Institut d’Enseignement Supérieur Sonou d’Afrique (IESSAF- Université),  Avakpa -Tokpa,

Porto-Novo, République du Bénin

 

Résumé :

La République du Bénin, autre fois République du Dahomey est un berceau de femmes intellectuelles et politiciennes. L’éclosion, l’émancipation et l’évolution politique des femmes Béninoises a eu son envole quelques années après la révolution militaire, marxiste et léniniste du Général Mathieu Kérékou du 26 Octobre 1972.

Pour la mobilisation de la masse populaire nécessaire aux idéologies de la révolution, des Comités d’Organisations des Femmes (COF) ont été créés partout dans le Pays. On pouvait noter une répartition  territoriale suivante :

Le comité central était à Cotonou, les comités départementaux dans les départements, les comités de district dans les districts, les comités communaux dans les communes ainsi que les comités locaux dans les villages et quartiers de villes. C’est le vrai départ de la femme Béninoise en politique. Notons que trois grandes périodes sont à prendre en compte lorsque nous parlons des femmes en politique au Bénin.

1-      Les femmes en politique avant l’indépendance du 1er Août 1960, jusqu’à la révolution du 26 Octobre 1972

2-      Les femmes révolutionnaires du 26 Octobre 1972 à la conférence des forces vives de la nation dont les travaux ont commencé le 19 Février 1990,

3-      Les femmes du renouveau démocratique du 28 Février 1990 (fin de la conférence des forces vives de la nation) à nos jours.

De 1960 à nos jours, il faut remarquer que les femmes ont été très actives dans la politique béninoise.

En Mars 2006, deux femmes Madame Marie Elise A. Christiana GBEDO et Madame Célestine ZANOU ont été candidates aux élections présidentielles au même titre que le Président YAYI Boni élu pour un mandat de cinq (2006-2011) ans qui prend fin le 06 Avril 2011.

Plusieurs d’entre elles ont été et sont encore Ministre pour le bon fonctionnement de la République avec une gestion plus ou moins saine  comparativement à celle de leurs collègues hommes.

Mots clés : Femmes, politiques, éclosion, émancipation.

 

Abstract

Republic of Benin, formaly Republic of Dahomey is a cradle of political and intellectual women. The development and emancipation of Republic of Benin political women was boosted few years after the Marxist and Leninist Military revolution of General Mathieu KEREKOU on the 26 October 1972. As to support the ideology and to mobilize more people particulary the women, committees for the organizations of women were created all over  the country. The central committee was at Cotonou, other mobilization committees were installed in the Department, the District that is local government level and Villages. The period was really the departure of Republic of Benin Women to the journey of the political affairs management.

It should be noted that three major periods are to be taken into consideration when we talk about women in politics in Republic of Benin:

1-      Women in politics before the country’s independence on the 1st august 1960 till the coup d’Etat that occurs on the 26 october 1972.

2-      Revolutionary women of 26 october 1972 to the national conference of 19 February 1990

3-      The Democratically  renewal  women of 28 February 1990 ( closing date of the national conference) to date.

From 1960 to date, it has been observed that women have been very active in politics

In march 2006, two women (Ms Marie Elise A. Christiana GBEDO and Mrs Celestine ZANOU) were candidate for the presidential election as well as Dr Boni YAYI who won the election for 5 years mandate (2006-2011) that will ends on the 6 April 2011.

Many women in Republic of Benin have been and are still Ministers at different levels for the best Management of the affairs of the country. When compare to their men colleagues, they manage state affairs better than the men.

Key words : women, politics, eclosion, emancipation.

 

Introduction

Presque absente sur la scène politique à la naissance de la nation Béninoise en 1960, les femmes Béninoises se sont progressivement mobilisées pour devenir environ cinquante (50) ans après, indispensables dans les prises des décisions politiques au Bénin.

De Madame Véronique Ahouanmènou des années 1960 à Madame Rosine Vierra Soglo la démocrate en passant par Madame Rafiatou Karim la révolutionnaire, le Bénin a produit véritablement des femmes de décisions et des femmes politiques dont les actions sont parfois mitigées peut être à cause de l’omniprésence des hommes.

Des 52% qu’elles  représentent de la population totale du pays, aucune femme candidate à l’élection présidentielle n’a obtenu plus de 2%, c’est-à-dire que le chemin devant amener la femme Béninoise à l’éclosion politique totale est encore long, alors qu’elles se mobilisent sérieusement ?

Notre article vise à analyser la problématique des femmes en politique en République du Bénin pour leur participation effective à la gestion des affaires politiques, sans pour autant soutenir la thèse du quota et de pourcentage de leur participation à la gestion des affaires politiques que leur proposent les politiciens actuels à des fins électoralistes.

1.0. La République du Bénin et Les Béninois

Créée le 04 Décembre 1958, par le colonisateur français, de l’Union des Royaumes du Sud dont les Royaumes de Xogbonu  (Porto-Novo) et d’Allada, d’une part ceux du centre dont les Royaumes d’Abomey de Savalou et de savè ainsi que ceux du Nord dont les Royaumes de Nikki, Kandi, Kouandé, Parakou d’autre part, la République du Bénin, était d’abord connue sous le nom de Dahomey (1958) puis République populaire du Bénin le 30 Novembre 1975 et enfin  République du Bénin après l’historique conférence des forces vives de la nation Béninoise de février 1990.

La diversité des royaumes, des communautés linguistiques dont est faite la République du Bénin fait qu’on y parle plusieurs langues du Nord au Sud et de l’Ouest à l’Est.

La République du Bénin autre fois quartier latin de l’Afrique à cause de la qualité de son enseignement comme le soutient découverte (1994) est une sorte de pépinière de cadres de hauts niveaux intellectuels et moral, est devenu depuis bientôt deux décennies un pays dans lequel beaucoup de femmes de plus en plus intellectuelles (Avocate, Enseignante, diplomate Administratrice, médecin, commerçantes etc…) s’organisent à prendre légalement le pouvoir d’Etat et à participer à la gestion des affaires politiques. Mais les Béninois constituent un ensemble hétérogène de communautés, d’ethnies et de Royaumes divers. Ils vivent en Afrique de l’ouest. Les hommes qui vivent aujourd’hui en République du Bénin ont une longue histoire conservée par la tradition orale. Cette histoire a été racontée par les anciens et les griots, les savants et les voyageurs étrangers. Aujourd’hui, notre pays est habité par une soixantaine de peuples. Certains y ont probablement toujours été installés. D’autres sont venus plus tard des pays voisins. Depuis le 1er Août 1960, date de l’indépendance du Bénin les femmes Béninoises n’ont été aussi visibles et présentent sur la scène politique qu’à l’avènement de la démocratie.

En cinq (05) ans de gestion du pourvoir d’Etat le Président Béninois Dr. Boni YAYI avait proposé mettre dans son gouvernement 30% de femmes sans jamais pouvoir atteindre 10% malgré les nombreux remaniements de son cabinet.

On peut être amené à dire que les femmes politiques ne sont que des marionnettes  à la solde des hommes politiques ? Ou des soldats au front, comme des amazones au temps, jadis des roi GHEZO d’Abomey comme des Guerrières des rois Bio GUERRA, KABBA et TOFFA 1er, prêtes à défendre leurs pays, leurs peuples au sacrifice suprême ?

Quelle évolution socio - politique et économique pour les femmes en République du Bénin ?

2.0. Evolution socio-politiques et économiques des femmes en République du Bénin

 

L’évolution socio- politique et économique des femmes en République du Bénin a été très rapide même si elle a connue peu de promotion pendant les douze premières années de l’indépendance du Bénin Bada (2010) écrit ce qui suit:

‘‘Les douze (12) premières années de notre pays ont été troublées et instables’’.

2.1. Femmes politiques du dahomey 1958 à 1972

En 1958, déjà l’indépendance du Dahomey avait pris son envole et beaucoup de femmes Béninoises militaient dans des partis politiques dont le Patri Républicain Dahoméen (PRD) du Président Joseph Sourou MIGAN AKPITY originaire de Porto-Novo dans le Sud du Dahomey ensuite, l’Union Dahoméenne pour le Développement (UDD) du  Président Justin Tométin AHOMADEGBE originaire du centre du  Dahomey, enfin le Rassemblement Ethnique du Nord (REN) du Président Hubert  Koutoukou MAGA, originaire de Parakou au Nord du Dahomey. Parmi toutes les femmes ayant milité dans ces partis, on peut citer Véronique AHOUANMENOU, Elisabeth EKOUE TEVOEDJRE qui ont montré leur capacité à travaillé au côté des hommes. La participation des femmes s’est accrue jusqu’à la révolution du 26 Octobre 1972. Ainsi  la révolution du 26 Octobre 1972 a encore mobilisé plus de  femmes que d’hommes pour une adhésion massive à la politique révolutionnaire.

 

2.2. Les femmes politiques du Bénin de 1972 à 1990.

C’est ainsi, qu’on peut les appeler car elles se sont illustrées à travers des actes qu’elles ont posé pendant la révolution Marxiste Léniniste du Général Mathieu KEREKOU du 26 Octobre 1972.

La structure qui a drainé plus de femmes dans la politique populaire révolutionnaire du Bénin avec le parti unique fut incontestablement le comité d’organisation des femmes (COF). Structure installée partout dans le Pays pour faire la propagande de la révolution Marxiste Léniniste.

Une femme remarquable dont on a longtemps parlé pour son engagement et son militantisme était la feue Elisabeth BALLEY plusieurs fois chef de District à Cotonou en son temps. Elle était institutrice et savait s’adressé au public féminin.

Une autre enseignante devenue plusieurs fois ministre dans le gouvernement militaire révolutionnaire fut Madame Rafiatou KARIMOU. On avait aussi noté quelques femmes d’affaires qui étaient proche des politiques dont Aladja Mouïnatou.

Parmi, les femmes spirituelles proches du pouvoir politique figurait aussi Feue Yaoïtcha GANKPE. Depuis l’avènement du Renouveau démocratique au Bénin, plusieurs femmes se sont aussi portées devant les enjeux et scènes politiques au Bénin.

 

2.3. Les femmes politiques du Bénin du renouveau démocratique.

En ce qui concerne les femmes politiques du Bénin depuis la conférence des forces vives de la nation du Février 1990 à nos jours,  il est important de remarquer que plusieurs femmes Béninoises ont connu une ascendance vers les hautes fonctions politiques durant les mandats successifs des chefs d’Etat et du gouvernement de cette période.

Au cours du mandat du Président Nicéphore Dieu donné SOGLO ce sont surtout les prénoms Véronique qui ont attiré l’attention des Béninois sur la présence de deux femmes au gouvernement Véronique LAWSON,  Ministre de la Santé Publique et Véronique AHOYO,  Ministre du Travail et des Affaires Sociales,  BADAROU (2010: 48). Elles sont mères de famille, mais aussi des intellectuelles. Sous le Président SOGLO plusieurs fois la feue Grâce ADAMON D’ALMEDA avait aussi été Ministre.

 

Sous le Mandat du Général Mathieu KEREKOU de 1996 à 2006, plusieurs femmes intellectuelles sont entrées au gouvernement. Il s’agit  de Madame MASSOUGBODJI D’ALMEDA première femme agrégée en cardiologie au Bénin, Docteur en médecine Koubourath OSSENI actuelle grande chancelière de l’ordre Nationale du Bénin, Madame Marie - Elise GBEDO Avocate et Ministre du commerce sous le Président KEREKOU. Elle a été plusieurs fois candidate aux élections Présidentielles de 2001, 2006 et 2011. Elle défend les droits de l’homme et est auteur de plusieurs œuvres. Enfin dans le même registre notons Madame KOKOKINDE GAZARD, Médecin de formation et Ministre de la santé plusieurs fois.

Pendant le mandat du Président Boni YAYI, de 2006 à 2011 Docteur en économie et ancien conseiller spécial aux affaires  économiques du Président SOGLO, ancien Président de la Banque Ouest Africaine de Développement (BOAD) devenu Président en 2006, c’est surtout sous lui que les Béninois ont fait la découverte de plusieurs jeunes intellectuelles femmes ministres dont certaines étaient encore accrochées à leur maternité, il n’y a pas longtemps.

