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Editions Sonou d’Afrique

Porto-Novo, République du Bénin



Vol 1, N°03 –  Novembre  2013,   ISSN   1840 – 6874





Publiée par :


L’Institut Universitaire Panafricain

Autorisation : Arrêté N° 2011 – 008/MESRS/CAB/DC/SGM/DPP/DEPES/SP

Sous la Direction du :

Prof. Cyriaque C. S. AHODEKON

& Dr. Julien K. GBAGUIDI




Vol 1, N°03 – Novembre 2013,   ISSN   1840 – 6874




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Novembre 2013



Vol. 1,  N° 03, Novembre  2013,  ISSN 1840 – 6874
1.0. Comité de Rédaction

Nom et Prénoms

Poste occupé dans le comité


Dt.Théophile G. KODJO SONOU

Président de l’IUP et

Directeur de Publication


Prof. Cyriaque C. S. AHODEKON

Rédacteur en Chef


Dr. Julien Koffi GBAGUIDI

Rédacteur en Chef Adjoint


Dr. Raphael YEBOU

Secrétaire à la Rédaction


Dr. Ibrahim YEKINI

Secrétaire Adjoint à la Rédaction


2.0. Comité de lecture



Prof. Augustin AINAMON

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


Prof.  Taofiki KOUMAKPAI

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



Recteur, Michael Otedola College Primary Education, Epe, Nigeria


Prof. Laure C. ZANOU

Département d’Anglais, Faculté des Lettres, Arts et Sciences Humaines, Université d’Abomey-Calavi, Bénin


Dr. Mathias DOSSOU

Département des Lettres Modernes, Faculté des Lettres, Arts et Sciences Humaines, Université d’Abomey-Calavi, Bénin


Dr Pascal Okri TOSSOU

Département des Lettres Modernes, Faculté des Lettres, Arts et Sciences Humaines, Université d’Abomey-Calavi, Bénin



Département des Sciences du Langage et de la Communication, Faculté des Lettres, Arts et Sciences Humaines, Université d’Abomey-Calavi, Bénin


Dr King Rafiou  AMOUSSA

Département de la Communication et des Relations Internationales, Institut Universitaire Panafricain   (IUP), Porto-Novo, Bénin.


Dr Alexandre A. GBECHOEVI

Département des Sciences Politiques,

Faculté de Droit et des Sciences Politiques, Université d’Abomey-Calavi, Bénin.

3.0. Contributeurs  d’Articles



Nom et Prénoms

Articles contributes et Page







The possibility of evolving a lingua franca in the 21st century Nigeria: need for leadership           and political stability

Page 10-28


Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago- Iwoye, Ogun,  Nigeria.



Dr  A. A.



Mrs.  E. A.



Teacher’s classroom

Behavior  and subject

mastery as correlates          of students         performance

in Yoruba.


Page 29-58

Department of

Teacher Education,

University of Ibadan, Ibadan. Nigeria


Department of

Yoruba Language,

Osun State College           of Education, Ilesa,



Dr. Ismaila O. O. AMALI,

Meeting the Challenge of accessibility

and uttilization of modern instructional materials in rural secondary

schools In Nigeria

Page 59-78

Department of Arts and Social Sciences Education, Faculty  of Education, University of Ilorin, Kwara, Nigeria



Dr. Adenike Olapeju AKINWUMI

New media political campaigns and violence in Nigeria.

Page 79-100

Department of mass communication,

Bowen University, Iwo, Osun State, Nigeria


Dr Alohoutadé Alexandre


Symbolisme du mythe   et  philosophie intellectualiste dans l’évolution de la pensée


Page 101-138

Département de Sciences Politiques,

Faculté de Droit et de Sciences Politiques,

Université d’Abomey-Calavi, Bénin


M. Olusegun Adegboye


La déverbalisation du message comme méthode de traduction


Page 139-159

Department of  French, Ekiti State University, Ado-Ekiti, Ekiti State, Nigeria


Dr, Olufunke M.


Language situation in Nigeria: an examination of the language policy.


Page 160-176


Department of English Language, School of Language, Tai Solarin College of Education

Omu-Ijebu, Nigeria


Dr  Rita Ochuko MEBITAGHAN

Fidélité et la traduction du culturel : les images dans la traduction française de Anthills of the Savannah de Chinua Achebe

Page 177-201

Department of  Languages and Linguistics,

Faculty of Arts, Delta State University, Abraka, Delta State, Nigeria.


Dr                                 Segun OMOSULE,



Catherine O. WILLIAMS

Aesthetics and oral performances


Page 202-227


Department of English, Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye, Ogun, Nigeria


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


Dr Timothy Olugbenro ERINOSHO           &                       M. Olusesan A.  OSUNKOYA

The western powers and Africa’s relations, 1945-1990


Page 228-261

Department of History & Diplomatic Studies,

Tai Solarin University of Education, Ijagun, Ijebu-Ode, Ogun, Nigeria






Olabisi Onabanjo University,

Ago- Iwoye, Ogun State, Nigeria.



Nigeria, being a multi ethnic and multi linguistic community no doubt, needs a lingua franca in the 21st century. The call for leadership and political stability and the search for such a language has been ongoing and is still a subject for debates and research activities, raising such questions as: What efforts have been made to evolve an acceptable language policy for Nigeria? What are the suggested alternatives? What is the way out of the national language question in Nigeria.

This paper discusses the efforts by scholars and researchers to settle the language question. Language is regarded as a psycho-social phenomenon relevant to every multilingual nation’s efforts at stabilizing the polity and promoting political and economic developments. In this paper, we have tried to examined the language question in Nigeria, as a member of the West African sub-region, how political and intellectual leadership through language educators have contributed to the possible resolution of the raging controversies about evolving a lingua franca by the selection of three (3) national languages: Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba. The paper also discusses how the 21st century should witness a definite development of a major language that will transmit ideas, values and beliefs to stabilize the political arrangement. Political leadership and language scholars are still busy weighing the options with a view of ultimately nurturing a lingua franca for Nigeria. These issues are addressed with their implication for leadership and political stability in Nigeria and by extension, in the West African sub-region.

Key words: Evolving, lingua franca, 21st century Nigeria, leadership and political stability.


Writing on “In search of A National Language for National Reconciliation and Development in Nigeria, Jibowo (2002) gave the opening shot that “The language question … has been a point of debate since Nigeria’s independence … years ago. Educationists, authors, critics and Governments have expressed their views in favour of a national language …” From this point of observation, it is clear that Nigeria has a language problem, sometimes expressed as the problem of evolving a lingua franca, that is, having one common language agreed to by the over 4oo language/ethnic groups in Nigeria. Just as a lingua franca can lead to national reconciliation, it can equally lead to political stability in the nation.

The focus of this write-up is to awaken the consciousness of the Nigerian political establishment to the fact that evolving a lingua franca should not be a closed issue. Rather, a lingua franca has the potential to promote the institution of political stability in Nigeria. Thus, this calls for more concerted effort based on sincerity and commitment to a united and stable nation founded on a common linguistic foundation.

Olunwa (2010) notes that the diverse and multi-ethnic nature of Nigeria and most African countries and the bias brought about by our differences and its effects dictate the imperative of a common language that facilitates our unity as against our differences language which  is needful in the circumstance we find ourselves, and in which our differences are threatening our cohesion.

Thus, the English language was adopted as our “lingua franca” as a rub off of colonialism. The author further notes some issues that militate against evolving a lingua franca for Nigeria. These include tribalism, nepotism, and religious differences which affect efforts at building national character and unity. We share his apprehension, but support the view that a common language creates little room for slander and sectionalism.

1. Theoretical Background

Language has been conceived in several ways by experts depending on their own concepts. For example, Kelly (1969) says that “in considering language, psychologists have concentrated on two of its facets, treating it either as an aspect of human behavior or as a factor in social activity (P.1969:363). The point being made here is the divergence of views of scholars concerned with the development of language as an important component of human experience. He believes that considerations of language as behavior differ greatly. There is a general view of language as behavior, a view supported by Skinner. Behaviorists are known to adopt a mechanistic interpretation of language, whereas “the neo-behaviorists allow more freedom of action to the individual” (B. Cit.). For them, language is a series of stimulus response mechanisms

The second view of language is that it is a “skill or social activity”. Therefore, language could be regarded as both a “psychological and social phenomenon needed in the socialization process of the child. Like Kelly (1969:363) explains, “the home is often the first place in which a child meets two or three languages especially when the parents belong to two different language groups…” (OP Cit) By inference, the child or learner finds himself/herself faced with the possibility, or even necessity, to learn two or even three languages. As Kelly (1969) explains, “The bilingual character of the society is an extension of the home”.

Another scholar, David (1987) “sees language as unique due to its ability to capture the extensive spread of human thoughts”. In other words, language acts as a purveyor of human thoughts and its effect on all the possible outcomes of human interaction. Obi-Okoye (2002) quoting David (1987:46) shares the view that “language appears to be the single most important endowment of human kind as a means of understanding ourselves and our society and of resolving some of the problems and tensions that arise from human interaction”(P.46).

Therefore, language plays a major role in promoting human understanding and mutual respect among races and nations. Hence, the promotion of human understanding is even more urgently needed in a multilingual society as Nigeria, an important player in the socio-political and economic development and control in the West African sub-region which is predominantly inhabited by French-speaking neighbours.

Considering the study of French, the Nigerian situation is complex if we put into consideration the overwhelming influence of English which is the nation’s official language and the need to promote national cohesion. This is in addition to the significant presence of three national languages (Hausa, Igbo, Yoruba) on the language curriculum at the secondary school level. Hence, the search for a solution in Nigeria’s language problem definitely continues to pose a challenge to linguists and language teachers.


2. The Complex Search for a Lingua Franca in the multilingual Nigeria: Obstacles to a Solution

Despite the apparent confusion around the understanding of what the official language, national language and lingua franca are, we know that Nigeria has no lingua franca. A lingua franca refers to a language indigenously derived and used by people whose main languages are different. So, what Nigeria has are three national languages, namely Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba, and an official language (English). Oyedola (1998) explains that the tribal and linguistic composition of Nigeria has not made the task of selecting and adopting one of the over 400 languages spoken in the geo-political entity as the national language a possible one. This inability is predicated on sensitive issues that attach to the choice of national language in a country where the fears of ethnic, political and economic subjugation and dominations are real. He explains further that there is the perception that the choice of a language as the official language of the country out of many indigenous languages would give pre-eminence to its native speakers in the national context.

In her contribution, Ajibade (1994:66-76) quoting Hansford  (1976), writes that “the multilingual Nigerian situation is more complex than normal due to her past history of colonization, because for proper administration of the country, the colonialists lumped together people with different languages who were made to co-exist in an artificially created territory” (Pp 66-76). According to her, this led to a multi-lingual situation where about 395 languages were made to co-exist in one territory. This scholar also notes that for the purpose of communication, a “lingua franca” or a common language had to be chosen since the colonial administrators had to communicate with their subjects.

In practical terms, no one doubts that there is a language problem in Nigeria. This situation obliges linguists and language policy groups to find a solution to the problem of multilingualism.

Das Guspta (1968), Elugbe and Emenanjo (1990) affirm that most new states are based on a plurality of segmental groups which is often valued more highly than their ties with the nation. On his part, Emenanjo (1990) explains further that it is not how cleavage came to occur in society, what is important is what happens to this divisiveness in the process of national development. Elugbe and Emenanjo (1990) further elucidate:

Perhaps …ninety percent of our people in both urban and rural areas are untouched by the alleged communicative role (of English)… I should also point out that no artificially developed language will or does, qualify as a national language in Nigeria. During the military era, after the civil War (1967-70) and second Republic, WAZOBIA, formed from the words WA ,ZO, BIA, for “come in” Hausa, Igbo, Yoruba respectively, represented the possibility of evolving a national language.


This represents the first failed attempt, to be followed by another attempt. The second attempt was the GUOSA artificial language, a language developed by one Mr. Alex Igbineweka, widely reported by federal electronic media. But, criticisms killed the experiment. For example Emenanjo (1990) says inter alia:


GUOSA was not considered a natural language because in a natural language, an infinity of sentences is possible. In case of GUOSA, not even Mr. Igbineweka himself is a complete dictionary of the language since he constantly has to toil away at expressing a new idea in GUOSA.


This meant that GUOSA was an experiment that died before it could take off. Other failed suggestions ranged from the WAZOBIA to PIDGIN and the Ife six-year experiment with Yoruba language carried out by Fafunwa in (1974). Fafunwa’s experiment was a bold step, but the experiment failed because there was not enough or  necessary  backing.

On the part of the Federal Government of Nigeria since independence, attempts have been made towards the evolution of a lingua franca in Nigeria. Then, if we accept Dunstan’s (1969) position that a lingua franca is a language spoken by at least seventy five percent of the populace and backed up by a legal approval, English does not qualify since less than this percentage of Nigerians speak it and it is not indigenous to the country.

At best, English is an official language to Nigerians. As Dunstan (1969) says, “the question of the number and inter-relationship of Nigerian languages has been raised several times … but no claims are made for the status of any Nigerian language. Of course on the part of the Federal Government, it has used the instrumentality of education to tackle the problem of a national language.

For example, the National Policy on Education (2004) has recommended the study of the three (3) national languages (Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba) at varying degrees and different levels. But English continues to be both a compulsory subject and language of instruction and formal public discuss, whereas French and Arabic remain optional subjects in schools (P.10). But, critics have criticized the retention of English as Nigeria’s National Language. For example, Simpson (1978) says that:

(i) Only very educated Nigerians have a fair chance of knowing it. (ii) although Nigerians know their mother tongue, the fact that the bulk of administration and education presupposes a good mastery of English and no other tongue does encourage either competence in or the use of mother tongue (iii) Most educated Nigerians assume wrongly that they are bilingual in English and the mother tongue (iv) the Nigerian illiterate or Semi-illiterate is generally more competent in his mother tongue than his educated counterpart.

Arising from the above problems, Simpson emphasizes reasons for a national language (lingua franca) and they include (i) national consciousness and pride (ii) cultural dynamism (iii) psychological equilibrium (iv) efficacy and meaningful communication. The summary of Simpson’s proposal boils down to one conclusion: let Hausa language be chosen as Nigeria’s lingua Franca and his reasons are threefold:

(i) Since Hausa has relatively fewer dialects, its learn ability will be enhanced over and above other major languages, (ii) Hausa has a greater number of Nigerian speakers, not of Northern origin and (iii) Hausa has greater influence outside Nigerian borders.

However  scholars such as Emenanjo and Osaji (1990) share the view that “since each of the great traditions (languages) is numerically and ideologically strong enough to support separate and large scale socio-cultural and administrative integrations, their competition within a single policy makes for rather constant internal tension and for inter-ethnic disunity”. In summary, this problem highlighted by Osaji and Emenanjo within the WAZOBIA concept assumes that any language chosen as the national language must be politically neutral. Unfortunately, there is no politically neutral language in Nigeria today, and this point sets aside Simpson’s unguarded choice of Hausa language out of the three existing national languages. Interestingly, the same Emenenjo and Osaji (1990) despite their personal conviction, list factors (some of which are quoted here) that should guide government in evolving a lingua franca for Nigeria:

(i)    The population of speakers, with age, occupation and class distribution;

(ii)   Location: Geographical, political and social boundaries;

(iii)  Present status: any evidence of change in status: decline, Increase;

(iv)  Literature: oral and written tradition, use in educational institutions, political, religious and media use (1990).

But these factors can be associated with each of the present national languages. In another study, Emenanjo and Olagoke argue that ethnic and political prejudice may inhibit the selection of a national language, just as they denounce the teaching of foreign languages in Nigeria (1990). They posit that learning a second (a Nigerian language) language would metamorphose into a solution of national language problem. However, this team of researchers doubts this very much because not many Nigerians go to school for cognitive learning or for other reasons. A large population of illiterates is still found outside the school system despite the current Universal Basic Education (UBE) programme that contains an adult education component.

Another school of thought favours a simultaneous development of the three national languages (Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba) and English language in the hope that English would prevail eventually. The leading proponent of the possibility of English becoming Nigeria’s lingua franca is

Prof. Ayo Banjo who believes that the long encounter between Nigerians and English Language is enough reason to be optimistic. Banjo offers some possible scenarios:

(i) The English Language is fully naturalized in Nigeria and is  on its way to becoming

an indigenous language in the country, and in time may well assume the status of the mother tongue of some Nigerians. Should that happen, Nigeria English would become a strong candidate for the status of official language and lingual franca, hence putting a stop to the feuds among the three WAZOBIA languages (Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba).

(ii) Retention of English as a second a language (L­2 Nigeria because following the development in India one could envisage a time in the future when English would share the status of official language with one of the country’s indigenous languages …many Nigerians would wish to see an official language that is indigenous (1996)

In all of the above, Banjo (1996) seems to share the gradualist approach of Bamgbose (1976) towards evolving a lingua franca, implemented in stages. However, Banjo (1996) points out that “Bangbose’s advocacy of a gradualist approach is … based more on the processes for the choice of an endoglosic lingua franca (choosing a local language) as opposed to a process that will lead to an exoglosic lingua franca. For long, fears have been expressed over the feasibility of operating many languages in Nigeria, formally or informally. Banjo and Christophersen (1996) have expressed these same fears over the possibility of operating a trilingual or even quadrilingual education, all in the attempt to evolve an acceptable lingua franca for Nigeria in the years ahead.

Another argument by Ezikejiaku (2002:279) is that “the Nigerian situation shows that there is no real lingua franca for the whole country, the nearest one being the Nigerian pidgin English, however, there are regional lingua franca. Hausa in the North, Igbo in the East and Yoruba in the West, all three are spoken by about 80% of the total population of the nation. Brann (1986) categorized Nigerian languages thus: (i) First Group: Hausa, Igbo, Yoruba are decamillionaires of languages spoken by more than a million people or (ii) demolects, (iii) third  group: The centimils or languages spoken by more than 100,000 people (or ethnolects) and (iv) Fourth group: Languages spoken by less than 100,000 people.

This classification shows clearly the complex nature and layers of the language problem in a multi-lingual nation such as Nigeria. Definitely, the search must continue in order to build up relevant knowledge in the area of language policy and planning Nigeria as a prelude to resolving the language problem.

Suggestions for Developing a Lingua Franca for Nigeria

Nigeria’s corporate existence is paramount despite her over 400 linguistic/ethnic groups whose cultures, identities and survival must be assured. The only cementing link so far has been the English language, the official language; it should be developed, alongside some regional languages. This will reduce the dissipation of energy deployed in an attempt to choose just one of the many indigenous languages as Nigeria’s lingua Franca. We believe that any imposition may lead to an implosion of the political entity called Nigeria because agitations shall be overwhelming against the government of the day. Considering all the efforts so far made to evolve a lingua franca for Nigeria, government has not been consistent. Each ethnic group holds its culture and values including language dear to its heart. This is for obvious reasons. One, linguistic identity gives a sense of belonging to every member of that group. Two, it gives each member a sense of having an originating source in which a member is accepted immediately without any pre-conditions by other members. English language may not give Nigerians the same level of identity as it does to the British people, but our brand of English (Nigerian English) immediately confers on Nigerians, home or abroad, a certain level of confidence that there is something that “binds” us together as a people in search of a common identity in a stable political entity.


In the context of leadership and political stability in third world countries including Nigeria, a lingua franca promotes unity and development; hence in the pursuit of measures to ensure unity and cohesion, Nigeria has made considerable efforts to unify its peoples through language development policy which started since 1960. Unfortunately, this has not yielded the expected result. Thus, the search for a lingua franca should continue in the 21st century. The language question remains a thorny issue due to the struggle for linguistic and political supremacy among English (Official Language), Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba (national languages). In order to avert possible political instability if one of these four prominent languages was arbitrarily, imposed on the country, adoption of English language should continue to be Nigeria’s Official language, until such a time that concrete strategies are evolved through concerted efforts to solve the problem, once and for all. In the same vein, the member countries in the sub-region should individually continue to promote the possibility of evolving a lingua-franca in their countries for now. With time, leadership, political stability and the unrelenting efforts of researchers and all stake holders, perhaps a lingua-franca can emerge for the entire West – Africa sub-region.


Ajibade, L. (1994). “Intelligence, proficiency in English Attitude as factors of success in learning French”. Unpublished PhD Thesis, Department of Teacher Education, University of Ibadan, Iabadan. pp 66-76


Bamgbose, A. (1976). “Language in National Integration: Nigeria as a case study”, Read at the 12th West African languages congress, university of Ife, Ile-Ife, Nigeria, March 15-20.


David, C. (1987). The Cambridge Encyclopedia of language Cambridge: Cabridge University Press, p. 1.


Eze Ikeojiaku, P.A. (2002). :The Role of Government in Indigenous Language Development in Nigeria: A micro-study of the Igbo-Speaking States” in Adebayo Lawal et al (eds) Perspectives on Applied linguistics in Language and Literature. Ibadan: Stirling-Horden Publishers (Nigeria) Ltd. 279


FRN (2004). The National Policy on Education, Lagos: NERDC press, p. 10.


Jibowo, A.V. (2000). In search of A National Language for National Reconciliation And Development in Nigeria in Nigerian Journal of Curriculum and Institution vol 9, Nov. 2000, pp. 127.


Kelly, L.G. (1969). 25 centuries of language Teaching. Massachusettes. Towley: Newbury House Publishers,  p. 363.


Obi-Okoye, A.F. (2002). The Place of linguistics in Second Language/Learning in perspectives in Applied Linguistics in Language and Literature. Ibadan: University press, p. 46.



Banjo, A. (1996). MAKING A Virtue of Necessity. An overview of the English Lnaguage in Nigeria. Ibadan: Univerisity of Ibadan press.


Brann, C.M.B. (1986). “The role and function of language in Government in Nigeria”, mimeo.


Dunstan, E. (1969). Twelve languages. Longman Green and Co.Ltd.


Elugbe, B.O. (1991). “The Teaching of minor (Regional) Nigerian languages in Bamgbose, A & Akere, F. (eds) Proceedings of the seminar on the implementation of the language provisions of the National Policy on Education.


Emenanjo, E.N. (1990). Multilingualism. Minority languages and languages policy in Nigeria. Agbor: central books.


Olunwa, I.E. (2010). “Unity And Lingua Franca in Nigeria” in BBC voices on Evolving A lingua franca. Friday 29th October (4pm). London: BBC.


Oyedola, S. (1998). Perspectives on the English Language in Nigeria. Ibadan: Bel-Books.


Simpson, E. (1978). Babel: Perspectives for Nigeria. Quebec: International centre for Research on Bilingualism.








Department of Teacher Education,

University of Ibadan, Ibadan. Nigeria



Department of Yoruba Language,

Osun State College of Education, Ilesa, Nigeria


The study investigated Teacher’s Classroom Behaviour and Subject Mastery as Correlates of Students’ Performance in Yoruba. The study adopted a descriptive design. The population consisted of S.S.II students and the Yoruba language teachers in public senior secondary schools in Ilesa East Local Government, Osun State, Nigeria. The sample comprised eight hundred S.S. II students spread over eight our of the twenty four public senior secondary schools in the Local Government Area. All the twenty four (24) Yoruba language teacher teachers in the eight (8) sampled schools were also used for the study. Two instruments, constructed and validated for data collection were Teacher Classroom Behaviour Observation Scale (r = 0.72) and performance test in Yoruba language (r = 0.80). Data collected were analyzed using frequency counts, simple percentage and multiple regression analysis to test the formulated hypotheses. All the hypotheses were tested at 0.05 level of significance. The study showed that subject mastery of the teachers (β = 0.146; t = 4.611; p < 0.05) and teachers’ classroom behaviour (β = 0.0102; t = 3.112; p < 0.05) related significantly with students’ performance in Yoruba language. There is a significant composite effect of teacher’s subject mastery, classroom behaviour, teaching experience and teachers’ qualification on the academic performance of students in Yoruba language (F (4,825) = 10.241, P < 0.05). Hence teachers’ attitude to work relate significantly to the students’ academic performance in Yoruba (Adjusted R2 = 0.039). Based on the findings, it was recommended that qualified and experienced Yoruba language teachers should be made to handle Yoruba language teaching especially in senior secondary schools. In addition, teachers should be exposed to in-service training to increase their knowledge and skills in the teaching profession.

Keywords: Teacher’s Classroom Behaviour, Subject-Mastery, Students’ Performance in Yoruba, Yoruba Language, Attitude.


Nigeria has been described as a ‘linguistic paradise’. This is because the actual number of languages indigenous to Nigeria is still unknown, more languages continue to be discovered while others go into extinction (Emenanjo in Aziza, 2010). It is generally accepted that of the 6000 or so languages of the world, Nigeria alone as over 400 apart from these; English, French, Arabic and the Nigeria Pidgin (NP) also feature prominently in the polity.

Language has been described as the means by which a person learns to organize experiences and thought. According to Adebayo (1995), the child learns to order and react to habits about environment through language. The totality of these habits is what anthropologists refer to as culture; language thus being the main link among all other components of the same culture.

The languages of a nation, according to Malwi (2009) and Wolff (2006) are par of her natural resources. While the desirable benefit has positive correlation with the quantity of natural resources, harnessing the resources of language for nation building poses challenges to multi-lingual nations.

Adeosun (2008) observes that the performances of a Yoruba child in his mother tongue has not been encouraging and the recognition given the English language at the expense of the Nigerian indigenous languages is the bane of this poor performance. The result, according Isola (2010) is that the competence of the child in Yoruba language is dangerously affected.

Adeniyi and Bello (2007), in their study on teacher attitude and student performance in indigenous language in Lagos State found that students’ performances, as reflected in their results, do not demonstrated their competence in the indigenous language. Several studies, including Babajide (2001), Oyetade (2001), Igboanusi and Peter (2005) have also investigated the attitude of Nigerians to English versus the various indigenous languages. It was observed by Babajide (2001) that as a result of the perception of English in Nigeria as a unifying tongue with a great instrumental significance, less emphasis was placed on learning and speaking of the various indigenous languages. Presently, Nigerian languages are often associated with unfavorable attitudes.

Ehindero and Ajibade (2000) assert that, “students who are curious stakeholders in educational enterprise, have long suspected and speculated that some of their teachers lack the necessary professional qualification (that is, skills techniques, strategies, temperament of cetera) required to communicated concepts, ideas, principles et cetera in a way that would facilitate effective learning”. They also believed that these deficiencies contribute significantly to the growing rate of failure and subsequent drop out of students in tertiary institution.

Teachers are among the most important payers influencing students’ achievement, holding the key to sealing the gaps in students’ achievement. It takes a competent teacher to be able to teach the language skills effectively and to make them competent users of the Yoruba language. To improve on these skills in students, the Yoruba language teachers should be effective and competent. Akiri and Ugborugbo (2009) suggest that effective teaching is a significant factor of students’ academic achievement. Therefore, effective teachers should produce students of higher academic performance.

Over time, pupils’ academic performance in both internal and external examinations had been used to determine excellence in teachers and teaching Ajao, (2001). It has been observed that teachers have an important role to play on students’ academic achievement and they play a crucial role in educational attainment because the teacher is ultimately responsible for translating policy into action and principles based on practice during interaction with the students (Afe, 2001). Both teaching and learning depends on the teacher: No wonder an effective teacher has been conceptualized as one who produced desired results in the course of his duty as a teacher (Uchefuna, 2001l).

This means that the teacher should possess some characteristics to make him an effective teacher. Anderson (1991) in his study added that educator has come to realized that any meaningful improvement in the education that students receive is highly dependent on the quality of the instruction that the teacher provides. Darling-Hammond (2000) emphasized on the characteristics of a teacher. He reported a study carried out by the National commission on Teaching and American’s Future on the relationship between teachers’ qualification and other school variables such as class size on the achievement of students. The result showed that students who are assigned to several ineffective teachers in a class have significantly lower achievement and gains than those who were assigned to several highly effective teachers. Teacher characteristics has to do with the teacher being able to posses some qualities such as mastery of the subject matter, utilization of instructional materials, the use of an effective teaching methods, and attitude of the teacher toward the subject, among others.

Studies have consistently shown that teacher quality whether measured by content, experience, training and credentials or general intellectual skills are strongly related to students’ achievement (Darling-Hammond, 2000). Researchers and analysts argued that assigning experienced and qualified teacher to low performing schools and students is likely to pay off in better performance gaps (Adegbile and Adeyemi, 2008). The above strongly shows that subject matter knowledge (competence), teachers’ qualification, teacher Teaching experience, classroom behaviour (Teachers’ Altitude, Teaching skills and teacher-student relationship) are strong variables indicating students’ performance.

Anderson (1991) opined that the teacher must possess the knowledge and skills needed to attain the goal and must be able to use that knowledge and skills if the goals are to be achieved. It has been established that there is a high correlation between what teachers know and what they teach. Thus, the ability to teach effectively depends on the teachers’ knowledge of the subject matter. Teachers’ characteristics is subject specific. Adediwura and Bada (2007) stated in their study that nobody could teach what he does not understand or know. They went further to state that they (teachers) must thoroughly understand the content of what they teach. A teacher whose understanding of topic is thorough users clearer language, their discourse is more connected and they provide better explanations than those whose background is weaker. They way the students perceive the teaching in terms of their (teachers) knowledge of content of subject matter may significantly affect the students’ academic performance. Because of this, the teacher should therefore master the subject matter before teaching commences. Most teachers go into teaching without knowing what to teach. It is to be noted that pedagogical knowledge are not exactly the same thing as knowledge of subject matter, they nevertheless are, intimately linked with it, because teachers’ mastery and use of them in the classroom will indicate the depth of their knowledge of subject matter.

Teachers’ teaching qualification is another characteristic of the teacher. This means that the qualification of a teacher matters when it comes to effective teaching. Darling-Hammond (2000) opined that certificate or licensing status is a measure of teacher qualifications that combines aspects of knowledge about subject matter and about teaching and learning. Its meaning varies across the states because of differences in licensing requirements, but a standard certificate generally means that a teacher has been prepared in a state approved teacher education program at the undergraduate or graduate level and has completed either a major or a minor in the field(s) to be taught. In Nigeria, the minimum requirement for teaching is Nigeria Certificate in Education (N.C.E) as stipulated by the Federal Government of Nigeria (National Policy on Education, 2004).

