The Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi 111, has said despite that proverbs remain a backbone of a lot of societies in Africa, especially the Yoruba, it is unfortunate they are being eroded because they are not being used judiciously.
Oba Adeyemi made the observation when some Yoruba Nollywood movie stars under the auspices of Blackmyths Nigeria Limited paid him a courtesy visit in Oyo.
Oba Adeyemi stated that in Yorubaland, proverbs are a vanishing heritage associated mostly with the rural world, adding that they seem never to have found a home in the modern world, especially in the imported system of education because schools don’t bring out the great importance of proverbs in the lessons being taught.
“The Yoruba have proved to be a rich source of proverbs and sayings, encapsulating in a few words profound principles that bespeak wisdom. Many philosophers in the western world could learn from the simplicity and brevity of our proverbs that are unclouded by too many words. The meaning of proverbs is easily understood because so much can be said with fewer words; and wisdom does not have to involve countless vocabulary. Proverbs add colour to our lives and give us valuable lessons we can all apply to our benefits’’.
Yoruba proverbs, he posited, are vehicles of expression, evocation and provocation, and this is why the Yoruba people regard the accurate use of proverbs in the society as a sign of wisdom.
“In Yoruba society, proverbs occur in almost every discourse and its meaning cannot be known solely on the basis of the aggregate meaning of the words that constitute each of them but the context in which it is used. This is the reason Yoruba proverbs are called vehicles of cultural values. The idea behind our proverbs is to drive home a crucial point in as few words as possible. This explains why the syntax is simple, the images vivid and the allusions domestic, and thus, most times easy to understand’’.
“Our proverbs present ideas in picturesque and more challenging way than ordinary speech could have done. Information contained in some of these proverbs could be quite reliable especially where such relates to particular events, places and personalities . Factors influencing the incidence of Yoruba proverb usage in the society include age, occupation and gender’’.
Alaafin further observed that from the oral culture of its distant past to its vibrant present and buoyed by its scholarly discourses, Yoruba philosophy is best understood as a folk philosophy, a set of narratives and cultural practices that attempt to explain the causes and the nature of things affecting the corporeal and the spiritual universe.
The Yoruba people, according to him, who number more than 30 million on the African continent and many millions in the diaspora, ‘’inhabit a world of myths, allegories, poetry, and the love and wisdom of the Ifa divination system. Those are just a few of the components of Yoruba culture, the genesis of which is the ancient town of Oyo’’.
Said he, ‘’they serve to remind the Yoruba of a past that has survived through oral tradition. From that foundation have Yoruba philosophy, religion, and literature developed, all of which blend ancient truths and divine moralities. Yoruba philosophy is rich in aphorisms and proverbs. It is also committed to a search for love and wisdom, which is evident in many literary works on Yoruba language.
The paramount ruler asserted that more than any book of or about the Yoruba in the 20th century, Olodumare succeeded in combining religion with philosophy and literature, thus making it clear that any lore that widens people’s horizons is the beginning of philosophy.
Olodumare, he went further, ‘’also underscores that Yoruba philosophy is a folk philosophy that valorizes the Yoruba people’s cardinal virtues, which include, love, morality, temperance, honesty, honour, bravery, justice, prudence, and fortitude’’.
Oba Adeyemi, who also spoke on traditional forms of educating children in pre-colonial Yoruba society, drew examples from oral literary materials such as: tongue twisters, lullabies, riddles and puzzles, songs, game poetry and folktales.
Alaafin averred. ‘’the growing recognition for oral art among the Yoruba people is due to its functions and appeal to the various sectors of the society. In view of the artistic power of Yoruba traditional children’s literature in particular, and the increasing recognition of its potential to educate and influence the thinking of children, there is need for its inclusion in school curricula and academic syllabus’’.
Alaafin, however, commended the movie stars for their roles in educating, and entertaining the society, their concern for continued disunity in Yorubaland, as well as new initiative towards sensitization for mutual and peaceful co-existence.
Earlier, leader of the delegation, Mr. Adebayo Salami (Oga Bello), said they were in the palace in recognition of the Alaafin as the custodian and centerpiece of Yoruba customs, traditions and culture, as well as to seek the paramount ruler’s consent on their new traditional movie, titled, Opa Isokan [Staff of Unity].
According to Salami, ‘we are deeply touched by continued disunity in Yorubaland, which had been adversely affecting growth and development. Consequently, we sat down and thought of the role we can play to put an end to the disturbing and worrisome trend, hence our proposal to produce a serial television drama programme, titled, Opa Isokan’’.
He explained that young Yoruba indigenes with flair for theatre arts are free to participate through registration, after which they will be trained, rehearsed and casted for the programme.
‘’The programme will feature a community [which symbolizes Yorubaland] eluded with unity, peace and mutual co-existence. The people are worried and embark on search for the stick of unity, which was predicted by an Ifa priest as the solution to peace, progress and development in the community. To get the symbolic stick, the people must first engage in painstaking search for knowledge, wisdom, and counseling, before they could get the unity stick.’’