Dans l’ensemble,  des femmes Ministres du gouvernement YAYI on peut citer :

-Madame Colette HOUETO, Ministre des Enseignements Primaires  et Secondaires. Auteur de plusieurs livres. Actuellement elle est la Première Adjointe au Maire de Porto-Novo.

-          Mme Christiane OUINSAVI,  Ingénieur Agronome,  plusieurs fois Ministre, enseignement, commerce et industrie.

-          Mme Bio DJOSSOU - Environnement et Famille

-          Mme DJAOUGA, Tourisme et Artisanat

-          Mme Reckya MADOUGOU, Microfinance et Emploi – Auteur de l’ouvrage ‘‘Mon combat pour la parole’’

-          Mme Claudine PRUDENCIO, Artisanat et Tourisme

-          Feue Mme Bernadette AGBOSSOU, Enseignement Secondaire et Formation Professionnelle.

-          Mme Evelyne SOSSOUHOUNTO, Enseignement Secondaire

-          Mme Vicencia BOKO, Enseignement Supérieur et Recherche Scientifique.

Il faut dire que dans les universités du Bénin la présence des femmes est ainsi visible.

Elles veulent surtout mieux étudier pour se voir haut pêcher et haut placer dans la société Béninoise où jadis, elles n’étaient réservées que pour le ménage.

 

3.0. Le militantisme des femmes politiques du Bénin dans les associations, organisations non gouvernementales et partis politiques

Les femmes politiques et intellectuelles du Bénin militent dans beaucoup d’associations, d’organisations non gouvernementales et de partis. Ce militantisme a vraiment pris son envole au lendemain de la conférence des forces vives  de la nation Béninoise en février 1990.

3.1. Les associations féministes

On note ici plusieurs associations professionnelles de femmes qui, à travers ces associations s’organisent pour se faire connaitre et occuper le terrain politique enquête de nomination ou de défense des droits de l’homme comme l’association des femmes juristes du Bénin (AFJB). Cette association a une militante engagée : Me Marie Elise A. GBEDO qui a été au devant de l’élaboration du « Code Béninois de la Famille et des Personnes (CBFP) ». Ce code a été introduit à l’Assemblée Nationale et a été voté par les députées sous la présidence de Me Adrien HOUNGBEDJI. A travers ce code les femmes Béninoises ont beaucoup de droit dans leur vie socioculturelle, économique, professionnelle et surtout dans leur mariage avec par exemple la possibilité de garder leur nom de famille à coté de celui de leur mari.

Comme association de femmes au Bénin on peut aussi citer :

-  Les femmes journalistes du Bénin

-Les femmes Enseignantes du Bénin

- Les femmes infirmières du Bénin

- Association des femmes parlementaires du Bénin etc.

 

3.2. Les femmes syndicats

Elles sont nombreuses  à  militer dans les associations syndicales. Elles sont parfois au sommet des associations syndicales pour la revendication de leur droit voire ceux de leurs collègues hommes. En guise d’exemple,  Mme le Colonel EGOUNLETY dirige l’association syndicale des douaniers du Bénin.

3.3 Les partis politiques

Lorsqu’elles ne sont pas à la tête des partis, elles ne sont pas loin de l’être. Aujourd’hui les femmes béninoises participent activement aux mouvements politiques et la vie des partis au Bénin.

A l’ère du renouveau démocratique, Me Rosine VIERRA SOGLO, Députée à l’assemblée, Première Dame du Bénin de 1991 à 1996 ; elle a été la première femme a créé et dirigé ’’la Renaissance du Bénin (RB)’’. C’est ce parti qui a permit au Président Nicéphore Dieudonné SOGLO, son mari de devenir Président en avril 1991.

A l’ère du changement, Dr Christiane OUINSAVI, Ministre des Enseignements Primaire et Secondaire, puis Ministre du commerce entre avril 2006 et avril 2011. Son homologue Ministre du Tourisme Mme Claudine PRUDENCIO, nièce de l’ancien Président Dr Emile Derlin ZINSOU est restée longtemps à la tête de son parti politique avant de devenir la Vice-Présidente du parti laissant le poste du Président au Dr Irénée Pascal KOUKPAKI, Ministre des finances et de l’économie puis Ministre du Développement.

Députée à l’assemblée Mme Ibatou  SANNI GLELE est la Trésorière Générale du Parti du Renouveau Démocratique (PRD) de Me Adrien HOUNGBEDJI qui s’est uni avec  plusieurs autres partis dont la (RB) de Mme Rosine Soglo pour donner naissance à Union fait la Nation (UN).La députée Ibatou SANNI GLELE  coordonne le parti ‘’UN’’ pour l’élection de Me Adrien HOUNGBEDJI comme Président de la République en mars 11. Mme Rosemonde LAWANI coordonne le Mouvement cauris à Porto-Novo et Mme MATHYS Préside les Forces Cauris pour un Bénin Emergent (FCBE). Le travail politique que font mesdames MATHYS Adidjat et Rosemonde LAWANI converge à la réélection du Dr Boni YAYI qu’elles soutiennent.

3.4. Femmes intellectuelles et politique

Le Professeur Vicencia BOKO ancienne Ministre de l’enseignement supérieur et de la recherche scientifique, préside actuellement l’Institut National pour la Promotion des Femmes (INPF). Le Professeur Clotilde MEDEGAN, Juriste de haut niveau a été pendant longtemps Présidente de la haute cour de justice (Cour qui juge les Ministres et le Président de la République en cas de parjure). Le Professeur Clotilde MEDEGAN est actuellement la Présidente de la cour de justice de la Communauté Economique des Etats de l’Afrique de l’Ouest (CEDEAO). Elle a un mandat de quatre ans renouvelable.

Madame Elisabeth POGNON et feue  Conceptia OUINSOU juriste de haut niveau avaient été présidente de la cour constitutionnelle. Cette cour proclame les résultats des élections et reçoit le serment des Présidents de la République à leur entrée en fonction.

La liste serait longue, mais il est intéressant de vivre la détermination des femmes   Béninoises vis-à-vis de la chose publique, les affaires de l’Etat.

 

Conclusion

La femme Béninoise a connu son véritable émancipation avec l’avènement de la révolution du 26 Octobre 1972.  Aujourd’hui, les Ministères sans scandales sont surtout ceux gardés par les femmes. Elles sont Directrices dans plusieurs sociétés d’Etat. Elles sont de plus en plus titulaires dans la hiérarchique professionnelle et dans les Universités.  Elles sont militantes dans plusieurs associations dont l’Association des femmes juristes du Bénin(AFJB). Elles sont aussi à l’avant-garde des municipalités et communes du Bénin. L’essentiel, aujourd’hui, est de leur faire confiance dans la gestion des affaires de la cité et de la république car elles ont encore le sens du respect du bien public.

 


REFERENCES BIBLIOGRAPHIQUES

Albert K. EKUE. (2010). Apithy. L’homme, son temps et son œuvre (Actes du colloque du 25 au 27 Mai 2000). Cotonou CAAREC.  Pages 244.

Alfred MONDJANNAGNI, Jean Pliya et AL (1963). A. Journaux. Caen.

BADAROU M. (2010). Cinquante ans après ces indépendances : Renower avec les Repères. Cotonou ONIP. Pages 122.

Découverte (1994) : Etat du monde en 1994. Paris - Editions découverte.

Le Robert (2005). Dictionnaire français le robert Paris

KODJO SONOU G. T. (2010). Langue française et organisations internationales. Porto-Novo. Editions Sonou d’Afrique.Journal of Contemporary studies & Research.


Religion, Culture and Society:

An Assessment With Particular Reference to Yoruba People

REV. ADEKUNLE, S.K.

Department Of Religious Studies

(CRS Unit)

Tai Solarin University of Education,

Ijebu-Ode, Ogun State, Nigeria

&

MRS. TABI AGORO, A.M.

Department Of Languages

(Yoruba Unit)

Tai Solarin University of Education,

Ijebu-Ode, Ogun State, Nigeria

Introduction

It is quite obvious that, every human society in the world considers religion as a very crucial system as well as culture which serves as a means of survival and self assertion. Religion and culture are considered as the sources of morality, public order and agents of civilization. Even Emile Durkheim, opined that religion is a worship of the society. Also Karl Marx considered religion to be opium of the people. Religion and culture are taken to be cohesive factors which tend to maintain peaceful co-existence within a society, particularly Yoruba people. Society takes charge of regulating the conduct of culture facilitated by religion. Whenever necessary sanctions are spelt out by the society in order to put cultural practices into a check.

This paper evaluates the roles of religion, and culture as well as how the society is influences both in their efforts to maintain morality and to regulate social behaviour of the members of such a society.

RELIGION, CULTURE AND SOCIETY

Definition of Terms

RELIGION:

Religion as usual has always remained to be of numerous definitions. Since it has no single definition, it behoves on scholars in Religion to propound definitions from different dimensions.

Mbiti (1991), indicated some questions which religion provides readily answers to such as: the question of the purpose of human life, the question of life after death as well as destiny of soul, particularly the question of suffering and pain in the world. Whereas, science has not been able to provide answers to all these out of many. Asah (2006), sees religion as a veritable instrument of social regulation. Also it is observed as being, knowing the truth about man in relation to his God, just as justice is about knowing and doing the right or the truth. Besides, this, Abogunrin (1999) in his own claims points it out that religion to a large extent influences the economic, social and political developments of the nation. He went further to assert that religion is significant in Nigeria to the extent that any leader whether military or civil cannot disregard it.

It is even generally believed that God’s laws can not be disregarded. Kalu (1987), did not hesitate to claim that religion strives to create preconditions for spiritual balance which is necessary for effective sole performance either on earth, in heaven or both. Better still Webster’s Enclopedic unabridged Dictionary of English Language (1996), views religion as concern over what exists beyond the visible world, differentiated from philosophy in that it operates through faith or intuition rather than reason. Above all, the definitions of religion as viewed by various scholars bother on the belief in the supreme being other on the belief in the supreme being otherwise known as God in English, Olodumare in Yoruba, Obangiji in Hausa and Chineke in Ibo. Apart from the three principal religions existing in Nigeria that is, Christianity, Islam and African religion there are other world religions like Buddhism, Shintoism, Hinduism, Confucianism to mention but a few. Whereas every religion teaches morality.

It is worthy of note that religion permeates the life of every individual like Bolaji Idowu (1977) has said about Yoruba people. He even added that, religion results from mans spontaneous awareness of and spontaneous reaction to his immediate awareness of a living power. Nabofa (1988), makes it realizable that religion is a man’s effort in satisfying certain emotional needs by establishing and maintaining cordial relationship between himself and the supersensible world and his fellow man.

 

Culture:

Culture is a total way of man’s life. It is all embracing of human social life. Culture is acquired, it can as well be inculcated in someone that is, and man could learn how to imbibe culture. Culture varies from one ethnic group to another. Culture of every society is unique. In a clear term, the behaviour of a person is influenced by culture.

Moreso, no man is an Island to himself. People live together to share things in common. Therefore through the conspicuous qualities inhabited by every individual, the people influence themselves through culture. Adesanwo (2010), observes that culture contains a combination of norms and values as different from those of other peoples. In addition, he submits that culture has three aspects to it, material culture objects physical traits-tools, non-material culture subdivided into cognitive (knowledge and beliefs) and normative (moral, law, custom, rules). This gives an obvious cognizance to the fact that African culture spelling out those aspects of life has a controlling wheel to regulate the African society.

Furthermore, culture reveals a collection of ideas and habits being demonstrated by people and passed over from generation to generation. Anyacho (2004), opines that culture integrates, systematizes and interprets the societal values.