Teachers’ classroom behavior is another characteristic of the teacher that can affect students’ performance. In his observational theory, Bandura (1997) demonstrated that behaviours are acquired by watching another (the model, teacher, parent, mentor and friend) that performs the behaviour. The model displays it and the learner observes and tries to imitate it. Teachers are, invariably, role models whose behaviours are easily copied by students. What teachers like or dislike, appreciate and how they feel about their learning or studies could have a significant effect on their students. Unfortunately, many teachers seldom realize that how they teach, how they behave and how they interact with students can be paramount to what they teach. This kind of teacher bias, however, can have a negative effect on their self-efficacy perceptions, that is, their personal judgments about their capabilities to organize and execute courses of action required to produce designated types of educational performances (Bandura, 1997; Zimmerman, 1999).

The way the teacher handles the class has a long way to go on the academic achievement achievements. The teachers’ classroom behaviour can be exhibited through teachers’ attitude towards the subject, the way he or she handles topic taught in class. A teacher who exhibits a good attitude to teaching the English language or any subject should employ a good teaching skills and methods in knowledge delivery. Attitude as a concept is concerned with an individual way of thinking, acting and behaving. It has very serous implications for the learners, the teachers, the immediate social group with which the individual learner relates and the entire school system. A teachers’ attitude to teach the language is a very important element of teacher characteristics. A teacher’s altitude will determine how he or she will handle the class. Positive teachers’ attitudes are fundamental to effective teaching.

Adediwura and Tayo (2007) sees the teacher as one that is interesting and must work his students into such a state of interest in that the teacher is going to teach him that every other object of attention is banished from his mind. The behaviour of the teacher in the class reflects in the way the teacher handles the class. The teacher should be able to employ teaching method and use skills that would bring about effective learning in the class. This means that the teacher should be able to use approaches in a logical fashion, which the students can follow.

Successful teachers tend to be those who are able to use a range of teaching strategies and who use a range of interaction styles, rather than a single, rigid approach (Hanushek, 2005). In addition to the ability to create and adapt instructional strategies, strong research supports has linked student learning to variables such as teacher clarity, enthusiasm, task-oriented behavior, variability of lesson approaches, and students opportunity to learn criterion material (Hanushek, 2005 and Zimmerman, 1999).

Teachers’ abilities to structure material, ask higher order questions, use student ideas, and probe student comments have been found to be important variables in what students learn. For instance, teachers who provide structure for their students (e.g. by informing students of what they are to learn and how they are to learn it) are likely to have students who spend more time involved in learning and who, ultimately, learn more. Similarly, teachers who regularly monitor and supervise their students’ learning (e.g. by checking student work and helping individual students overcome errors and learning difficulties) are likely to have students who exhibit higher levels of achievement. High levels of learning may occur as well as learners feeling good about themselves and the material they are learning when teachers use instructional time efficiently. Learning takes place with ease and faster under teachers that are well organized. The way teachers interact with students influences their motivation and attitudes towards school. Skillful teachers summarize and link ideas together at the end of his lesson. This would help the teacher review summaries of previous work and help students link what has been learnt to what is coming.

  1. Theoretical framework

The theory underpinning this study is the Leary Model of Interpersonal Relationship. The Leary Model has been extensively investigated in Clinical psychology and Psychotherapeutic settings (Stract, 1996). It has proved to be a rather complete model to describe interpersonal relationships (Foa, 1961; Lonner, 1980). In the Leary model, two dimensions are important. Leary called them the Dominance-Submission Axis and the Hostility-Affection Axis. While the two i=dimensions have occasionally been given other names – Brown (1965) used Status and Solidarity, Dunkin and Biddle (1974) used Warmth and Directivity – they have generally been accepted as universal descriptors of human interaction. The two dimensions have also been easily transferred to education. Slater (1962) used them to describe pedagogical relationships and Dunkin and Biddle (1974) demonstrated their importance in teachers’ efforts to influence classroom events.

  1. The Problem

There have been reports of persistent poor performance of students in Yoruba language at the Senior Secondary School level of education. Scholars have suspected and speculated that the teachers lack the necessary professional qualification (that is, skills, techniques, strategies, temperament et cetera), subject mastery and classroom behaviour required to communicated concepts, ideas, principles et cetera in a way that would facilitate effective learning have contribute significantly to the growing rate of failure. Hence, this study was carried out to investigate the extent to which teachers’ subject mastery and classroom behaviour correlate with students’ academic performance in Yoruba language among public senior secondary students in Ilesa East Local Government of Osun State.


  1. Hypotheses

Three null hypotheses are formulated in this study for statistical analysis.

H1: There is no significant relationship between secondary school teachers’ subject mastery and their students’ academic performance in Yoruba.

H2: There is no significant relationship between secondary school teachers’ classroom behaviour and their students’ academic performance in Yoruba.

H3: There is no significant relationship between secondary school teachers’ attitude to work and their students’ academic performance in Yoruba.

  1. Significance of the study

The findings from this study would be useful to teachers, school administrators, Ministries of Education, Teaching Service Commission etc. in the sense that, it would provide useful hints on the evaluation, promotion and appointment of teachers and their teaching output, as perceived by the students who are the direct recipients of the teachers’ professional competence or incompetence. It would also be used in understanding classroom interaction between teachers and students, to improve the quality of instruction and can be used by educational administrators and supervisors during teacher’s assessment.


  1. Methodology

This study adopted a descriptive design, which involves the use of observation and test for collection of data. This is because the variables studied have already been manifested and the researcher had no control over them.

The population of the study consisted of all Senior Secondary School (SSS) 2 students and their respective Yoruba language teachers in public secondary schools in Ilesa East Local Government Area of Osun State. Nigeria simple random sampling technique was adopted to select the sample which comprised eight out of the twenty four public secondary schools in the study area. In each of the schools, a total number of one hundred (100) SS2 students were selected to participate in the study, making a total of eight hundred (800) SS2 student in all. All the twenty-four (24) Senior Secondary Yoruba language teachers in the selected schools also participated in the study.

Two instruments tagged “Teacher Classroom Behaviour Observation Scale (TCBOS)” and “Performance Test” were designed respectively for the teachers and students, to rate he teachers’ subject mastery level and classroom behaviour and to ascertain the students’ performance level in Yoruba language. The performance test was constructed by the researchers based on pas Senior Secondary Certificated Examination (SSCE) questions in Yoruba Language.

The instruments were subjected to screening by ex  The instruments were subjected to screening by experts in tests and measurement, during which the instruments were subjected to face, content and construct validity. Necessary corrections were made and the instruments were thereafter acclaimed to meet face, content and construct validity. The performance test was administered on a separate group of students from two schools, which are not part of the schools for the main study. The reliability was determined through test-retest method. Yielding a correlation coefficient of 0.80. the reliability of the observation scale was determined using Conbach alpha yielding a co-efficient of 0.72.

The researchers personally visited the schools that constituted the sample of study. The permission of the schools’ principals was obtained. The performance test was then personally administered on the SS2 students. The researcher personally supervised the classroom teaching of each of the 24 Yoruba language teachers during which the “teacher Classroom Behaviour observation Scale” was used to rate the subject mastery and classroom behaviour of each of the teachers. Alongside this, the researcher collected information on the Senior Secondary Yoruba Language Teachers about their gender, teaching qualification and teaching experience from the principals’ offices.

The data collected was analysed using frequency counts and simple percentages. In addition, multiple regression analysis was used to test the formulated hypotheses. All the

hypotheses were tested at 0.05 level of significance.



dized co-efficient



co-efficient (Standard


Beta (β)





Testing the Hypotheses

Table 1: Summary of Multiple Regression Analysis showing relative influence of Subject Mastery, Classroom Behaviour and Attitude to Work of Teachers on Students’ Academic Performance.


* Significant at 0.05

H1: There is no significant relationship between secondary school students’ academic performance in Yoruba and their teachers’ subject mastery.

Based on the results on table 1, subject mastery of the teachers related significantly to the academic performance on students in Yoruba language (β = 0.146; t=4.611; p<0.05). the null hypothesis 1 is thus rejected. It is thereby concluded that there is significant relationship between secondary school students’ academic performance in Yoruba and their teachers’ subject mastery.

H2: There is no significant relationship between secondary school students’ academic performance in Yoruba and their teachers’ classroom behavior.

The results on table 1 reveal that teachers’ classroom behaviour related significantly to the academic performance on students in Yoruba language (β = 0.102; t = 3.112; p<0.05). it is thereby concluded that there is significant relationship between secondary school students’ academic performance in Yoruba language and their teachers’ classroom behaviour. Hence the null hypothesis 2 is rejected.

Table 2: Summary of Multiple Regression showing co-efficient of Determination.




Adjusted R2






Table 2 reveals that there is a relationship between all the factors and the academic performance of students in Yoruba (R = 0.207). This leads to the fact that the factors accounted for 3.9% of the total variance in students’ academic performance (Adjusted R2 = 0.039).

H03: There is no significant relationship between secondary school students’ academic performance in Yoruba and their teachers’ attitude to work.

The results on table 2 reveal that teachers’ attitude to work (as determined by the influence of the factors: subject mastery, classroom behaviour, teaching experience and qualification) contribute significantly to the students’ academic performance in Yoruba (Adjusted R2 = 0.039). it is thus concluded that there is significant relationship between students’ academic performance in Yoruba and their teachers’ attitude to work. The null hypothesis 3 is therefore rejected.

Table 3: Multiple Regression Analysis showing significant status of the Effect of Teachers’ Subject Mastery, Classroom Behaviour, Experience and Qualification.


Sum of squares






















* Significant at 0.05

Table 3 shows that the effect of teachers’ subject mastery, classroom behaviour, teaching experience and teachers’ qualification on the students’ academic performance is significant (F(4.825) = 10.241, p<0.05). Hence, there is a significant composite effect of these factors on the academic performance of students in Yoruba language.

  1. Summary of findings

The findings of this study showed that:

1. There is significant relationship between secondary school students’ academic performance in Yoruba and their teachers’ subject mastery (β=0.146; t = 4.611; p<0.05).

2. There is significant relationship between students’ academic

performance in Yoruba and their teachers’ attitude to work (β = 0.102; t = 3.112; p<0.05).

3. There is significant relationship between students’ academic performance in Yoruba and their teachers’ attitude to work (F(4.825) = 10.241, p<0.05).

  1. Discussion of Findings

The study showed that teachers’ mastery of subject matter contributes significantly to students’ academic performance in Yoruba language (β = 0.146; t = 4.611; p<0.05). This is in line with Fakeye (2012) and Oboirien (2011) who found that teachers’ knowledge of subject matter has significant relative contribution to academic achievement of students in English language. Ehindro and Ajibade (2000) equally reported a significant relationship between students’ perception of teachers’ knowledge of subject matter and academic performance in their study. Monk and King (1994) corroborated this in his study, he revealed that teachers’ mastery of subject matter is significant to students’ achievement.

The study also revealed that there is a significant relationship between teachers’ classroom behavior and students’ academic performance in Yoruba language (β = 0.102; t = 3.112; p < 0.005). This is in line with Adediwura and Bada (2007) who reported that students’ academic performance correlates positively and depends significantly on students’ perception of the teachers’ attitude and skills in the classroom. In a similar study, Adeleye (2005) found out that, teachers’ teaching methods contributed significantly to student academic achievement. This is contrast with Olisa (2008) who in her study found out that teachers’ teaching methods do not have any relationship with student achievement in English language. This finding may be due to the fact that, the study investigated private schools.

The study also showed that the relative contribution of teachers’ attitude to work, qualification and teaching experience to students’ academic performance in Yoruba language is significant (Adjusted R2 = 0.039). this finding is consistent with that of Jones (1997) who claimed that students tend to achieve better results when taught by teaches with more years of teaching experience. This finding is also corroborated by Hariss and Sass (2008) who observed that teachers experience and qualification has a significant effect on students’ achievement in English language. Robinson (2009) and Rockoff (2004) added that teachers’ teaching qualification could contribute significantly to student’s achievement in mathematics and language only if it was combined with others school factors. However, this finding negates that of Makinde and Tom-Lawyer (2008) who found no significant relationship between students’ academic achievement and teachers’ qualification and experience. The disparity in the two findings may be due to the fact that this study looked at Junior Secondary Students.


The study focused on the investigation of significant relationship between teachers’ subject mastery and classroom behaviour and the academic performance of senior secondary                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                students in Yoruba language. It was concluded that there is a significant composite effect of subject mastery, classroom behaviour, teaching experience and qualification on the academic performance of students in Yoruba language. As such, these important teacher variables should be focused when tying to look for solution to related poor performance of students in Yoruba language.

Based on the findings of the study, the following recommendations are made: Yoruba language teachers should endeavour to develop and improve themselves in the profession. This could be achieved by making attempts to upgrade their certificates and by attending seminars and workshops. Parents should Encourage their Children to Develop the Right Attitude to Yoruba Language Learning by ensuring that they are Provided with all they Need in Yoruba Language Classes. They should also be encouraged to speak in their Mother Tongue at home.

Experienced Teachers should be allowed to handle Yoruba language, especially at the senior secondary level. These are the teachers who have been marking West African Examinations council (WAEC) and National Examination Council (NECO) examinations. They are aware of the standard required by these external examination bodies, they would be able to groom the students for future purposes. Different teachers should be made to handle different aspects of Yoruba language. This would enable them to be more efficient as they would be made to handle the aspect they have interest in and capable of doing. The school should encourage the students to take Yoruba language seriously by providing learning facilities. Government should revisit teacher-training programme to cater for teaching skills, so as to equip the teachers with the basic pedagogical skills and content knowledge necessary for teaching Yoruba language. This should be supplemented with seminars and workshop specially organized for Yoruba language teachers. With this, the teachers would be aware of innovations in the profession.

The government should also invest in the educational sector of the country. Learning infrastructures should be provided to encourage students to develop positive attitudes towards the subject. Government should also make sure that the teachers employed possess the necessary teaching qualifications to certify them to teach Yoruba language. Teachers should also be motivated to teach in order to improve their attitude in teaching the subject.


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Dr. Imaila O. O. AMALI

Department of Arts and Social Sciences Education

Faculty of Education, University of Ilorin,

Kwara State, Nigeria


The world is now globalised by means of information and communication technology (I.C.T). Education has played and will continue to play a crucial role in this process by means of teaching and learning processes. Paradoxically, ICT has also increased the gap between the knowledge and living standard in the lives of the persons in urban and rural areas across Nigeria and the world. This paper examines the plight of rural secondary schools in Nigeria towards access to modern instructional materials. It addresses the problems of lack of or inadequacy of modern instructional materials for use in Nigeria rural secondary schools in relation to social equity and educational opportunities for individuals, society and the Nigeria nation. It examines its implications and proffers solutions and recommendations towards ameliorating the problems of lack of or inadequacy of modern instructional materials for use in the rural secondary schools across Nigeria.



As we are in a new millennium, there is an increased awareness of the need to use modern scientific approach in teaching and learning processes in our schools. At present, there is a universal recognition of Information and Communication Technology (I.C.T.) as a major force in the dissemination of knowledge (Anao, 2003). Nigeria has been at integrating I.C.T. into education and other sectors. She still has a great deal of instructional and administrative work in secondary schools carried out manually. The condition is worse at the rural level. In an attempt to keep pace with development in computer education, Nigeria enacted a policy on computer education. The plan was to establish pilot schools and there-after diffuse the innovation first to “all” secondary schools and then to primary schools (National Board of Statistics, (NBS, 2004). Unfortunately, beyond the distribution and installation of computer in Federal Government Colleges (FGCs), the project did not really take off before it was grounded.

Lack of exposure and limited accessibility to modern instructional facilities is a major problem of secondary schools in the rural areas of Nigeria. These have consequential negative effects on the academic standard of the schools in those areas. It may be a major factor responsible for poor performance of the students. The turnout of inefficient products of secondary schools from the rural areas may not be unconnected with it. Poor academic performance leads to end point for the pursuit of further education among students in the rural areas of Nigeria. This paper, thus examines the promotion and utilization of modern instructional materials in Nigeria rural secondary schools in relation to the effects of access to modern instructional materials and proffer ways forward to ameliorate the condition since education is a tool for social mobility, integration and national development (NPE, 2004).

Secondary Education is noted by Obasi (2008) and in the National Policy on education (NPE, 2004) as the stage where children receive primary education and before the tertiary stage. It is noted to be a comprehensive type of education where its broad goals are to prepare children who have completed primary education to have opportunity for education to a higher level, irrespective of sex, social status, religion or ethnic background. The constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in section 18(1) states that “Government shall direct its policy towards ensuring that there are equal and adequate educational opportunities at all levels”. This has led to Government policies in the creation of Universal Primary Education Scheme (1977) and the Universal Basic Education Scheme (NPE, 2004) and laying emphasis on the implementation of Millennium Development Goals (MDOGs) of the United Nation. This implies that planning and provision for transfer of skills, knowledge and the information seeking capacity of individual learners and those in the rural areas must be supported, motivated and provided evenly across the length and breadth of Nigeria.

At the global level, the United Nation has made “Education for All” a requirement for all nations. This translates into opportunities for all to have access to education regardless of gender, race, ability or disability and geographical location.  This presupposes that the provision and distribution of education, educational resources and materials must be impartial, regardless of geographical locations. In this respect, by implication the secondary schools in the rural areas of Nigeria ought to have equal access to modern instructional materials like others in urban or metropolitan areas.

Social equity in educational opportunities in Nigeria allows individuals to participate in every sphere of life endeavours. It should not have constraining effects of socio-cultural, religious, political, economic and geographic impediments. It also includes the recognition and respect for the rights of every citizen, irrespective of ethnicity, language, religion, gender or other social attributes, to have equal rights, obligation and opportunities to education. In this context, the activities of teachers, government or other agencies must not be in contradiction to exhortations on national access in classroom interaction across the country. For instance, all forms of discrimination in provision of educational facilities should be discouraged.

Further, the Nigerian constitution (1979) provides for the protection of the rights of all persons in the allocation of resources (politically, socially, educationally and economically). Incorporating the principles of Federal character in section (4), requires every government body at every tier of the federation in their composition and activities to promote a sense of belonging and loyalty among all peoples of the federation. This suggests that the events inside or outside the classroom should not be an exception, especially in the allocation of educational resources.

The Importance of Instructional Materials to Rural Secondary Schools

Instructional materials include the use of Information and Communication Technology (I.C.T.) which has become an indispensable phenomenon in the new millennium. It is like a right of all persons, irrespective of geographical location to have access to I.C.T. It is imperative to live-long value and is used to boost the quality of education. All persons who seek knowledge irrespective of differences in language, culture, gender and location desire to have access to it. Yusuf (2005) noted its potentials to accelerate, motivate, improve the teaching and learning processes. It promotes pedagogical activities, research work for students and teachers, (especially the use of e-mails, mailing lists, chat-rooms, calculators, viewing centers, and interaction). It also encourages social process that facilitates collaboration among learners and teachers both in rural, urban and at the global levels, (Daramola, 2008).

The use of instructional materials such as educational films, plays and drama when screened and played in rural schools can help in building national integration and awareness. Radio talks, television shows and lessons can encourage students to witness and participate in activities outside their domain (Kwache, 2005). Therefore marginalizing the rural schools access to such modern instructional materials is travesty on their fundamental rights and negates the principles of social equity and equal educational opportunities.

Challenges of accessibility and utilization in Rural Secondary Schools

By exegesis of correlation, rural secondary schools in Nigeria are the schools that are situated in the rural areas of the country. They are influenced by lack of support of cultural innovation with little or no social change. They also stand discouraged in comparison to the urban secondary schools in the provision and application of instructional modern equipments.

The life style of rural dwellers affects the teachers and learners and few activities that characterize school system. Their life style equally influence their responses to a wide range of school activities especially those programmes that fit into teaching and learning processes. These may influence the ability of learners in the rural areas to respond to the overall school activities. Denial of modern instructional materials makes things worse for them. By extension, realization of normative order in the school environment relies greatly on the social and intellectual qualities of the teacher (Bauman, 2000).

The life of the rural teachers tend to be remote towards acquisition of new ideas, skills and knowledge by failure in enrolling for further educational programmes including Information and Communication Technology. With this, the academic and intellectual capacities of teachers and learners are bound to be affected substantially during classroom interaction. It is improved technology that can allow teachers and learners in the rural secondary schools to keep abreast of the latest ideas around the world.

School buildings do not only represent one of the physical elements of civilizational change, but the knowledge, ideas, skills, values and beliefs which are transmitted to the learners can also influence cultural change (Bauman, 2000). These are in the form of human relationship, social stratification and mobility which can be engineered through adequate and the necessary provision of instructional resources to the rural secondary schools. Thus the effective use of instructional materials by the teachers is likely to serve as a tool for social change in the rural community.

The implication for the rural school is that, the advancement in educational technology has been erratic and unplanned. The residual effects on the rural secondary schools and their product are that they cannot cope with the modern direction of instructional materials and other soft wares now available for use in schools. This compounds further challenges as education has become a competitive enterprise where the urge for further education and social mobility is increasing by day. It would require their exposure to the exegesis of academic tests and examination for which they are not properly prepared. This has often been the case for the poor performance and output of students from Nigeria rural secondary schools. The challenge is enormous and the response should be urgent. The required condition in Nigeria now is a compulsory knowledge of the use of computer by all students in our secondary schools this is with the hope of catching up with the technological skills of the millennium. It is a stringent condition. This is because the condition imposed requires the students from the rural secondary schools to face the challenges without adequate exposure to the training and skills in computer education.

Besides, Nigeria Government is yet to meet the international requirement of funding education (proportionately) with her national income budget. The United Nation standard is said to be 26% of national income (Obasi, 2008). In Nigeria, less than 12% is devoted to education. This is meager and constitutes problem of funding instructional materials which require a huge capital investment. The financial base of the rural secondary schools are often weak as they are financially cash striped and cannot on their own budget for huge capital ventures without government support. National Board of Statistics (NBS) has shown that there are huge gaps between the provision of instructional materials in the rural and urban secondary schools by the Federal, State, Local Government and the other educational agencies (Obasi, 2008).

The rural secondary schools in Nigeria have no access to electricity and lack other means of power generation. In Nigeria, power generation is still a major problem of the rural dwellers as infrastructural developments of most rural schools are at its lowest ebb. Thus, there are wide gaps in the provision of the basic educational resources between the rural secondary schools and the ones located in the cities in Nigeria. The challenges are many. Asanya (2005) and Ighodora (2008) noted some of the challenges and to be included among the others are the following:


1)      According to Samuel and Iyanu (2005) environmental realities are difficult to manage because fans, sealed rooms and stable electricity are lacking in many urban areas and worse in the rural areas of Nigeria. Infrastructural deficiencies such as lack of steady power generation which is even worse in the rural areas of the country.

2)      Cost effect of Information and Communication Technology (ICT). The price of modern instructional materials such as computer is several times higher in Nigeria than what it costs in more advanced countries. Besides only few schools are equipped with good classrooms, studios with T.V. and computer instructional facilities. Other instructional materials such as the printers, monitors, projector, papers, disc drives, modern chalk board etc are beyond the reach of rural secondary schools.

3)      There is also the problem of skilled teachers in the field of Information and Communication Technology. Where there are skilled teachers, other problems naturally include problem of installation, maintenance, operation, network administration and local technicians to service or repair these equipments and the other facilities. In most of the rural secondary schools, most of the facilities are non-existent, hence the traditional chalk and duster approach still dominates in secondary school pedagogy (Anao, 2003).

4)      There are very few internet providers that provide gateway services to Nigerian users. Nigerian providers are often in partnership with foreign communication companies who usually provide poor services to Nigerian customers and often exploit and defraud them. Others charge high fees, thus limiting access to the use of the internet. In rural areas of Nigeria, they are nonexistent.

5)      The cost of producing relevant software for the country’s educational system is enormous as well as the dearth of qualified computer software designers in the country that would fit our cultural educational philosophy. Thus, there exist great discrepancy between relevant software supplied and the need of the country (Solomon, 1989).

6)      Government’s Policy towards efficient provision of these aspects of educational resources has not been encouraging and has always not been well planned, monitored, supervised and evaluated with rural schools as the back bench of implication of these policies.

7)      The socio-economic status of the rural dwellers of Nigeria who are predominately peasant farmers who cannot afford the funding of education of their children makes secondary school students indigent in accessing instructional materials for their personal study. The teachers too are poorly paid in Nigeria and therefore cannot venture into self sponsorship to acquire new skills.


Meeting the Challenge

Any recommendation and suggestion that would involve the promotion and utilization of modern instructional materials should take cognizance of the principle of social equity in educational opportunities. For Nigerian rural secondary schools, there should be a consideration of the social context of their locales. The following suggestions are thus raised to combat the problems faced by rural secondary schools in Nigeria.

1)      Every community in the country is aware of the ethno-regional basis of political development which creates room for political power. Education is a catalyst to achieving such objectives. Discrimination in rights and privileges in the distribution of social amenities for educational purposes should be a matter for grave concern because it leads to marginalization from social, economic and political opportunities of the rural inhabitants in Nigeria.

2)      There cannot be unity in diversity through education if the gap in providing educational resources in Nigeria is allowed to widen between the rural and urban areas. This will emasculate the idea of social equity in educational opportunities for all (Obasi, 2008). There is therefore the need to address the fears of the rural students who face the fierceness of educational competition, such as N.E.C.O., S.S.C.E., Jamb and the intrigues, the betrayal and the domination for equal educational opportunities to tertiary institutions in the country. There should be functional approach to fill the gap created by discrimination in the distribution of educational resources because they are instrumental to the success or failure of the rural secondary school students in Nigeria. Paradoxically, diversity and integration are two contradictory realities which Nigeria must reconcile if the country must achieve non-fetishistic, non-emblematic and collective success in education (Obasi, 2008). There is need to fill the widened gap that exists in the provision of instructional resources for teaching and learning of the different school types and locations across the country.

3)      There must be instructional technology centres in all schools where teachers and students can use for effective dissemination of knowledge. The provision of educational technology in the rural secondary schools will no doubt directly improve the quality of education for the young people of the country.

4)      There should be no discrimination in the provision of instructional resources for all secondary schools in the country. Teaching and learning exercise should be part of total commitment of Government and should be tied to provision of instructional materials. This is because they have societal and individual values as they help in the cognitive development of learners and the effectiveness of the teachers both in the rural and urban areas of the country.

5)      The life of the rural secondary school teachers should be improved and oriented toward the acquisition of new ideas, skills and knowledge by enrolling them for further educational programmes that require the use of modern instructional equipments. Teachers’ academic and intellectual capacities when improved are bound to profit substantially in classroom interaction of the students in the rural areas of Nigeria.

6)       Funding is crucial in all respect to the above, therefore there is need for national consciousness for continuous increase in national budgets on education to facilitate the provision of the essential instructional materials for our secondary schools. This will also cater for the welfare of all personnel involved in the running of our secondary schools across the country.

7)      The policy of investment and privatization of education should place more emphasis on the development of rural schools in Nigeria. This should include equipping the schools appropriately and adequately to enable them cope with the modern trend in teaching and learning. Further, the Nigerian nation stands to gain, if we begin investment on education from developing it from the rural areas. The private entrepreneurs should be encouraged towards this direction as well. This will promote the provision and utilization of modern instructional materials in the rural secondary schools.

8)      Marginalizing the institutions in the rural areas in the provision of instructional materials should be discouraged in order to bring education closer to the people and to expose them to new knowledge and skills as well as to improve their wellbeing in keeping with the democratic principles of social equity and educational opportunities for all (NPE, 2004).


The onus of taking Nigeria out of the woods in the new millennium lies in effective teaching and learning processes. This requires a commitment to civic culture of the modern times which are rooted in modern instructional materials. Emphasis should be on developmental decision-making bodies and policy formulators in the country to consider the place of instructional materials as a powerful mechanism for bridging the educational gap within the rural and urban secondary schools in Nigeria. At present, the quality of teaching in the rural schools is endangered and the quality of learning is distorted as well (Abdulazeez, 2008). The promotion of social equity and educational opportunities to create access to instructional materials will no doubt help to improve the discrepancies witnessed in the academic performance of the rural secondary schools in Nigeria and the life style of Nigerian rural dwellers.



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Dr Adenike Olapeju AKINWUMI

Department of Mass Communication,

Boween University, Iwo,

Osun State, Nigeria.




The features of the new media have broadened the scope of technological possibilities for public communication, they are also communication devices for personal use. The new media afford every user the opportunity  to participate in communication so they are also referred to as participatory media. Due to this participatory nature, different political parties were able to use the new media for political campaigns before the 2011 general elections in Nigeria Presidential and gubernatorial candidates of the various parties used the different types of the new media ranging from Face book to blogs. The new media possess many advantages in presenting violence during political campaigns. these new media made it possible for politicians to send messages to Nigerians who have access to these participatory media in addition, they enabled the politicians to receive feedback from the Nigerians who were able to participate in the process of political campaigns. Basically, the new media provided no opportunity for violence since the electorate could send their view, comments and suggestions to the politicians without resorting to violence. However, because of the problems of access and use, some of the electorate were not part of the political campaigns through the new media, especially, the blogs and face book. So, the political aspirants still had to organize political rallies in different locations in Nigeria.

Keywords : Electorate, New Media, Participatory, Political Compaigns, Violence



Nigeria gained independence in October, 1960 and since then, quite a number of elections have been conducted in the country, it has been o norm for politicians vying for national offices to embark on a long and strenuous journey of the entire country to campaigns to the electorate, soliciting their support and vote. This traditional way of conducting, political campaigns in Nigeria is certainly very costly considering the wide geographical terrain of the country. This traditional practice of moving from one nook and cranny. This traditional practice of moving from one nook  and cranny of the country to the other definitely leaves politicians with huge expenses at the end of the campaigns and elections. In addition to this, the vastness of the country is certainly strenuous it the politicians aspiring for national offices continue to campaign in all parts of the country. Campaigning round different parts of the country leaves room for violence from rival parties. This has been the case in time past until the campaigns for the 2011 general election in Nigeria began.

