A Jurilinguistic Analysis of Proverbs as a Concept of Justice Among the Yoruba


  • Oyedokun-Alli, Wasiu Ademola Federal University Oye-Ekiti




jurilinguistic/jurisprudence, proverbs, canonized, justice, Yoruba


Polemical surveys of the rich cultural heritage of the peoples of Africa, especially before their contact, and eventual subjugation to the western imperialists have continued to reverberate across Africa and beyond. The surveys bemoan the abysmal disconnect between the African societies and their indigenous socio-cultural and institutional values. It has been pointed out, more than three decades ago, by Nkosi (1981) that indigenous languages formed part of a living organism forever changing to accommodate concepts and ideas which, over time, became the common heritage of all those who speak the same language. This paper examines the jurisprudential concept of justice among the Yoruba of South West Nigeria, with examples drawn from Yoruba proverbs. What linguistic instruments were available to canonize the justice systems and how were they deployed?  The plethora of examples, it is found, have become etched on people’s consciousness and sensibilities, such that they become canonized into unwritten laws in many of the societies. In strict consideration of jurisprudence as the science of law, the study investigates how Yoruba proverbs constitute a corpus of linguistic materials used in informal administration of law among the Yoruba. Although lacking established benchmarks, many of the proverbs have become the codes in the process of administration of justice, which in many cases is conciliatory and not adversarial. In effect, therefore, the study is a contribution to the growing research on African linguistics and jurisprudential analysis. This viewpoint is ensconced in a metaproverb: “a re ma ja kan o si”. (Disagreements are inevitable amongst folks).

Author Biography

Oyedokun-Alli, Wasiu Ademola, Federal University Oye-Ekiti

Department of English and Literary Studies


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