He even says that it equips the society with the basis for social unity and solidity thereby inspiring a sense of oneness, affinity and patriotism among members of the society. Undoubtedly, without mincing words, there is a conviction that with culture in its positive and functional impact on people within the society, social values get stored, preserved and transmitted for the use of posterity. People work to earn living according to the dictate of culture only that it does not dictate religion of people, even in the appointment of traditional rulers, culture plays a prominent role. It is highly considered, before positive actions could be put up. Where careful observance and respect for culture fail to be demonstrated, the disloyal victims bear the brunt. This is one reason why Anyacho (2004) noted that culture makes provisions through which a society can be maintained and perpetrated. He also pointed out that it provides the society with the method of bringing up its people and establishing orderly relationship among her members. In view of this, it is realizable that culture enables a society people to be identified from others; it could be through tribal marks, dialects, behaviour, dressing, communication, adornment and the rest.

Every society has its own culture. Krass (1974), defines culture as used to mean those ways of behaviour which are customary in any particular society. Some of these customs are economic, some political, some judicial, some religious, some technological. Some of the customs embedded in culture may be found in the cultures of many other societies.

SOCIETY:

Each society has, in the course of time, worked out ways of doing things which enable its people to understand who they are and what are their responsibilities as Krass (1974), observes. Every society has its own culture. A society differs from another with varying cultures. Every society has its own strains and stresses. It’s quite obvious that each society educates its own children in line with the dictate of its own culture. Every society takes care of its own problems; it attempts to resolve the problems and passes them on to its young generation. Also it is realized that in many other areas of the society’s life, there are customary ways in which the society operates.

Adesewo (2007), submitted that, for a society to become conscious of itself and to maintain its sentiments at the necessary degree of intensity, it must periodically assemble and concentrate itself. He went further to indicate that, this concentration brings about an expectation on the mental life, which takes the form of a group or ideal conceptions. Like Durkheim (1961) would say, God is society, Durkheim even observed that the impact of the society on the individual is immense, for the society penetrates its members and becomes part of their consciousness. Adesewo noted that what enables a number of individuals lo live together in a harmonious society is the collective conscience through the beliefs sentiments shared by members of the society. Whereas social control and social existence itself could be based on shared ideas. These ideas, both descriptive and normative constituted the collective conscience.

 

Religion, Culture and Society – A synthesis

It is not out of place to point it out emphatically that all known societies have been to some extent religious. Obviously, often at times, it is visualized that the various societies in African often reflect the degree to which religious behaviour is closely interwoven with social structure in all its aspects.

Whereas, gradually it is recognized and acknowledged that the social structure of a people usually informs and influences the people’s perception of God and the supersensible world. One of the reasons out of many could be explained as follows from Robin Horton’s claims that, as a result of distinct, socio-political organization obtainable in African societies and the people’s inadequate command over the ecological, geographical and other conditions around them, they usually resort to the use of analogies derived from these areas of experience to which they were most familiar.

Omolafe (1993) referred to the Horton’s views that these analogies explain the unfamiliar spiritual areas. Thus, for the most part, there is a prevalence of personal terms in the African description of spiritual realities.

In the words of Horton, this is a theoretic organizing or explanatory principle and in the African context (as a society) it is strongly marked by the use of “personal idiom” Omolafe, again expressed his own feeling that this is the usual tendency of traditional peoples to explain whatever happens or supersensible realities in terms of concrete people, their relationship with one another etc. It could even be better imagined that the relationship between man and his gods at times is described on the basis of such acts as those of omissions or commissions that are often realized as the casual elements behind the anger of the gods and of the ancestors.

At any rate, behind the formulation of beliefs about God and the supersensible world there is the usual tendency of people to project the evidence to life and the socio-political structure to that of the “invisible world” is a fairly well accepted fact that where, for example, the kingly pattern exists, God is conceived as the greatest king of the theocratic universe, Omolafe submitted. In some societies, for example, the Yorubas, the Ibibios Ijaws or Tamuna, God is sometimes considered as male by some people, while he is thought of a female by some other people.

 

A PARTICULAR REFERENCE TO YORUBA PEOPLE:

In another environment, that is Yoruba society for example, if we compare two concepts of the supreme being by the Yoruba and the Dinka, a few salient features come into sharp focus. For a fairly longtime the Yoruba had developed a highly urbanized society organized around large city-state kingdoms. The religious belief of the people with regard to God appears to follow the pattern of the social set-up. It is worthy of note that Yoruba myths ascribe the creation and origin of things to Olorun, who however, delegated the real carrying out of the act to Obatala, first and then later to Oduduwa and finally God finished and rounded up the creative process. Thus, the religion centres on the worship of a multitude of Orisa who takes charge of the various department of life.

Bolaji Idowu (1977), considers Yoruba religion in terms of hierarchical model drawn largely from the political. There is the supreme God, Olorun, (a king, Oba) and the other divinities, his ministers. Thus the socio-political and cultural pattern is reflected in the people’s religious conceptions.

Far from the Yoruba, the Dinka are a non centralized pastoralist society. They live dispersed in villages on both sides of the white Nile in the Southern Sudan, Omolafe, observed the religion was said to have been centred upon prophet-led cults of a few major sky-divinities which are closely related to the supreme god Nhialic and upon totemic spirits (of tribal gods of early Israelites in the red Testament).

Religion, no doubt, plays duo role of social and spiritual activity. It deals with man and the society, with society creating basic factors for religious interaction among members of the religious group; this makes the social dimension of religion to be well pronounced than that of spiritual. In as much as, problem of evil facing mankind could not be ruled out that is, social evils like flooding problem, drought, high mortality rates, illness, earthquake etc. which confront man. Some demands for explanation are sought from religion. Then the religious leaders like Imams, Alfas, Prophets, diviners intensify efforts to arrest the situations. Religions teach morality and provide moral values including symbols through which the members are integrated as Anyacho (2004), opined. He even added that religion reinforces social behaviour. Also religious rituals help to bring the believers together to participate in some common activities, example reflects among Yorubas.

Religion plays active role in the building of human society. Whereas, the society Yoruba in particular is the preserver of culture. Adesewo (2007) again says through culture human society becomes a world construction. Even society as a dialectical phenomenon is produced by man and also the producer of man. He also indicates that the society is nothing without what human consciousness and environment lavish on it. No social reality exists outside man. The sacred man is encountered by world as extremely potent reality beyond him. This reality approaches man and locates his life in an ultimately meaningful order that is, culture.

Monica Hill (ed) (1975) views it that our culture makes us expect certain things to change. He added that we expect it to enable us to achieve the goals and success that we can not achieve alone, to bring individual self-affirmation. We do not expect it to alter those goals. One obvious impact is that the individual member of a society has acquired a high degree of freedom and independence in his relation to his society’s traditional practices the social behaviour of individual members of the society even though every member has his own life to live particularly as it affects culture.  Many of the cultural practices were not originally religious in nature or in their essence. For the preliterate and traditional man, the covering of the body especially the private part has got religious reasons. While this is a glaring case of cultural instinct, he sees it as a religious mandate. He would not want the gods to be angry or offended at his nakedness.

The organization of the society itself is often maintained on the basis of the religious beliefs. A number of studies are said to have been tried to draw attention to the great importance of religious symbols, rites, dogmas, sacred place and persons in providing ready means of the unification of African societies and giving them cohesion and persistence. In connection with the religious rites and observance, it is observed that the religious beliefs actually “enshrine” the people’s attitude to the daily existential requirements and the means by which their satisfaction is achieved.

In conclusion, religion can not be divorced from culture while culture would not seize to be dominated by the society. Religion complements the efforts of culture, consequent upon which culture achieves its goals to an extent such as provision, integration, preservation and transmission from one generation to another. Through religion that shields culture which prevents it from extermination, society has it very easy to tolerate the roles culture plays. Yoruba people do not play with culture because through it, they preserve their antiquities inherited from forefathers; the society is also safeguarded in the best way known to the people. Example could be drawn from some Yoruba communities such as Ikale, Ilaje, some other areas in Ondo State, Ekiti State even in Ogun State whereby the issue of unchastity is totally condemned by the norms of such areas. If an Ikale lady or an Ilaje girl has proposed for marriage or has given consent a step into marriage, moves on to have coitus with another man, she must be sure that if eventually gets married to the proposed man, at birth, she may not easily give birth until she confesses all her ordeal with boyfriend that came her way beside the proposed one. Besides this, Yoruba people do not look kindly on rogues. Whoever that adopts pilfering, stealing even by trick, robbery, cheating etc. pays darely in some Yoruba communities because it is taboo. As the person steals, he pays for it directly or indirectly, this shows that it is forbidden. The cultural heritage of Yoruba people also gives room for rogues to repent in some Yoruba areas after which the person that fails to do that may be struck by thunder. This is prevalent in Osun State and some parts in Oyo State.

This is to prove that religion and culture are interwoven, because all claimed to have been taboos in Nigeria particularly Yoruba land are products of religion within a particular society. Above all the Yoruba culture recommends credible people who are not of questionable character to vie for elective positions such as office of traditional rulers, political offices, to mention but a few. Whoever that occupies an enviable office like a king (Oba) and betrays the cultural settings receives punishment in the traditional way known best to then except the person restitutes. As religion protects the image of the societal people, so culture does by promoting the image of the society.

 

 

REFERENCES

Adesanwo, E.R (2010), “Religio-African Culture and sustainable Devt, in           Adesewo Falako, Adebayo (eds), NASRED.

Ilorin: Haytee Press & Pub. House.

Anyacho O.A. (2004), Religion in society: An introduction to Eco-Theology and Justice. Ikom: Ibiam Press.

Asah (2006), Religion and national; what role for the church. NASRED Journal.

Ilorin: Haytee Pub. House

Bolaji Idowu (1977), God; Olodumare in Yoruba context.

London: University Press.

Durkehim E. (1961), The elementary forms of Religious life New York: Macmillan Press.

Kalu, V.E (1987), The Nigerian condition – Arthur Nwankwo’s view point and Blueprints.

Enugu: Fourth Dimension Pub. Co Ltd.

Krass, A.C (1974), Go ye and make Disciples, London: SPCK

Mbiti, J.S (1991), Introduction to African Religions (2nd ed) Ibadan: Heinemann.

Monica Hill (1986), entering the kingdom, MARC Europe: British Church Growth Association.

Nabofa, M.Y (1988), introduction to the study of religions Ibadan: Dept of Religious Studies, Unibadan.

Webster’s Enclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language (1996)

New York: Gramercy,
FORCE SURNATURELLE DANS LE ROMAN AFRICAIN : UNE ETUDE CRITIQUE D’ALLAH N’EST PAS OBLIGE D’AHMADOU KOUROUMA.

 

Emmanuel Ufuoma TONUKARI,

Department of Languages & Linguistics,

Delta State University, Abraka,

Delta State, Nigeria

 

 

Résumé

L’analyse de certains romans africains comme ceux d’Achebe, Camara Laye, Niane Djibril, Ahmadou Kourouma pour ne citer que ceux-là, illustre la fécondité, la prodigalité et le rendement de la force surnaturelle africaine.  Les Africains, au sein de leur culture, manifestent quelques forces surnaturelles dans des aspects différents de leur vie.  Dans ce niveau où la croyance traditionnelle africaine reste suprême, on constate la force surnaturelle par la parole ainsi que d’autres manœuvres des sacrifices par les gens pour atteindre la vie extraordinaire. Birahima, le protagoniste dans Allah n’est pas obligé d’Ahmadou Kourouma nous raconte l’enfer de son errance, parmi les différentes factions au Libéria et en Sierra Leone. Tout au long du trajet, il était accompagné par Yacouba qui présente certaines lacunes surnaturelles, ce qui donne au lecteur des éléments sur à quoi penser. Dans ce travail, notre regard sera sur la force surnaturelle, comment les écrivains la présentent et la conséquence vis-à-vis la vie socioculturelle africaine.

Le monde est plein de mystère, tout est caché, on ne connaît que ce que l’on voit (Niane, 1960 :19).

Mots clés : omans Africains, Vie socio-culturelle, Incantations, Pourvoirs super naturels.

Abstract :

Analysis of some African novels like those of Chinua Achebe, Camara Laye, Niane Djibril, Ahmadou Kourouma to mention a few, the mass production, wasteful expenses and the gains behind the African supernatural powers. At the heart of African culture, the supernatural force projects different aspects of human lives. In a situation where the traditional beliefs reigns it is understood that those traditional forces through incantations just as sacrifices by the people to attain supernatural powers.