The political campaigns for the 2011 general elections were unprecedented in Nigeria as the politicians went beyond the traditional way of campaigning to employing the new media. According to Michael and twokwagh (2008), the new technologies are the new media and distribution systems. McQuail (2005 ;136) also states that the new media are ″a disparate set of communication technologies that share certain features spart from being new, made possible by digitalization, and being widely available for personal use as communication devices″.

The new media or new information communication technologies, according to Akinwumi (2005), also offer avenues for recreation in addition to providing means of communication with friends, acquaintances and establishing relationships with new people. Hence, the new media have brought about significant changes and improvement in the way people communicate with one another. The new media enable people to send and receive information and communicate messages from different locations in the world two matter where they are physically located, the new media make communication possible in a faster and more effective and efficient manner. Also, the new media provide access to a wide range of information. With the access in vast sources of information, users can then share and exchange their views.

With the use of the internet, the world wide web, Face book, weblog, short message service, politicians, especially presidential aspirants were able to communicate with the electorate in new, efficient and convenient ways without being physically present with the electorate thereby limiting the possibility of encountering violence from opposing parties. Presidential aspirants willing to establish inline presence, recognition and create awareness about their political intentions also used the weblogs for this purpose. The politicians who had things to say to convince the electorate and who also had access to the new media used them to great advantage. Messages were sent via blogs, face book, short message service on mobile phones, websites to all who made efforts to read them.

The new media have changed the entire world. They have also brought about a  technological revolution which according to Gumpta and Jasra (2002) has not only had a profound  impact on the business community, but also on private and professional fives. The new media gave Nigerian politicians the opportunity of communicating with a large heterogeneous number of people not only in Nigeria but worldwide as Nigerians in Diaspora could also read and know the plans of the politicians. Even non-Nigerians were exposed to the campaigns through the new media. The new media created new opportunities for political communications across geographical location, space and even time. Since the new media have been used for other purposes, the adoption of the new media for the 2011 political campaign meant a radical departure from the traditional manner of conducting campaign filled with violence from the beginning to the end.


1- New Media Participatory Media for All

McQuail (1994 :12) states that the main features of the new media are :

–          Decentralization of encoded content ;

–          A higher capacity regarding transmission, which “overcome” the former restriction of cost, distance and capacity;

–          Interactivity as “the receiver can select, answer back, exchange and be linked to other receivers directly.

–          Flexibility in deciding on content and usage patterns.

With these features of the new media both the sender and receiver can effectively participate in the communication process without undue interference. Other features of the new media according to Kumuyi and Adeyinka (2002) are that they comprise a range of technology products and activities that enable the recording, storing processing and retrieval, transmission and receiving of information. Williams, Rice and Rogers (1998) also note that de-masstification and synchronicity are other features of new media. So, both participants can be message producer and consumer depending on who sends a message first or who has something significant to share with others. Participants are also no longer restricted by time, they can communicate at whatever time they choose to Payne (2001) argues that each of the new technologies permits us to communicate with more people regardless of where we are. So there is the advantage of exchanging views with many people anywhere they are, in short, people can participate with more case.

The new media transformed the 2011 electioncering  Campaign terrain in Nigeria, they were significant for the politicians and the electorate in that they enabled the electorate to participate and contribute their own views. They not only read the profle promises, messages and manifestoes of politicians but also had the opportunity of giving feedback in form of comments and views. The electorate also expressed their opinions, in response to the campaigns of the politicians. They were also able to ask questions and give suggestions via the new media. Since the new media are interactive by nature, they enable, both the sharing and exchange of message at the same time or almost immediately. The electorate because personality involved in the political campaigns.


2- Theoretical Framework

The paper is based on the uses and gratification approach, which according to Littlejolin (1999), focuses on the consumer the audience member rather than the message, Baran (2008), states that with the uses and gratifications approach, the media do not do things to people, rather, people do things with the media. The basic postulation of the uses and gratifications approach is that audience members have certain needs which make them to be selectively exposed to attend to and retain media messages because of the perceived gratifications derivable from such messages. Thus, this approach emphasizes the fact that people are important in the process of communication because they choose content, make meaning and act on that meaning. This approach also stresses the reciprocal nature of communication.

The use and gratification approach is relevant for this paper because those who are  exposed to political campaigns through the new media are intentional seekers of such messages who want to make meaning out of the campaign messages, they are not ready to risk their lives attending political rallies that are violent prone. In addition, they intend to determine whether the messages are pro-people or not so as to assist them in making their choice of right candidates and this explains who they ask questions directly from candidates and express their views.

The second theory on which this paper is anchored is the diffusion of innovation theory. This theory provides explanation for the stages of diffusion of innovations, it also explains the rate at which new technologies are spread to different groups of people over time. According to Severin an Tank and (2001), the diffusion of innovation theory is about the social process of how innovations (new ideas, practice, objects, etc) become known and are spread throughout a social system. The adoption of the new media especially Face book. Blogs and twitter, for political campaigns was not widespread among all politicians during the 2011 elections campaigns, however, the early adopters were able to benefit from the opportunities offered by those new media.


3- Violence and Political Campaigns in Nigeria

In the history of political campaigns in Nigeria, violence has been a recurring snag. Akinada (2009) notes that the right to campaign in Nigeria is a constitutional right and an offshool of the right to freedom of expression. However, this freedom to campaign has been consistently abused by political parties in Nigeria. Political campaigns in Nigeria have been characterized by threats, harassment, attack and sabotage. The attitude of the average politician has been to win elections at all costs so violence has been a part of the campaigns since the first republic. For instance, Akinboye (2009:120) argues that.

Although the political associations that metamorphosed into the various political parties ere not  assentially ideologically oriented nevertheless, they reflected the preferences of their founding fathers. Consequently, while some of them had radical and even violent inclinations…some had conservative disposition.

Thus began the struggle for power with those who had violent inclination physically contending for supremacy over other parties. Corroborating this view, Adekunle (2009), observes that over the years, the politicians have become more desperate and daring in taking and retaining political power : more reckless and greedy in their use and abuse of power and more intolerant of opposition criticism and efforts at replacing them. Many lives and property have lost due to this violent approach to taking and retaining power. Unemployed and willing young men have also been used as party thugs to perpetuate violence against opposing political parties, Brown (2009:20) note that.

Rather than be the exception, the presence of political thugs during political  gatherings is viewed by political elite as a measure of strength and political status symbol. These thugs intimidate, harass, brutalize, humiliate, kidnap, maim and in some instances assassinate opponents who are seen as stumbling blocks or obstacles to their political benefactors. Some of these thugs go about parading themselves as kingmakers and godfathers with the false impression that they can neither be touched, arrested and nor prosecuted, in the mould of garrison commander of “amala” politics.

The battle for supremacy by politicians precipitated by the negative attitude to win elections by all means only shows that politics in Nigeria is perceived as a means of acquiring wealth. Politicians do not place priority on serving the electorate, rather they place emphasis on acquiring power and money.

Ajakaiye and Nyemutu Roberts (2002) rightly assert that since Nigeria became politically independent in 1960, it has been one long and chequered search for a stable, democratic and cost effective political order. This lack of political order was evident in the way past political campaigns were conducted to politicians across the country. Political campaigns were essentially qualified to violence. Political campaign grounds were literally turned into battle grounds as these party thugs unleashed terror against rival political parties. From the days of the Northem Peoples Congress (NPC). National Council of Nigeria Critizem (NCNC). Action Group (AG), Nigeria National Democratic Party (NNDP), Northem Elements Progressive Union (NEPU), National Party of Nigeria (NPN), Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN), the Nigerian Republican Convention ‘NRC) and Social Democratic Party of Nigeria (SDP) all of the first and second Republics to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Alliance for Democracy  (AD) of the third and fourth Republics, political rallies and campaigns have been violent.

Ake, (1989) cited in Nyemutu Roberts and Benjamin (2002) observe that as it was in the first Republic, the use of force and fraud by governments and parties in the second Republic during elections robbed those elected of legitimacy because they did not represent the real choices of the people. This use of force or violent political struggle became the order of the day, violence was the norm rather than the exception during political campaigns. Even in the immediate past and present democratic dispensation of three political parties in 1999 (PDP, ANPP and AD), thirty in 2003 and now sixty-five in 2011, the unhealthu rivatry among political parties leaves much to be desired.


4- Preventing Violence Using the New Media for Political Campaigns

Ricke (2010:67) argues that

Internet based  technologies have radically altered the face of politics in the United Sates, Web 2.0 technologies have allowed varied and increased parties to become creators and disseminators of political, information and have provided evolving avenues for democratic engagement.

Just as this is true of the United States, even in Nigeria, the 2011 general elections campaigns were unprecedented in the history of political campaigns in Nigeria. Nigeria politicians took advantage the new media for campaigns. As it happened in the United States general elections campaigns in 2007, the Nigerian political scene was transformed via the new media. According to You Tube (2007), the CNN-You Tube debates employed the power of the internet to make the public to participate in the creation of a national political dialogue. Ricke (2010) also notes that the CNN-You Tube debate provided a unique shift in the political debate landscape. For the first time, the public was invited to become an instrumental participant in the creation of debate materials.

In political campaigns in the United States and Nigeria, the new media have played a prominent role as the politicians communicated with numerous people. In the 2011 general election campaigns in Nigeria, politicians communicated directly with a large number of people apart from the traditional ways of meetings in large halls, stadia and other public, places. Politicians also communicated directly with the electorate in addition to the use of the old media. A new dimension was thus added to political campaigns in Nigeria through the use of the new media.

The facebook was one of the new media used by politicians for the first time in Nigeria for the 2011 election campaigns. According to Baghdady (2008:165)

One of the current virtual communities is Face book. Face book is a free access website that allows users to join networks, such as a school, place of employment, or geographical region to connect and interact with other people. Users can post messages for their friends to see and update their personal profile, to notify friends of happenings in their life. It is reported that the Face book community has a population that exceeds 69 million users representing a range of ages including children, teenagers, youth, and adults from both genders and from many nationalities.

Another type of new media used by the politicians for the first time is the blog otherwise called Weblog. Technorati (2008) states that blogs combine text, images and links to other blogs, web pages and other media related to its topic. Baltatzis (2006) argues that weblogs, or blogs have become one of the latest forms of online communication to gain widespread popularity and notoriety. Some of the politicians used Face book and related blogs wherein they showcased their profiles and plans to the electorate. Since the Facebook community has a wide population, the profiles and campaigns of those politicians who used the Facebook were therefore exposed to a large number of people cutting across children, teenagers, youths and male and female adults from different countries of the world. Politicians who used Facebook, blogs and other types of new media were able to reduce violence as they did not receive physical assaults from opposition parties in the process of using the new media. It was also impossible for their supporters to engage in physical acts of violence at that particular moment.



Despite the fact that some politicians used the new media to great advantage for the 2011 general election campaigns, because of the problem of access, a particular part of the electorate was excluded. Although there are now low cost mobile phones that are relatively affordable for the average. Nigeria, several people still lack access to the internet because they cannot afford the cost of access, others are not yet exposed to Face book, blog, or even inviter because these are termed elitist as only those who have the means could use them, Payne (2001), observes that while technology has made the world smaller, communication more rapid and access easier, it has also created a new set of problems and new issues concerning the use of the gadgets available to us. The rural population was also excluded from this trend because as ljeh (2008), notes, access to the new media especially the world wide web (www) and other facilities is restricted to the cities due to the level of technology adoption rate which is slower in the rural areas than the cities.

The rate of adoption of technology especially the new media is slower in the rural areas than the cities so the rural areas are still far behind in adopting most of the new media. For instance, Emenari (2003), ljch (2004), cited in ljch (2008), assert that the technological backwardness in Nigeria has restricted the world wide web’s accessibility to cities, thereby shutting out the rural areas which constitute the greater land area of Nigeria and serve as home to other seventy percent of the population. Another problem related to those of accessibility and affordability is irregular power supply which if effectively tackled would reduce the cost of access to the new media even in the cities and rural areas as well.

The politicians that tried to avoid violence by using the new media for the 2011election campaigns have demonstrated their understanding of the dynamic nature of democracy worldwide. Being sensitive to the electorate’s needs starts with the manner in which political campaigns are conducive, enlightened and visionary politicians would not like  to  encourage violence under any guise bin purposeless and primitive politicians would prefer any means to get to power, in Nigeria, violence, before, during or after elections must stop political campaigns should be conducted in a more organized and peaceful manner and politicians need to combine the use of the old and the new media to achieve these goals. Politicians who did not use the new media during the 2011 election campaigns need to emulate the example of President Obama of the United States, President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria and other politicians who used the new media for political campaigns while planning for subsequent  elections if they are actually interested in the welfare of the electorate


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Dr Alohoutadé Alexandre GBECHOEVI

Département de Sciences Politiques,

Faculté de Droit et de Sciences Politiques,

Université d’Abomey-Calavi, Rép. du Bénin



Le mythe se présente à titre de  la première forme de la connaissance. L’homme acquiert cette connaissance de l’univers en général et de son environnement en particulier. Le mythe comme le confirme Georges Gusdorf est la structure de la connaissance. Il fait usage du langage symbolique pour s’exprimer et pour expliquer les phénomènes de l’existence. Le symbolisme du mythe est une volonté manifeste du mythique de scruter la réalité en la dépassant et en lui concédant son caractère atemporel et a-spacial. Le symbole vivifie l’empirisme mythique et lui donne un sens connexe au sensualisme. Construisant  la connaissance, le mythe rejette la banalité et fait usage d’une physionomie sérieuse pour traduire ses perspectives. Il fait à la fois office de sagesse populaire, de philosophie, d’ethnologie, de sociologie,  d’ontologie, de théologie sans oublier la science (la cosmologie, l’astrologie et autres…).

Mots-Clés : Le mythe, le symbolisme, la connaissance, l’empirisme, la banalité…



The myth presents itself as first shapes of the knowledge. Man acquires this kind of knowledge generally of the universe in general and of his environment in particular. The myth so as confirm Georges GUSDORF is the structure of the Knowledge. It’s use the symbolic language to explain the phenomena of existence. The symbolism of the myth is its manifest will to scrutinize the reality while passing it and while conceding it its character of out of time and out of space. The symbol vivifies the mythical empiricism and gives it a related sense to the sensualism constructing the knowledge; the myth rejects the triviality and makes use o a serious physiognomy to translate its perspectives. It makes popular wisdom office at time of philosophy, of sociology, of theology, without forgetting the science (the cosmology, the astrology and other).

Key-words: The myth, the symbolism, the knowledge, empiricism, the banality…


I- Le symbolisme des mythes

1.1.  Eléments de définition

Le concept mythe vient du mot grec muthos qui traduit : fable ou récit fabuleux. A ce propos, le mythe pourrait être considéré comme un récit fabuleux racontant l’histoire des dieux et leurs exploits de même que l’histoire et les exploits des héros. De là, le mythe est destiné à donner une explication capable de satisfaire un esprit primitif assoiffé d’explication et non encore de l’explicitation. Pris sous cette forme, le mythe n’est rien d’autre qu’une boite à lettre du niveau de connaissance de l’humanité. Il ne contient que ce qu’on en met. Dans son ouvrage intitulé : introduction à la lecture de Hegel, A. KOJEV déclarait : « Le stade du mythe est le stade du monologue, et à  ce stade, on ne démontre rien, parce qu’on ne discute rien ne se trouvant pas encore en présence d’une opinion contraire ou simplement différente. (…) c’est en devenant dialecticien (en discutant le mythe des autres) que l’homme du mythe ou de l’opinion devient  savant ou philosophe. [1]»

Le mythe dans cette atmosphère n’est rien d’autre que ce qui est produit par la puissance de la parole (le logos humain). Mais le concept symbole pour ce qui le concerne vient du mot grec sumbolom qui traduit en Français l’ensemble des signes de reconnaissance  formé par les deux moitiés d’un objet brisées qu’on rapproche. Plus tard le concept symbole a désigné un signe quelconque, un jeton, un cachet, un insigne, un mot d’ordre… Ainsi la transcription de l’original grec, pourrait donner symbolum qui s’apparente à une définition latine. Et cela pourrait traduire ce qui représente autre chose en vertu d’une correspondance analogique. Selon E. Van BIEMA : « on dit bien que le poisson était le symbole du christ en tant qu’il représentait les initiales, »[2].

Selon C. HEMON, le symbole était au sens primitif le « signe de reconnaissance entre les Chrétiens »[3].


Le symbole  a alors permis la culture de toute une philosophie de signes (du grec sémeion ensemble de petits éléments de reconnaissance et d’explication). Le mythe permet de mettre le contenu dans le contenant ou le signifié dans le signifiant afin de pouvoir favoriser chez l’observateur une analyse soit intuitive, soit inductive, soit déductive. Le symbole apparaît dans ce cas comme le socle de construction de la cohérence du discours mythique. Par le symbole les signes ne s’additionnent pas numériquement, mais s’entrefilent pour correspondre à une explication empirico-sensualiste du phénomène de la nature ou de l’univers. Le signe prend dans ce cas la même dimension explicative et analytique que le symbole.

1.2. Approche analytique

Si le mythe dans la conception des primitifs de l’Afrique, des Indiens de l’Amérique du Nord, des Australiens, des Pygmées d’Afrique Centrale et du Gabon …ont traduit leurs premiers contacts avec le monde, ces peuples ne s’étaient pas éloigner des mythes pour intégrer l’univers. Ils ont adjoint le surnaturel au naturel pour pouvoir réussir leur projet de connaissance et de théologie voire de philosophie première. Ainsi les premiers éléments dont ils ont disposé pour démarrer leurs réflexions étaient les signes et les symboles. On pourrait à cet effet symboliser  par exemple la manne que la nation israélite en captivité en Egypte avait reçue comme nourriture miraculeuse tombée du ciel afin d’assouvir  leurs besoins alimentaires à titre de pré-alliance entre le transcendent et l’immanent. De cette première compréhension peut découler la compréhension symbolisatrice[4] selon laquelle cette nourriture est un pacte avec le suprême créateur qui est Dieu. Dieu s’est alors laissé consommer en partie par la nation hébraïque pour faire un prélude à l’eucharistie qui se produira au temps de Jésus-Christ. Par simulation extrapolative on pourrait dire que la théorie du Mana (Codrington 1891) : « puissance ou influence surnaturelle (…) qui entre en jeu pour effectuer tout ce qui est au-delà du pouvoir ordinaire de l’homme, en dehors du processus commun de la nature ».[5] Codrington analyse ainsi la dialectisation entre le naturel et le surnaturel dans la démarche gnoséologique des primitifs. Or, rien en ce sens n’a été possible en dehors de la sémiotique et de la sémiologie des mythes ; la sémantique des mythes en dépend.

Dans cette perspective G.FERRERO avait pensé : « La fonction d’un signe ou symbole est toujours de provoquer certains états de conscience. Nous analyserons dans deux études différentes les symboles intellectuels, et les symboles émotifs, c’est-à-dire ceux qui sont destinés à éveiller des images et des idées, et ceux qui sont destinés à éveiller des émotions ; car il y a des différences remarquables entre ces deux classes de symboles»[6]. Essayons de cerner les contours de cette affirmation.

A examiner de près, G. FERERO établit une relation causale et une relation efficiente entre les signes et les symboles. Plus qu’une philosophie des symboles (symbolisme) induisant soit une doctrine soit une idéologie, l’auteur de la psychologie du symbolisme se trouve dans une psychologie architectonique des symboles. Ainsi, il pense en une première étape, que le signe ou le symbole joue son premier rôle sur la conscience de ceux qui le perçoivent. C’est à travers cette fonction d’interférence que la conscience humaine fait des rapprochements de fait au fait, d’événement à événement, de situation à situation…afin de pouvoir élaborer une explication du phénomène à connaître. Le symbole est alors une monnaie ou une réduction schématique permettant de donner une idée ou un début d’idée du phénomène à connaître. A partir du symbole (l’ensemble des signes) l’idée de quelque chose peut naître, d’où son explication  provisoire dès le début par les mythes et son explication  rationnelle par la logique et son explication détaillée par la sémantique. A une deuxième étape de l’analyse de la conception de G. FERRERO, on peut établir non seulement une taxonomie des mythes, mais une classification par ordre prioritaire. La taxonomie étant comprise dans les différentes typologies de mythes (regroupement explicatif des faits ou phénomènes), la classification pour ce qui la concerne peut alors traiter de degré positionnel des mythes dans l’élaboration des formes de connaissance. Ici, il nous faut éviter d’aller à grands pas comme si l’on était entrain de faire un mélange entre la gnoséologie (théorie de la connaissance) et la mythologie (étude, science ou discours sur les mythes). C’est précisément à ce niveau que G. FERRERO distingue les symboles intellectuels et les symboles émotifs. Les Mathématiciens par exemple traitent des symboles intellectuels c’est-à-dire d’un ensemble de signes conventionnels doués de sens et de signification tandis que les psychologues et les psychanalystes traitent des signes émotionnels c’est-à-dire les signes qui permettent d’interpréter les émotions, les inquiétudes et les interrogations.

Or les symboles utilisés dans le mythe et par le mythe contribuent pour la plupart non plus à créer l’émotion mais à l’éveiller. Ainsi ils suscitent des images et des idées à faire correspondre les unes avec les autres pour produire soit une philosophie, soit une science, soit une explication théologique ou soit un début d’herméneutique. Selon Paul DIEL « La symbolisation mythique est un calcul psychologique exprimé en langage imagé. » [7] Le symbolisme du mythe comme une philosophie passe par le processus de la symbolisation qui est n’est rien d’autre qu’un ensemble d’expressions imagées qui se fondent sur les dispositions psychiques d’analyse et d’interprétation des faits mythiques. Le mythe peut concrétiser la cause première et la désigner par la réalité créatrice (Paul DIEL, s.d). Il peut prendre les animaux et leur accorder des fonctions et aptitudes humaines pour signifier des réalités de la vie courante, et, se retrouver d’abord dans une fonction de substitution d’une réalité métaphysique à une réalité  à une réalité matérielle. En matière de la symbolisation, le mythe doit permettre à l’analyste de représenter le simple par le compliqué ou le banal par le complexifié (exemple du mythe d’Orphée[8] par rapport à la mort comme le chemin du non-retour.) Si Le IVème et le Vème siècle avant Jésus-Christ avait connu une doctrine théologico-philosophique appelée l’orphisme, il est possible de penser que toue symbolisation systématique du mythe peut aboutir à une philosophie.

A partir delà, l’on peut dire que le symbolisme est une figuration de la réalité. On peut par exemple représenter la justice par le symbole de la balance qui traduit à la fois équilibre et équité, poids et mesure, règle et conditions d’applicabilité .Pour cela, il est opportun de pouvoir identifier le symbole ou le mythe qui est susceptible de fournir une explication à propos d’un événement, d’une situation ou d’un phénomène déterminé. C’est en tenant compte de ce sens dont doit se revêtir le mythe que Paul DIEL  déclare : « L’exégèse mythologique, soucieuse de comprendre le sens des anciennes fabulations mythiques, leur trouve une signification du genre cosmique, météorologique et agraire. Elle montre que les mythes parlent des mouvements des astres et de leur influence sur les conditions de la vie humaine : saisons de l’année, pluies, orages, inondations, etc. Il est clair que l’influence élémentaire exercée sur la vie terrestre par les évolutions astrales a dû impressionner au plus haut degré les hommes primitifs. Cette impression subjuguant fut destinée à devenir décisive à l’époque où des tribus errantes de chasseurs et bergers commencèrent à se fixer et s’amalgamer, pour former des peuples agriculteurs, ce qui marque précisément le début de la création mythique»[9]. Que traduit ce fragment de texte ?

A n’en pas douter, le fragment de texte ci-dessus révèle l’origine, le début, la genèse, le commencement… et le fondement des mythes. Il indique les acteurs ou les créateurs des mythes sans pour autant indiquer les auteurs. Ceci car les mythes ont été produits par ceux qui vivaient des situations avant de pouvoir recourir à l’explication de ces situations. Ils étaient à la fois agents et patients car étant ceux qui inventent l’explication aux faits qu’ils vivaient ; ils étaient encore ceux qui subissaient ces faits. Les situations et événements qui les surprenaient, qui frappaient leur imagination affective afin de vouloir transpercer leur âme (psyché) avaient alors incité leur impulsion à donner des explications à tous les phénomènes. Mais une variété de questions se pose à nous à cet effet. Doit-on se fier au contenu plat des mythes ou à leur valeur symbolique ?

Si l’on doit tabler sur les mythes et surtout sur leur valeur symbolique, l’on serait obligé de considérer les mythes en général comme le canal d’explication par la méthode de l’exemplarité. Le mythe de la création et le mythe de la chute adamique tels qu’ils se présentent de manière banale dans le livre de la Genèse (Bible) ont une explication symbolique qui dépasse de très loin leur aspect historicisant qui donne lieu à la contemplation du simple auditeur que représente chaque être humain. Ils montrent non seulement l’ingénierie de la création et la surprise désagréable du péché conduisant à la déchéance de l’humanité mais aussi et surtout la destinée originale de l’humanité en face de l’inimitié et des contrats d’entente dans la théogonie et dans la théocosomogonie. Zeus ou le Dieu Tout-Puissant pouvait rester indéfiniment ou éternellement sans restituer aux autres dieux leur puissance et leur devoir d’existence. Diabolos, le dieu serpent, le dieu Thanatos (la mort), le dieu Lucifer… se sont donc lié d’accord pour aller s’accrocher à l’arbre de la connaissance du bien et du mal qui était lui aussi un dieu (gnose) afin de pouvoir induire Eve en faute et contraindre Adam à pécher avec sa collaboratrice enfin que le dieu Thanatos (la mort) puisse accomplir la mission qui lui est dévolue avant la création. Ce mythe a donc une valeur formidablement symbolique si l’on met à part l’effet d’explication émotive, brutale, hâtive et spontanéiste dont il se dote à première vue. C’est d’ailleurs ce symbolisme qui fait l’élément de mire de la théologie et surtout des psychologues de la mythologie.

Des réflexions pareilles à celles-ci ont conduit Paul DIEL à l’affirmation selon laquelle : « Les mythes, selon leur sens caché, traitent donc de deux thèmes : la cause première de la vie (le thème métaphysique) et la conduite sensée de la vie (le thème éthique) »[10]. Il s’agit alors pour nous à travers l’explication de ces symbolismes passant par le psychologisme de dégager l’importance du mythe dans le processus de la connaissance.

2. L’importance du mythe dans le processus de la construction de la connaissance.


2.1. La valorisation du mythe en général

S’il est vrai que toutes nos connaissances intellectuelles ne se produisent jamais en dehors, de ce que les sens avaient permis d’enregistrer (cf David Hume, Enquête sur l’entendement humain), il n’est pas faux que le mythe ait été d’abord un produit de nos expériences sensibles avant de passer à l’étape de cognition pour aboutir ensuite à l’étape de métacognition. Ce mécanisme se vérifie sur des bases de la logique rationnelle selon laquelle : « Le bon sens ou la raison est la chose du monde la mieux partagée ». (Cf René DESCARTES, Discours de la méthode). Il se concrétise dans le schéma Protagorassien  selon lequel : « L’homme est la mesure de toute chose » (cf PLATON, le Protagoras). Il faut alors reconnaître que la conscience humaine en addition aux autres facultés telles que la raison, l’intelligence, la mémoire, la volonté… contribuent à nous distinguer de l’animal. Mais plus, il faudrait faire remarquer que les mythes même s’ils font partir d’un ressentiment à propos du vécu, ils se projettent dans notre inconscient individuel ou collectif, progressent dans notre subconscient et reprennent le chemin retraversé pour réapparaître encore au niveau de la conscience.

C’est à ce niveau qu’intervient la notion de l’analyse du mythe donnant naissance à une interprétation ; exactement comme ce que nous faisons des rêves à l’état de veille. La fonction de la double interprétation c’est-à-dire la fonction herméneutique passant à l’étape de la métacognition est celle qui fait fonctionner nos aptitudes de projection réflexive vers l’avant : la métacognition. Or les primitifs de première génération n’avaient  encore réussi à atteindre cette fonction supérieure du psychisme ; c’est cela peut – être qui avait permis à Lévy-Bruhl d’émettre des théories de mentalité prélogique montrant ainsi qu’il y avait eu pour l’humanité l’âge de la raison balbutiante qui serait le début de l’élévation de l’esprit sur les réalités et les phénomènes de l’existence.

C’est quand l’esprit humain a dépassé ce niveau de contemplation pour commencer à se confronter avec les réalités de l’existence en établissant de véritables cohérences entre chaque chose et les autres, quittant le niveau simple d’étonnement ou de surprise pour passer à l’expérience et ensuite à l’expérimentation qu’il a commencé à construire les modèles de connaissance. La fonction parasitaire du mythe a donc été extasiée, reprise, travaillée et réorganisée par l’esprit au moyen du symbolisme pour donner naissance soit à la philosophie, soit à la science, soit à la théologie… et autres. Loin donc pour nous de rester au niveau primaire d’analyse de Paul DIEL dans la première partie de son ouvrage portant sur « psychologie intime et symbolisme mythique« , nous pensons objectivement que la construction de la connaissance à partir des mythes est un produit de l’évolution de l’esprit humain. Elle ne relève pas simplement de la fonction du désir comme le soulignait l’auteur (comme à l’étape purement primitive), mais de l’attitude réflexive de l’être humain. Mais pourquoi pensons – nous de cette manière ?

1.2. Le symbolisme comme un psychologisme métaphysique du mythe

En réalité, selon l’auteur du symbolisme dans la mythologie grecque« Toutes les fonctions de la psyché humaine, conscientes, sur- conscientes, inconscientes et subconscientes, se laissent réduire au désir »[11].  Essayons de comprendre cette affirmation.

A analyser de près, le désir semble pour l’auteur du Symbolisme dans la mythologie grecque un stade supérieur de l’évolution de l’esprit comparativement au comportement instantanéiste et spontanéiste qui avait prédominé chez les primitifs dans l’élaboration des mythes comme moyen de connaissance.

Mais la remarque fondamentale est que le désir chez les primitifs s’était traduit en volonté de connaissance et cette volonté a fait reculer de très loin les besoins élémentaires du psychisme (la soif de réponse aux questions) pour aboutir à la recherche des véritables solutions aux problèmes qui se posent.

