Exploring African Proverbs as a Learning Resource in the Contemporary Society

Akinjide Aboluwodi


In sub-Saharan Africa (especially among the Yoruba ethnic group in Nigeria) one of the elements of indigenous education is the use of such cultural resources as taboos, riddles, proverbs, myths and folktales to provide a symbolic explanation of the environment. The Yoruba elders use proverbs in such important issues as the choice of marriage partners, entry into business partnership, individuals’ attitudes and conduct in the public and many others. This cultural resource is used to admonish young people seeking, for instance, to choose a marriage partner or to enter into a business partnership to be wary of their actions; hence, it is a call for precaution on choice making. The choice of marriage partner, among the Yoruba, is one of the complex social experiences that require the intervention of the elders, at least to forestall any misadventure.  Proverbs are used to impress on the young adults the virtue of patience, rational choice, perseverance and prudence when they make decisions on issues that relate to their personal affairs. It is a common practice among Africans to engage proverbs when significant issues relating to the life of communal members are discussed. Proverbs are sometimes used to caution parents on how they bring up their children, serve as a cultural resource to resolve crises, at times, among couples and strengthening the bond among members of the various African communities. In this paper, the claim to the usefulness of African proverbs as cultural resource is stressed and this is defined specifically from the socio-cultural perspective. The paper attempts to show that proverbs can be used to appeal to the sensibilities of some individuals who sometimes make important decisions that affect them in life. It is concluded that parents may use proverbs to educate their children often in order to extol the virtues of patience, reasonableness, and prudence.        

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ISSN (Paper)2224-5766 ISSN (Online)2225-0484

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