Birahima, the protagonist in “Allah is not compelled” by Ahmadou Kourouma told us about his misguided hell; among the different sects in Liberia and Sierra Leone. All along in his journey he has in his company Yakouba who was in possession of traditional lacuna that helps in retriving back the people’s lost memories. In that case, our work shall look into supernatural forces, how the writers presented it and the effects on the socio-cultural life of Africans.

The world of mystery, all concealed, one can not know than he has experienced (Niane, 1960:19).

Key words : Analysis, African novels, Socio-Cultural life, Incantations, Supernatural powers,

Introduction

La littérature Africaine, en tant qu’une discipline qui s’intéresse aux affaires socioculturelles des Africains, présente l’Afrique telle qu’elle est à travers des genres littéraires différents d’une période donnée.  La littérature africaine moderne, grâce à l’éducation occidentale, est plutôt une réponse à la situation sociopolitique provoquée par la force occidentale, surtout le colonialisme.  Dans leurs œuvres, les écrivains mettent au jour la réalité de la vie quotidienne africaine afin de montrer le changement d’une période à l’autre. C'est évident que la littérature africaine est créatrice et par là, un art qui met au jour la civilisation africaine comme atteste Lilyan Kesteloot (l992 :5). La civilisation, dont nous voulons dire, projette aussi l’avenir du continent  et non seulement le passé comme l’affirme Pius Ngandu Nkashama (1997 :17).  L’Afrique se présente parfois comme un continent plein de mystères qui tendent à confondre quelques gens, parfois, douteux suite à certains faits inexplicable dans le contexte scientifique occidental surtout pour ceux qui ne sont pas assez proches du continent.  Il y a aussi ceux qui se trouvent dans le continent mais qui ne croient qu’aux faits occidentaux, soit à cause de leur religion occidentale soit à cause de leur croyance en éducation occidentale. Nous tenterons d’expliquer et d’analyser l’attitude des Africains vis-à-vis le pouvoir extraordinaire à travers les romans Africains mais notre œuvre d’étude sera Allah n’est pas obligé (2000) d’Ahmadou Kourouma.

L’analyse de la force surnaturelle du champ littéraire africain évoqué par Ahmadou Kourouma dans son roman Allah n’est pas obligé résume parfaitement la vie quotidienne africaine traditionnelle face à l’évolution du monde et de la vie africaine moderne. Un regard sur l’historiographie littéraire africaine de toutes les périodes (temps précoloniaux, coloniaux et post-indépendance) révèle que cet acte existe jusqu’aujourd’hui. Dans notre parcours, nous ferons d’abord le résumé du livre, Allah n’est pas obligé, où l’auteur met en scène parmi d’autres choses la force surnaturelle. Nous montrerons comment les gens se servent de cette force comme expliquent d’autres écrivains dans leurs œuvres pour leur insert et celui de son prochain.  Les gens qui sont doué dans cette connaissance en Afrique, qui sont-ils au juste?  Quelle place occupent-ils et quel rôle jouent-ils dans la société ?

 

RÉSUMÉ D’ALLAH N’EST PAS OBLIGE

Allah n’est pas obligé (2000) d’Ahmadou Kourouma est un  roman qui présente l’Afrique contemporaine face à la guerre civile. Le roman est divisé en six parties. Chaque partie est présentée par Birahima, le protagoniste qui raconte ses expériences personnelles en Côte d’Ivoire, au Libéria ou il y a une guerre civile ainsi qu'en Sierra Leone. L'histoire est racontée avec le pronom personnel "je" et très remarquable tout au long du roman est la qualité de la langue employée par Birahima (l’enfant de la rue, le petit soldat) qui reflète bien son statut social. Il y a aussi le cas où il se sert de grands mots, grâce à quelques dictionnaires à sa disposition.

Le protagoniste Birahima commence à raconter son histoire mais il donne tout d'abord six raisons pourquoi son histoire va prendre une manière bizarre. II fait un retour en arrière quant à son enfance mais il n'arrive pas à spécifier son âge suite au conflit d'information qu'il a eue de sa mère et de sa grand-mère. Il décide d'aller un peu plus loin en parlant de sa mère. En tant que jeune fille, sa mère était si belle, elle serait morte pendant 1'excision (une cérémonie culturelle en Afrique où la partie génitale ‘clitoris’ de la femme est coupée), mais grâce à 1'exciseuse elle retrouve la vie. Par la suite, cette bonne exciseuse voulait que la mère de Birahima se marie avec son fils, un chasseur, un sorcier qui n'est pas musulman ce qui est étrange chez les Malinké. Tout le monde dans le village rejette cette proposition qui vient de 1'exciseuse malgré le fait qu'elle a beaucoup fait pour sauver la vie de la mère de Birahima. Pour éviter la proposition on lui donne vite au père de Birahima comme femme. Dès sa première grossesse, la mère de Birahima remarque un point noir sur sa jambe droite qui devient plus tard une plaie incurable, un ulcère. Ceci 1'empêche de bien marcher et cela apporte une grande douleur. A la mort de son père (on n'a pas beaucoup parlé de lui), suite à la tradition mandingue, sa mère a été héritée par son oncle Bala, un homme droit mais fétiche, grâce à la volonté de sa mère. Malgré 1'opposition des gens que Bala n'est pas croyant, la mère de Birahima le trouve parmi les autres oncles de Birahima comme le plus gentil. Donc, Birahima a grandi chez Bala. A la mort de sa mère il est confié, selon leur coutume malinké à une tante qui habite au Libéria avec son mari.  Il n’a qu’à chercher sa tante, malheureusement, il n’a pas réussi parce que la tante est morte avant qu’il ne la retrouve.

La recherche de sa tante au Libéria avec 1'aide de Yacouba  les amène dans une région où il y a la guerre. Ils n'ont pas de choix que de participer dans la guerre où il ‘travaille’ avec les quatre bandits: Doe, Taylor, Johnson, El Hadji Koroma.  Il expose bien les atrocités non seulement au Libéria mais aussi en Sierra Leone où le trouble est entre le démocrate Kabbah, et des bandits Foday Sankoh et Jonny Koroma. Enfin, il trouve sa tante qui vient de mourir. Il rentre chez lui avec son cousin qui est maintenant médecin et c'est lui qui demande à Birahima de raconter son histoire.

 

LA CULTURE AFRICAINE FACE A LA FORCE SURNATURELLE

La force surnaturelle, comme un phénomène qui se trouve dans tous les aspects humains, connaît des approches différentes surtout dans le contexte de la culture.  En Afrique, le terme ‘culture’ est associé plutôt à des croyances traditionnelles et toutes les sociétés ont leurs croyances traditionnelles propres à elles. Ces croyances qui peuvent paraître bizarres quelquefois, se sont respectées jusqu'à présent malgré 1'effet et l’influence forte de la civilisation occidentale. Cependant, l’effet de la croyance est plus remarquable au village qu'en ville. Si nous essayons d'éclairer ici le terme culture, c'est parce que le terme a des sens divers d'une période à 1'autre, Edwards (1967 :273). Une définition approximative du mot « culture » veut dire 'une manière de vie'. Pour Onimhawo (2008 : 142), la culture n’est rien qu’un indicateur qui détermine l’identité des gens. Pour Shaefer et Lamn (1997 :32), la culture y compris tous les idées et les objets que l’on trouve dans une société donnée.  Malgré le fait que certains aspects de la culture traditionnelle sont beaucoup bousculés, nous tenons compte de cette notion de pouvoir surnaturel partout dans la vie d’un africain.  Garnier Xavier (2004) insiste que « nous croyons que l'étude du roman négro-africain peut nous apprendre quelque chose sur la magie.»  Dans la culture africaine, il y a la crainte des puissances invisibles et occultes qui jouent de grands rôles. La crainte revient très souvent dans les menaces que la société adresse aux gens. II y a aussi 1'obéissance aux coutumes et le respect des interdits, grâce aux parents, aînés, initiateurs, etc., qui ne s'y opposent pas.  Les autochtones sont chargés de l’interprétation des faits  culturels dans leur société, partout, on les considère comme les vrais gardiens de la tradition.

Le thème de la force surnaturelle dans la culture devient un sujet thématique où les écrivains traitent certains faits inexplicables dans le contexte scientifique occidental que nous referons simplement comme surnaturel.  Ceci se voit dans beaucoup de romans africains, prenons par exemple le cas de L’Enfant Noir (1954) de Camara Laye où il essaie d’expliquer le rapport entre son père et le serpent qui est le génie de son père.  Il explique aussi la force surnaturelle de sa mère :

Pourtant il suffit de me rappeler ce que j’ai vu, ce que mes yeux ont vu.  Puis-je récuser qui le témoignage de mes yeux ?  Ces choses incroyables, je les ai vues ; je les revois comme je les voyais.  N’y a-t-il pas partout des choses qu’on n’explique pas ? Chez nous, il y a une infinité de choses qu’on n’explique pas, et ma mère vivait dans leur familiarité. (p.71)

 

L’explication de cette force surnaturelle se voit partout dans notre croyance africaine surtout dans la vie traditionnelle africaine. Donc, c’est évident que la plupart des Africains croient au pouvoir mystérieux qui sert souvent à éloigner les mauvais esprits comme le narrateur de L’Enfant Noir le souligne « Mon père avant de se coucher, ne manquait jamais de s’enduire le corps, puisant ici, puissant là, car chaque liquide, chaque gris-gris à sa propriété particulière » (p.11).  Avec cette croyance, nous constatons que ces liquides mystérieux sont très efficaces et importants dans la vie africaine.  Peut-être cela explique pourquoi la mère de Camara Laye, lui donne aussi une bouteille qui contient les liquides mystérieux avant son départ à Conakry, pour suivre l’enseignement technique à l’Institut George Poiret.  Elle lui dit: « fais-y grande attention ! Chaque matin, avant d’entrer en classe, tu prendras une petite gorgée de cette bouteille. » (p.157).

Cette croyance sur une force surnaturelle se figure aussi dans le roman Le monde s’effondre (1973) de Chinua Achebe où l’auteur indique que le héros, Okonkwo a une petite case où il fait des sacrifices pour la protection et le bonheur de sa famille comme nous le présente le narrateur :

Près de la grange, il y avait une maisonn0ette, la « maison de médicine », ou sanctuaire, où Okonkwo gardait les symboles en bois de son dieu personnel et des esprits de ses ancêtres.  Il les honorait par des sacrifices de noix de cola, de nourriture et de vin de palme, et leur offrait des prières pour lui-même, ses trois épouses et ses huit enfants. (p.23).

 

Okonkwo connaît bien l’efficacité des sacrifices voilà pourquoi il ne blague pas avec ce qu’il doit faire pour son dieu personnel.  Dans le roman de Niane Djibril Tamsir, Soundjata, l’auteur nous montre plusieurs fois comment le mystère africain se manifeste dans des situations différentes pendant une période précoloniale chez les malinkés.  Dans le dit roman, le roi de Do se tracasse à cause d’un buffle qui détruit les fermes et qui tue les villageois de son royaume.  Il invite beaucoup de chausseurs pour régler la situation mais le problème va de mal en pire jusqu’à l’arrivée des deux jeunes chausseurs.  C’est vraiment leur gentillesse envers une vieillarde qui a résolu le problème.  La vieille dame leur dit :

Je sais, dit-elle, que vous allez tenter votre chance contre le buffle de Do, mais sachez que bien d’autres avant vous ont trouvé la mort dans leur témérité, car les flèches sont impuissantes contre le buffle ; mais, ô jeune chasseur, ton cœur est généreux et c’est toi qui seras vainqueur du buffle.  Je suis le buffle que tu chercheras, ta générosité m’a vaincue ; je suis le buffle qui désole Do, j’ai tué 107 chausseurs, j’en ai blessé 77, chaque jour je tue un habitant de Do, le roi Gnèmo Diarra ne sait plus à quel génie porter ses sacrifices. (p.24)

Ils ont suivi les conseils donnés par la vieille dame et enfin ils ont réussi à tuer le buffle qui broute la récolte des sujets du roi.  Cependant, il y avait une condition après la réussite. Parmi les deux chasseurs, l’un d’eux doit choisira la fille la plus laide fille de toutes les filles de Do que le roi les présentera.  Cette laide fille devient enfin la mère de Soundjata, le grand.