Il faudrait alors dire que c’est à partir de l’exaltation de l’intellect ayant pris l’envol sur la simple réceptivité constative pour aboutir à la mise en marche du processus de construction des schèmes du savoir qu’est née la connaissance.

Rejetant alors comme le dit Gaston Bachelard dans la philosophie du non l’animisme, le réalisme naïf et l’empirisme[12], s’éloignant de la spontanéité que produit l’angoisse qui selon Paul DIEL est : « un état convulsif, parce qu’elle se compose de deux attitudes diamétralement opposées ; l’exaltation désireuse et l’inhibition craintive »[13], les mythes mystico–magiques mettant en scène les passions des dieux et faisant état des monstruosités (danger de mort, désespoir, inquiétudes…) doivent être traduits comme des éléments représentant le supra conscient ou les interdits du moi par la société. A cet effet nous pouvons dire qu’ils portent loin l’imagination exaltée à propos du moi ou  de la conscience individuelle. C’est ce qui permet à chaque personne ou à chaque individu de comprendre par auto-analyse projective le sentiment de la culpabilité qu’il s’établi à propos de chaque faute, de chaque erreur, de chaque faillite ou en terme religieux de chaque péché.

A travers ces représentations de l’esprit, il est alors possible de comprendre que tout ce qui est supposé être objet de la connaissance est une dialectisation des figurations mythiques portées au plus haut degré de l’intellection. L’intelligence elle-même ne fonctionne que par élévation du brutal au coordonné, du brut au raffiné, de l’opaque au clair et du sombre à l’illuminé… tout ce qui reste à savoir c’est une étude rétrospective à propos du chemin parcouru par l’esprit afin de déduire de son état actuel : l’évolution. S’il en est ainsi, il nous faudrait alors nous interroger sur les définitions de base que les dictionnaires (Larousse, le Petit Robert et même André LALANDE…) fournissent à propos du mythe.

Quand André LALANDE affirmait que « Le mythe est un récit fabuleux, d’origine populaire et non réfléchie, dans lequel des agents impersonnels, le plus souvent les forces de la nature, sont représentés sous forme d’êtres personnels, dont les actions ou les aventures ont un sens symbolique : les mythes solaires, les mythes du printemps. Se dit aussi des récits fabuleux qui tendent à expliquer les caractères de ce qui est actuellement donné : le mythe de l’âge d’or, du paradis perdu »[14], Il était dans un processus de définition disqualifiant les mythes sans le savoir. De nos jours, les mythes ne peuvent plus être reçus dans leur fonction empirique ou sensualo-empiriste mais dans leur fonction symbolique et herméneutique pour favoriser l’exploration de l’inconscient psychique de la collectivité ou de la société d’où ils émanent. C’est la position qu’a voulu bien tenir le philosophe Emile BREHIER dans La revue de métaphysique et de morale en 1914. Selon lui, citait Georges GUSDORF : «La raison correspond chez l’homme à une tendance spéculative qui a pour effet d’immobiliser l’univers selon des constantes logiques : ‘’Idées, substances, matière, loi»[15].

Mais qu’est ce que cela voudrait-il dire ?

Sans nous tromper d’objectif, Emile BREHIER avait énuméré les quatre éléments fondamentaux qui forment le quadrilatère du cercle qui est l’univers.

Les ayant stratifié et ordonné de part en part, nous pouvons avoir le schéma ci-dessous :







Ainsi il est alors possible pour nous à travers la présente représentation de comprendre que c’est la loi que cache chaque chose, situation et événement de l’existence qui demande à être révélée et permet à l’esprit d’en avoir une idée à propos de celle-ci. De même c’est la matière ou élément constitutif de quelque chose qu’il faut décomposer pour aller retrouver sa substance. La relation idée/ substance qui paraît banale et superficielle semble diamétralement opposée à celle : loi / matière car les deux sont bien parallèles. La connaissance se construit donc par coordination des éléments et par circonspection de l’esprit ou de la raison ; or c’est la symbolisation du mythe qui a donné  cette réorganisation de l’esprit sous sa forme rationalisée. Le mythe a donc une importance primordiale dans le processus de la construction de la connaissance. Ecoutons à cet effet ce que dit Georges GUSFORF à propos de la présente situation.

Pour Georges GUSFORF : « Le mythe était une intelligibilité donnée. Le savoir est une intelligibilité cherchée. Et cette quête de l’intelligibilité définit très exactement la fonction de la raison. Il existe désormais un champ mental spécifique, dont la raison poursuit l’unification. La réflexion devient une fin en soi. La pensée était au niveau du mythe, une sorte de conservatoire du genre de vie. Désormais, elle se donne pour tâche de démentir les apparences, de s’éloigner du réel pour mieux le dominer. Il ne s’agit plus d’épeler les certitudes communautaires, mais de rendre raison. Le monde concret se trouve ainsi englobé dans un nouveau monde qui le comprend, le monde de la vérité selon l’intellect. Le comportement catégorial s’émancipe des significations particulières dont il était jusque-là prisonnier. Les structures de la pensée et d’action, une fois dégagées, s’ordonnent à des structures de structures dont l’ensemble dessine les configurations de l’univers du discours.

Désormais, le vrai se trouve séparé du réel, et primat du vrai sur le réel ne cessera de s’affirmer davantage. L’autorité intelligible de la raison discrédite les affirmations errantes des sensations et du sens commun »[16].

A ce niveau précis de compréhension, Georges GUSDORF fait une psychanalyse des mythes. Plus qu’une psychanalyse il procède à une épistémologie des mythes. Ainsi, il retourne à l’identification du procédé de fonctionnement des mythes en passant par des comparaisons parallélistes exactement comme ce qu’avait tenté de faire Emile BREHIER dans la revue de la morale et de la métaphysique. Au lieu d’établir les catégories des mythes comme ce premier. Idée / substance // loi / matière, Georges GUSDORF identifie les éléments clés de la connaissance mythique. Selon lui, le mythe était une intelligibilité donnée, mais le savoir est une intelligibilité cherchée.

Cette démarche de la philosophie Gusdorfénne s’apparente à une sorte d’évolutionnisme en matière des étapes à franchir pour faire reculer l’empirisme sensualiste (sans pouvoir le détruire complètement) et valoriser l’intellectuation des faits de l’expérience comme la déesse raison  avait été vantée au XVIIe siècle contre le pouvoir dominant de la foi au XVIe siècle. Ici et désormais si le champ de l’intelligence s’agrandit c’est parce que les structures de la pensée se déconnectent des habitudes consistant à fournir à tout prix des réponses à toutes questions sans établir avec le réel concerné le contrat de vérité, de logique, de cohérence et sans avoir fait et adopté le test de matérialité. Il est alors clair que : « L’autorité intelligible de la raison discrédite » comme le déclare l’auteur de Mythe et métaphysique : « Les affirmations errantes des sensations et du sens commun ». Il n’y a rien d’autre à faire que de valoriser le mythe en tant que première  forme de la connaissance dans presque tous les domaines. Le mythe est alors le patrimoine humain universel de la gnoséologie. Il rejette la banalité dans un ton pourtant banal. Le sérieux du mythe commence quant il fait intervenir les dieux et les puissances naturelles et célestes ayant pouvoirs et autorité de change ou de modifier la destinée de l’humanité. Par rapport à cette conception, il importerait de chercher à savoir ce qu’est le rejet de la banalité en matière du mythe.




3. Le rejet de la banalité

3.1. Le mécanisme de  l’accréditation du mythe  

Selon Paul DIEL : « La banalisation sous sa forme la plus répandue est le manque de toute élévation, la chute constante et, par voie de conséquence, la bassesse. Contrairement à la surtension nerveuse, elle est un état de sous-tension psychique ». [17]

Et c’est cette stratégie que l’humanité au XVIIème siècle c’est-à-dire le siècle de la raison a utilisée vis-à-vis des mythes. En cette période l’on pensait que la raison pouvait tout et on la glorifiait (gloria soli ratio) exactement comme on  avait fait au XVIème Siècle à propos de Dieu (gloria soli deo). C’est alors en cette période que les mythes avaient été banalisés et relégués au dernier rang en matière de la connaissance. Ils avaient été considérés comme des lallations de la connaissance. Le mythe à ce stade avait été considéré comme la période prélogique de la connaissance, la période pré gnoséologique. Or, il s’agissait même en ce siècle de procéder à une reconstruction et à une reconsidération du chemin parcouru par l’esprit avant d’arriver au portail du logos (mot grec : parole, discours, science, étude, raison…). Mais le manque d’élévation de l’esprit et la chute constante occasionnée par les ruptures d’un siècle à un autre… a produit de la banalisation dans la perception de l’humanité au XVIIème siècle les déformations psychiques sont produites quant à ce qui les concerne à propos des mythes par l’inversion des rôles dans l’acquisition progressive de la connaissance. Ceci suppose que les phénomènes, les événements, les situations du vécu ne sont pas arrivés à suivre le processus de refoulement progressif de la conscience jusqu’au subconscient en passant par l’inconscient psychique. Ayant rebroussé chemin ou bien ayant été dévié lors de leur parcours, ils se sont manifestés comme des énormités pour l’homme qui s’est déjà confié au pouvoir  de raison raisonnante. Et ainsi perçu, le rôle social de la fabulation se mêle au rôle professionnel. Si nous savons bien qu’il y avait eu des sociétés régies par la spontanéité parce qu’elles étaient encore à  l’état de nature (cf J.J. ROUSSEAU, Du contrat social, livre1, Chapitre I), il n’est pas aussi exclu que l’évolution a fait rencontrer des sociétés qui ont dégagé un produit universel à savoir la connaissance et la reconnaissance. Si la connaissance permet de formuler des théories parce allant du connu au connu, la reconnaissance permet de vérifier la connaissance, de la tester, de la synthétiser afin de pourvoir mieux la généraliser  et l’universaliser. Ainsi on quitte le cadre de la banalité et de l’instinct fabulateur parce que l’esprit humain acquiert les disponibilités d’invention, de composition et de recomposition. C’est à propos de cette démarche que le philosophe et sociologue Henry Bergson avait déclaré : « Quand le terme du mouvement est atteint chez l’homme, l’instinct n’est pas supprimé, mais il est éclipsé ; il ne reste de lui qu’une lueur vague autour du noyau, pleinement éclairé ou plutôt lumineux, qu’est l’intelligence ».[18]

Par l’intelligence et au moyen de celle-ci l’on peut rejeter le postulat de la banalité que le mythe semble présenter. C’est d’ailleurs ce que fait PLATON par exemple dans le livre II de la République en traitant du mythe de Gygès où il montre que c’est par crainte d’être puni que le juste est juste et que l’injuste est juste. Et si chacun de ces catégories d’homme pouvait recevoir une face de la bague magique la société serait confuse et c’est le juste qui en partirait beaucoup plus. En déduction, PLATON montre que :

« Personne n’est juste volontairement, mais par contrainte, la justice n’étant pas un bien individuel, puisque celui qui se croit capable de commettre l’injustice la commet. Tout homme, en effet, pense que l’injustice est individuellement plus profitable que la justice, et le pense avec raison d’après le partisan de cette doctrine. Car si quelqu’un recevait cette licence dont j’ai parlé, et ne consentait jamais à commettre l’injustice, ni à toucher au bien d’autrui, il paraîtrait le plus malheureux des hommes, et le plus insensé, à ceux qui auraient connaissance de sa conduite ; se trouvant mutuellement en présence ils le loueraient, mais pour se tromper les uns les autres, et à cause de leur crainte d’être eux-mêmes victimes de l’injustice »[19]

De l’examen de ce mythe, il se dégage la compréhension selon laquelle, le concept de justice n’est pas indépendant, libre de lui-même et ressemblant à une pendule, il se rapporte et se raccroche à quelque chose qui n’est d’autre que la loi. Et la loi elle-même n’est efficace en ce sens que parce qu’elle permet de sanctionner ou de réprimer le criminel et tout fauteur de trouble (celui qui transgresse les lois). C’est donc les dispositions pénales des lois qui inquiètent celui qui veut être volontairement injuste et qui le  répriment. Il s’améliore et cesse d’être injuste pour ne pas encourir les risques de sanction. De plus, l’homme juste  lui-même ne le demeure pas si longtemps que parce qu’il craint de décliner et de se pervertir en se réduisant au même niveau que l’injuste… Il faut alors reconnaître que les valeurs antinomiques et antithétiques de la norme sociale s’opposent à la fois dans les faits et dans les actes mais s’équilibrent au moyen des forces de coercition que représentent les lois (morale, sociale, politique)


3.2. L’intelligibilité du mythe

Au regard de toute analyse le bon sens recommanderait que l’on reconnaisse à PLATON l’ingéniosité du rejet de la banalité en matière du mythe. Les mythes platonniciens sont  à première vue des allégories qui simulent des réalités prises sous leurs aspects à la fois philosophique, métaphysique, théologique et morale. Le mythe chez Platon est doté d’une faculté inversive et transcendante de la réalité afin de pouvoir revenir à cette réalité sous sa forme intellectualisée (Le mythe de la caverne dans La République ). Cette intellectualisation du mythe à la platonicienne assume pleinement le processus de la reconfirmation de l’être humain dans ces conditions socio-culturelles, socio-historiques et socio-politiques ou socio-économiques (la reconnaissance du monde matériel comme ombre et illusions de sens au profit du monde intelligible comme monde de la clarté et des choses en soi et le monde de la perfection intégrale.) Platon dépasse alors de très loin la conscience mythique qui perçoit la réalité sous sa forme pâteuse et brutale pour alors aborder le mythe dans sa perspective purement intellectuelle. Il reste alors à vérifier chez lui si le mythe contribue à la construction d’une pensée cohérente susceptible d’élever l’être humain au dessus de la médiocrité  de l’abrutissement et de l’incompréhension.


4. Le Progrès Vers la Vertu

4.1.  La portée morale du mythe

Le concept de vertu vient du mot latin virtus dérivé de vir qui veut dire homme. La vertu au sens primitif du concept traduisait force, efficacité, pouvoir. Au plan moral, la vertu traduit l’ensemble des dispositions habituelles à agir moralement bien. Mais le sens étymologique du concept pris à l’absolu permet de le traduire comme la force avec laquelle la volonté s’ordonne au bien, se conforme au devoir et s’applique à des responsabilités. Selon J. Joubert dans Les Pensées : « Avoir de la vertu, c’est savoir bien faire sans que l’inclination nous y porte et s’abstenir de faire mal quoique la passion nous y pousse »[20]. La vertu à travers cette affirmation se comprend comme une disposition morale qui règle notre volonté et nos passions et qui oriente droitement et lucidement vers le bien à faire au lieu du mal à éviter. Il faut alors en se fondant sur cette affirmation être en mesure de rompre avec l’option morale de LA ROCHEFOUCAULD selon qui : « Nos vertus ne sont le plus souvent que des vices déguisés »[21]. La vertu ainsi perçue par LA ROCHEFOUCAULD est prise sous sa forme critique ou négative et montre les dessous pervers de l’humanité ; Or il est question de percevoir ce concept dans son sens positif comme l’avait essayé de faire le philosophe Emmanuel Kant dans Eléments métaphysiques de la doctrine de la vertu : « La vertu est la force de résolution que montre l’homme dans l’accomplissement de son devoir »[22].

La question de la vertu avait été une préoccupation principale dans la philosophie de Socrate. Au fait, le philosophe athénien du nom de Socrate (470 – 399) était un athénien de modeste condition issu d’un artisan du nom de Sophronisque et d’une sage- femme du nom de Phénarète. Il avait de hautes qualités intellectuelles et morales. Son désir de savoir et surtout son ardent amour de vrai et du bien devraient lui permettre de s’assurer d’une influence considérable sur ses concitoyens. Mais malheureusement sa monstrueuse intelligence et le développement de ses pensées philosophiques n’avaient pas réussi à l’imposer naturellement comme le plus grand détenteur de pouvoir et la personne la plus  protégée de la cité athénienne (confère les accusations contre sa personne, sa condamnation et son exécution : Apologie de Socrate, Section I à III, section XXV, XXVI et XXXIII). De là, la position LA ROCHEFOUCAULD contre celle de Emmanuel Kant. Pourtant, il faudrait reconnaître que la lourdeur du mal et sa proportion inquiétante dans l’univers ne doit pas lui donner raison sur le bien. C’est d’ailleurs la raison principale pour laquelle au cours de la vie de Socrate la dimension morale de sa philosophie avait plus joué sur ses options philosophiques au point même de faire croire avec lui qu’on se trouve dans un univers de philosophie axiologique. Mais comment celle- ci s’était- elle manifestée ?

A bien lire l’histoire, il se révèle que la philosophie de Socrate compartimentée en Ironie et en Maïeutique n’avait d’autres objectifs que de parfaire l’homme au plan moral, au plan intellectuel et au plan social. Socrate s’était présenté ainsi pour les Athéniens comme un exorciste du mal. Ainsi il concevait que tout homme porte en germe les idées morales nécessaires à une bonne conduite de la vie. C’est cette hypothèse qui était sous- jacente à sa déclaration à savoir : « L’âme est grosse de la vérité »[23]. De là, l’œuvre du philosophe issu de l’artisan – sculpteur et de la sage- femme accoucheuse serait alors de délivrer les esprits. Il s’agit ici d’un travail à la fois moral et philosophique. La partie philosophique est assumée par la maïeutique et l’ironie tandis que la partie morale est assumée par tout un ensemble de théories se rapportant à la connaissance de l’homme telle que Socrate l’avait étudié au fronton du temple de Delphes dans les gnonomaï : « Connais- toi, toi- même ». La morale chez Socrate se trouve centrer autour d’un principe fondamental à savoir : « Tout homme veut et veut nécessairement son bonheur qui dans la possession du vrai bien, c’est-à-dire le bien connu comme tel par l’intelligence »[24]. La première conséquence de ce principe est que le bien est réduit à l’utile. Ainsi Socrate pensait : « Les choses humaines sont bonnes dans la mesure où elles sont utiles pour procurer notre bonheur »[25]. Le bonheur ici pour Socrate traduit le bonheur absolu, le bien suprême en soi mais relatif à l’homme.

Et puisque l’objectif du bien est de nous conduire au bonheur, il faut déclarer un bien pour l’homme, tout moyen pour être heureux : tout ce qui lui est utile et vraiment utile. Mais pour réussir à cet effet, le philosophe doit dépasser les avantages du monde sensible et ceux du corps afin de pouvoir se maîtriser et acquérir la sagesse ou la vertu. Ainsi il doit développer l’idée de mortification de soi et celle du bien honnête. Il appelle bien honnête le bien conforme à la raison. La deuxième conséquence de cette position prise par Socrate, est la réduction de la vertu à la science. Là il pensait : « L’homme vertueux est celui qui a la science parfaite du bien moral : le sage »[26]. C’est dans cette ligne de conduite que Socrate avait affirmé : «Tout homme veut et veut nécessairement son bien, il est impossible que voyant son vrai bien il le refuse ; autrement, il agirait en fou et non plus en homme raisonnable… personne ne fait le mal volontairement »[27]: « Le péché est une ignorance»[28].

La troisième conséquence de l’idéal moral de Socrate est que le bonheur est réduit à la vertu. Ainsi il pensait : «Tout homme est heureux dès ici dans la mesure où il est vertueux »[29]. La quatrième conséquence de l’option morale de Socrate est l’obligation. Et, la réduction possible de l’obligation à l’utile. Ainsi il pensait : « Que les choses obligatoires sont par elles- mêmes nécessaires ordonnées à notre bien et à notre bonheur»[30].

C’est donc de tout ce corpus philosophico- moral que Platon va puiser des éléments nécessaires pour construire sa théorie de la vertu. Il importe alors ici de chercher à cerner cette opération

4.2. La portée morale du mythe de la caverne chez Platon

L’examen du livre VII de La République de Platon contenant le mythe de la caverne peut confirmer comment Platon recycle toute la philosophie du maître au profit de la démonstration du progrès vers la vertu qui se retrouve dans sa démarche philosophique. Par le seul fait que Platon ait pu penser les catégories ou bien les schèmes de pensée socratiques dans sa propre philosophie, nous pouvons dire que Platon est une continuité de Socrate. Mais quel genre de Socrate ?

Il est devenu peu à peu manifeste que la philosophie platonicienne est une réorientation de celle de Socrate. Cela se démontre à travers l’histoire vraie ou mythe du sixième niveau qu’est le mythe de la caverne. L’image des prisonniers sous terrain est une représentation parfaite de l’ignorance congénitale dans laquelle baigne les êtres humains sur qui pèsent le poids de la culture, des idées reçues, des archétypes sociaux, de la morale et des religions… c’est-à-dire le supra-conscient. Toute cette pesanteur empêche les êtres humains de faire ascension vers le bonheur suprême, le bien suprême, c’est-à-dire le bien intelligible. Pour y parvenir il faut un exercice spirituel de mortification ou d’ascèse capable d’amener les êtres humains à faire ascension vers l’illumination. Seul l’homme éclairé ou illuminé peut prétendre approcher la vertu. C’est alors le cas du prisonnier qui a été élevé de la caverne pour la terre afin d’être éclairé par la lumière du soleil. Eclairé et rassuré qu’il fallait inverser leur perception dans la caverne pour établir la vraie science, il peut encore être un obligé du devoir moral et de la responsabilité collective de sensibilisation.

C’est exactement ce rôle que le philosophe a à jouer dans les sociétés humaines  en courant bien le risque d’être lynché, expulsé ou sacrifié… il pourra s’arranger pour que le pire ne lui survienne pas, si cela ne devrait que dépendre de ses comportements et de ses mécanismes de défense. Mais il y a des limites au mythe de la caverne en ce qui a trait à la trilogie : illumination – vertu – justice / Bien intelligible. Les prisonniers de la caverne fonctionnent par instinct spontanéiste et brutalité consensuelle non fondés sur une base juridique tandis que le peuple athénien qui a condamné Socrate a fonctionné sur les lois tronquées, la parodie de justice ou le parallélisme judiciaire, la fausse délibération et le verdict de la criminalisation. Ainsi dit, comment peut-on concevoir l’élan vers la justice et vers le Bien intelligible dans l’analyse du mythe de la caverne ?


La valorisation du symbolisme dans le mythe est non seulement un facteur de l’originalisation du mythe, mais un procédé par lequel la raison apprend à suivre une règle de la logique qui n’est rien d’autre que celle de l’implication en vue d’aboutir à une déduction rationnelle. Le symbole est alors à la fois pensée, idée, monade comme pour parler en terme leibnizien, mais aussi et surtout : concept mythique. Il permet au mythe de prendre corps et de devenir une réalité construite par la raison.

Mais au-delà de cet aveu de simplicité, le symbolisme apparaît clairement comme le procédé à la fois psychologique et métaphysique de dépassement de la réalité existentielle en vue d’être en mesure de la dépouiller de toutes tentatives de banalisation. Le symbolisme devient de ce fait un début de la philosophie métaphysique des mythes. C’est la raison pour laquelle elle fait usage de la métalangue pour s’exprimer.



1-Platon, La République, éd, Garnier Flammarion, Tradition R. Baccou Paris 1966

2-Georges Gusdorf, Mythe et métaphysique, édition Garnier Flammarion, Paris, 1984

3-F.J. Thonnard, A.A , Précis d’Histoire de la philosophie, édition Desclée, Paris 1985

4-Platon, Théétète

5-J.Joubert, Les pensées

6-La Rochefoucauld,  Maxime

7- Emmanuel KANT, éléments métaphysique de la doctrine de la vertu, éd, Durand, 1855

8-Emile Bréhier, Revue de métaphysique

9- Paul DIEL, Symbolisme dans la mythologie grecque, éd, Payot, Paris, Sd.

10-Gaston Bachelard, La philosophie du non, édition Quadrige/ PUF , Paris, 1983

11-André LALANDE, Vocabulaire technique et critique  de la philosophie, édition Quadrige/PUF, Paris, 1952

12-Henri Bergson, Les deux sources de la morale et de la religion, édition Quadrige/PUF, Paris, 1992.

13- André KOJEV, Introduction à la lecture de Hegel

14- G.FERRERO, Les lois psychologiques du symbolisme.



M. Olusegun Adegboye GBADEGESIN

Department of French, Ekiti State University,

Ado-Ekiti, Ekiti State, Nigeria.



Toute traduction est pour l’effet communicatif, et la traduction doit à un niveau acceptable être capable de provoquer « une réaction semblable » dans son  lecteur comme dans le lecteur de l’original. Puisque chaque langue connaît des traits linguistiques à elle, la pratique de traduction dépasse avoir la connaissance sémantique de deux langues du travail ou pouvoir compter une langue à une autre. Une bonne traduction est issue de bon maniement de la déverbalisation du message.

Mots clés : déverbalisation, message, méthode, traduction.


Every translation is for communicative purpose and so, it must be able to, in a way, generate « same » reactions in the target readers as in the readers of the original text. Since every language has it own peculiar linguistic culture, translation practice goes beyond knowledge of semantics of the two languages involved or ability to compare one with the other. A good translation is a product of good mastery of message deverbalisation.

Key Words : deverbalisation, message, method, translation.



La traduction est une entreprise linguistique. Qui dit traduction dit deux opérations linguistiques. J. C. Catford dans A linguistic Theory of Translation voit la traduction comme une opération faite sur les langues. Cette opération qui a le but de faire saisir dans une autre langue (langue cible) le message de la langue source exige de nous  à maîtriser des atouts linguistiques de ces langues. Cependant ces langues qui s’assemblent ne se ressemblent guère soit au niveau linguistiques soit au niveau culturel car chaque langue à son gente a elle.

Dans sa communication dans La liberté en traduction, Fortunato Israël, un traducteur littéraire cite Ortega y Gassset : la traduction fut  laide et m’offre au bout du compte qu’un moyen d’accès à l’original, qu’une aide à sa compréhension. Cette tentative de réaction et de réécriture pour produire un nouvel original qui se substitue à lui afin d’avoir l’accès à l’original n’est pas un effort miracle mais l’aboutissement de la mise en œuvre non seulement des bagages intellectuels et affectifs mais aussi de quelques méthodes de traduction.

De temps à autre, bien des traducteurs et traductologues ont proposé des méthodes, des types ou des procédés de traduction. Dryden (1980), un traducteur de poésie propose trois types fondamentaux de traduction en l’occurrence  (i) la métaphore qui est une restitution mot à mot et ligne par ligne (ii) la paraphrase qui est une traduction dans laquelle l’œuvre de l’auteur  est bien gardée mais le traducteur restitue le  sens et non les mots du texte (iii) l’imitation : ici le traducteur a la liberté de varier les mots et les significations du texte ou même  mettre les deux à l’écart si l’esprit de l’original s’impose. Pourtant Dryden a reconnu la lacune de ce dernier type de traduction (imitation) suivant son rejet de la traduction de l’ode de pindar faite par Abraham Cowley en 1658. Il conseille, alors d’éviter l’imitation en traduction.

La question qui se pose est comment traduire ayant le bon sens en vue sans passer par déverbaliser le message ? Voilà pourquoi ces trois types de traduction demandent une petite revue critique.

Selon le Petit Larousse en Couleur « la paraphrase est une explication étendue d’un texte ». Cette explication étendue apporte un grand pas sur l’interprétation. Si la paraphrase est une méthode proposer ce sera loin d’être efficace dans la traduction car son recours nous mène à un état de surtraduction ou sous traduction, encore, la métaphore prétend que tous les mots d’une langue doivent avoir des mots correspondants, dans autre langue et que les lignes du texte soient gardées. Cette   idée suggère que la traduction n’est qu’un remplacement des mots d’une langue par ceux d’une autre. Donc, « he is a computer scientist » devient « il est informaticien ». Dans la traduction communicative et sémantique DE Peter Newmark, la traduction littérale du mot  à mot est non seulement la meilleure mais aussi la seule méthode valable de traduction. Bien entendu, mais garder les mêmes lignes comme dans l’original et traduire tous les mots trahissent l’esprit de traduction. En effet, cette méthode ne servira à rien dans la plupart des cas en traduction. Tirons un exemple de Danica Saleskovitch cite à la page 62 dans Approches to Translation : il n’y a pas de mal à prendre de temps en temps un verre de trop quand on sort restitue pour « it’s all right to get a bit drunk at a party » est au de la de la littérature. Le niveau dégage ici en tenant compte de systèmes socioculturels de deux langues est ce du vouloir dire.

Si les sens primordiaux de tous les mots de l’original sont traduits comme étant hors du contexte, et l’ordre des mots de l’original sera retenu, le résultat  sera soit le non-sens, soit le contre-sens parce que le message n’est pas déverbalisé.

Toute traduction est pour l’effet communicatif et la traduction doit être capable de provoquer une réaction semblable dans son lecteur comme dans le lecteur de l’original malgré des barrages. Cette réaction pareille se rendra possible en dégageant  le niveau de sens du message. C’est pourquoi la déverbailisation du message nous parait une Pierre de touche pour tous les traducteurs et traductologues pour avoir un résultat de bonne qualité. Dans cette communication, nous verrons comment quelques traductions s’occupent du sens du message de langue. Source et laissent les mots de Langue Cible s’occupe d’eux-mêmes en nous donnant des restitutions toutes proches de l’original.

Avant tout, nous aborderons ce que c’est que déverbaliser un message. Et après des messages verbalisés tirés de quelques textes. Notre conclusion portera un regard sur les apports de la déverbalisation du message dans la traduction.



L’emploi de langues connaît des variétés combinatoires de formule préexistantes et « la traduction fait une recherche d’équivalence entre  combinaison de mot d’une langue à l’autre. Cette variation de combinaison qui ne répond guerre aux besoins du traducteur nous amène à définir un modèle de l’opération de transcodage du message dans la traduction.

Danica Scleskovitch dans interpréter pour traduire voit l’idée déverbalisée comme une étape intermédiaire entre les langues par opposition à la signification d’un mot ou d’une phrase. Elle définit la déverbalisation comme « le processus de la traduction qui consiste à dégager de la formulation en langue source le sens qu’elle désigne mais qui n’est pas contenu en elle puis de l’exprimer en langue cible.  En fait, l’idée déverbalisée se situe entre l’original et la traduction qui après l’avoir saisie peut s’éprimer dans n’importe quelle langue. Le traducteur a comme interlocuteur devant lui le texte et entre ce texte et lui exige une bonne compréhension. Si ces deux amis ne s’entendent pas le résultat sera une bagarre sensique. Le traducteur ne demande pas ce que veut dire chacun des mots ou chacune des phrases d’un texte mais que veut dire le texte tout entier.

La déverbalisation n’est qu’un processus de saisie et de réexpression du sens d’un texte. Le traducteur s’occupe du raisonnement de l’auteur ou le vouloir dire de celui-ci que Marianne Lederer dit est de dégager, au travers des significations linguistiques, le sens qui est le message à transmettre. Ceci nous amène à définir les thèmes signification et sens. Ces deux thèmes sont souvent pris l’un pour l’autre sur le plan linguistique. Par exemple, selon Saussure dans Cours de linguistique General la signification est le sens d’un signe dans un contexte donné, le signe étant « l’union indissoluble d’un concept et de sa forme linguistique, écrit ou parlée ». Dans la signification du mot « non »  (image acoustique) est la vraie image (le concept) de cet animal. Le  Larousse de poche 2002, sur la même allée définit la signification comme  « ce qui signifie une chose » ceci implique que dans la traduction de significations, il existe des correspondances significatives pour chaque mot. C’est –à-dire chaque mot à sa signification nette. Pour éclaircir cette nuance. Je donne ci-dessous, une liste de quelques exemples de signification des mots hors du discours.





une, un, seule, unique, on…


Rounded up his Business swiftly

clos, fini, terminé ses affaires rapidement, vite


Holding it

le tenant, le gardant …









proposition, offert



très, vrai



de bonne heure, tôt



les hommes





Parfois la traduction peut se contenter de cette liste de mots qui est l’issue lexicographique sans perturber le sens. Pourquoi dans la déverbalisation d’un message donne, le sens donné à chacun de ces mots varie parce que la traduction est fondée sur le sens et non sur les mots. Ceci nous exige à faire une distinction entre le sens et la signification.

Que veut dire le sens ? Le Petit Larousse en Couleur nous donne une définition astucieuse que le sens est la « faculté par laquelle un organisme est renseigné sur certains éléments du milieu extérieur de nature physique ». Autrement dit, le sens se situe au niveau du discours entre le texte et la traduction se trouvent les raisonnements qui prennent garde non uniquement d’analyse des mots et des phrases ou d’énoncés mais du vouloir dire de l’auteur en mettant en vue des faits extra linguistiques.

Georges Steiner dans son œuvre : Après Babel que j’aimerais appeler la philosophie de la traduction aborde couramment ce que c’est que le sens en se servant des mots « paix », « liberté », « progrès », « volonté é », « populaire » dans l’idiome communiste et fasciste comme polysémies mais qui ont divergence de sens, qu’un mot peut « renvoyer à plusieurs choses, avec des variations qui vont de la nuance à l’antithèse, marque le langage de l’idéologie ». La traduction du sens des mots dans le discours est toujours différente de ce que nous obtiendrons dans la traduction de la signification des mots hors du discours ci-dessus. Si nous prenons chacun de ces mots dans le discours, le résultat sera au-delà de ce que qu’offrent les lexicographes. Traitons cette nuance à travers un extrait de la traduction de Girls at War (Femmes en guerre) de Chinua Achebe en français par Jean de Grandsaigne.




One, one market…p1

Le premier, le premier marché


Rounded up his business swiftly…p.2

Il rassemblait rapidement ses affaires P.2



Après avoir …p.2


With …p.2

Par (… par ces vagabonds) p.2


Proposal p.3

Intention (ton intention) p.3


Very p.4

Même (ce matin même) p.4


Early p.4

Petit (petit matin) p.4


Men p.4

Les tenants p.4


Was p.1

s’appelait p.4


Voici des extraits du texte duquel les mots ont été retirés

The madman : he was draw to markets and straight road…One market was Afo, the other Eke…Then in the morning he rounded up his affairs swiftly and set out.

He used to walk in the middle of the road, holding it in conversation …After that; he avoided those noisy lorries too, with the vagabonds inside them.

Having walked one day and one right…, He had just given notice to all the Ozo men to seek admission into their honoured hierarchy…

Your proposal is excellent, said the men of the title…, That very morning. Udenkwo had accused her of the spite…, So, he intervened let me have peace this morning (pp.1-4)

Et sa traduction

Le fou : il était attire par les marches et les routes droites…, Le premier marché s’appelait Afo, le second Eke…. Puis le matin, il rassemblait rapidement ses affaires et commençait son voyage…, il avait l’habitude de marcher au mikieu de la route, lui faisant la conversation…, Après ça, il évita également ces camions bruyants occupés par ces vagabonds…Après avoir marcher un jour une nuit… il avait informé tous les porteurs du titre d’ozo…, à être admis dans leur respectable hiérarchie…., Ton intention es louable, dirent les tenants du titre…,, ce matin même Udenknwo l’avait accusé de jalousie…Aussi intervint-il que j’aie la paix en ce petit matin.

Que pensons-nous de cet exercice ? Nous constatons que traiter des significations des mots isolement peut montrer la compétence linguistique d’un individu mais il est très loin de la performance qui montre la destérité du traducteur. Ainsi on voit qu’aucun mot n’est pris isolement qu’aucune phrase n’est abordée à part mais que chacun est traitée du souvenir déverbalisée des phrases précédentes.

A ce point j’aimerais proposer quelques étapes que l’on peut suivre pour déverbaliser un message :

  1. La lecture : pour saisir les idées détaillées du texte, il faut une lecture approfondie du texte entier. Cette lecture en même temps tient compte de l’émotion exprimée grâce aux effets prosodiques du texte que nous fournit la situation.
  2. Désigner les relations sensiques des phrases que comprend chaque paragraphe.
  3. Re-exprimer le sens dans les propres mots et expressions de la langue cible.
  4. Reproduire de plusieurs façons le même sens dans la langue cible.
  5. Composer l’original à la traduction et établir une équivalence aussi parfaite que possible.

En fait, nous abordons très tôt dans le chapitre qui suit l’efficacité de cette proposition à travers quelques exemples des messages déverbalisés, extraits de traduction de quelques œuvres littéraires.


Il s’agit ici d’une évaluation de la traduction de quelques extraits de Girls at War (les femmes en guerre), une œuvre littéraire de Chinua Achebe traduit en Français par Jean de Grandsaigne, et de l’une des traductions des Essays in Translation de R. L. Graeme et al sous l’optique de la déverbalisation des messages traduits.

Pour éviter trop de longueur nous nous contenterons de quelques phrases de ces textes. Démarrons avec un extrait de Girls in War.

Résumé : La guerre à presque tout détruit. Les jeunes porteurs des armes vivent grâce aux secours alimentaires. Les jeunes femmes étaient soit membres de la défense civile soit des prostituées de guerre qui faisaient les choux gras de la situation pour acheter des pagnes des étoffes et en se rendant à Owerri. Gladys qui rencontrait Reginald Nwankwo du ministère de la justice trois fois devenait enfin sa copine.

L’extrait de la page 108è

It was wanderful, he thought, but even more was tragic. She wore a high-tinted wig  and a very expensive skirt and low-cut blouse. Her shoes obviously from Gabon, mmust have cost a fortune.

Cet extrait a été traduit de la façon suivante :

Merveilleux, pensa-t-elle, et surtout tragique. Elle portait une perruquee de couleur vive et tout en hauteur une jupe et une blouse très décolletée, toutes deux très chères. Ses chaussures qui venaient certainement du Gabon, avaient du coûter une fortune.

Voyons ce qu’il en est dans cet extrait.

It was wonderful… but even more tragic « donne merveilleux…Et surtout tragique ». ici la phrase composée est restituée par deux adjecctifs « merveilleux » et « tragique ». La disparition de « i twas » dans la traduction de la phrase ne porte aucun préjudice à lidée de l’original car c’est bien celle là qui est la pensée de l’original « she wore a high tinted wig and a very expensive skirt and low-cut blouse : elle portait une perruque de couleur vive et tout en hauteur une jupe et une blouse très décolletée toute deux très chères.

Si les mots « high » et « tinted » pris comme un seul mot (mot composé) dans l’original ne se déverbalisent pas ici, le traducteur n’arrive pas à faire sortir la couleur à l’intérieur  du message. Ici, « tinted » est pris dans les sens de « bright » (vive) « hauteur » en général veut dire le niveau élevé « tout en hauteur » pour « high » semble être la traduction de signification car « high » peut-être remplacé par « très » pour avoir »une perruque  de couleur vive ». ceci nous fait reconnaître que dans la déverbalisation en traduction, le traducteur ne demande pas ce que signifie les énoncés ou les phrases mais ce que les énoncés ou les phrases désignent comme nous avons vu dans la phrase ci-dessus. La traduction de l’énoncé qui suit est très frappante « a very expensive skirt and low-cut blousee » est restituer  comme « une jupe et une blouse » très décolletée, toutes deux très chères ». On se demande d’où vient  « toutes deux ». déverbaliser un message n’est pas unidirectionnel. C’est pourquoi dans la quatrième étape proposée pour la déverbalisation du message, la reproduction du sens peut se faire de plusieurs façons. Cet énoncé « une jupe et une blouse décolletée, toutes deux très chères » traduit bien  l’idée de l’original et garde le niveau de langue. Cependant s’il est pris au niveau de la traduction sémantique, la restitution ne sera pas mauvaise. Par exemple, une jupe et une blouse très décolletée et très chères » malgré qu’elle réduit le mouvement de la traduction précédente.

La phrase qui suit montre un cas ou une traduction au niveau sémantique restitue correctement le sens. « her shoes » obviously from Gabon, must have cost a fortune » « ses chaussures qui venaient certainement du Gabon avaient dû couter une fortune.

Abordons maintenant la traduction  du dernier paragraphe de « sweet baby » « bébé la douceur » une autre histoire dans Girls at War de Chinua Achebe.

« When Cletus is ready to marry », i said, they will have to devise a special marriage vow for him. With all my worldly goods expect my tate and lyle I thee honour father Doherty if they ever let jim back in the country will no doubt understand”

La traduction

Quand Cletus sera décidé à se marier, dis-je, il faudra imaginer pour lui une promesse de mariage spécial. Par exemple « de tous mes bien-sauf de mes parquets de sucre tate and Lyle je te fais dont » si jamais on permet au père Dohertu de revenir dans ce pays, je suis sur qu’il comprendra »

« when Cletus is ready to marry » quand Cletus sera décidé à se marier » ici on se demanderait pourquoi la traduction linéaire ne restituerait pas cette proposition. Le traducteur qui a bien saisi la séquence du conflit culturel provoque par la religion chrétienne que Cletus voudrait franchir et obligerait son père à l’accepter aurait du re-exprimer l’idée contenue dans la langue de départ pour lire, je crois : « When Cletus makes up his mind to marry » avant d’arriver à cette traduction. La phrase qui suit semble éclaicir cette idée. « they will have to devise a special marriage  vow for him. Il faudra imaginer pour lui une promesse de marriage special.

Dans la plupart des cas, le message déverbalisé enlève une Pierre d’achoppement dans la compréhension de l’original. With all worldly goods-except my Tate and Lyle – i have honour, que veut dire « Tate and Lyle “? Pour traduire cette locution, le traducteur se sert des éléments extra- linguistique, sa restitution par exemple: de tous mes biens – sauf de mes parquets de sucre tate and Lyle. Je te fais dont » Donc « Tate and Lyle est une marque de sucre.

Sur la même allée, le traducteur qui a bien manié cette méthode de déverbalisation ne fait apparaître que trois mots correspondants à ceux de l’original dans la traduction de la dernière phrase sans gêner ni le sens ni le niveau du message.

Enfin, verrons l’un des textes de la littérature et d’art de Grame Ritchie et al (1972). L’originalité de la Fontaine dans Essays in Translation from French Cambridge University Press, Great Britainpp 264-265. Ce texte parle du style de la Fontaine : Son choix des phrases longues décrivant les choses humaines sans provoquer une hilarité. Ce style doit être louable devant les critiques littéraires.

L’extrait :

Il y a une grandeur, dans La Fontaine, dont nos académiciens ne peuvent trouver la mesure car ils voient bien les effets, qui sont pour désespérer tout homme qui tient une plume.

La traduction

There is greatness in la Fontaine which literary critics never can fathom, although ther do see the effect and these are despair of any  man who wields a pen.

La première phrase de cet extrait est prise littéralement sans aucun souci, “il y a une grandeur dans la fontaine” pour “there is greadness in La Fontaine”; “nos académiciens ne peuvent trouver la mesure” donne “literary critics never can fathom”. En  fait, l’idée originale est bien saisie  dans la traduction puisqu’un académicien est membre de l’académie Française, le mot est pris pour un groupe qui est plus ou moins officiellement les critiques littéraires. Ce n’est pas « academics » qui veut dire universitaires, non plus « académicieans » qui prendra sa restitution dans l’autre. Il me semble que la re-expression a pour effet une redistribution sémantique « our » est disparu mais « never » garde l’impression  puissante de la phrase. « car » restitue pour « al though » est employé par opposition aux effets des causes. C’est peut-être l’opposition aux énoncés » trouver la mesure » et voir les effets ».

Voyons ce qu’il en est dans cet extrait :

« il y a une grandeur dans la fontaine » donne : there is a greatness in La fontaine « dont nos académiciens ne peuvent trouver la mesure » which literary criticies never can fathom. Car ils voient bien les effets, al though they do see the effects qui sont pour désespérer tout homme qui tient une plume, and these are the despair of any man who wields a pen.

Pour clore ce chapitre, disons que les mots des langues sont comme échos que font naître la parole mais à l’intérieur de cette parole imprégnée non seulement le sens mais le vouloir dire ou le sens dans le discours de l’auteur.


La traduction, sans doute, est l’outil indubitable pour enlever la barrière de communication que Dieu   a lancé à Babel, pendant la rébellion de l’homme et confusion des langues. Par conséquent, sa pratique mérite une méthode qui ne trahit l’esprit et l’état d’âme de l’auteur. Nous avons bien vu les méthodes ou des processus de traduction préconisés par les traductologues renommés de l’antiquité et de nos jours comme guides pour améliorer la tâche de traduire ou d’enseigner la traduction et mettre à jour notre connaissance du comportement linguistique d’une langue par rapport à l’autre.

Comme apport à la pratique de traduire nous avons bien vu que la traduction ne s’effectue pas uniquement par la comparaison des langues malgré que l’interaction linguistique permet ce comparatisme. Ce qui veut dire que la traduction n’est pas une branche de la linguistique mais une discipline à elle.

Le point de départ d’une bonne traduction est la saisie de sens du message. Les graphes ne sont qu’outils par lesquels le traducteur passe au déchiffrage de la pensée de l’original. Ce déchiffrage qui prend compte des effets de tous les atouts linguistiques et extra-linguistiques grâce à la lecture approfondie du texte met à côté les mots qui font des phrases du texte  et prend en main le sens à re-exprimer dans les mots et les cultures de la version. On voit que ce que l’on considère comme sens juste dans un discours n’est que vraisemblable dans l’autre. Dans la plupart des cas, la cause du conflit entier l’original et la traduction n’est pas dans l’emploi des codes du traducteur mais elle se situe au niveau de manque de dextérité dans l’emploi de la déverbalisation comme méthode qui englobe non seulement tous les processus de traduction mais qui traduit le sens du contexte dans le discours donné.

Enfin, la recherche d’un équivalent naturel le plus proche en traduction dans le mot d’Eugène A. Nida montre que le débat sur la méthode de traduction qui rend plus efficace sa pratique continue des langues n’évoquent pas les mêmes choses.


  1. Catford, J. C. A Linguistique Theory of Translation, London, Oxford University Press, 1965, p.1
  2. Cite par Fortunato Israel “Traduction Littéraire : Lappropriation du texte” dans la Liberté en Traduction, Paris, Didier Erudition, 1991, p.22
  3. Nido, E. Towards a Science of Rranslating, Leiden, Brill, 1964,p.17
  4. Newmark, P. Approaches to Translation, U. K. Prentice, Hall international Lid, 1988 p.39
    1. Lederer, Marianne “Transcoder du Reexprimer” dans interpreter  pour traduire, Paris, Didier Erudition, 1986, p.22
    2. Seleskovitch, Danica Interpreter pour Traduire, Paris Didier Erudition, 1986, p.127
    3. La Sainte Bible, Alliance Biblique Universelle 1993, Genèse ch 11v 1à9
    4. Selon Mounin G. dans les problèmes Théoriques de la traduction, Eugène Nida conçoit que la traduction consiste à produire dans la langue d’Arrivée, l’équivalent naturel le plus proche du message de la langue de départ d’abord quant à la signification puis quant au style




Achebe, Chinua, Girlss at War and other stories ? London ? Bolt and Watson Lid. 1972.

Achebe, Chinua, Femme en guerre et autres Nouvelles. Africain Writers series, Heinemann, 1977

Catford, J.C. ALinguistic Theory of Translation, Oxford, University Press, 1965.

Greame, R.L. et al. Essas in Translation from French, London, Syndices of the Cambridge University Press, 1972

Lederer, Marianne et al. La Liberté en traduction, Paris, Didier Erudition 1991

Newmark, Peter, Approaches to translation, U.K. Prentice Hall International Lid. 1988.

Nida, E. Towards a Science of Translating, Leiden, Brilll, 1964.



Dr  Olufunke M. OSIKOMAIYA,

Department of English Language,

School of Languages,  Tai Solarin College

of Education, Omu-Ijebu, Ogun State, Nigeria.




There are many languages in Nigeria. Out of those languages, three are selected and recongnised as national languages i.e. Yoruba, igbo and hausa language. The Nigerian constitution of 1999 also stated clearly that English language is the official language i.e the language of admistration, knowledge transmission, foreign affairs, and management language.

Language is a potent vehicle for the transmission of culture, values, norms and beliefs from one generation to another. The multilingual status of the nation creates a problem in the language choice. However, there is need to develop our local languages even though the task of evolving a national language in Nigeria is a herculean one.

This research work stands to examine and analyze the language situation in Nigeria through the different language policies.

Key words: Language, Situation, choice, Examination, Language policy.



Il y a plusieurs langues au Nigéria. De toutes ses langues, trois on t été sélectionnées et reconnues comme des langues nationales à savoir : le yoruba, le igbo et le hausa. La constitution nigériane de 1999 a aussi clairement dit que l’anglais est la langue officielle c’est-à-dire la langue de l’administration, la langue de transmission de connaissances, la langue de gestion des affaires étrangères.

La langue est un important véhicule de transmission de la culture, des valeurs, normes et croyances d’une génération à une autre. Le statut multilingue de la nation crée un problème de choix de langue. Cependant, il y a un besoin de développer nos langues locales même si la tâche de choisir et de développer une langue nationale n’est pas aisée.

Ce travail de recherche se donne pour tâche d’examiner et d’analyser la situation de langues au Nigéria à travers les différentes politiques de langues.

Mots clés : langue, situation, choix, examen, politiques de langues.


Ekah (2010) noted that in language development, government policy on language is important and that if government policy as it is in Nigeria, favours the enthronement and use of a foreign language instead of indigenous languages, then indigenous languages lose social significance, even among the native speakers who would otherwise have wanted to read and write in them. The dominance of the English language since then has been to the detriment of Nigeria language which has been neglected by the government. Though many educational administrators have intensified efforts to convince the government that the continuous dominance of English language in our educational sectorwould not do the citizens any good.It should be emphasized that primary role of the indigenous languages cannot be underrated.

  1. Concept of Language

Language is highly essential for communication to take place. The importance of a language in a society cannot be underestimated. This is because language is a means of identity which distinguishes man from other animal and also one society from the other animal.  Language is a means by which human beings interact within a community; it is regarded as the most intimate possession of man since it is the basis of all creative thought (Adekola, 2005).Language sounds meaningful in the way they are organized according to specific rules. Daramola (2006) defined language as a process for the production of meaning by at least two people which may occur either as spoken or written and which function in context or situation and culture. It is also a tool for expression of human experience or imagination through spoken and written media.Odunlami (2005) identified the following as basic assumptions of language :

(a)    That language is the stone house of knowledge and means by whichcommunity builds up, storesexperience and transmitssuch experience;

(b)   That language is a major means of interaction so that the cultural acquisition or cultural capital of a community can be communally enjoyed or reproduced;

(c)    That language is a  means or retrieval system (bank)through which the culture of a community is stored for succeeding generations, and

(d)    That language is a vehicle of thought and expression.

Language is a living organism- grows, flourishes and is capable of dying as well. Adegbola (2004)contended that language is the medium within which the totality of human knowledge iscode. Ojokheta and Adelore (2012) defined language as a means of communication use to express one’s mind, thought, ideas, feelings, and emotions, opinion and attitudes. Language is basically the only means by which messages or information is passed from the coder to decoder. It is a medium of interaction, socialization, education, administration and culture transmission. As a result, language and culture are inter-related and interdependence because language is the vehicle through which culture is transmitted.

2. Concept of Language Policy and Language Planning

Schiffman (1996) defined language policy as a set of positions, principles and decisions reflection a community’s relationship to its verbal repertoire and communicative potentials. Ubahakwe (1974) saidlanguage is a statement of what is intended and manifests itself in the kind of provision a country makes for the language education of her citizen, which languages and language varieties are to be taught in schools from what age and for how long. Adegbija (2008) noted that language policy and planning in the country are prime importance first because of loyalties to different language and second because of the implication for other multilingual contexts all over the world. He observed further that policy is needed as is the case for many other multilingual contexts for official, national, educational, inter-ethnic and inter-national functions. Language planning is done by a government through government agencies concerned with the choice of national language or official language(s). Language planning deals with ways of spreading the use of a language, spelling reforms, the addition of new words to the language and other challenges faced by language. Through language planning, an official language policy can be established and be implemented (Ekpe 2010). It should be noted that language planning or policy is usually rooted in the language development of a country.

For Nigeria to have mother tongue as the language of the basic cycle of education as being used in Tanzania, Madagascar, Somalia, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Burundi, etc, there is need to develop language policy that must be consistent and must be maintained by the authorities with adequate monitoring and compliance. Nigeriais one of the most multilingual countries in Africa. Despite a large number of languages in the country and multilingual polices and structure of language in the country, English is still dominant in every aspect of life of an average Nigerian.The country has over 450 languages (Adegbija 2004; Ohia& Amen, 1999).



3. Nigeria Language Policy Structure / Situation

In the 70’s, there were calls for a national language policy, which brought about the National Policy on Education in order to promote national unity. It was stated in it that each child should be encouraged to learn one of the three major languages other than his mother tongue. At there- primary and the first three classes of primary school, the mother tongue should be used and at a later stage of primary to secondary school and tertiary education, English language is the medium of instruction.

The Nigeria national policy emerged from Phelps-Stroke Commission. In it, it was stated that “Trial language” be used in the lower class of primary school while the language of the European nation in control was to be used in the upper classes of the primary school (Kolawole & Adeyanju, 2002). The National Policy on Education (NPE 1977, revised 1981, 1998& 2004) stated that mother tongue or language of the environment should be used to teach the first three years of primary education and right from primary four, English language becomes the language of instruction. However, many of these languages do not have orthography and this creates barrier to the implementation of the policy. It should be noted that many private schools do not implement this policy because, in such schools, right from pre-primary level of education, English language is used as a language of instruction and an average Nigerian wants his/her wards to speak in English language which is seen as language of the elite. Kolawole and Adeyanju (2002) observed that what we had in practice of language in education was one-sided because the English language continued to dominate other languages and has prevented the practicality and functionality of the policy. Thus, Kerr (2002) said that the National Policy on Education which sought to ultimately find a Nigeria language to replace English also add to the confusion. Based on the NPE, a Nigeria child is expected to possess three languages – Mother tongue, English language and French. This policy was emphasized during the regime of the Gen.SanniAbacha as result of a stable and friendly relationship his regime had with France. It will be noted that the proposals for the introduction of one, two or more languages as supported by the constitution of Federal Republic have not worked and will remain proposal on paper unless something is done to allay the fear of domination. Apart from this, it has added more problem and confusion to Nigeria language policy. It was the call for a national language policy that gave birth to the National Policy on Education in 1977 in order to promote national unity. Therefore Nigeria has never had any well defined language policy that could enhance language planning and development. Adekola (2005) believed that the language policy is Trilingual. It is trilingual media of instruction policy, which is anchored on the same interpretations of Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba as the three major languages in Nigeria. Looking critically at the policy, it is expected of a student to offer and pass the examination of one of the three indigenous languages offered at the Senior Secondary level, with this, these languages are made compulsory. Though, it has been argued by Ugal (2011) that there has not been a separate language policy but rather the bits and fragments taken from the national policy on Education (NPE 1977, revised 1981, 1998 & 2004) and this has adequately taken care of language issues in Nigeria. Adegbite (2011) is of the opinion that the quest for educational revolution must recognize language as a major factor, not only as its main medium of expression, but also as a basic tool of human existence and survival. With this, it is of importance that a document on the language policy which will be well implemented is of paramount importance to the development of the country economy and technological development. It should be noted that no country can develop and climb development technologically without using the country’s indigenous language, that is, one cannot build one’s technology on another country’s language (Obuasi, 2006 & Adegbite, 2011). Also, Adegbite (2011) noted that educational failures being experienced in the country is as a result of the failure of language policy, planning and implementation. He said further that the formation, plan and implementation of an effective language policy for Nigerian nation must be seen as a challenge by the entire citizens of Nigeria and must not be handled with levity. Obanya (2002) emphasized that major problem confronting the educational development is that of the curriculum overload. The new amendment into the school curriculum introduced by the Federal Government in September, 2011 is not helpful but an addition to the problem already identified. “The new Senior Secondary School Curriculum at a Glance” stated that the high point of the new curriculum structure among other things is the inclusion of the following as compulsory across cutting subjects:

Trade / Entrepreneurship

Computer Studies / ICT

Civic Education (NEDRC, 2008)

The above means that at the Senior Secondary Classes, the followings are compulsory across cutting core subjects:

English Language

General Mathematics

One Trade / Entrepreneurship Studies

Computer Studies / ICT and

Civic Education

It is stipulated in this document that all students, irrespective of their field of study are to take the above listed compulsory across cutting core subjects. With this, the section of the NPE which made the three Nigerian languages compulsory had been brushed aside from the curriculum. The philosophy of the new curriculum is to prepare Senior Secondary students for higher education with functional trade/skill needed for poverty eradication, self-reliance, moral and civic values. All these are set to be achieved at the expense of national unity and integration, with the indigenous languages being the sacrificial lamb while emphasis on English as the medium of expression is promoted at all educational levels. Ekah (2010) noted that Nigerian languages are now endangered species like dragon and dinosaur and are facing extinction like Latin and Greek languages. So far, about eight Nigerian m




4. Way Forward

A lot need to be done by all stakeholders in putting a language policy that will be able to meet the needs and aspiration of the citizens of the country. It should be noted that teaching and learning as well as reading and writing of the indigenous language require a lot of input from the teachers who are the primary partners in the implementation of policy. As a result, these  teachers must be well represented whenever a curriculum or a language policy/planning is being proposed or developed. It has been discovered that most times, these teachers are not involved in the development of these policies and this is what makes most of the language policy developed not fully implemented.

There is need for a language policy and a well-structured language planning that will spell out the goals, aspirations and objectives that the policy is set out to achieve and not a language policy that creates confusion or a language policy that is incorporated in a National Policy on Education. The importance of languages, as a tool of communication requires a well standard language policy. The issues of curriculum overload should be visited because the recent curriculum. Sad enough, “The New Senior Secondary School Curriculum Structure at a Glance” has introduced some subjects that have reduced or removed the emphasis on indigenous language. The introduction of Trade Subjects into the secondary school is highly unnecessary especially when all the needed materials and equipment for them are not provided/ or made available. Based on this, there is need for shift to practical and pragmatic educational policy as well as language policy. Nigeria should not base her technology development on a foreign or second language but rather keep on pursuing vigorously the development of their various indigenous languages (Jibowo, 2012). The establishment of Nigeria Language Centre is laudable but a lot need to be done to make the place functional and capable to sustain indigenous language. The Centre should be well funded to make it effective and efficient for indigenous languages research development.



The Federal and State Ministries of Education should involve experienced classroom teachers at various levels to partake in any curriculum development so as to prevent ill preparation that will not meet the yearning of Nigerians need as it relate to language issues. A lot about culture heritage is found in the language for preservation of the culture, there is need to develop orthographies of some indigenous languages so that these languages will not go into extinction.  Jibowo (2012) is of the opinion that the ways out of the problem will involve the examination of the language curriculum from three main angles:

v  Prescription (what is intended) ;

v  Practice (the implemented) ;

v  Outcome (the achievement/ realities).

She said further that “what is prescribed must be perfectly matched with what is practiced, which will in turn bring about what is achieved or intended i.e. the real curriculum.

To crown it all, a way forward rest largely on adequate funding of education generally. Government should provide quality education and not quantity education without much achievement.


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Adegbola, T. (2004). Globalization Colonizing the Space flows? A Plenary Paper Presented at the West African Languages congress on Globalization and the Future of African Languages. August, 1-6.

Adekola, Kemi (2005). Language and Communication Effectiveness. In Jibowo,  A.V. (Ed).

Language, Language Teaching and Learning. Ibadan, Bounty Press.

Daramola, Adeyemi (2006). Defining Language and /or Communication.In S.O. Ayodele, G. A.

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Ndimele (Ed.) English Studies and National Development in Nigeria. A Publication of English Language Teachers Association of Nigeria (Supported by British Council, Nigeria). Port Harcourt, M & J Grand Orbit Communications Ltd.

Federal Republic of Nigeria (2008) “The New Senior Secondary School Curriculum Structure at a Glance” Nigerian Educational Research and Development Council (NERDC).The Think Tank of Nigeria Education. Under the Executive Secretary Prof GodswillObioma.

Federal Republic of Nigeria (1977) National Policy on Education. Revised in (1977,  1981, 1998 & 2004).NERDC Press.

Jibowo, A.V (2012) Language Education in Africa: Dreams & Realities. A paper presented at the Conference of West African Comparative Research. July, 15-18. Porto-Novo, Benin            Republic Ker, D.I. (2002) The Choice of English as a National Language for Nigeria: A Re-evaluation. In Lawal, A; Isiugo-Abanihe, I &Ohia, N.I (Eds). Perspectives on Applied Lingustics in Language and Literature. Ibadan, Stirling-Horden Publishers.