Si l’on jette un regard sur d’autres romans africains comme ceux de Sembène Ousmane, Biakolo Anthony, etc. on voit des situations pareilles où on explique ce concept d’une force surnaturelle. Cela se voit dans d’autres disciplines aussi qui expliquent la croyance africaine sur la force surnaturelle.  Cette explication rejoint celle d’Awolalu (1981 :69) qui explique certains concepts dans son propre groupe ethnique – le Yorouba :

Un regard sur les croyances des Yoruba ne sera pas complet sans examiner leurs croyances, que nous referons comme des pouvoirs mystérieux. Ces pouvoirs mystiques et exotiques sont plutôt inexplicables par ceux qui peuvent les manipuler[10]

 

La question se pose toujours si ce pouvoir mystique africain est naturel ou surnaturel.  Cette une question qui suscite beaucoup de réponse mais nous allons aborder cette question dans Allah n’est pas obligé d’Ahmadou Kourouma

La nature de la vie en Afrique, surtout dans des milieux ruraux, est naturelle parce que c'est loin de l’influence occidentale.  Ceci est le cas de notre Birahima qui est grandit dans un village.  Tout ce qu’il y fait avant son départ devient si naturel pour un enfant de son âge à ce temps là.  Après la mort de son père, c'est naturel pour lui de vivre avec sa mère chez son oncle Bala et après la mort de sa mère, il n’a pas de choix que d’aller habiter avec sa tante qui vit au Libéria suite à la décision de la famille.  Quand il habitait avec son oncle Bala, il apprenait beaucoup de choses surtout la connaissance surnaturelle qui compte beaucoup en Afrique dans la vie socioculturelle. Birahima décrit son oncle, ainsi :

Tout le monde le craignait.  Il avait le cou, les bras, les cheveux et les poches tout pleines de gris-gris.  Aucun villageois ne devait aller chez lui.   Mais en réalité tout le monde entrait dans sa case la nuit et  même parfois le jour parce qu’il pratiquait la sorcellerie, la médicine traditionnelle, la magie et mille autres pratiques extravagantes. (p.16)

 

Le séjour de Birahima chez Bala lui donne une idée déjà de l’existence d’une force surnaturelle qu’il voit encore chez Yacouba.  Garnier Xavier (2004 :146) fait remarquer ce que Birahima pense de lui, « Yacouba, le féticheur, est le seul à vivre de son travail dans une société livrée au pillage perpétuel : il fabrique et vend des fétiches. On les achète pour se rendre invulnérable aux balles et aux attaques des gnamas. »  Les deux pays ou le protagoniste, Birahima, cherche sa tante, ont des problèmes politiques influencé énormément par l’ethnicité. Au cours du conflit, le portrait de la connaissance indigène d’une force surnaturelle est manifesté partout pour renverser les autres groupes ethniques.  On voit les féticheurs jouer avec leur gris-gris un grand rôle tout au long du conflit dans le roman.

Dès le jour de leur départ pour la recherche de sa tante, Yacouba qui accompagne Birahima lui a déjà donné une grande impression de sa connaissance d’un pouvoir surnaturel.  Birahima, dit: « nous avons même pas beaucoup fait pied la route même pas un kilomètre : tout à coup à gauche, une chouette a fait un gros froufrou et est sortie des herbes et a disparu dans la nuit. » Kourouma (p.44). Ce geste par la chouette qui sort à gauche du voyageur est un mauvais signe pour le voyage selon l’interprétation donnée par Yacouba. Pour qu’il ait une protection, il a vite récité trois sourates du Coran et trois terribles prières de sorciers indigène.  Et le résultat ?  Selon le narrateur « automatiquement, un touraco a chanté à droite…Yacouba s’est levé et a dit que le chant du touraco est une réponse.  Une bonne chose qui signifiait que nous avions la protection de l’âme de ma mère » (p.45).  Malheureusement, ce mauvais signe apparaît trois fois et dans chaque occasion Yacouba se sert de sa connaissance traditionnelle. Il finit par conclure de ne pas faire le voyage à cause des événements étranges qui sont arrivés. Mais il change son avis suite au conseil d’une vieille femme, ils passent voir un marabout, sans savoir que celui-là est son ancien ami, Sekou.  Le narrateur nous dit :

Sekou, par une prestidigitation de maître, a sorti de la manche de son boubou un poulet blanc.  Yacouba a crié son émerveillement.  Moi j’ai été pris par un effroi.  Sekou nous a recommandé beaucoup de sacrifices, des durs sacrifices.  Nous avons tué deux moutons et deux poulets dans un cimetière.  Le poulet qu’il avait sorti de sa manche plus un autre (p.48)

 

Après avoir fait le sacrifice ils sont partis pour le Libéria.  Ils sont si sûrs que rien de malheur n’arrive à propos de leur voyage.  On pourrait dire qu’ils ont de la chance  au cours de leur voyage parce qu’ils ont fait le voyage si dangereux sans perdre leur vie.  Et si par chance, on ne sait pas, ils ont fait le voyage si dangereux sans perdre leur vie.  On voit aussi Yacouba qui s’est installé comme devin chez Papa le Bon, il insiste sur le fait de sacrifices, « le colonel devait faire le sacrifice de deux bœufs.  Oui, deux gros taureaux… » (p.75)  Cette largesse de la connaissance de Papa le Bon se voit aussi chez ceux qui travaillent avec lui parce que Yacouba fabriqua des fétiches pour chaque soldat-enfant et pour chaque soldat.  C’est naturel que tout va bien suite à la connaissance de la force surnaturelle de Yacouba.  Bientôt, on doute cette force surnaturelle parce que malgré le gris-gris, le colonel est tué par les balles mais Yacouba a vite expliqué,

Le colonel avait transgressé des interdits attachés aux fétiches. D’abord, on ne fait pas l’amour avec un gris-gris.  Secundo, après avoir fait l’amour, on se lave avant de nouer des gris-gris.  Alors que le colonel Papa le bon faisait l’amour en pagaille et dans tous les sens sans avoir le temps de se laver … le colonel n’avait pas fait le sacrifice de deux bœufs (p.87)

On se demande s’il y une consistance dans l’efficacité de cette force.  D’autres faits dans les mêmes données amènent toutefois à peindre sérieusement cette interprétation de cette force surnaturelle. On y voit en effet que l’interprétation de cette mise en scène de ce pouvoir parait difficile suite à la réponse des enfants-soldats d’Onika.  Après sa rencontre avec un autre ‘bandit’, le général Onika, Yacouba fait même le gris-gris pour ses soldats comme il a fait pour Papa le bon.  Malgré le gris-gris, quelques soldats sont aussi tués par les balles.  Cet incident tracasse beaucoup Onikan.  Sans nier l’importance de l’interdit qui est attaché à chaque gris-gris, Yacouba encore met le blâme chez les soldats qui ne les disputent pas.

Nous les enfants-soldats nous devions aller jusqu’à l’état-major pour vérifier nos protections par des fétiches…nous avions transgressé en consommant du cabri.  Ca, ce n’est pas permis en temps de guerre quand on est équipé des fétiches de la guerre (p.116)

Ce qui est frappant lorsqu’on jette un regard sur l’interprétation donnée par Yacouba, c’est la confiance de l’efficacité de son gris-gris ou de cette force surnaturelle.  Si le regard de l’Occident sur l’Afrique à propos de ce sujet, est douteux, le discours sur l’efficacité même parmi les Africains n’est pas moins subjectif.  Pour convaincre Onikan et pour régler le problème, Yacouba amène tous les enfants-soldats au bout d’un ruisseau où chacun doit répéter les mots suivants:

Mânes des ancêtres, mânes de tous les ancêtres. Esprits de l’eau, esprits du foret, esprits de la montagne, tous les esprits de la nature, je déclare humblement que j’ai fauté.  Je vous demande pardon le jour et la nuit aussi.  J’ai mangé du cabri en pleine guerre. (p. 122)

 

Onikan comme les enfants se demandent si ce dernier tour de Yacouba va produire le résultat tant cherché par elle.  La guerre n’est pas finie, ils continuent avec leur exploration militaire, ils doivent attaquer encore la vie de Niangbo.  Cette fois-ci, ils n’ont pas tellement d’opposition parce que l’un d’eux avec les fétiches venait de prendre la ville.

Tête brûlée, par son courage et les fétiches, venait de conquérir le village de Niangbo.  Quand les tireurs d’en face ont vu Tête brûlée avancé dans la mitraille, ils se sont dit que les protections de Tête brûle étaient plus fortes que leurs gris-gris à eux.  Ils ont paniqué et ont abandonné leurs armes. (P. 124)

Ces faits extraordinaires basés sur la manipulation d’un pouvoir surnaturel se mettre beaucoup de gens confus parce qu’on n’a rien compris à ce mystère dans l’univers.  Birahima, lui aussi est très stupéfiant ayant été témoin de l’action de Tête Brûlée, il dit :

C'est vrai ou ce n’est pas vrai, cette saloperie de gris-gris ? Qui peut me répondre ? Où aller chercher la réponse ? Nulle part.  Donc c'est peut-être vrai, le gris-gris…ou c'est peut-être faux, du bidon, une tricherie tout le long et large de l’Afrique. A faforo (cul de mon père). (p. 124)

Cette perception et surprise de Birahima concernant ce fait extraordinaire comme le cas de Yacouba, se présente aussi dans beaucoup de littératures africaines où le rôle de la force surnaturelle devient un thème abordé par des écrivains et toujours lié étroitement à la culture. Est-ce que c'est un fait naturel ou surnaturel en Afrique ? Voilà une question subtile parce qu’il y a des gens qui ne croient pas du tout.  Mais en restant fidèle au conte de Birahima, on se demande qui sont les gens qui ont doué avec cette connaissance de faire manipuler cette force en Afrique, qui sont-ils?  Et quelle place occupent-ils et quel rôle jouent-ils dans la société africaine? Ces gens sont aussi comme ceux qui sont chargés des  initiations et des rituels.  C'est évident qu’il y a des gens qui sont bien désignés par soit la communauté, soit la famille ou le village pour faire une manipulation et il y a aussi des gens qui l’ont comme héritage, le cas du père de Camara Laye dans L’Enfant Noir est un bon exemple. On a aussi une autre catégorie, disons, des escrocs qui donnent l’impression à leurs victimes qui ont ce pouvoir surnaturel juste pour escroquer les gens. Quelle que  soit l’idée exprimée par l’individu sur la position de la force surnaturelle, les écrivains Africains expriment toujours ce fait à travers la société africaine.

Conclusion

La structure naturelle du gouvernement en Afrique est toute à fait bousculé suite à l’intégration du system occidental.  D’une manière générale, la possibilité de poursuivre une politique africaine qui ne touche pas le sentiment culturel en Afrique est rare. Par conséquent, chaque situation sociopolitique est souvent conditionnée par le contexte culturel où la pratique ethnique reste suprême.  Cependant la tache de protéger et propager le fait culturel africain, qui constitue la force surnaturelle, devient le fait d’un petit groupe qui connaît et peut interprète ce mystère culturel.  Au lieu de profiter de cette science pour faire bouger l’Afrique en avance, beaucoup de gens dans ce groupe emploient cette connaissance pour leur propre bénéfice.


Références Bibliographiques

Achebe, C.   Le Monde s’effondre. Paris: Présence Africaine, 1973.

 

Awolalu O. J. Yoruba Beliefs and Sacrificial Rites.  Essex: Longman Group Limited, 1981.

 

Edwards, P.  The Encyclopaedia of Philosophy. New York: The Macmillan, 1967.

 

Garnier, X.  « Allah, fétiches et dictionnaires : une équation politique au second degré », dans Notre Librairie n° 155-156, juillet-décembre 2004, p. 30.

 

Kesteloot, L. Analogie négro-africaine. Paris: Edicef, 1992.

 

Kourouma, A.   Allah n’est pas obligé... Paris: Editions du Seuil, 2000.

 

Laye, C. L’Enfant Noir. Paris: Plon, 1953.

 

Niane, T, D.    Soundjata ou l’épopée Mandingue. Paris: Présence Africaine, 1960.

 

Nkashama N. P.  Les années littéraires en Afrique. Paris: Edition l’Harmattan, 1997.

 

Onimhawo A. « Inculturation and evangelicalization of cultures » in Iroro : A Journal of Arts, Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma. Vol. 13 Number 1& 2, June 2008. PP. 139-147

 

Schaefer R.T. & Lamm R. P.  Sociology: A brief introduction, New York: The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc, 1997.


THE CONTEXT OF PROVERBS’ USE

IN OLA ROTIMI’S KURUNMI

Simon Olufunso SONDE,

Department of English,

Tai Solarin University of Education,

Ijebu Ode, Ogun State, Nigeria.

Abstract

There are numerous works on proverbs, but not enough scholarly attention has been given to the pragmatic and sociolinguistic relevance of proverbs in Ola Rotimi’s Kurunmi. The present study, therefore, investigated how the playwright skilfully uses proverbs to contextualize events, develop characters and perform pragmatic functions. Troike’s (1982) version of the Ethnography of Communication and Austin’s (1962) Speech Act theory served as the theoretical framework. Data were derived from Ola Rotimi’s Kurunmi. Twenty nine proverbs identified in the text were sampled. The playwright uses proverbs to comment on the fundamental beliefs of the Yoruba people in different socio-cultural contexts which include politics, religion and tradition. Also, the proverbs perform various speech act functions such as warning, condemning, promising, approving and satirizing. Proverbs serve to delineate characters in the selected play, add profound meanings to the text and define its socio-cultural settings. Therefore, a pragmatic and sociolinguistic description of proverbs in Kurunmi situates the text appropriately in the Yoruba worldview.

Résumé

Il y a de nombreux travaux sur les proverbes, mais peu d’attention a été accordée par les intellectuels à la pertinence programmatique et sociolinguistique des proverbes dans Ola Rotimi kurunmi.

Donc, la présente étude, renseigne sur comment habillement le dramaturge utilise les proverbes pour contextualité les événements, développer des personnages et jouer des rôles pragmatiques. Troike (1982), pour la version Ethmographique de la communication et Austin (1962) Theony de l’acte de discours a servi de cadre théorique. Des données ont été derivé de Ola Rotimi ‘’Kurunmi’. Vingt neuf proverbes ont été identifiés dans le texte comme échantillon. Le dramaturge utilise les proverbes pour commenter les croyances fondamentales du people yoruba dans différent contexte socio-culture qui inclure les politiques, religion et tradition. Aussi les proverbes jouent le rôle de l’acte fontionnele de plusieurs discours comme l’avertissement, la commandation, la promesse, l’approbation et faire la satire.les proverbes servent à définir les personnages dans un drame selectionné, amplifient les significations du texte et définissent leurs cadres socio-culturel. Ainsi donc, une description pragmatique et sociolinguistique des proverbes dans ‘’Kurunmi’’ situe le texte proprement dans une vision mondiale yoruba.

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Introduction

Language is a part of culture and it is an instrument through which cultural practices are propagated (Jary and Jary 1991: 101, Odebunmi 2008:1). In an attempt to define culture; Leigh and Stanbridge (1991:21) are of the views that culture is a  mixture which incorporates behaviour (thoughts, action and language), knowledge, belief, arts, morals, law, custom and other qualities acquired by man as a social being. Proverb as an aspect of culture deals with issues that border on the values, norms, institutions and artefacts of a society across the whole gamut of the people’s experiences. In terms of functions, proverbs in Africa have been observed to occur on all occasions in which language is used for communication either as an art or as a tool (Owomoyela 2005, Nwachukwu-Agbada 2002, etc).

Efforts are made by scholars to define proverbs. Some of these efforts will be mentioned. Taylor (1985:3) defines proverb as a saying current among the folks. In his own more recent studies about proverbs, Mieder (2005:2-3) defines proverbs as ‘an expression having its source from the people, an apparently fundamental truth, usually short, with literal/figurative meaning and a sign of antiquity’. From the perspective of African cosmology, Ogunjimi and Na’Allah, (1991:65) define proverbs as oral compositions that come from the word of tradition. Proverbs embrace the philosophy and socio-cultural value system of the people. They point to the individual, domestic and collective life patterns of the society from which they are derived. Achebe (1958) defines proverbs from the point of view of the Igbo culture as the ‘palm oil with which words are eaten’. The definitions above suggest that proverbs are essential ingredients to harmonize the life rhythm of any community. Among features that are common to various definition of proverb given above are proverbs’ concise nature, traditionalism, truthfulness and currency. Other features are its wise expression, moral and metaphorical fixed forms, and its ability to be handed down from one generation to another. Proverbs perform different functions in the traditional speech mode, and day to day activities of an African society.  Many of these functions are identified by scholars such as Akporobaro and Emovon (1994), Olatunji (1984, 175-177), Cotter (1996), Nwachukwu - Agbada (2002) Owomoyela (2005), Na’Allah and Ogunjimi (1991:66), etc,). Among different functions identified by these scholars include aesthetic, prescriptive, cosmological reflections, socio-cultural, domestic, moral and ethical functions. On a general note, proverbs give substance to our speeches. They show the depth of knowledge and wisdom in African heritage. Proverbs entertain, enlighten and educate the listeners. Proverbs command respect for the speaker and show his level of maturity. It exposes and explores the socio-cultural realities and literary culture of African societies. It demonstrates the tradition of theories and eloquence in the articulation of ideas. Proverb helps in settling disputes and serves as warning, rebuke, praise, suggestions and advice. It presents the cosmological views and interest of speaker. Above all proverb teaches African logic and science.

This paper aims at using ethnography of communication and speech act approaches to discourse analysis to study proverbs used in Ola Rotimi’s Kurunmi. At the end, we intend to bring out the effects of the proverbs used on the meaning expressed from the point of view of the socio-cultural situation in the context of the texts. Kurunmi has a simple plot. As the hero of the text, Kurunmi prefers to go to war rather than accept the sell out of tradition by the Alafin and other important chiefs in the kingdom. As the war develops, Kurunmi is continually faced with forces inimical to his success. On the battlefield, the entrance of the military might of Ibadan on the side of Oyo coupled with the military incompetence of the Egba war chiefs contributes to Ijaye’s defeat. On the ideological level, Kurunmi recognizes a threat to his ideas and to his society in the alien and missionary ideology of Reverend Adolphus Mann. The fire of revolt in Kurunmi finally burns out with the death of all his sons. The Are-ona-kakanfo in a manner expected of a warrior eventually takes the honourable way out by committing suicide. Apart from the issue of preservation of tradition against the need for change, the real cause of the war is political and economic. Kurunmi creates the turbulent rhythms of war to match the explosive clash of will that brought about the gruelling Ijaye war of the 19th century.

Theoretical Perspectives

The theoretical frame work for this study is Hymes (1962) ethnography of communication. EOC is a method of discourse analysis in linguistics, which draws on the anthropological field of ethnography. EOC takes both language and culture to be constitutive and constructive. Lindfor and Taylor (2002:44) explain "Ethnography of communication conceptualizes communication as a continuous flow of information, rather than as a segmented exchange of messages". According to Cameron (2001), “EOC can be thought of as the application of ethnographic methods to the communication patterns of a group”. Littlejohn & Foss (2005:312) recall that “Dell Hymes suggests that “cultures communicate in different ways, but all forms of communication require a shared code, communicators who know and use the code, a channel, a setting, a message form, a topic, and an event created by transmission of the message".

Speech Act theory is developed by John Austin (1962) and John Searle (1969). They do this from the basic insight that language is used not just to describe the word, but to perform a range of other actions that can be indicated in the performance of the utterances itself. E.g. I promise to be there tomorrow performs the act of promising. The grass is green performs the act of asserting. An utterance may also perform more than one speech act (Clark 1979, Davidson 1975). The speech act approach to discourse focuses on knowledge of underlying condition for production and interpretation of act through words. Words may perform more than one action at a time and contexts may help to separate multiple functions of utterances from one another. The literal meaning of words and the contexts in which they occur may interact in our knowledge of the conditions underlying the realizations of acts and the interpretation of acts.

Austin’s (1962) pioneering description of speech acts, opines that, issuing an utterance, three related acts are performed. They are the locutionary, illocutionary, and perlocutionary acts. The locutionary act is the act of (i) uttering certain noises, (ii) uttering certain words (of a certain grammar), and (iii) using these words with a more-or –less definite meaning. The illocutionary act is the act of doing something in issuing an utterance or the act of intending to do a particular thing or set of things by issuing the utterance. In place of the Austinian dual distinction between locution and illocution, Searle (`1969) identifies three separate acts: (i) the utterance act, which involves referring to, mentioning or designating a certain object (e.g., Every Jack’) and the predicating of an expression (e.g. has a Jill’) to it, and (iii) the illocutionary act (e.g., that of asserting an opinion).

 

Literature Review

In an attempt to examine the aesthetics that abound in African traditional verbal artistry, Okpewho (1992) has decried the tendency on the part of non-African scholars to minimize the artistic properties of these texts. This is as a result of their limited or sometimes non existent command of the pertinent languages. Okpewho’s African Oral Literature is an elaborate illustration of the sophisticated artistry in African traditional texts including forms such as proverbs. Examining the artistic qualities and structure of proverbs in Yoruba culture, Bamgbose (1966:83-85) points out that proverbs share central aesthetic features with Yoruba poetry in general. Bamgbose highlights the use of lexical contrast and lexical matching in Yoruba proverbs and poetry, which he describes as ‘the bringing together of two or more lexical items in such a way as to exhibit a semantic contrast or correspondence’. The contrasted items, which occur in identical locations in parallel sentences, are sometimes antonyms and sometimes synonyms, and sometimes they are unrelated. For example in the formulation: ‘Eehinkule lota wa, lle laseni n gbe’ (The enemy lives in the backyard. The abode of the person who inflicts injury is at home). Ota (enemy) and aseni (inflictor of injury) are synonymous. Owomoyela (2005:8) says ‘at times the proverb takes advantages of the existence of different words in the language that designate the same thing more or less exactly, resulting in the sort of word play in: ‘Ajanaku kii ya arara Eni erin-in bi erin ni njo’ (The elephant does not turn out dwarfish. The child sired by an elephant takes after an elephant). The lexical item Ajanaku (elephant) in the first part matches erin (elephant) in the second, with the differences that the first word carries the suggestion of mightiness.

Olatunji (1984:175) lists some prescriptive functions as the main features of some Yoruba proverbs, they include the outlining of rules of conduct, a characteristics sentence form which might be simple, complex, sentential or parallel and a high incidence of terseness. He also cites tonal complement that is, contrast in the tones of lexical items that occurs in identical locations in parallel sentences. In the proverb cited above for example, (ehinkule lota wa/lle laseni n gbe) the high tone of the final syllable in the second part contrast with the low tone of the corresponding syllable in the first part.

Exploring the relevance of contexts in the communication of proverb meaning, scholars have observed that there are difficulties encountered at defining proverbs out of context. In the views of Odebunmi (2006:22), context provides the background from which the meaning of a word springs. Alo (2004:74) opines that the term context is ‘a wide notion embracing linguistic and non linguistic factors of language use’. He says further that word do not express meaning in isolation but that their meanings are inextricably linked to other words in a linguistic context. This is an aspect of context as provided by conditions to construct meaning in a manner that is socially acceptable. In the views of Malinowski in his research experience in the Triobrian Island in the South Pacific, as reported in Alo (2004:74), Malinowski discovered that an adequate description of any language events, the factor of cultural context and practice was important. Context resolves ambiguities in spoken or written language. It is the continually changing surrounding, in the widest sense, which enables the participants in the communication process to interact.