Kolawole, O.O & Adeyanju, Dele (2002) An Examination of the National Policy of Language Education in Nigeria and its Implication for the Teaching and Learning of the English Language. Ibadan Journal of Education Studies.Vol. 2, No. 1.

MfonBrownsonEkpe (2010) The English Language in Nigeria. A Course Guide for ENG 353. National Open University Course Material, Abuja. National Open University Publisher.

Obanya, P. I. (2002) Curriculum Overload in the Language Education Programme for Basic Education in Revitalizing Education in Africa. Ibadan, Stirling-Horden Publishers Nig. Ltd.

Obuasi, I. (2006) The Place of Language in Nigerian Reforms Agenda. In Essien, O & Okon, M. (Eds) Topical Issues in Sociolinguistics.The Nigeria Perspectives. Aba,

National Institute for Nigerian Language.

Odunlami Dele (2005) Language and Communication Effectiveness. In Jibowo, A.V. (Ed) Language, Language Teaching and Learning. Ibadan, Bounty Press.

Ohia, I. N &Amen, E.A (1999) Language in the Curriculum. A Case for the Total Vernacular Media of Instruction Policy for Nigerian School in Evaluation in Africa. Ibadan, Stirling-

Horden Publishers Nig. Ltd.

Ojokheta, K.O &Adelore,O.(2011)Languages issues and the Attainment of Education for –All –Policy in Nigeria. Journal of Studies in Education.Vol. 2, No. 1.

Taylor  Francis (1988) Language and National Development Nigeria situation. Accessed 16th August, 2012.

The Punch Newspaper (2013) Gradually, Nigerian Languages are dying. Thursday Punch, August 8, 2013. pp 28- 29

Schiffman,  (1996)

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Internet Material.Accessed 16th August, 2012.




Dr  Rita Ochuko MEBITAGHAN

Department of  Languages and Linguistics,

Faculty of Arts, Delta State University,

Abraka, Delta State, Nigeria.


La traduction littéraire présente souvent des domaines problématiques. La fidélité en matière de traduction fait objet de discussion parmi les chercheurs de grand renommé. L’identification des unités de traduction repose aussi sur des classifications différentes dont le langage figuré. Le langage figuré est un indice psychologique et social et ce n’est ni la rhétorique ni la pratique qui peuvent donner la solution aux problèmes qu’il pose à la traduction. Chinua Achebe présente un tas d’images (métaphores, comparaison, personnalisation) dans ses œuvres auxquelles le traducteur doit faire face. Cet usage démontre l’effet esthétique que veut créer l’auteur ainsi que son maniement de langue qui se relève de son style. Si l’on considère l’étymologie des images employées par l’auteur, on remarque qu’elles sont spontanément et fréquemment employées par les locuteurs igbo. Ce qui fait que l’on peut conclure que le langage figuré fait partie intégrante du parler igbo et que sa traduction serait délicate aussi. Partant de la notion de fidélité et de la théorie du sens, cette étude vise à aborder le problème de fidélité par apport au langage figuré en se référant à Les termitières de la Savane, traduction française de Anthills of the Savannah de Chinua Achebe


Finalité de la langue, élément central des rapports entre les hommes, le sens, banal ou complexe, est également l’objet de la traduction (Seleskovitch & Lederer, 2001:18)

Flamand (1983 :50) estime que la traduction est le fait de « … rendre le message du texte de départ avec exactitude (fidélité à l’auteur) en une langue d’arrivée correcte, authentique et adaptée au sujet de la destination (fidélité au destinataire) ». Plus de 5 mille langues différentes et leurs nombreux dialectes se parlent dans le monde ( Cela   pourrait entrainer une barrière linguistique et l’intelligibilité mutuelle entre les peuples du monde. Aucune communauté linguistique n’est une île isolée du monde extérieur et des influences commerciales, politiques, sociales, linguistiques et culturelles étrangères. Autrement dit, la société humaine est continuellement dynamique, grâce au phénomène de la mondialisation animée par des facteurs divers comme le développement physique, intellectuel, scientifique et idéologique et politique. Cette dépendance mutuelle démontre l’importance de la traduction comme instrument de communication qui contribue immensément à élargir le terrain d’entente entre les peuples  du monde. Le besoin de la traduction se relève en premier lieu de la nécessité de communiquer entre les gens.

La fidélité au sens en traduction est définie par le lien entre le texte original (le texte de départ-TD) et sa traduction (le texte d’arrivée-TA). Le mot « fidélité » selon le dictionnaire Hachette (1995) de la langue française désigne :

  • la qualité d’une personne fidèle
  • l’attachement constant (à quelqu’un et quelque chose)
  • le respect de la vérité

La fidélité pourrait emmener le traducteur à s’attacher au TD tout en respectant la destination de sa traduction. Dans quel contexte  aborde-t-on la fidélité? La querelle entre la traduction libre et la traduction littérale remet en question la fidélité en traduction.  Les traducteurs et traductologues contemporains ont bien abordé la notion de fidélité en traduction. Mounin (1963) distinguait deux façons d’être fidèle :

  • fidélité au  texte d’arrivée (à la langue, à l’époque, ou a la civilisation d’accueil)
  • fidélité au texte de départ (à la langue, à l’époque ou a la civilisation d’origine)

Dans son ouvrage Les Belles Infidèles il présente une série de condamnation de la traduction mot à mot qui régna jusqu’à ce qu’elle fut détrônée par « Les Belles Infidèles » elles même éliminées par le retour à la littéralité qui selon les traducteurs du début du 19ème siècle représentait la fidélité. Mounin conclut que « L’activité traduisant pose un problème théorique à la linguistique contemporaine : si l’on accepte les thèses courantes sur la structure des lexiques, des morphologies et des syntaxes, on pourrait croire que la traduction est une tâche difficile.

Benjamin (1969) estime que la traduction n’est pas une copie de l’original. « La vraie traduction est transparente, elle ne cache pas l’original ». Il propose une réconciliation entre fidélité (littéralité) et liberté. Dans un certain sens, la traduction est fidèle si le lecteur du texte d’arrivée (TA) réagit de la même manière que le lecteur du texte de départ (TD). Souvent, les traducteurs s’attachent le moins à l’aspect purement linguistique du texte, ils prennent en considération d’autres éléments qui entrent en jeu dans la « construction » du texte source et qui doivent trouver leur place dans le texte cible. Ces éléments ont été bien mis en lumière par l’équipe de l’ESIT à Paris dans leur théorie interprétative de la traduction (la théorie du sens). La traduction culturelle constitue ainsi un des problèmes de la fidélité en traduction.

La Traduction Culturelle

La traduction culturelle tente d’aborder les faits culturels  dans le but de les présenter dans une autre culture. Warmuzińska-Rogóż ( opine qu’ ‘en réalité, il s’agit des éléments qui se lient particulièrement à la culture de départ. Du point de vue de la traduction, ils se caractérisent par leur spécificité culturelle qui suscite ensuite des problèmes traductologiques.’ Elle conclut que les éléments culturels sont:

  • les noms et les expressions liés à l’organisation de la vie dans la culture de départ (liés au régime politique, au système d’éducation, à la loi etc.)
  • les traditions et habitudes (les traditions culinaires, les fêtes, les rites)

La traduction littéraire tente de résoudre quelques problèmes qui se présentent à la traduction tels que le dialecte, la nourriture et l’architecture : le problème principal que la traduction culturelle doit résoudre consiste à représenter la culture évoquée dans le TA. Le tournant culturel dans les études de la traduction, reconnait la rencontre et la traduction des cultures. Pour Munday, (2001), le tournant culturel est une tentative des études culturelles des terrains moins et bien établies dans les études de traduction. Les différences linguistiques sont facilement retrouvées et restaurées dans le processus de traduction. Quant aux différences culturelles, le traducteur cherche toujours des moyens de transmettre une langue A à une langue B. Ce problème peut être considéré comme des questions culturelles et souvent les différences sont problématiques. Par conséquent, certains chercheurs pensent qu’au-delà les éléments linguistiques, il faudrait étudier les éléments culturels et c’est l’une des préoccupations de la théorie interprétative (la théorie du sens) de la traduction.

La Théorie Interprétative (la théorie du sens)

Le cadre théorique, de notre recherche, sinon la quasi-totalité des principes et des démarches qui sous-tendent nos analyses découlent de ceux de la théorie dite interprétative autrement appelée ‘‘la théorie du sens’’. Cette théorie suggère la traduction du sens compris ou du vouloir dire d’un auteur dans une langue cible, car une traduction réussie ressort toujours du langage et non du fait des langues. De ce fait, le traducteur qui se doit fidèle au vouloir dire d’un auteur ne devrait pas se focaliser uniquement sur les éléments lexico-syntaxiques des systèmes linguistiques. Il lui faudrait procéder au niveau du discours, ce n’est que là qu’il peut accéder à des éléments autres que linguistiques, c’est-à-dire, mentaux, non-verbaux, que portent tout discours. Delisle (1984 :104-105) explique que « L’analyse du discours va au-delà de l’étude des formes ou des structures pratiquées sur le plan de la langue-système ».

Pour l’appréciation des démarches interprétatives effectuées auprès des textes littéraires, nous empruntons ainsi aux propositions de Seleskovitch et Lederer (2001), chercheurs à l’Ecole supérieur d’interprètes et de traducteurs (ESIT) à Paris où cette théorie est née. Lederer (1984) (en collaboration avec Seleskovitch) ouvre une nouvelle façon d’aborder la question de la fidélité en traduction :

N’est-il pas alors légitime de penser que le processus de communication tel qu’il s’effectue à l’intérieur d’une seul et même langue est le même que celui qui relie le traducteur à son texte original, puis sa traduction au lecteur qui en prendra connaissance, de sorte que le processus de la traduction relève beaucoup plus d’opérations de compréhension et d’expression que de comparaisons entre les langues. (18)

Enfin cette théorie sert comme un outil essentiel dans l’étude du langage figuré dans Anthills of the Savannah et sa traduction par Etienne Galle.


La traduction du langage figuré dans Anthills of the Savannah (les idiotismes et les images)

Toute œuvre littéraire est insérée dans un espace donné qui en porte la marque. Le lecteur très averti et attentif peut sentir combien chaque parole de l’écrivain a un aspect, une odeur, un goût de la terre évoquée. Cette terre examinée, livre le lecteur à la fois à la vie intime des êtres et des choses, des hommes et des bêtes, des esprits et des dieux, du climat et des saisons, des temps des semences et des moissons etc…. Le roman négro-africain est à la fois général et régional parce qu’il pose des problèmes concernant la race noire et tente d’y suggérer des solutions; il est régional parce qu’il est toujours attaché à un terroir particulier, souvent décrit avec précision, et utilisé comme cadre matériel du récit.

L’identification des unités de traduction peut se reposer aussi sur une classification autre que linguistique-celle les images et des idiotismes. Comme les proverbes, on peut étudier les images et les expressions figurées du point de  vue de leur valeur                                                                                                     L’identification des unités de traduction peut se reposer aussi sur une classification autre que linguistique – celle des images et des idiotismes. Comme les proverbes, on peut étudier les images et les expressions figurées du point de vue de leur valeur expressive dans un état de langue donnée. L’unité de sens est très nette et elle s’appuie souvent sur une particularité syntaxique telle que l’omission de l’article devant le nom, par exemple :

Français Anglais

A bout portant                                   point-blank

Mettre à pied                          to dismiss

Avoir le pas sur                      to have precedence over

Avoir maille à partir avec       to have a bone to pick with

S’en prendre à                                   to blame

Dans son Traité de stylistique française, Bally (1951) propose la classification du langage figuré en trois catégories:


–      les images concrètes

–      les images affectives

–      les images mortes

Le terme image désigne l’effet que produisent les mots concrets et pittoresques sans qu’ils aient à prendre un sens figuré; on distingue alors métaphore, comparaison, personnalisation etc…. La stylistique n’étudie par la valeur littéraire des images, car le langage figuré n’est pas avant tout le produit d’un besoin esthétique; c’est plutôt le résultat de l’affirmité de l’esprit humain, des nécessités inhérentes à la communication des idées. D’après Bally (1951 :164) le langage figuré est un procédé d’expression et non une catégorie de faits d’expression car la présence d’une image dans un fait de langage ne l’attribue pas à un type défini. Etant un procédé d’expression, le langage figuré sert à réaliser des formes diverses de la pensée et du sentiment. Les images de la  littérature ouvrent un échappé sur la mentalité de tout un groupe social et sur la constitution même de l’esprit humain. Si le langage figuré est un indice psychologique et social, ce n’est ni la rhétorique ni la poétique qui peuvent donner la solution des problèmes qu’il pose à la traduction.

Bally poursuit son argument, estimant que les images de la littérature portent un caractère très net: « elles sont toujours les produits d’une inspiration ou d’une réflexion individuelles, en vue de créer une impression esthétique de n’importe quel caractère (165). Selon lui, dès qu’une intention esthétique détermine la création d’une image, elle devient un fait de style ». Il est nécessaire alors d’étudier les images à partir de l’instinct étymologique. L’étymologie donne sans effort une signification remarquable à une expression figurée. En effet, le sens étymologique d’une image est presque toujours frappant et il faut un travail plus délicat pour découvrir non pas son origine, mais la façon dont elle est conçue spontanément par la moyenne des sujets parlants, dans un état de langage donné. On rencontre à gré les usages sans fin des images et du langage figuré dans Anthills of the Savannah. Cet usage démontre l’effet esthétique que veut créer l’auteur ainsi que son maniement du langage qui révèle son style. Si l’on considère l’étymologie des images employées par Chinua Achebe dans le roman, on remarque qu’elles sont spontanément et fréquemment employées par les sujets parlants igbo. Ces derniers qui se trouvent au sud-est du Nigéria sont à peu près au nombre de 17 millions (Ethnologue Nigeria 1996). La langue est de la famille des langues igboïde’.

C’est l’emploi des mots et expressions igbo qui portent les éléments symboliques de la culture évoquée et c’est cette vision que l’on cherche à transmettre à travers la traduction. Le tournant culturel des années 80 dans les études traductologiques poursuivi par Bassnett et Lefevere, (1990) reconnait la communication possible entre les cultures lointaines.  On peut donc conclure que le langage figuré comme les proverbes, fait partie intégrante du parler igbo et que sa traduction serait  délicate aussi.

La métaphore et la comparaison

La métaphore est une figure de style ou de rhétorique qu’on rencontre chez  beaucoup d’écrivains. Le style littéraire est capable de donner un sens particulier ou une multiplicité de sens à un mot et il vise à créer des effets stylistiques et esthétiques particuliers chez le lecteur. Le dictionnaire Robert (2001) définit la métaphore comme :

Un procédé de langage qui consiste à employer un terme concret dans un contexte abstrait par substitution analogique, sans qu’il y ait d’éléments introduisant formellement une comparaison… Les métaphores à l’origine des sens nouveaux d’un mot.

Souvent, les personnages de Chinua Achebe enrichissent leur langage en utilisant un style métaphorique : ainsi, les métaphores et les comparaisons dans ses œuvres sont entremêlées avec la culture d’origine. Cela signifie que la signification serait perdue si l’interprétation n’est pas la même. Considérons ces exemples tirés d’Anthills of the Savannah.

i)                    The trees had become hydra-leaded bronze status, so ancient that only blunt residual features remained on their faces. (32)

Traduction :

Les arbres s’étaient mués en statues de bronze à tête d’hyre, si antique qu’il ne demeurait plus sur leur visage que de vagues traits effaces (46)

ii)                  The arrogant fool who sits astride …. As though it were a bowl of foofoo (124).


L’imbécile arrogant qui s’installe devant l’histoire comme s’ils s’agissent d’un plat de foufou. (173)

iii)                Agwu, brother to madness (125)


Agwu, frère de la folie (174)

iv)                Agwu is the right hand a man extends to his fellows; madness the forbidden hand (125)


Agwu est la main droite que l’on tend à ses compagnons; la folie, la main interdite p. 174

A travers ces métaphores, on remarque une attribution d’une propriété d’une manière analogique. L’écrivain a délibérément attribué une propriété humaine à un objet ou un animal pour des raisons esthétiques comme dans l’exemple « as though it were a bowl of foofoo » et « Agwu, brother to madness ». La métaphore ressemble à la comparaison qui est aussi une procédé littéraire sauf qu’elle n’a pas besoin de la conjonction  « comme » alors que la comparaison en a besoin. En plus, le sens d’une métaphore est implicite alors que celui de la comparaison est explicite. La liste ci-dessous montre les comparaisons évoquant le milieu à travers les mots employés.


Anthills of the Savannah

Les Termitières de la Savane


She returns looking like a wilted cocoyam leaf (83)

Elle ressemble alors à une feuille d’igname coco fanée.


A certain … as unbridled as the odourous he-goat (104)

Un homme… dont l’ardeur amoureuse étant aussi effréné que celle du bouc odorant.


It is the story … that saves our progeny from blurdering like blind beggars into the spikes of the cactus fence (124)

C’est l’histoire … qu’évite à nos descendants de se jeter, comme des mendiants aveugles; dans les piquant de la haine de cactus (173).


… our men pounded their men like palmfruit in the heavy mortar of Iroko (125)

… les nôtres ont pilé leurs hommes comme des noix de palm dans le lourd mortier d’Iroko. (175)


My tongue is cracking away tonight like a clay bowl of ukwa seeds… (126)

… ma langue crépite ainsi ce soir, comme une vase d’argile remplir de graines d’ukwa. (175)

Dans ces exemples de métaphores et de comparaisons, le problème qui se pose au traducteur est le risque de donner une interprétation qui n’est pas valable et solide à cause de la complexité sémantique, parce qu’au niveau du style métaphorique et figuré, le sens d’un mot n’est pas pris au sens propre mais plutôt au sens figuré. Pour cela, Vinay et Darbelnet (1958) faisant distinction entre les métaphores vivantes et les métaphores usées, sont de l’avis qu’il importe en effet que le traducteur se rende compte du type de métaphore à laquelle il a affaire et qu’il ne traduise pas une métaphore usée par une  métaphore vivante pour qu’il n’y ait pas un cas de sur traduction. Ils estiment que les métaphores, d’une langue à l’autre, se correspondent absolument ou à peu près, surtout quand les deux civilisations en contacts ont des traductions communes; par exemple :

It went like clockwork

Cela a marché comme sur les roulettes


His life hangs by a thread

Sa vie ne tient qu’à un fil.

On ne peut pas proposer une solution adéquate au problème posé par le langage figuré sans une bonne compréhension de sa signification et de sa fonctionnalité pour emprunter les mots d’Albir, (1990). La langue d’arrivée ne permet pas de traduire la métaphore littéralement mais certains images peuvent se traduire par le moyen de l’équivalence; par exemple;

Français                                Anglais

Flotter dans l’indécision                    to dilly dally

Avec un sang froid parfait                 as cool as cucumber

As like two peas                                comme deux goutes d’eau

Dans le cas où l’équivalence n’est pas possible à cause de la nature de l’image, on peut traduire toute l’idée. Toute image peut en effet se ramener à son sens fondamental, à ce que Bally (1951 :165) appelle le terme d’identification. Le traducteur doit d’abord rendre le sens avant de traduire l’image. Dans l’exemple: ‘Agwu, brother to madness’ traduit comme ‘madness, the forbidden hand’ Chinua Achebe attribue un trait humain à ‘madness’ ; ‘madness’ qui est un mot abstrait et inanimée ne peut avoir un frère comme les êtres humains. A travers ce style métaphorique, l’auteur nous fait comprendre que ‘agwu’ et madness sont des analogies renvoyant à deux natures opposantes qui peuvent caractériser l’être humain. La première ‘agwu’ a une connotation positive alors que l’autre ‘madness’ a une connotation négative :. ‘Agwu is the right hand a man extends to his fellows; madness the forbidden hand’.

De même l’image de ‘unbridled’ évoquée dans l’exemple; ‘as unbridled as the odourous he goat’ désigne un être humain qui manque de discipline et qui est de mauvaise comportement. Il y a donc une comparaison implicite entre les gens de mauvais comportement et le bouc qui se sent mal.

La Personnalisation

La personnalisation est une démarche de la langue qui tend à donner à quelque chose un caractère personnel. L’imagination de l’écrivain, insufflant, la vie aux choses inanimées; crée les objets doués des mêmes qualités et de la même volonté que l’être humain. C’est cette conception animée de la nature qui personnifie les choses et donc crée le langage figuré comme on trouve dans les exemples suivants :

Le soleil se lève

Le vent souffle

La nuit songe

Un beau jour

Chinua Achebe s’est servi des images du monde évoqué dans Anthills of the Savannah pour prêter aux personnages les styles métaphoriques. La liste ci-dessous présente les exemples de personnalisation tirés du roman et de sa traduction française :


Anthills of the Savannah

Les Termitières de la Savane


The two hibiscus hedge outside the window… stood still and unruffled (9)

Devant la fenêtre, la haie basse d’hibiscus… demeurait calme et immobile (17)


The sun in April is an enemy. (27)

Le soleil d’avril est un ennemi. (27)


Morning herself went into the seclusion of a widow’s penance (31)

La matinée s’enferma dans la réclusion pénitente de la veuve (47).


You will know what it means to offend the sun (127)

Vous appreniez ce qu’il en coûte d’offenser le soleil (177).


The tops of palm trees… swayed with the same lazy ease… (9)

Les faites des palmiers se balançait paresseusement… (17)


The sky finally moved away in anger (97)

Le ciel en colère finit par s’éloigner (137)


… a tired twitches of intermittent lightening… satiated hiccup of distant thunder (101)

Quelques frémissements lors d’éclairs… les hoquets espacés du tonnerre repu (142)

On remarque dans les exemples que la personnalisation est souvent exprimée par les verbes de mouvement. Quelques langues comme le français sont caractérisées par le subjectivation et anime l’animé, beaucoup de verbes d’action s’emploient au figuré et de ce fait, aident à exprimer la personnalisation. La volonté d’exprimer en un langage figuré donne naissance à des emplois métaphoriques, et à des verbes ordinaires qu’on peut alors appeler des verbes expressifs. Les exemples: ‘the low hibiscus… stood still and ruffled’; ‘morning herself went into … seclusion’; ‘the tops of palm-trees swayed’; ‘the sky finally moved away’ sont les expressions métaphoriques exprimées par les verbes de mouvement. On remarque que leurs traductions sont également imagées ; ces verbes sont essentiellement des mots qui font l’image dans les phrases. On sait que l’image de LD ne se retrouve pas forcément en LA ou inversement mais ce qu’on peut avancer, c’est que ce genre d’emploi est plus répandu dans certaines langues que dans d’autres; par exemple, le français est plus abstrait que l’anglais mais il est très riche en métaphores. Toutes les images sont traduites par le moyen de la traduction littérale


Sans doute les images et langage figuré caractérisent fort Anthills of the Savannah et les autres romans africains étant remplis d’images riches des langues maternelles. Nous affirmons donc ici que pour traduire les images, il faut une bonne compréhension de ces images ainsi que les nuances dans le TD  pour que le traducteur puisse rendre aussi fidèlement que possible les images dans le TD. Ceci est nécessaire car les valeurs culturelles de chaque communauté varient. Les images et les idiomes locaux qui sont limités à la culture de la langue qui les véhicule, ne peuvent toujours avoir les mêmes significations ou les mêmes connotations culturelles ou affectives. Alors pour traduire les images dans le roman nigérian, on peut rechercher une équivalence de la culture linguistique en langue d’arrivée. La culture linguistique est la façon dont une langue donnée exprime la culture  qu’elle tend à transmettre ou la culture du peuple qui s’en sert, non seulement comme instrument de communication mais aussi comme instrument de conceptualisation; la perception culturelle modifie la langue en même temps. Les images peuvent avoir des connotations affectives en plus de leur valeur informative. Les connotations affectives s’associent à la culture de l’émetteur ou à la langue comme on a remarqué à travers les expressions et les images nigérianes rencontrées dans Anthills of the Savannah. C’est la raison pour laquelle, les œuvres  des écrivains nigérians et africains posent bien des problèmes à la traduction en langue occidentale. La traduction qui se méprend sur des connotations informatives dénaturera les connotations affectives et vice versa. Trop souvent, un traducteur, ne peut ne pas discerner les mots ayant une connotation affective, étant ignorant de leur contexte culturel et alors peut sacrifier l’âme du texte originel. Pour cela, nous proposons un glossaire dans lequel le traducteur pourrait expliquer les connotations affectives des images traduites littéralement, étant donné que les connotations affectives s’associent à la culture de départ.


Achebe, C. (1987). Anthills of the Savannah. Ibadan: Heinemann Educational Books. 233pp.

_________ (1999). Les Termitières de la Savane. Paris : Belford (traduit par Etienne Galle). 317pp.

Albir, A.H. (1990). La Notion de Fidélité en Traduction, (Collection « Traductologie »), Paris : Didier Erudition.

Bally, C. (1951). Traité de Stylistique Française. Paris : Librarie Klincksieck.

Bassnett, S. and Lefevere, A. (eds) (1990) Translation, History and Culture, London and New York: Pinter

Benjamin, W. (1969) « The Task of the Translator », in Illumination, Frankfurt: Suhrkamp Verlag, trans. By H. Zohn (1969), in M. Bullock and M. Jennings (eds) Walter Benjamin: Selected Writings Volume 1:1913-1926, Cambridge, M.A: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, reprinted in L. Venuti (ed. 2000), 15-25

Delisle, J. (1984) « L’Analyse du discours comme méthode de traduction, initiation à la traduction française de texte pragmatique anglais ». Cahier de Traductologie T2. Canada, Edition l’Université d’Ottawa.

Dictionnaire Universel (1995) Cedex, Hachette Edicef

Ethnologue Nigeria (1996) Top 100 Languages by population.

Flamand, J (1983) Ecrire et Traduire sur la voie de la création. Ottawa : Vermillion.

Lederer, M. (1984) Interpréter pour Traduire, (en collaboration avec D. Sekeleskovitch), Paris : Didier Erudition, (3eme édition – revue et corrigée, 1993)

Mounin, G. (1963). Les problèmes théoriques de la traduction. Paris : Editions Gallimard.

Munday, J. (2001). Introducing Translation Studies: Theories and applications. London and New York : Routledge

Seleskovitch, D. et Lederer, M. (2001) Interpréter pour Traduire. Paris : Didier Erudition.


Vinay, J.P. et Darbelnet, J. (1958). Stylistique comparée du français et de l’anglais. Paris : Marcel Didier.

Warmuzińska-Rogóż, J Les éléments culturels dans la traduction (‎)





Department of English, Olabisi Onabanjo

University, Ago-Iwoye, Ogun State, Nigeria.


Mrs. Catherine O. WILLIAMS

Department of English, Tai Solarin University of

Education, Ijebu Ode, Ogun State, Nigeria.



Intention of the artists in oral scripts is the subject matter of the study. Artists in indigenous societies devised performance because of the need to enhance harmony between the folk and nature. The reconciliation of the folk with the forces of nature was particularly instrumental in the emergence of Ore festival in Ode Irele. The first proof of the intention of the artists may be considered from the need for bumper harvest. The result of the performance is the attendant regeneration that has since characterised every facet of the lives of people in the milieu. Another proof of the inducement of nature is the relative rejuvenation of the land over the years. The performance becomes a unique script that could not be attached to any known creator and has since remained relevant in the provision of the needs of the people for entertainment and regeneration.




Oral performances range from the renditions of folktales to the staging of annual festivals. They thrive on performance because they exist in the memories of the artists and therefore require the convergence of the artists and the audience before any worthwhile delivery can take place. They are unique to indigenous folk and within such performances are the values of the milieu subsumed in dance, gestures, movements, postures and constellations. Dance involves the artistic projection of the physical body in order to elicit the interest of the audience. At the height of the dance steps, the unique nature of oral performances makes it difficult for people to distinguish the artists from the audience. This is so because indigenous societies practise proscenium theatre or theatre in the round. Again, it is salient to the audience to be versed in the lore of the land that members of the class can compete with the artists. In the course of the dance or rendition, the hands and other parts of the body are deployed towards achieving the affective desire and this is known as gesture; for without oral performances, indigenous people would have looked for another means of entertaining the people after an arduous task in the farm. The scripts exist in the memories of both the artists as well as the artists and they may not rehearse before they can successfully perform to the delight of the audience.

Oral performances would not have existed without the mimetic accompaniments inherent in them; and these are synonymous with movements that encompass both artistic and ritual significance as may be conditioned by the secular and religious requirements of the environment. The movements are artistically significant, meaningful and potent as symbolic deployments to some physical and spiritual audience. Thus, movements become an embodiment of the verbal lore of folk as the scripts of indigenous performances lie in the memories and may be retrieved through imitation of the original steps, subsumed in mythical entanglements.  Hence, oral scripts are aesthetic demonstrations of the inherited sensibilities that are artistically, socially and religiously relevant.

Movements refer to the body, facial and other gestures that may be associated with oral performers on the stage. They even constitute the core elements through which meaning could be sieved from such scenic renditions. These movements, when laced with both ordinary and spiritual potency are ritually significant as they have both healing and cleansing potency. Movements, according Schechner Richard (1973), may encompass gesture, posture, grouping and constellations (103). Movements equally make every indigenous performance so unique that the colourful array of artists at the arena could equally amuse the audience and further enhance the comprehension of the script. The combination of the movement in consonance with the colourful grouping especially laced with the artistic aura depicts an atmosphere of beauty. Beauty in this sense may not be a representation of a single ornamental presentation. Rather, it is a product of the unusual atmosphere where a degree of strangeness is associated. This kind of beauty is regional and thus considered to possess artistic values.


Theoretical framework of the study shall be aesthetics. This study considers a branch of aesthetics known as intentionalistic criticism to be apt in this quest for the artist’s intention. A basic definition of the term intentionalistic criticism may suffice here as it refers to the mixture of the scrutiny of the aesthetic object for it to yield its semantic imports and the ‘juxtaposition of the intention with the accomplishments’ (Beardsley, 1958: 26-7).