Nwachuckwu - Agbada (2002:32) quoted an Akan story in an attempt to explain the relevance of context to proverb study. In his opinion, an “Omanhene” (Paramount Chief) who had heard another Omanhene to be well versed in proverbs, had sent his linguist to him praying to him that he might recite a hundred proverbs to pass them  over to his Own Omanhene. The linguist went, and having been given water to drink as the custom demanded, was asked the reason for his appearance. He told the king the reason. The king told him to close his eyes. After a time he was asked to open them. The king asked him what dream he had dreamed. He replied that he had not slept to be able to dream. The king  interjected saying: “you have  rightly answered, go and tell your Omanhene that one sleeps to dream, proverbs do not come out of the absence of a situation” (Evans-Pritchard 1963:4-7). The anecdote above emphasizes the relevance of context in proverb meaning. The above view of the Akan chief shows that there is an automatic association between proverb utterance and circumstance of usage. In the opinion of Nwachukwu - Agbada (2002:33-34)

 

it is not easy to establish when this [contextual] realization took place in African culture but it would seem that the use of proverbs in nearly all aspects of the informal education, of the African child, and the facts that practically every activity conjures its own proverbs as evidence of an immemorial awareness of the place of context in proverb application.

 

Arewa and Dundes (1964:70-71) are also of the opinion that ‘folklore is primarily used as a means of communication. One cannot be limited to text. One needs texts in their context’. Seitel (1969:128) in his attempt to pass comments about proverbs of Chinua Achebe as an ethnographic data, Seitel believes that “if it could be shown that the novelistic depictions of cultural features were substantially accurate, and then it would not be unreasonable to assume that accounts of proverb usages were similarly true to life”. He further presents a method for dealing with the phenomenon of proverb use, and constructs a heuristic model of proverb use based on his observations on the social application of metaphor.

Our attempt to make a review about the works of Ola Rotimi starts with the view expressed by Ukala (2000:91): “Ola Rotimi’s works are embellished with the use of proverbs, though they are relatively easy to understand as texts and in performance.  However they express literal and figurative meanings”.  His plays are also very theatrical and very popular with Nigerian English-speaking audience.  The popularity of Ola Rotimi outside the university campus as a director is commended by scholars (Osanyin 1983:4-5, Ogunbiyi 1981:35 and Adelugba 1928:217). Monye (1995:259) passes specific comments about Rotimi’s use of proverbs. According to him, “a cursory look at the use of proverbs in Ola Rotimi’s plays reveal that he has used proverbs to enhance our understanding of his themes, illuminate his story and delineates his characters”. Monye (1995:225) says further that “as a shrewd observer of his immediate environment, Rotimi is able to present his audience with an apt and concrete image of the fruitless struggles of his tragic hero, which inevitably lead to self-destruction”.  He explains further that through the transfer of association of ideas from the animal world to the human terrain, Rotimi obliquely tells us that Odewale is merely struggling.  His snail-shell image is therefore a fore visioning to the reader of the tragedy that awaits King Odewale. It should be noted, however, that at the surface level, works of Ola Rotimi seems simple and easy to understand by his audience does not mean that the works are substandard. The beauty of any literary creation, especially, theatrical presentation is in the ability of its audience to understand it. At the deeper level he uses proverbs to express metaphoric meaning. In his words, Nasiru (1994:24) says Rotimi’s style is expressed in his use of Yoruba proverbs and witticism. For example: All lizards lie prostrate; how can a man tell which lizard suffers from bellyache? In time, the pain will make one of them lie flat on its back then shall that which has been unknown be made known (Gods P. 23). The above proverb confirms the suspicion of king Odewale in Gods of everybody around him in his predicament.  When he was asked to pass comment about the title of The Gods are not to Blame, Ola Rotimi (1991) pointed out that the title of the play presupposes a political thesis that warns the developing African nations not to put the blame for their shortcomings on the former colonial masters (Nasiru 1979:24 and Lindfors 1974:60). While Monye (1995) restricts himself to broadly identifying the fifty-three proverbs in The Gods are not to Blame and discussing each proverb in relation to the context in which it is used but he did not anchor his analysis on any theoretical frame work. In his paper titled “Pragmatic Functions of Crisis – Motivated proverbs in Ola Rotimi;s The Gods are not to Blame, Odebunmi (2008) uses the theory of pragmatic act for his analysis. The work focuses on the environment in which both speaker and hearer find their affordances, such that their situation is brought to bear on what can be said in the situation, as well as what is naturally being said. (May 2001:221 and adapted by Odebunmi 2006).

Analysis:

Politics is described by scholars as the  activities involved in getting/using power in public life and being able to influence decisions that affect a country or society (Hornby 2005:1122). Politics is about power and it occurs when there is differential in power. Powers are divided into two forms: authority (legitimate power) and coercions (illegitimate power). However, the two types of power are based ultimately on physical force. Max Webber (1948) defines power as :

 

The chance of a man or a number of chances of a man or a number of men to realize their own will in a communal action even against the resistance of others who are participating in the action (Dowse and Hughes 1972, Webbers in Gerth and Mill, 1948, Haralambos and Holborn 1998:539).

 

Power consists of the ability to get your own way, even when others are opposed to your wishes. Webbers further identified three different sources of authority as charismatic, traditional and rational. Politics in Yoruba history could be linked with monarchism (the rule of one) and conservatism (power in defence of established order).  In Kurunmi, the entire Yoruba state in the 19th century is presented to us. At that time, the Alafin of Oyo is the supreme head of the entire Yoruba Empire. The system of government operated then was monarchism based on checks and balances. The power of the Alafin is checked by the authority of members of the Oyomesi, the highest political council in the empire. According to Ogunsola (1977:29):

The Oyomesi was the highest political council in the old Oyo Empire. Members of the council were Alafin, the Bashorun (Prime Minister), the chief of staff (the Kakanfo), the Oluwo (president of the Ogboni cult), the Ifa chief Priest and the chief Ilari (p.29).

 

During the period in question, with the size of the whole empire extended beyond the coverage of the entire Yoruba land, the executive power of the entire empire was in the hand of the Alafin and his representatives. Then, there was the need to protect tradition in order to maintain established customs and institutions. Aare Kurunmi, a conservative leader and the generalissimo of the entire Yoruba warrior at the point in time, was of the opinion that the tradition of the land be protected against the intention of Alafin Atiba who wanted his son, prince Adelu, to be crowned as the next Alafin at his demise. This led to the crisis presented in the play. In the views of Mbah (2007:120):

The conservative belief relied on the accumulated wisdom of the past and institutions and practices that have been tested by time and [the beliefs] that it should be preserved for the benefits of the living and for generations yet unborn.

Other basic tenets of conservation identified by Mbah (2007) apart from tradition and religion organization are human importation, pagination, hierarchy, authority and property.

In Kurunmi, Alafin Atiba fails to follow tradition in his attempts to choose his son Prince Adelu as a successor to the throne after his demise. Hornby (2005) defines tradition as a belief, custom, or way of doing something that has existed for a long time among a group of people. In other words, it involves cultural continuity. It is transmitted in the form of social attitudes, beliefs, principles and conventions of behaviour. Kurunmi emphasizes the need to allow traditions that involves the first son of the king dying along with his father at his demise to continue (pp15-16). Ola Rotimi allows the interlocutors in his works to use different proverbs to express the same intention for the purpose of emphasis. Kurunmi single handedy cites all the nine proverbs below, in support of the need to follow tradition in the choice of a new Alafin. The immediate context is Ijaye where Kurunmi is reporting the meeting that the Oyo kingdom chiefs had with Alafin Atiba expressing his intention to have Prince Adelu rule after his death. However, the historic and macro setting of this work is the entire Yoruba Kingdom over whom the Alafin is made a ruler. The kingdom consists of the people of Oyo Township, the Ibadan people, the Egba, the Ijesha, etc, who were under the domain of the Alafin over whom Kurunmi is also made the Generalissimo (Aare-Ona-Kakanfo).  Some of the proverbs that support the need to follow tradition are cited by Kurunmi as expressed below:

Proverb 1: When the garbon viper dies, its children take up its habits, poison and all (p.15).2: The plantain dies its saplings take its place, broad leaves and all (p15). 3: The fire dies; its ashes bear its memory with a shroud of white fluff (p.15).

Proverbs 1-3 express the need for continuity of tradition. Kurunmi wants tradition to continue the way “the ‘garbon’ viper and plantain transfer their strength for survival to their younger ones” this reason is also given for fire, whose memory is borne by its ashes. The illocutionary act performed here is expositive act of affirming the need for tradition to continue. For years, in the history of Oyo Empire, the tradition is that when a king dies, his first son and some other leading officials die with him. Corroborating this assertion Ajayi and Smith (1964:74) say that:

 

At old Oyo, the kingship rotated in different segments of the ruling lineage. When a monarch died, his eldest son and his leading officials who shared office with him died with him. His other children usually returned into exile to seek adventure and await their turn.

 

Alafin Atiba (the king of the Oyo Empire then) did not want tradition to take its cause; he wants his first son, Prince Adelu who has been his companion on throne to rule at his demise. This is negated by Kurunmi in the proverb below:

 

Proverb 4: The pride of bees is in the honey comb (P.15) 5: The pride of the weaver bird shows in the skilful design of its nest (P.15).6: The pride of monkey is in his knowledge of the secret of treetops. 7: The pride of man is in his tradition (P.16)

 

Proverbs 4-7 above express the need to be proud of tradition. In the views of Kurunmi, tradition makes a people as the pride of bees is in the honeycomb. The pride of the weaverbird shows in his ability to skilfully design its nest and the pride of monkey is in the knowledge of the secrets on tree tops. Hence, the semantic implication of these proverbs is that the pride of a man should be in his tradition (p.16). Delving into the factors that contributed to king Atiba’s request to have his son Adelu take over the throne after him (which is not acceptable to Kurunmi). This presupposes that in most Yoruba societies, there are always many royal families, who always contend for the throne at the demise of a king. Traditionally speaking, the death of a king and those of his major companions at his demise would easily pave the way for other contenders to the throne to take their turn. Hence, Kurunmi sees the intention of king Atiba to have his son reign after him as a slap in the face of tradition. It will not make the next royal family to present a king nor have any say in the issue of the choice of a new king as it is traditionally required. Kurunmi says further:

Proverb 8: The day the tall Iroko tree losses its roots is the day the baby ant ‘shits’ on its head (p.16). 9: The day the people loose their tradition is the day their death begins (P.16). 10: The young palm tree grows tall rapidly and it is proud, thinking, hoping that one day it will scratch the face of the sky, have its elders before it touched the sky? (pp. 35-36).

The proverbs above explain the consequence of loss of tradition. Kurunmi believes that for life to continue in the whole empire, the tradition of the people must be preserved. Failure to do so may cause crisis which will spell doom for the entire empire. Another major cause for concern is that tradition is the pride of the people and it is an instrument of instruction. It is also an instrument of peace and continuity. My people, the pride of man is in his tradition- something to learn from for the peace of his present, something to learn from for the advancement of his tomorrow”(p.16). Any attempt to loose tradition, will lead to a major set back to peace, instruction and continuity. The speech act that Kurunmi performed with the proverb above is verdictive act recommending the tradition to the people. In the opinion of Basorun Oluyole, Timi Ede and others who support Alaafin Atiba, tradition must die with man (p.20).

Proverbs are also cited to show the effects and consequences of some decisions being made by leaders or the led. Political leaders are so concerned about the need to protect their political interest without bothering about its effects on the generality of the people they lead. In some cases, warfare is declared and innocent citizens are killed at will. In some other occasions, the leader just becomes unusually oppressive in order to form a powerful protection around themselves at the expense of the people. Ola Rotimi uses some proverbs to illustrate these developments. The next two proverbs support efforts by leaders to play politics in order to effect change in a system.

Proverb 11: The cow defecates and thinks she is soiling the pasture; we shall see whose buttocks get soiled first. (p.21). 12: Kurunmi will never prostrate himself to shoot a deer with a father one morning, and then squat with the son in the evening to shoot a goose! Never… Never… I say n-e-v-e-r (p.21).