There are other critics who tend to shift back and forth between the work and its creator, never quite clear in their own minds when they are talking about the one or the other. They mingle the evidences of intention with the evidences of

accomplishment, and sometimes decide what the work is or means primarily on external evidence. This is to practise intentionalistic criticism (26-7)

Beardsley distinguished between ‘psychological aesthetics’ and ‘philosophical aesthetics.’ According to this distinction, ‘psychological aesthetics’ resolves issues ‘about the causes and effects of works of art’ while ‘philosophical aesthetics’ deals with questions about the meaning and truth of critical statements (3 – 4). In the area of psychological aesthetics, issues bordering on beauty and response of the audience to the artistic presentation are considered. Yoruba indigenous performances are dynamic, open-ended and exhibit a fusion of aesthetics and utilitarian desires of the people amid the provision of bases for authenticating myths, values and norms. Aesthetics may be approached from two dimensions; these are psychological aesthetics and philosophical aesthetics. The framework is a synthesis of both Beardsley’s concept of aesthetics and Vladimir Propp’s (1960) concept of motifs in folktales as adapted by Ogunpolu (1990).

Aesthetics is concerned with the task of authenticating the truth inherent in critical statements about works of art. The business of aesthetics over the years has been confused for a mere application of some wobbling tools to the quest for meaning. This is far from the preoccupation of this model. Even when it aspires to the highest office of being a metacriticism or the philosophy of criticism, aesthetics could still contribute to significant meaning if the quest is limited to the true application of the model to work of arts. In this regard, the endeavour will involve the sieving of meaning from critical claims in order to determine their authenticity, relevance and contributions to the socio-political lives of indigenous people. This is apparently the business of aesthetics. In the following few pages, the study intends to examine some critical claims in relation to indigenous performances in order to verify the truth in them.


The application of aesthetics to performance is geared towards isolating some basic motives in them that would have informed their compositions in the first place. The first is the need to identify the intention of the artist(s). The next step is the search for the proofs of the artist(s) intention and this must be isolated. The third step is the task of distinguishing the performance or script from the psychological processes that engendered it (Beardsley, 1958: 21). The intention of the artists in creating Ore performance was the need to enhance harmony between the folk and nature. The reconciliation of the folk with the forces of nature was particularly instrumental in the emergence of Ore. The first proof of the intention of the artists may be considered from the need for bumper harvest. The result of the performance is the attendant bumper harvest that has since characterised farming in the milieu. The proof of the inducement of nature is the relative rejuvenation of the land over the years. The performance becomes a unique script that could not be attached to any known creator and has since remained relevant to the provision of the need of the people for entertainment and regeneration. Performance is considered to be a form of imitation. How much of imitation is contained in the drift that characterises indigenous festivals? It is noteworthy that Aristotle was responsible for the association of imitation to drama. Is the movement that characterises Ore performance a form of imitation? The truth of the assertion may be verified through recourse to the associated demonstration against lack of good harvest or the quest for a good harvest. In this regard, imitation might be considered apt in reference to indigenous scripts and the associated gestures and movements. Apart from the imitation of the movement of some objects, the performance is a representation of the primordial example. Since the result of the original movement was positive, it is believed that re-enactment of the first example would yield the same result if deployed as a form of address to an inclement weather or bad harvest. The association of the performance with regeneration may be proved the following market when yam tubers are brought to the market for the first time. The recognition of nature as being particularly responsible for the yield is instrumental in the deployment of the ritual. An assumed parallel is believed to exist during every performance between the artists and spiritual forebodings in the milieu. The steps are reminiscent of primordial attempts at resolving physical and spiritual issues. Artists are imbued with such dance steps and these are periodically re-enacted with caution, as the spiritual forebodings are considered infallible. The widespread singing, dancing and amusement characterising the performers as well as the audience are proofs of the fulfilment of the psychological aesthetics pointing at the success of the endeavour as well as the acceptability of the audience. The captivation of the audience through the deployment of the right nuances and movements fulfil the desire of the audience for entertainment at a time when other means of entertainment were not available. The performative processes reveal instances of representations through gestures, which make it difficult to distinguish Yoruba indigenous performances from Aristotle’s concept of imitation, except that indigenous performances may harbour both elements of tragic and comic references within a single delivery.  For the indigenous creative artists in Yorubaland, performance like Aristotle’s tragedy is an imitation from which movements cannot be detached: ‘A tragedy is an imitation of an action that is complete in itself, and has magnitude or extent; for a thing may be a whole and yet wanting in magnitude’ (Aristotle, 1963: 401). If movements characterise Yoruba indigenous festivals, their exhibitions may be equated with the mimetic aspects of modern performances. And as their medieval origins can be inferred, such movements transcend the present as they betray a link with the past to which they rightly belong.

Beardsley’s consideration of psychological aesthetics as a superfluity as it might probe the circumstances and creative processes may not be relevant to the examination of indigenous performances.  In this regard, it behoves a transcendental crossing of the bounds of spectacles in unravelling the semantic relationship between the signifier and the signified so long as meaning, which constitutes a grasp of the psycho-verbal interplay between the performer and the audience, is to be apprehended. The spectacles during indigenous performances may not amount to strictly entertainment except an extra-length is traversed, and a study of the cultural sensibilities of the setting is undertaken before meaningful communication may be imputed to festivals. Contrary to Beardsley’s relegation of ‘psychological aesthetics’ to the level of insignificance, the present study considers all processes involved in creativity, both within the realm of structure and thematic allusions as fundamental to meaning especially in the critical analysis of indigenous performances. The success of communicative interaction between the creative artists and the audience hinges on the artistic manipulation of the latter such that history, common experience, linguistics, body nuances and regular attendance are like accomplices in communicative complicity.  Therefore, creativity may not be subject to any psychological rupture as it may be a flagrant dexterity for the manipulation of words, registration of socio-political developments and other ideological ingredients.  Aesthetic reaction too may be subject to colour and individual psychological composition informed by the sheer exercise and display of cultural intelligibility.

Thus, both physical and spiritual quests of the folks are addressed in any oral script. This may be apprehended from the challenges that the people might face at the dawn of time which perhaps necessitated the composition of those oral items in order to resolve both agrarian and metaphysical needs of the era.

‘The first aesthetic theory of any scope is that of Plato, who believed that reality consists of archetypes, or forms, that are beyond the bounds of human sensation and are the models for all things that exist in human experience. The objects that human beings can experience are examples, or imitations, of those forms. The philosopher’s job is to reason from the object experienced to the reality it imitates, while the artist copies the experienced object, or uses it as a model for the work. Thus, the artist’s work is an imitation of what is itself an imitation’ (Encarta, 2008). Are indigenous performances able to meet the need of the folks for entertainment in traditional societies? The answer is not far-fetched. The attitude of the audience at the arena may inform our judgment of the epoch making performances. Usually, clapping of hands, dancing, singing and at times drifting into the arena to partake in the oral renditions by the audience have been recognised as salient characteristics of indigenous performances such that it would be difficult to distinguish the audience from the professional performers. No doubt, these performances represent the sensibilities of the people and their notion of art is amply represented as the quest for entertainment, beliefs and moral values are depicted as to make the periodic performances attractive, fulfilling and sanctioned.

The appreciation of the meaning of performance depends on linguistic and symbolic interplay and according to Anozie (1981), ‘language precedes experience or reality’ and both are involved in communications.  The explication of a text (festival) may transcend ‘the immediate form of language into its essence’ (34).  It is significant that the essence of festival consists of the milieu and the original correlative.  Structural criticism, which is an examination of the synchronic dimension of meaning, thrives on the recognition of binary opposites or what Anozie (1981) terms ‘the notion of complementary opposites or an acute sense of dualism’ (35).   Festivals’ (performances) ‘binary opposites’ lay within tradition, myths and the environments. Consequently, the minimal linguistic accompaniment of performance conditions its critical reductionism to several sociological factors such as tradition, linguistic competence and performance (Chomsky, 1959: 26 – 58).  And these creative ingredients are products of the speech community.

The tragic carrier Oluwen in Ode Irele during Olofungbogho performance-a form of hegemonic script begins his performance within the desire to satisfy the artistic yearning of the audience, the fulfilment of a cultural necessity and the satisfaction of the ritual obligation of the community to the gods.  The ritual load on the head of the Oluwen, the scapegoat, is conveyed to phenomenal beings. Attendant on the performance are back and forth movement as well as stoppage at the centre of the Malokun shrine while clutching the ritual load on his head.  The three movements may be equated with the three horological division of the season. The backward movement takes the audience back to the primeval era known as Iwase (the primal essence) while the centre refers to the need of the season which computation may transcend the present to mean the seasonal and lineal division as the cycle of time might dictate. The forward movement lends expression to the belief that sacrifices are not only directed at the moment but the future; as a significant determinant of growth which depends on the past and the present.  The akoko tree at the arena of the Malokun shrine is given ritual greetings thrice as the carrier, overwhelmed by the ecstasy of the spirit-induced possession, hits the tree with his load three times and each time receding backward.  These movements are analogic as they depict the direction of the ritual to the monarchy.

Spiritual fulfilment depends on actual physical address through art, and the quest revolves around the intervention of performers in the resolution of such material and spiritual conflicts.  Performance sedates the sense of guilt even when its efficacy may not be substantiated. The activities of the scapegoat, Tele involves a number of movements beginning from the shrine to the Esinmirin River.  His performance atones for societal sins that emanate from man’s destabilization of the ethical code.  The heaping of curses, prayers and misfortune on the carrier is a mimetic attribute of Edi festival in Ile-Ife (Dasylva, 1995: 92).  Within the aesthetics of performances, are some semantic imports that are latent in such movements and minimal linguistic components of art to inform, entertain and regulate the milieu.

Indigenous performances are moments of social, religious and economic presentations, achieved through art. The uniqueness of every performance depends on the social climate. Gelede in the Ketu-Yoruba sub-group is a pointer to the mimetic deployment of the social and cultural attitudes of the patriarchal society through a periodic subservience and worship of the feminist caste.  The performance is an artistic magnification of the cultural tempo of the Ketu community, a means of isolating societal peculiarities. Gelede performance amounts to a ‘collective consciousness’ of the milieu; and the exhibition lends credence to the psychological state of the people (Strasser, 1976: 117).  Except another medium was devised, which was not likely in view of the non-literacy of the people, it would have been cumbersome if the socio-political sensibilities of the era were not performed towards acculturating and entertaining the younger generation. The tree and the scapegoat fulfil ‘a high degree of intra-group reciprocation of movement’ (Schechner, 1993: 107).  The carrier’s attraction to the tree symbolises communication with the ancestral spirits whose creative energies associate akoko tree with royalty. The homage to the immanence of akoko tree as a symbol of authority, power and cosmic sanction is accompanied with songs.

Omosule (2010) captures movements in egungun festivals thus: ‘the aesthetic movements of egungun masquerades reveal an infirmity of gait as they dance back and forth.  They perambulate while dancing in a conscious effort at modestly presenting their dexterity that they pursue with a uniformity of purpose (won njo siba sibo).  This display of amateurish dance steps, depicting a novice’s attempt at a performance informed by limited understanding and skill becomes a symbol of the cult’s association with wisdom. As the masquerades symbolize the rare visitation of the ancients, they dance as if they lack the skill and sing in voices exhibiting duality as if they are frogs.  As the performance gathers momentum, their unparalleled demonstrations negate the original reluctance as more skills are deployed to the amazement of the audience.

However, the association of indigenous folk with performance over the years beclouds the temporal movements that are salient to the performance of every script.  Even when the plausibility of the term performance is not in doubt, it is significant that a number of aesthetic spectacles may not be subject to a particular primordial conflict and resolution beyond the momentary encounters of individuals as the eternal transition festivals like Ijengen, Eyo, Ju and others typify.  Rather, the movement of the deceased back in time is summed up by his physical vacancy from partaking in the meal of life and every living being is liable.  The activities of the dancers and ritualists may be classified under performance while the subject and themes dwell on human helplessness. The rendition of riddles in indigenous societies may not amount to a performance because no visible movement, gesture and dance are involved.  Even the artistry in such endeavours is suspect since they are wholesale deliveries unaccompanied by aesthetic communication and comprehension.  It is, therefore, safer to classify riddles under social cum intellectual interactions.

Indigenous art may not be divorced from imitation and movements especially as human actors imitate phenomenal gods. Thus, ritual constitutes an introductory aspect of performance in the search for divine consultation or plea for the success of the endeavour through the pacification of Esu Elegbara (the trickster god of the Yorubas). This may even be transferred to the stage and performed before an audience drawn from different cultures. This negates Ricard’s (1983) claim that egungun performance cannot be super-imposed on the stage especially before an audience drawn from other cultures (52)

Horton (1981) attests to the performative invitation of gods to the arena through mimes: ‘Then there is the masquerade.  In this, a man once more mimes the character and attributes of the god; only now he is covered in clothing and a mask, which the god is alleged to come into the man’s head and displace the teme in control of his body’ (90 – 1). Horton’s apprehension of the mimetic imports of indigenous performances corroborates through by which the protagonists and chief priests assume the roles of mythical personalities, and the consequent manifestation of possession on the human actors (90).  The performance of Umale (sea-nymphs) is characterised by semantic undercurrents.  The stamping of Ogoni’s (sea nymph) feet on the ground is a mark of favour and spiritual sanction.  Alegbagba, another masquerade, is renowned for his hostility to the participating audience, which involves merciless flogging and ceaseless chase of the people through the streets.  This performative movement is symbolic of cleansing and purification of the land and people.

Eyo festival in Lagos equally reveals this peculiarity of movement. Salient to Eyo dancers is jumping. They dance by jumping in order to reflect the extraordinary nature of the performance. When the ritual is directed toward a deceased member of the ruling class, an attempt is made to provide a leeway for him to transit smoothly to the spiritual realm. The dance thus amplifies the unnaturalness of the occasion. Consequently, movement is a symbolic representation of the tempo as well as the air of strangeness that attends the celebration. The dance confers meaning on ordinary gesture and arrogates ritual potency on what ordinarily is a natural process, an attestation of the ritual significance of the occasion. The festive arena is surrounded with gestures that could immediately send the right signal to the audience about the significance of the celebration and jumping, a negation of the usual may depict the intentions of the performance to the audience. Eyo dancers also dance two steps forward, two steps backward, and two steps to the right and two steps to the left. Each dance is done lowly to the ground that their regalia touch the ground gracefully. The Opa (cane) they hold are equally meant to ward off evil from the audience. Boabo festival at Igbobini, Ondo State equally reveals this presence of canes that are used to beat members of the audience and performers as well. The potency of the cane equally points to the medicinal and spiritual undercurrents. At Ode Irele, Ondo State, the peculiarity of the dance steps may be seen through the ritual deployment of Oluwen during Olofungbogho. The paper presents Omosule Segun’s (2011) argument on the desirability of Propp’s model.


Ogunpolu (1990) relies greatly on Propp’s (1960) model while examining Yoruba folktales (213-221). The present study re-enacts the primordial inhibitions and attempts an adaptation of Propp’s model to festivals by fashioning the following findings. Even if these performances seem to have suppressed their underlying narrations, their existence cannot be denied. The task is therefore meant to unravel the problems that confronted their proponents. The second step in the analysis is to search for the motives of the protagonists which are the resolutions of nagging problems and a guarantee for future potency against an inclement weather, land, situation, state, event or task.

The intentions of the artists may be encapsulated within some structural frameworks. In this regard, six plot structures may be identified in the wisdom surrounding the emergence of the performances. It suffices to classify the situations within the following classes: search for an arable land, the need for rejuvenation subsisting in longevity and continuity, desire to redress an ugly situation, fashion a positive situation that can engender growth, peace and progress and the resolution of a nagging problem.

Plot 1: State (ST) finding expression in land, power, convention, situation, position and others that may be herded within the same compartment.

Plot 2: Lack (LK) consisting of developments such as disorder, problem, quest, dilemma etc.

Plot 3: Confrontation (CFTN) comprising a form of address such as application, supplication, atonement etc.

Plot 4: Redemption (RD) that may be a wholesale deployment or propitiation rites.

Plot 5: Results (RST) the succour arising from the ritual bid and this may be in form of peace, longevity and relative bliss in the society.

Plot 6: Trust (TRT) in form of an annual celebration, appreciation, reinforcement, recognition, repetition and submission. Thus, Obitun is a transition ritual, especially as it prepares maidens towards a hitch-free marriage.



Man became perverted and rejected the natural order due to flagrant negation of pastoral simplicity through technology and inordinate ambition. Immorality took the place of chastity. Diseases and untimely deaths became rampant. Dogs could mate with human beings as a result of curiosity and moral perversion.


The philosophical framework of the people finding expression in Ifa oracle, through which secrets could be uncovered, revealed the necessity for a number of rituals all through life’s turbulent journey and beyond. Such rituals could avert death and prolong life.


The people began to apply herbal concoctions and life’s enhancing rituals; and folks could live up to two hundred years.

Ijengen is a didactic performance on the inevitability of death. To the originators, death is indispensable as it is deference to nature, concluding the cycle of birth and decay. Consequently Ijengen is a tutorial on the futility of achievements; thus reconciling humankind to the inevitability of death. It is also a tutorial for folk to be pliant and amenable to positive attitude towards eternal transition. The dissimilarity between biblical account on the emergence of death and indigenous Yoruba belief points to the divergence in the apprehension of ideas among peoples of the world. The two accounts refer to a concordance on the necessity of death; but while the biblical account tries to invent a pre-Adamic age full of bliss and hope of immortality for humankind, the Yoruba myth of creation does not subscribe to immortality as part of the original design. Ijengen is, therefore, a reference to the desirability of longevity, which could only be attainable through harmony between humankind and nature. Its negation is untimely death because of human excesses. It is also a means of ushering the deceased into the world of the ancestors having lived a fulfilled life. In other word, Ijengen is a means of idolizing accomplished members of the society.

What then could be responsible for the spontaneous and rapturous sensation among women during the performance of Eje festival as the sea-nymphs (Umale) dance to the delight of the audience? What relevance may be assumed to be salient to the group in the environment over the years from such renditions? What particular freshness may be applicable to make the performance timeless? The height of every grand performance by Ilebe during Eje festival at Gboroye is the spontaneous reactions of women to the performance as they render the praise songs of the sea nymphs thus:

E ye remireke la jo fi a la o

Opeyinbo fi didun se wa

Egun ara re le egbe je o

Ogbori ma binu oko

Ekini igi ekeji igi o

It befits the colourful masquerades as they dance

The pineapple beautifies itself with sweetness

The stings in it are numberless

The novice should be content

Both are wood (destined for the grave)

These aesthetic issues constitute what Beardsley considers to be psychological aesthetics. It is the case that the unwritten scripts have uncanny relevance and could be relied on to provide the need of the folk for entertainment even when standard, western-oriented scripts are available to fulfil the need of the audience for entertainment. The association of the folk with such environmentally relevant performances over the years cannot be equalled by any cinematographic presentation such as films or video clips.



Movement combines the totality of the presentation with the actual deployment of the gestures of every sea nymph. At the height of the steps taken by the sea nymphs that are highly decorated with colourful costumes are the series of sounds made by the shells on their feet. The occasional ruffle of the shells through the decrepit cutlasses on them takes the audience to an aesthetic height that is raw, familiar and sensational. It depicts the unsurpassed enthusiasm of the performers with the business at hand. This stage points at the instrumental value inherent in indigenous performances. This concept of instrumentalism points at the possibility of evoking spontaneous reactions from the audience and thus a further spur for the performers (sea-nymphs) to the level of possession, which is salient to performance where drumming, singing and dancing are involved. The stage may be equated with spirit-induced revelations that are verifiable, reliable and efficacious. The extrinsic value may be measured from the accelerated spur of the performers to further level. The intrinsic value, on the other hand, is a pointer to the reception accorded the performance by the audience cum pseudo-artists that are mostly women. Movements are embodiments of meanings as each step is dramatic in the traditional setting and the oral scripts are enlivened through the deployment of the right dance steps, and pouring of libations to achieve harmony in accordance with the belief of the milieu. It is significant that in spite of the minimal linguistic accompaniment of oral performances the audience could still savour the inherent affective connotations in indigenous art. It is safe to conclude that movements are the linguistic tools for the delivery of oral scripts.



Anozie, S. O.  (1981). Structural Model and African Poetics. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.

Aristotle. (1963). ‘On Poetic Art’ in What is Art? Sesonske Alexander, Ed. New York: Oxford University Press.

Beardsley, Monroe. (1958). Aesthetics, New York: Harcourt Brace and World, Inc.

Chomsky, N. (1959). ‘Review of B. F. Skinner’s Verbal Behaviour, Language’ No. 35 Reprint in Folder In The Structure of Language, J.A. and Katz, J.J. ed.

Dasylva, A. O. (1995). ‘The Carrier- Hero in the African Novel’ in OSUA Studies in Language and Literature, OSILL, Vol. 1, No. 1. ed.

Horton, R. (1981). ‘The Gods as Guests: An Aspect of Kalabari Religious Life’ in Drama and Theatre in Nigeria: A Critical Source Book, Ogunbiyi Yemi, ed. Bath: The Pitman Press.

Ogunpolu Babatunde. (1990). ‘Okosi Festival Songs’ in Yoruba Oral Tradition. Wande Abimbola ed. Ibadan: University of Ibadan Press.

Omosule, S. (2010). ‘The Quest for Meaning in Performances: A

Study of Environment and Structure in Owe at Ile-Oluji’ in AMA

Journal of Theatre and Cultural Studies `Pp. 1-12, Nwandigwe

Charles Ed.  University of Nnamdi Azikwe, Awka.

Ricard, A. (1978). Theatre and Nationalism. Ibadan: Bosunde Printer Limited.

Schechner, R. (1993). The Future of Ritual. London: Routledge.

Strasser H. (1976). The Normative Structure of Sociology. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul Limited.



Dr. Timothy Olugbenro ERINOSHO


Department of History & Diplomatic Studies,

Tai Solarin University of Education

Ijagun, Ijebu-Ode, Ogun State, Nigeria


For three major reasons, the year 1945 marked an epoch in the international system, viz: it marked the end of the Second World War which led to the loss of over fifty million lives and devastation of economic and military installations; second was the formation of the United Nations Organization which replaced the defunct League of Nations; and third, there was the emergence of the United States of America and the erstwhile Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR).  The two Super Powers began to lead and largely dictate the trend of world politics.  Africa was forcibly dragged into international affairs especially in the realm of politics when it was appropriated by the Western European colonizing powers in the 19th century.  At the end of the second global war Africa was still firmly under the political armpits of her colonial masters and this implied that she could not play any major or significant role in international politics until she became politically independent .  Indeed for her, the most important thing was how to survive the dangers and crises that permeated the US-USSR rivalry beginning from 1945.  Therefore, this paper addresses the nature and character of the relations between the two emergent Super Powers, the impact of the Second World War on politics of decolonization in Africa and the continent’s strategies for survival during the period under consideration.

Key words: World Politics, Western Powers, Cold War, Africa, Politics of Decolonization, Non-Aligned Movement


Pour trois raisons majeures, l’année 1945 a provoqué une époque remarquable sur le réseau international  à savoir, la finalité à la deuxième  guerre mondiale qui a occasionné la perte de plus de cinquante  millions de vies, la dévastation de l’économie et des installations militaires; deuxièmement, la formation de l’Organization des Nations Unies qui  remplaça le défunct “League of Nations”; et troisièmement, l’émergence des Etats-Unis  et  de l’ancienne Union  des Républiques  Socialistes Soviétiques (URSS). Les deux superpuissances commençaient à être en tête et donnaient largement des odres à la tendance de la politique mondiale. L’Afrique a  été forcée à  être entrée dans les affaires internationales notamment dans le cadre de la politique lorsque cela a été approprié par la puissance Ouest-Européenne au 19ème siècle. A la fin de la deuxième guerre mondiale, l’Afrique était toujours fermement sous l’influence politique des maîtres coloniaux et cela signifie qu’elle ne pouvait pas accentuer un rôle majeur ou mineur dans le cadre de la politique internationale jusqu’au temps de son indépendance politique. Sûrement pour elle, ce qui était très important était de chercher comment survivre les dangers et les crises qui ont permis la rivalité des  Etats-Unis / URSS, commencés de l’année 1945.

Par conséquent, cet article présente la nature et le caractère des relations entre les deux superpuissances,  émergentes l’impact de la seconde guerre mondiale sur la politique de décolonisation en Afrique et les stratégies du continent pour la survie pendant la période en considération.

Mots-clés : Politique mondiale, les puissances Ouest, guerre

froide, Afrique, politique de décolonisation, movement non-



In international relations, there are three types of power structure, namely, multi-power structure (multipolarity), two-power structure (bipolarity) and mono or single power structure (unipolarity).  Multi-polarity exists in a situation where many militarily powerful states dominate the international scene while bipolarity has to do with the existence of two major dominant powers holding sway in world politics.  Lastly, unipolarity is associated with the existence of one major political actor serving as the referee or umpire worldwide particularly in military, political and economic terms.

Structural theory is closely associated with the theory of balance of power which advocates that no nation should be allowed to grow too powerful militarily so as not to hold the rest to ransom.  Thus, any attempt by a hegemon to dominate that world would necessarily receive the collective military resistance of the rest.  Historically, prior to the outbreak of the Second World War (SWW), the international system was characterized by multi-polarity as great nations and empires existed in Europe.  These included Great Britain, France, Germany, Russia, Turkey (Ottoman Empire), as well as the US.  In the early 20th century, China and Japan joined the club of the Great Powers.

However, the SWW marked a turning point in the history of international politics because the erstwhile militarily powerful nations of Great Britain, France, Italy as well as Japan suffered greatly as a result of the war.  Britain and France had dissipated much of their financial, economic and military resources on prosecuting the First World War and were forced to lose much more by Adolf Hitler’s intransigency which eventually launched the entire globe into the bloody SWW.  Japan and Germany were decisively dealt with by the Allied Powers, who succeeded in dividing Germany into two, viz, West Germany and East Germany.  The USSR had its own share of misery and woes which pervaded the SWW.  At the end, the US and USSR rose and became the world power brokers and whose influence began to overshadow that of the former Big Powers.

The Nature and Character of the Post-1945 World Politics

The post-1945 world politics had its peculiarities as it marked a complete departure from the old order.  A major significant development was the creation of the United Nations Organization (U.N.O.).  The move towards establishing the UN had started as early as 1940 when the war zones were still very hot and before the US teamed up with the Allied Powers against the Axis Powers.  A series of consultations between President Franklin Roosevelt of the US and Prime Minister Churchill of Britain resulted in the promulgation of the Atlantic Charter before the twenty-six nations allied against the Axis.1 It was in this charter that the term United Nations was first used.  Furthermore, in 1943, Foreign Ministers of the USSR, Britain, the US and Chinese Ambassador in the USSR issued a communiqué that:

(We) recognize the necessity of establishing at the earliest possible date, a general international organization, based on the principle of the sovereign equality of all peace-loving states, — for the maintenance of international peace and security.2


Following the above Moscow declaration was meeting held by President Franklin Roosevelt (US), Premier Joseph Stalin (USSR) and Prime Minister Winston Churchill (UK) in Teheran after which they declared:

We recognize fully the supreme responsibility resting upon us and all the United Nations to make a peace which will command the goodwill of the overwhelming masses of the peoples of the world and banish the scourge and terror of war for many generations.3


Several other meetings and consultations were held in this regard while the war was still in progress.  Meetings were held at Dumbarton Oaks, Washington DC and Yalta (Russia).  The last was held at San Francisco code-named United Nations Conference on International Organization in 1945 that finally mid-wifed the supra-national body.  It was agreed that the Big Five- USA, Britain, China, France and USSR be granted veto power.  All major decisions especially as relating to enforcement actions requires the unanimity of the big five who were the permanent members of the Security Council.  On the 26 June, 1945, the Charter establishing the UN was signed by representatives of the fifty-one participating states.4

The emergence of both the US and USSR ushered in the development of fierce contest between the two Super Powers for supremacy in world politics.  This rivalry led to what is commonly referred to as the Cold War which dominated their relations for the most of the period, 1945 and 1990.  According to M.B. Ogunbanjo, the 20th century brought into existence the two super powers.  ‘whose combined power and resources far surpassed those of all the rest of the world’ adding that ‘the emergent international system — featured a distribution of power consisting of many sovereign states outside the European core area which were dominated by the most powerful.5

The Cold War emanated from the breakdown of pre-war and wartime understanding agreement and friendship between the US and USSR.  The breakdown in turn was caused by the problems that arose between the two countries which created division in the international system.  These problems included the issue of European states liberated by the USSR and the stationing of Russian troops in east and the Central Europe; the monopoly of  atomic bomb by the USA and the exclusion of Russia from the secrets of production of atomic bomb; the issue relating to the future of Germany; the issue of dividing Europe into areas of influence; and the decision of the US, UK and France to abandon the war time agreement of partitioning Germany and Berlin into four permanent units.