 

The two proverbs are cited by Timi of Ede and Kurunmi respectively in the course of a disagreement that ensued when delivering Alafin’s message to Kurunmi, to support the enthronement of prince Adelu. The duo, Timi of Ede and Bashorun Oluyole, could not achieve their objective; they went back to Oyo in annoyance. Proverb thirty one above is cited in commissive language: promising, predicting, and projecting that the future of Oyo Empire under Prince Adelu would be bright.  As part of the efforts to check the power of Alafin of Oyo, conservative members of the cabinet such as Aare Kurunmi of Ijaye, Afonja of Ilorin, Bashorun Gaa, and others have challenged the authority of one Alafin or the other. In the process of doing so, warfare breaks out. An example of the experience described above is what characterizes the background of Kurunmi. The tradition that surrounds the making of a new Alafin at the demise of the previous one is that, the first son of the former Alafin commits suicide and is buried along with his father. Aare Kurunmi, who is the military leader of the kingdom, does not want tradition to be breached. Hence rejects the request of Alafin Atiba. This leads to a crisis that caused the Ijaye / Ibadan war of the middle l8th century as presented in Kurunmi by Ola Rotimi. There are instances in the play where proverbs are used to treat themes of politics and power play. One takes place when Kurunmi is reporting the meeting that the entire Oyo chiefs had with Alafin Atiba, where the latter made known his intention to allow prince Adelu his first son succeed him. Efforts are made to percify Kurunmi to appreciate the view of others, however, he would not listen. According to Timi:

Proverb 13: When the tortoise is heading for a senseless journey, and you say to him: Brother Tortoise, brother tortoise, when will you be wise and come back home? The tortoise will say: brother, not until I have been disgraced (p. 17).

 

Timi Ede cites this proverb to tell Kurunmi the faults of his in the presence of Bashorun Oluyole. The proverb is re-affirming, re-stating, re-emphasising and clarifying that Kurunmi will be disappointed for his stand on the matter. In order to convince Kurunmi on the need to have a change of heart and allow the wish of the king to come to pass, Bashorun Oluyole and Timi of Ede are sent by Alafin Atiba to plead with Kurunmi to see reason in the request he is making. Kurunmi responds to this request of the king with a proverb:

 

Proverb 14: Has the aged he-goat have to be told that his present long beard is no more proof of sexual strength?  (p.18). 15: A king, a ruler, who sees the  truth but is too weak, too cowardly, to uphold  the truth, that ruler has fallen low, lower than the most depraved slave in our bush land’ (p. 18).

 

Kurunmi cites this proverb to tell ‘Alafin’ that he would do all he can to tackle him. According to Kurunmi ‘a king, a ruler, who sees the  truth but is too weak, too cowardly, to uphold  the truth, that ruler has fallen low, lower than the most depraved slave in our bush land’ (p.18). He further insults the emissaries of the Alafin and insists that tradition takes its course. “We have tradition whenever an Alafin dies, his first son must also die with him: Atiba dies this evening, his first son Adelu dies at midnight” (p.19). Timi Ede responds with another proverb to show his disappointment with the position of Kurunmi:

 

Proverb 19: The cow defecates and thinks she is soiling the pasture; we shall see whose buttocks get soiled first. (p. 21).

 

Timi Ede cites this proverb to warn that Kurunmi will regret his action one day. The implication of this is that Kurunmi is declaring a war against the same people over whom he is a military commander. In preparation for the same war, Kurunmi sends delegates to Ilorin to request their support to fight Ibadan and Oyo. In his message to Lakusa he says;

Tell the Emir of Ilorin  that I salute him from my heart. Tell him that there is a baby lion rearing a head of war on the horizon of Oyo. Soon Kurunmi will move fast with fire to meet that baby lion, lest it grows to be a great lion immutable. (p. 28)

 

In the opinion of scholars, Kurunmi wanted the support of Ilorin because Afonja of Ilorin, a former generalissimo was the first Oyo chief to rebel against the central government of Oyo. Through this singular effort, Ilorin became a province in the empire. According to Ogunsola (1971:79) “a plot to kill Afonja (the provincial Governor of Ilorin by the Alafin) in connection with his claim to the throne was discovered”. With the help of the Fulani army, Afonja defeated the Government Force of Oyo Empire and declared Ilorin independent in 1817. Unfortunately, Afonja was later killed by the Fulani and Ilorin became a part of the Sokoto Empire.

The success of Afonja encourages other provinces to break away from the empire. Examples are the Egba people who were led to independence by Lisabi. Ibadan had already become a new power and was founding an empire in Ekiti (Ogunsola 1971). The successes achieved by other provinces in the empire (such as Ilorin, Egba and Ibadan) encourage Kurunmi to single handed reject the request of Alafin Atiba. Kurunmi declares a war without consulting his people. Expressing their disaffection for this behaviour of Kurunmi, Elders of Ijaye protest that Kurunmi does not regard them. Fayanka, commenting on the above statement says:

 

Proverb: 20 When a man has placed himself above his people, he is ready to gamble with their lives (p.37).

 

At the end, Kurunmi apologizes to his people and still requests that the war be fought. In an attempt to justify the need to fight the war he convinces his people with the proverb:

Proverb 21: When an elder sees a mud skipper, he must not afterward say it was a crocodile (p. 42).

 

Kurunmi cites the above proverb to appeal to the senses of reason of Ijaye people that he has acted wrongly by single handedy declaring a war. He requests for their support for the sake of his leadership position. Kurunmi uses the above proverb as a situation management strategy. Situation management strategy occurs when the language users guide the situation of occurrence in a manner favourable to their goals (Osisanwo (2001:2). In the above proverb, situation management is used in suggesting to, bargaining with, and instructing the people about his actions. With the support of other proverbs that presents him a giant among the Yoruba warriors; Kurunmi’s request was granted by his own people. Among such proverbs states that:

Proverb 22 : The bull-frog that rivals the size of the elephant will burst. 23: A man who does not want strange foot-print in his backyard must fence it up (p.29).

 

Kurunmi cites these proverbs in the presence of his warriors. By the virtue of his position, Kurunmi is the metaphoric elephant while the Alafin of Oyo and Ibadan people are the “bull-frogs”. The fencing strategy to be used as stated in the proverb is Kurunmi’s declaration of war in the absence of his own people.

Politics and power play is also displayed in Ibadan camp among the elders and warriors of Ibadan when they weigh Kurunmi’s choice to go for war instead of peace. To them, that Kurunmi who is claiming to defend tradition fails to support the enthronement plans of prince Adelu is itself a breach of tradition. According to Oluyole:

 

Proverb 24: A man cannot be so hungry with his head, that he seized the cap from the head and dons his buttock with it (p. 46).

 

This proverb is cited by Oluyole in Ibadan camp during a meeting of the elders. In the opinion of the people, no matter how aggrieved Kurunmi is, it is a taboo for him to have waged war against his own people.  In the view of one of the warriors in Ibadan camp, Kurunmi is on the wrong side, but he might not have perceived it from that perspective. In the opinion of Osundina an Ibadan warrior, Kurunmi should not be blamed for all his actions:

 

Proverb 25: I fear that like a baboon Kurunmi cannot see the ugliness of his own buttocks. It takes another monkey to s ee the ugly buttocks of a fellow monkey (p. 47).

 

This proverb is cited to further accuse Kurunmi of wrong dealing since he is using a wrong approach to correct a wrong. The Ibadan camp concludes that the behaviour of Kurunmi is prompted by the fact that he has become too powerful in the kingdom. He is drunk with power. However, as the chief warrior of the Oyo Empire he is waging war against the entire territory that he is expected to defend. In the opinion of Ogunmola, Kurunmi needs to be cautioned or he will perpetrate more evil:

Proverb 26: A man eating eggs can’t be satisfied with just one (p. 47).

 

The proverb is cited to confirm the main reason behind Ibadan fighting this war. They believe that it was Kurunmi that manipulated Egba to freedom:

So Kurunmi moves farther and took Shaki, then Iseyin and Iwawin. Now Kurunmi is Lord over all lands from Shaki to Awaye. One day, overfed and bloated as we are, Kurunmi will enter Ibadan, tie us all to posts and fill our fresh fat bellies with sweet, day ashes (p. 47).

 

The statement above, more than the love of Ibadan for Alafin Atiba, led to Ibadan warriors’ madness to fight Kurunmi and the entire Ijaye people. Ibadan people believe that Kurunmi wants to manipulate other Yoruba towns to freedom too. To prevent him, they need to stop him. They believe that it is time they pay Kurunmi in his coin.

Proverb 27: We must remember that no matter how high the swallow flies it must at least come down to earth. The same is the present manner of Kurunmi (pp.47-48).

 

Balogun Ibikunle is of the opinion here that the anger of Kurunmi will subside one day and he will realize himself. As a result he wants to appeal to his fellow Ibadan warriors to handle issues carefully. In his opinion, Kurunmi’s anger is high and no efforts should be made to allow it to get higher since in his views, Kurunmi is hot tempered. Ibikunle warns further that Kurunmi’s annoyance should not be further aggravated:

Proverb 28: A stick already touched by fire is not hard to set ablaze (pp.47-48).

 

In the opinion of Balogun Ibikunle, any attempt to further aggravate the issue will complicate the crisis. He requested that his people deal softly with Kurunmi who is already aggrieved and prepared to go to any length towards actualizing his intentions. He wants the crisis to be resolved peacefully, since no progress could be achieved through threats:

Proverb 29:  Roaring lion kills no prey (pp.47-48).

He appeals to the sense of reason of the entire Ibadan warriors in the language of the proverb above, that it is only through patience that they can resolve the crisis.  However all his entreaties achieve no success as Ibadan people agreed go ahead to fight the war.

 

Conclusion:

In Kurunmi, Ola Rotimi further uses proverbs to pass comments about some socio-political and historic problems of the Yoruba societies.  Since the historical events that Ola Rotimi dramatises took place at the advent of colonial administration, the playwright is also able to show to us both the pros and cons of the presence of the Europeans in Yoruba land. Our analysis shows that the environment of a people determines the type of proverbs they cite at different occasions. Yoruba proverbs are many and are represented in different fields of human endeavours by Ola Rotimi in Kurunmi. Every situation and event have proverbs that suite them. There are proverbs about conflict, warfare, peace, leadership, politics family life, etc, as show Kurunmi. It is difficult to separate people from their proverbs, since proverb is culture base. In Yoruba cosmology, the structure and form of proverbs are different from other cultures. Proverbs of English may express similar views with that of  Yoruba but in most cases the internal structure of those proverbs and believes that bring them to existence are different from one culture to another.  Finally, a study of the proverb used in the plays show that Ola Rotimi has employed proverbs to enhance our understanding of his themes, illuminate his story and delimitate his characters. The study also shows how Ola Rotimi has explored the authentic translation of some common proverbs of the Yoruba in dialogues, conversation and argument to create pictorial and memorable story which performs roles in the socio-cultural environment of his play.

 

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[1] See “P.S” portion of Native Son. Harper Perennial Modern Classics edition (2005), page 13.

[2] A Yoruba (Nigerian) proverb, parallel to this we can describe Bigger as “Son of the soil”- native son.

[3] Okunowo, A.V “Douglass’s Narrative of the Life of an American Slave: A Reading”. Unpublished seminar paper, 2007.

[4] ---- Ibid same page as in (1).

[5] Troy Duster: “How to Read the Noose” in The Chronicle of Higher Education, Nov. 9, 2007.

[6] A Nigerian Yoruba saying meaning “kill or harm him by all means possible”.

[7] As quoted by Yinka Fabowale in his report: “Soyinka Rails over Ali as Ambassador” in Daily Sun (A Nigerian Newspaper On-line). Nov.1, 2007.

[8] Jena, O.J. and the Jailing of Black America: New York Times, Sunday, Sept., 2007.

[9] Yoruba (Nigerian) proverb usually applied in time of conflict resolution.

[10] Traduction personnelle