In the heat of the gruesome SWW Britain acceded in principle to a Russian domination of Eastern Europe in October 1944 in Moscow.  The Allied Powers continued to search for how to maintain lasting peace and stability in the post war era.  According to Abolade Adeniji, Celestine Agoziem and Steve Adeniyi:

At another meeting in Yalta in February, 1945, the leaders of Britain, Russia and the United States met and it was agreed that while Eastern Europe would remain the sphere of influence of the Soviets (Russians), the meeting however pledged Allied assistance in the formation of interim governments in Eastern Europe which were to be ‘broadly representative of all the democratic elements in the population’.  In other words, free and fair elections were to be conducted in Eastern Europe – an agreement

The Allied Powers divided Germany into four zones of occupation according to the joint agreement arrived at Yalta and Potsdam.  This step was taken to destroy militarism and Nazism in Germany ‘as well as to persuade Germans of the inhumanities and anomalies of the Nazi regime and to prepare the way for democracy and reconstruction’.  At the same time the Soviets proceeded to obtain what they could from their zones because of the heavy financial, manpower and industrial losses they had suffered during the war.  Hence, they were hell bent on pressing the Germans into forced labour and ‘to demand a share in the spoils of other zones.  Each side accused the other of breaking faith over the Potsdam agreement to treat Germany as a single unit’.7

One major characteristic feature of the post – SWW and  which served as a main cause of the Cold War was the ideological disputation between Communism or Scientific Socialism and Capitalism with its liberal democracy.  This polarized the world into two blocs, namely, the Communist Bloc in the East under the leadership of the Soviets and the Capitalist Bloc in the West led by the Americans.  The ideological differences created bad blood between the two global leading powers.  In the words of Abolade Adeniji, et. al. “Ideological differences inevitably exacerbated the dispute.  The USSR fostered communism in the Soviet – occupied zone while other powers discouraged it in their areas.  The Council of Foreign Ministers soon reached a deadlock on the question of Germany’s future”.8 This development graduated to the blockade of supplies of relief packages meant for Germans living on the western power controlled areas of Berlin.  This arose as a sharp reaction of the Soviets to the US and Britain’s action by merging their zones into one economic unit known as the Bizonee towards the end of 1946 where Germans were encouraged to participate in local and regional governments.  In addition, they were allowed to assume economic responsibilities in spite of massive protests from the Soviets.  Worse still, the German mark was introduced in the western zone and the Russians reacted by floating an Eastern German mark for their zone.  The USSR began to subject communications and trains of the Western powers to thorough search and this exercise which began in March 1948 practically led to the starvation of about two million citizens in the Western sector of Berlin as the Russians demanded that the city be handed over to them.  The West rejected this and resorted to airlifting of food and other essential supplies to the area for almost a year.  This Berline Airlift was an expensive and risky venture as lives and aircraft were lost in accidents.  The confrontation only made each side more stuborn.9

The USA adopted the policy of containment otherwise known as the Harry Truman Doctrine, the strategy that the United States   pursued for the next forty years to deter the Soviet Union’s hegemonic ambitions.  This strategy, called containment “sought to prevent the expansion of Soviet influence by encircling the Soviet Union and intimidating it with the threat of a military attack”.10 The US began to demonstrate her combat readiness by pursuing policies aimed at strengthening her security.  Thus, she formed the North Atlantic Treaty Organization with her Western Allied Powers in 1949.  In a swift reaction, the Soviet Union, leading her allies in the Eastern Bloc established the Warsaw Treaty or Pact in 1955 for the defence of their eastern enclave.  These defence organizations were remarkable in the West-East relations as they became “the cornerstones of the superpowers’ external policies, as the European members of each alliance willingly yielded to the leadership of its superpowers patrons.”11 The two powerful nations with their associated ideologies of Capitalism and Communism began the mad race for satellite states across the globe especially in Asia and Latin America.  The US stationed troops in her military bases in Europe and Africa.  Those countries which cooperated and provided bases became good friends of the US and were given aids in various forms while those who did not were deprived of the largesse and became America’s enemies.  The US troops undertook the responsibility of defending Eastern Mediterranean zones made up of Greece, Turkey, Cyprus and the Middle East which had previously been under Great .Britain.  On the other hand, the USSR embarked on consolidation operation.  Apart from seeking allies outside Europe, military occupation, political revolution and purging were used by the Soviets to contain the US.  These were meant to eliminate all pro-Western elements and this in turn was to ensure that the Americans’ ideas did not penetrate Eastern Europe and only regimes loyal to communist leaders and communism were allowed to exist in Eastern Europe.  In the course of the contest for military, political and ideological supremacy of the 1950s, the two key major power players often talked as if war was imminent but they both acted cautiously.  It has been noted that President Eisenhower and his Secretary of State, John Forster Dulles, “pursued a strategy termed ‘rollback’, which promised to remove what was called the ‘Iron Curtain’ separating the East and West by liberating the captive nations of Eastern Europe.  They pledged to respond to aggression with ‘massive retaliation’…”12

The two world titans were guided by caution and common sense because they applied compromise on many occasions in their hostile relations and this helped to prevent military confrontation between them.  For example, in 1956, the Soviet dissolved the Cominform or the Communist Information Bureau which coordinated the work of communist parties in other states.  This was facilitated by the 1955 Geneva summit which provided the platform for meaningful dialogue between the antagonists as world problems were concerned.  Cominform had the sole responsibility of giving economic reliefs to the Eastern European countries so that they would not look up unto the US.  In fact, this council was established to counter the US Marshall Plan which came into being in 1951.  The Marshal Plan involved the expenditure of billions of dollars expended on relief programmes to friendly countries; for the reconstruction of war damages, and modernization of their industries.

Of all the face-offs that characterized the US – USSR Cold War era relations, the Cuban Missile Crisis was the most dangerous as it brought the two world powers into brinkmanship.  The genesis of this incident was the doctrine which emphasized that the acquisition of nuclear weapons is only meaningful if it is directed at ensuring that a state can inflict enough destruction on another state even after absorbing the first or pre-emptive strike.  The second strike doctrine was the dominant doctrine of the late 1950s and early 1960s.  It implied considerable investments in the area of development and redeployment of weapons.  The US pursued the nuclear arms race with vigour under Presidents Eisenhower and John Kennedy.  This drive ensured American superiority in nuclear capabilities until the mid-1950s.  In 1957, the Soviet Union tested its first Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM).  Simultaneously, Russia sent a man also into the space and he successfully orbited the earth.  This weaponry master stroke created panic in the US and there was considerable thought of missile gap.  American commentators felt that the superiority of the Russians portended great danger to their country and began to put pressure on their government to redress the imbalance.  This prompted President Eisenhower to vote more funds for defense, the greater proportion of which was to go into building a superior American nuclear capability.13

It was America’s superiority in the acquisition of lethal weapons of mass destruction that led to the Cuban Missile Crisis saga in 1962.  It was precipitated by the Soviet’s attempt to put short-range Ballistic Missile on the Cuban soil.  This was a clear demonstration that in spite of the 1957 “gains” the Soviet Union was still to perfect her ICBM technology.  By putting short-range ballistic missile (SRBM) and medium range ballistic missile (MRBM) in Cuba, the USSR sought to redress the imbalance in delivering capabilities.  Cuba is only half an hour jet ride from the United States and if translated into missile transportation, this would mean about a minute traveling time for Russian missiles from Cuba to the US.  The US resisted the Russian attempt to place missiles in Cuba and this created tension and the possibility of another world war on 13 October, 1963.  Fortunately for the world, common sense prevailed and the Soviet Union agreed to remove her missile installations from Cuba in exchange for America’s guarantee that the government of President Fidel Castro of Cuba, a Soviet surrogate, would be left alone.14 While commenting on the crisis, M.B. Ogunbanjo asserts:

In 1962 the surreptitious placement of Soviet missiles in Cuba set the stage for the greatest of the superpowers’ capacity to manage their disputes – the Cuban missiles crisis, which became the Cold War’s most serious challenge to peace.  The superpowers stood eyeball to eyeball.  Fortunately, one (the Soviet Union) blinked, and the crisis ended.  This “catalytic” learning experience both reduced enthusiasm for waging the Cold War by military means and expanded awareness of the suicidal consequences of a nuclear war.15


The Cuba missile crisis brought a new dimension into Soviet-American relations.  It demonstrated the importance of direct communication between the powers in Kremlin (Moscow) and the White House (Washington DC).  The hot line which was established during the crisis became a permanent feature in their relations and they communicated with each other and alerted themselves whenever there was any threat to the global peace and security.  This marked the beginning of détente between the two powers who had agreed to accept the permanence of European borders, including tacitly those that divided Germany.  This Soviet-American relation was initiated and promoted by President Richard Nixon who came into power in 1968, and his national security adviser, Dr Henry A. Kissinger:  Consequently, the two global giants entered into the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT), initiated in 1969, and which sought to restrain the threatening, expensive and spiraling arms race. This produced SALT 1 in 1972 and SALT II in 1979.  However, SALT II was signed but never ratified by the United States, due to opposition in Congress.

The power contest between the US and Russia continued after the failure of the SALT II and production of weapons of mass destruction was resumed.  The two super powers continued to clash or reached brink of military confrontation.  For instance, the Soviets destroyed Korean Airlines flight 007 in 1983; the US invaded Granada in retaliation.  Moreover, the Soviets boycotted the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, and the Ronald Reagan Doctrine “pledged US support of anti-communists insurgents who sought to overthrow Soviet supported governments in Afghanistan, Angola, and Nicaragua”.16 The American leaders spoke boisterously of their preparedness to resort to the application of the nuclear weapons and this alarmed the new Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev who described the ‘situation as very complex, very tense… it is explosive’, in 1985.  Unfortunately for the USSR, by the time Gorbachev assumed power, she had committed most of her financial and industrial resources to the production of nuclear weapons and this had adversely affected her economy.  As a result, Gorbachev was resolved to end the Cold War by saying “We realize that we are divided by profound historical, ideological, socio-economic, and cultural differences’17 during his first visit to the US in 1987.

The two super powers once again became allies and the USSR agreed to end its aid and support for Cuba, withdrew from Afghanistan and Eastern Europe, and announced unilateral reductions in military spending.  Gorbachev similarly agreed to two new disarmament agreements, Strategic Arms Reduction Talks (START) for deep cuts in strategic arsenals, and the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty to reduce the Soviet presence in Europe.  In addition, Russia liberalized its emigration policies and permitted religious freedom. She implemented her reforms and pledged to introduce democracy and a market economy, eagerly seeking (and receiving) economic assistance from the West.18 Consequently, the defunct USSR otherwise known as the Evil Empire crashed in 1990 and the Berlin Wall or Iron Curtain succumbed to the military political and economic supremacy of the US.  Thus came the balkanization of the former USSR into smaller republics and the death of Communism.  But the dissolution of the USSR ushered in the re-emergence of a unified, dynamic and vibrant Germany.  More importantly, unipolarity replaced bipolarity with the US emerging as the hegemon in world politics.

Politics of Decolonization and Survival Strategies of African States

The New World Order that characterized the post-SWW era greatly transformed the international system which was no longer limited to the European continent.  However, Africa was to remain for some years before it could directly participate actively in world politics since her nation-states were largely dependencies of their erstwhile colonial masters except Liberia which had become independent in 1847 and Ethiopia which survived the age of the New Imperialism.  The SWW saw to the rapid liquidation of colonial empires in Africa and Asia.  According to Olajide Aluko:

A number of complex factors were responsible for the accelerated rate of decolonization of British West Africa.  Some of these were interrelated.  Most important were the emergence of the U.S. and the U.S.S.R., two anti-colonial powers, as super-powers at the end of the war; the principle of international accountability written into the U.N. Charter; the influence of the Labour Government that came into power in Britain in the July 1945 elections; the absence of white settler communities in British West Africa; and the agitation of the nationalists.

Furthermore, the reduced economic and military strength of Britain after the war, together with the emergence of the U.S. as the nuclear giant of the Western Powers, had made the security of Britain ultimately dependent on U.S. arms.  In such circumstances, the voice of the U.S. Government on decolonization could not but have some weight with the British leaders.19


Given the above situation the British were galvanized into action as far as politics of decolonization was concerned in the British West Africa.  In 1957, Gold Coast (Ghana) became a sovereign state and by 1961 all British territories had attained independence.  In the French West Africa, the independence of the colonies  was quite sudden as the French Prime Minister General Charles de Gaulle was not prepared to grant them independence.  But with the nationalist hurricane pervading the global system the French authorities were compelled to set machinery in motion especially in the area of liberalization of politics and founding of political parties.  In 1958, Guinea under Sekou Toure voted in a referendum against continued association of the territories with France and therefore achieved her independence.20 By 1960, virtually all the French West Africa had achieved independence.  In North Africa, the French-controlled Tunisia, Morocco and Algeria did not achieve their independence on the platter of gold but in 1956 they achieved their political ambition through bloodbath.21 Africans became vehement of colonialism in Central, East and Southern Africa.  And by 1980 they had become independent.

It is imperative to note that Portuguese colonies in Africa went through hell before they became independent.  It was rather sad that when colonial builders were acceding to the global call for independence in the post-war era, the European country was nursing how to create what it called ‘Greater Portugal’ by converting all her Africa colonies into Overseas Provinces of Portugal – as extension of Portugal.  Thus, Angola, Mozambique, Guinea Bissau, Cape Verde Island, Namibia and Sao Tome/Principe22 had to achieve their independence through blood and iron.  Between 1975 and 1980 they became politically independent.  The release of Dr  Nelson.  Mandela  after a 27-year jail sentence and his assumption of power as the first Black President of the black majority rule in South Africa in 1994 finally put an end to the apartheid rule in Southern Africa and completed Africa’s freedom from direct foreign domination.

Prior to  the time African states began to achieve political independence in the late 1950s the nationalists had started thinking of how to launch their nations into the global politics and the strategies to adopt.  Therefore, the first thing   to integrate African states and unite them.  Thus, someone like the late President Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana strongly advocated for the independence of the rest of African colonies still under colonial rule, purge the continent of colonialism, neo-colonialism and racism.  He therefore cooperated with other African leaders like Jomo Kenyatta (Kenya), Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Obafemi Awolowo (Nigeria), Julius  Nyerere (Tanzania), Ben Bella (Algeria), Emperor Haille Sellasie (Ethiopia), and Sekou Toure (Guinea) and many others in order to establish the defunct Organization of African Unity (OAU) which eventually emerged in 1963 after instances of agreement, disagreement and controversies as to the nature of  the structure of the contemplated organization before finally reaching a compromise.  Many of the founding fathers had been schooled by the pan-African movement of the Africans in the Diaspora.  Some of them had ‘hijacked’ the 1945 Manchester Congress.  It was on the Pan-African platform that the OAU was established.

The leadership position demonstrated by Nigeria greatly assisted the OAU on the African scene and the West.  The OAU adopted various mechanisms towards ensuring that Africa became free from colonialism.  Financial, moral, and military supports were given to the freedom fighters across the continent.  Besides, diplomatic overtures were mounted against South Africa because of its racist regime and  the OAU did not admit it as a member.  It was part of the organization’s support for democratic rule in the apartheid – prone states  that South Africa was suspended from the Commonwealth of Nations in 1961 and only re-admitted in 1994 after Mandela’s assumption of power.  The OAU boycotted the Olympic Games that took place in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1986 for the failure of Great Britain to impose comprehensive and harsh sanctions on South Africa because of its racist and  apartheid practices.

The OAU member states embarked on a collision course against the US and USSR in the erstwhile Portuguese colonies in Africa whose independence was delayed by the crazy idea of Greater Portugal.  The two Super Powers and Cuba played notable roles in the liberation movement of Angola in particular and other Portuguese territories in general.  In Angola, they took sides among the three major movements, namely Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) and National Front for the Liberation of Angola (FNLA).  These were respectively backed by the Soviet Union and Cuba; South Africa, and FNLA enjoyed the support of the Western Powers especially Britain and the US as well as Mobutu of Zaire.23 The three factions were opposed to one another but the most formidable and nationalist in outlook was the MPLA.  The OAU established a conciliation committee in October 1975 which recommended that a government of national unity by the three liberation movements be formed in order to lead Angola to independence when Portugal threatened to pull out.24 Having chosen Africa as its foreign policy cornerstone, Nigeria  took  up the leadership role immediately she attained independence.  Therefore, its military head of state, the late  General Murtala Mohammed, having read the American handwriting in the Angolan crisis did not wait for the OAU conciliation committee before recognizing the MPLA as the party to head the new government of Angola.  Nigeria’s movement embittered the Western powers particularly the US who was not in support of the MPLA.25 Using the OAU platform, Nigeria dealt decisively with the West especially  Great Britain as many of its investment firms and companies were nationalized while contractors and enterprises known  to have links or connections with South Africa were sent packing out of Nigeria.26

Africa’s relations with the Western Powers  during the Cold War was characterized by hostility and compromise in the political realm as the powers were seeking for allies across the globe including Africa.  Their involvement in African politics annoyed General Olusegun Obasanjo who warned them thus:

To the Soviets and their friends, I should like to say that having been invited to Africa to assist in liberation struggle and the consolidation of national independence, they should not overstay their welcome.  Africa is not about to throw off one colonial yoke for another.27


Africa’s unity tremendously hastened the liquidation of colonialism and racism on the continent via the OAU who had, at times, to ally with both the US and USSR, and to some extent, Cuba.  The collapse of the USSR, the fall of the Iron Curtain or Berlin Wall marked the termination of the Cold War.  The resultant effect was the promotion of democracy world-wide which led to the freedom of black South Africans in 1994.

Apart from the OAU, African states utilized the opportunities offered by international organizations like the United Nations, the Non-Aligned Movement and the Commonwealth of Nations to have their voice heard in the international community.  The UN was regarded as the best forum through which Africa could represent her peoples in the comity of nations and this accounted for the African nations joining it immediately they became independent.  For example, Nigeria became a member on 7 October, 1960.  African leaders believed that the body could be used to agitate for the redress of injustices Africans had suffered in the hands of the Western European powers.  They therefore joined the body and used it to demand for reparations for the heinous crimes committed against Africa in terms of the slave trade and colonialism.  They sought for financial assistance in form of loams and aid for the industrialization of Africa’s economies.  They similarly argued that the international law operating was an imposition to Africa since the region was not a party to its formulation, claiming that African peoples had their own laws, customs and traditions which were swept under the carpet by the colonial masters.28 Their membership of the UN and its specialized agencies through which the social, economic, cultural and other yearnings of Africans were met during the Cold War era were enjoyed by African states.  Africa was able to assert itself in the schemes under the leadership of Nigeria.  African nations actively participated in the global decision making process and even supplied contingents who fought in peace missions besides Africa’s involvement in peace talks.  They also presided as the President of the UN General Assembly on rotational basis.  This helped to bring them face-to-face with the members of both the West and East Blocs.  The credible performance of distinguished career diplomats like Professor Agboola Gambari and Mr. Kofi Annan helped to prove the erroneous belief that Africans were not created for leadership.  While commenting on the UN, Joseph Garba asserts that “the United Nations provides not just long speeches, but a serious forum for serious discussion of problems besetting the over one hundred and fifty member countries”.29

The Non-Aligned Movement was also used by Africa in her resolve to survive the danger of being caught by the politico-military and ideological competition between the US and USSR.  Non-alignment was a strategy of protecting the fledgling independence and sovereignty of the newly independent states of Africa and Asia.  It is a policy of rebellion against the dominant East-West Cold War international system.  In other words it is a rejection of the existing status quo.  According to Olusola Ojo and Amadu Sesay:

It is a policy of non-commitment on the part of the developing nations of Africa and Asia with respect to the then on going Super Power ideological and military-political blocs.  Thus in the Cold War period, the non-aligned states endeavoured to befriend both Super Powers.  They visited Washington and Moscow, and opened embassies in both capitals as testimony to their non-aligned posture.30


Given the above, African countries used the Movement to improve the lots of their citizenry and openly demonstrated this by opening their foreign missions in the West.  For instance, Tanzania opened its embassies simultaneously in Washington (US), Moscow (Russia), and Peking (China) in 1961.  Furthermore, Third World countries had commercial, technical and cultural agreements and relations with the East and West.  In fact, being non- aligned or neutral did not imply passivity in the international system:           The Non Aligned Movement was a product of the Cold War and it served as a rallying point for African and Asian countries.  According to the communiqué of the June 1961 Cairo meeting, members of the movement must meet the following criteria:

i)                    that a country should follow an independent policy based on peaceful co-existence and non-alignment or it should be showing a trend toward such a policy;

ii)                  that it should consistently have supported movements for national independence;

iii)                that it should not be a member of great power military alliances;

iv)                that it should not have given military bases facilities to the great powers for use by their respective military alliances; and

v)                  that it should not have joined any of the Cold War regional defence systems which had been set up by the Super Powers.31

The second Non-aligned conference held in Cairo in 1964 emphasized its institution building Declaration tagged the Cairo Declaration on Peaceful Co-existence Among States in the International System.  The document stipulated the ‘principles aimed at regulating international elations in the Cold War period’.32

The member states of the Non-Aligned Movement were able to diffuse the tension between the two Super Powers before the end of the Cold War in which the US emerged as the unrivalled global Super Power.  They also weakened the Super Powers’ spheres of influence by advocating a pluralistic, multipolar international system instead of the tight bipolar one which operated before the establishment of the non-aligned movement.  They were also able to neutralize the automatic majority of the developed countries of the Western alliance at the United Nations.33 Thus, African states used the non-aligned movement to deal with the Western Powers.  Besides, those African nations which were former British colonies joined the Commonwealth of Nations and through it they related with the United Kingdom during the fierce contest for supremacy between the US and the USSR.



The paper examined the competition between the Eastern Bloc and Western Bloc under the guidance of the defunct USSR and US.  The power game characterized by the formation of defence organizations, the production of nuclear and atomic weapons of mass destruction, the search for satellite states by the two Super Powers across the world, and brinkmanship which climaxed with the Cuban Missile crisis of 1963.  African nations on attainment of independence devised strategies through which they could relate with the Western Powers without getting embroiled in the hostile relationship that permeated the US-USSR face-off.  The formation of the OAU (now African Union) helped to integrate African nations and they used the body to wage war against colonialism, neo-colonialism and racism on the continent.  They similarly patronized international organizations like the United Nations, Non-Aligned Movement and the Commonwealth in dealing with the West.  Nigeria should be commended for leading other African states in their struggle to survive without getting consumed by the power game.

Indeed African states should be commended that they were able to confront the Great Powers in Africa and saw to the dismantling of the Portuguese colonial empire in Africa despite the international crises like political instability, economic backwardness, boundary disputes and the like that confronted them.  The events that unfolded in the early 1990s  in Africa particularly in the West African sub-region, marked by the senseless carnage and bloodletting in Liberia  and Sierra Leone posed serious challenges to African leaders.  This was a time that the US and Russia stayed aloof and made no effort to diffuse the tension as the Powers no longer had vested  interest in establishing satellite states for themselves since the Cold War was over.  It was this that galvanized Nigeria and some other well-meaning countries in West Africa to create the Economic Community of West African States’ Cease-fire Monitoring Group (ECOMOG) which was the first of its type in Africa in the history of strategic studies.  The ECOMOG Force eventually restored peace in both Liberia and Sierra Leone, later with the assistance of the UN.  This demonstrated the African ingenuity in providing internal solution to local problems.


[1] Alexandre KOJEV, Introduction à la lecture de Hegel, P.434

[2] André LALANDE, Vocabulaire Technique et Critique de la Philosophie, éd Quadrige/PUF, Paris, 1952, Tome2.

[3] Op. cit.

[4] Néologisme venant de nous-mêmes exprime : qui se réclame du symbole et permet de symboliser.

[5] Georges Gusdorf, Mythe et Métaphysique, édition Flammarion, Paris 1984, p.88.

[6] G. FERRERO, Les Lois Psychologiques du Symbolisme, Cité par André LALANDE, Op. Cit.


[7] Paul DIEL, Le Symbolisme dans la mythologie grecque, édition Payot, s.d. P21.

[8] Dictionnaire Universel, Hachette, 1995, mythe grec des aèdes, légendaire de Thrace, ils d’Oeagre et de la muse Calliope. Il descendit aux enfers pour aller chercher sa fiancée Eurydice. Hadès le roi des Enfers consentit de lui accorder cette faveur à condition qu’il ne regardât pas derrière. Orphée  partit alors  mais ne puit revenir, car en allant aux enfers le chemin du départ était déjà le chemin du retour. Il alors regardé son derrière sans le savoir.Il lui est impossible de revenir.

[9] Paul DIEL, Le Symbolisme dans la Mythologie Grecque, éd. Payot, Paris, S d, p. 11.


[10] Paul DIEL, Le Symbolisme dans la Mythologie Grecque, éd. Payot, Paris, S d, P. 23.


[11] Paul DIEL, Le Symbolisme dans la Mythologie Grecque, éd. Payot, Paris, S d, P. 26.

[12] Gaston BACHELARD, La Philosophie du non, éd. Quadrige/PUF, Paris, 1983, Pp.19-35.

[13] Paul DIEL, Le Symbolisme dans la Mythologie Grecque, éd. Payot, Paris, S d, P. 30.

[14] André LALANDE, Cité par Georges GUSDORF, Mythe et Métaphysique, éd. Flammarion, Paris, 1984, P. 304. 

[15] Emile Bréhier, Revue de métaphysique et de Morale, 1914, cité par Georges GUSDORF in Mythe et Métaphysique, éd. Flammarion, Paris, 1984, P. 305.


[16] Georges GUSDORF, Mythe et Métaphysique, éd. Flammarion, paris, 1984, Pp.194-195.


[17] Paul DIEL, Symbolisme dans la Mythologie Grecque, éd. Payot, Paris, S d, P. 125.

[18] Henri BERGSON, Les deux Sources de la Morale et de la religion, éd. Quadrige/PUF1992, P.p. 125 – 126.


[19] Platon, La République, éd. Garnier – Flammarion, trad. R. Baccou, Paris, 1966, P.110.


[20] J. Joubert, Les Pensées, 91, Cité par Paul FOULQUIE et Raymond SAINT- JEAN,

Dictionnaire de la Langue philosophique, éd. PUF, 1969.


[21] La Rochefoucauld, Maxime, Epigraphe, 4ème éd., Cité par Paul FOULQUIE

et Raymond SAINT-JEAN, Op. Cit.


[22] Emmanuel KANT, Eléments Métaphysique de la Doctrine de la vertu, éd. Durand, 1855,

Op. Cit.


[23] Platon, Théétète, 1, VI, 202 ; VII, 204 Cité par F.J. THONNARD, A. A., Précis d’Histoire de la Philosophie, éd. DECLEE et CIE, édit. PONTIFICAUX, Paris, Tournai, Rome, 1955, P.36.

[24] Op. – Cit., P.38

[25] Op. Cit.

[26] F.J. THONNARD, A. A., Précis d’Histoire de la Philosophie, éd. DECLEE et CIE, édit. PONTIFICAUX, Paris, Tournai, Rome, 1955, P.39.

[27] Op. Cit., P. 40

[28] Op. Cit.

[29] Op. Cit., P. 41

[30] Op. Cit.


1 H.A. Saliu, F.A. Aremu and M.L. Bello; “United Nations During and After the Cold War” in Abolade Adeniji (ed.), Transformations in International Relations Since 1945, Lagos:  A-Triad Associates (Educational Publishers & Printers), 2005, p. 63.

2 H.A. Saliu, F.A. Aremu and M.L. Bello, “United Nations During…..” p. 64.

3 H.A. Saliu, F.A. Aremu and M.L. Bello, “United Nations During…..” p. 64.

4 H.A. Saliu, F.A. Aremu and M.L. Bello, “United Nations During…..” p. 64. and  R.A. Akindele: “International Law and Organization Since 1945” in R.A. Akindele and B.E. Ate (eds.): Selected Readings on Nigeria’s Foreign Policy and International Relations, NIIA Enlightenment Course Series, Vol. 1, No. 1, 2000, Ibadan & Lagos: Vantage Publishers & NIIA, p. 45.

5 M. ‘Bimbo Ogunbanjo: “Great-Power Politics: Past, Present and Future” Nigerian Journal of International Affairs (NJIA), Vol. 28, Nos. 1 and 2, 2002, p. 180.

7 Abolade Adeniji, Celestine Agoziem and Steve Adeniyi: “The Cold War…..” p. 49.

8 Abolade Adeniji, Celestine Agoziem and Steve Adeniyi: “The Cold War…..” p. 49.

9 Abolade Adeniji, Celestine Agoziem and Steve Adeniyi: “The Cold War…..” p. 50.

10 M. ‘Bimbo Ogunbanjo: “Great Power Politics……”, p. 185.

11 M. ‘Bimbo Ogunbanjo: “Great Power Politics……”, p. 186.

12 M. ‘Bimbo Ogunbanjo: “Great Power Politics……”, p. 186.

13 The researcher is very grateful to Professor Femi Otubanjo of the Department of Political Science, University of Ibadan, who taught him the course, “International Political System and Africa I” during 1987/88 academic session.  Part of his material is used here.

14 Professor Femi Otubanjo’s materials.

15 M. ‘Bimbo Ogunbanjo: “Great Power Politics……”, pp. 187-8

16 M. ‘Bimbo Ogunbanjo: “Great Power Politics……”, p. 190.

17 M. ‘Bimbo Ogunbanjo: “Great Power Politics……”, p. 191.

18 M. ‘Bimbo Ogunbanjo: “Great Power Politics……”, p. 191-2.

19 Olajide Aluko: “Politics of Decolonization in British West Africa, 1945-1966” in J.F. Ade Ajayi and M. Crowder (eds.) History of West Africa, Vol. II, Longman Group Ltd., 1984,    p. 622.

20 I.O. Nwachukwu, J.O. Okpaku, et. al:  Nigeria and the Organization of African Unity: In Search of an African Reality, Nigeria and New York: Third Press Publishers, 1991, p. 22.

21 E.A. Ayandele: “Nationalist Movements in North Africa and the Achievement of Independence in the Twentieth Century” in J.C. Anene and G.N. Brown (eds.): Africa in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, Ibadan: University of Ibadan, 1981, p. 213.

22 S.O. Agbi:  The O.A.U. & African Diplomacy, 1963-1979, Ibadan: Impact Publisher Nigeria Ltd. 1986, p. 95.

23 B.J. Dudley:  An Introduction to Nigerian Government and Politics, London & Basingstoke’s Macmillan Press Ltd., 1982, p. 297.

24 Ade Adefuye: Culture and Foreign Policy: The Nigerian Example, Lagos: NIIA, 1992, p. 79.

25 Joe Garba:  Diplomatic Soldiering:  The Conduct of Nigerian Foreign Policy, 1975-1979, Ibadan: Spectrum Books Ltd, 1991, p. 25.

26 B.J. Dudley:  An Introduction to Nigerian Government…. P. 298.

27 B.J. Dudley:  An Introduction to Nigerian Government.… p. 300.

28 Tunde Adeniran:  Introduction to International Relations, Nigeria:  Macmillan Publishers Ltd., 1983 ,pp.79-84.

29 Joe Garba:  Diplomatic Soldiering… p. 189.

30 Olusola Ojo and Amadu Sesay:  Concepts in International Relations

31 Olusola Ojo and Amadu Sesay:  Concepts in International Relations, p. 152.

32 Olusola Ojo and Amadu Sesay:  Concepts in International Relations, p. 152.

33 Olusola Ojo and Amadu Sesay:  Concepts in International Relations, p. 155-6.