The question whether or not there is African philosophy has, for too long, dominated the philosophical scene in Africa, to the neglect of substantive issues generated by the very fact of human existence. This has unfortunately led to an impasse in the development of a distinctive African philosophical tradition. In this path-breaking book, Segun Gbadegesin offers a new and promising approach which recognizes the traditional and contemporary facets of African philosophy by exploring the issues they raise. In Part I, the (...) author examines, with refreshing insights, the philosophical concepts of the person, individuality, community and morality, religiosity and causality, focusing on the Yoruba of Nigeria. Part II discusses, in an original way, contemporary African social, political and economic realities from a philosophical perspective. (shrink)
The Good, the Bad, and the Beautiful Discourse about Values in Yoruba Culture Barry Hallen Reveals everyday language as the key to understanding morals and ethics in Yoruba culture. "This contrasts with any suggestion that in Yoruba or, more generally, African society, moral thinking manifests nothing much more than a supine acquiescence in long established communal values.... Hallen renders a great service to African philosophy." —Kwasi Wiredu In Yoruba culture, morality and moral values are intimately linked (...) to aesthetics. The purest expression of beauty, at least for human beings, is to possess good moral character. But how is moral character judged? How do actions, and especially words, reveal good moral character in a culture that is still significantly based on oral tradition? In this original and intimate look at Yoruba culture, Barry Hallen asks the Yoruba onisegun—the wisest and most accomplished herbalists or traditional healers, individuals justly reputed to be well versed in Yoruba thought and expression—what it means to be good and beautiful. Posed as an outsider wanting to gain understanding of how to speak Yoruba correctly, Hallen engages the onisegun and has them explain the subtleties and intricacies of Yoruba language use and the philosophy behind particular word choices. Their instructions reveal a striking and profound depiction of Yoruba aesthetic and ethical thought. The detailed interpretations of everyday language that Hallen supplies challenge prevailing Western views that African thought is nothing more than acquiescence to long-established religious or communal values. The philosophy of ordinary language reveals that moral reflection is indeed individual and that evaluations of action and character take place on the basis of clearly and logically delineated criteria. With the onisegun as his guides, Hallen identifies the priorities of Yoruba philosophy and culture through everyday expression and shows that there are rational pathways to both truth and beauty. Barry Hallen has taught philosophy at the Obafemi Awolowo University in Nigeria. He is a Fellow at the W. E. B. DuBois Institute for Afro-American Research at Harvard University and Visiting Professor of Philosophy at Morehouse College. He is coauthor of Knowledge, Belief, and Witchcraft: Analytic Experiments in African Philosophy. Contents Ordinary Language and African Philosophy Moral Epistemology Me, My Self, and My Destiny The Good and the Bad The Beautiful Rationality, Individuality, Secularity, and the Proverbial Appendix of Yoruba-Language Quotations Glossary of Yoruba Terms. (shrink)
In the quest to promote universal knowledge' and create Western institutions in Africa, the intellectual contributions of Africans without an academic education have been downplayed and maligned. This work identifies contributions made by prominent Yoruba intelligentsia outside of academic life and shows that intellectual contributions need not be divorced from the concerns of local communities or deliberately promote narrative inequality and distance.'.
Empirical studies have now established that many patients make clinical decisions based on models other than Anglo American model of truth-telling and patient autonomy. Some scholars also add that current medical ethics frameworks and recent proposals for enhancing communication in health professional-patient relationship have not adequately accommodated these models. In certain clinical contexts where health professional and patients are motivated by significant cultural and religious values, these current frameworks cannot prevent communication breakdown, which can, in turn, jeopardize patient care, cause (...) undue distress to a patient in certain clinical contexts or negatively impact his/her relationship with the community. These empirical studies have now recommended that additional frameworks developed around other models of truth-telling; and which take very seriously significant value-differences which sometimes exist between health professional and patients, as well as patient's cultural/religious values or relational capacities, must be developed. This paper contributes towards the development of one. Specifically, this study proposes a framework for truth-telling developed around African model of truth-telling by drawing insights from the communitarian concept of ootọ́ amongst the Yoruba people of south west Nigeria. I am optimistic that if this model is incorporated into current medical ethics codes and curricula, it will significantly enhance health professional-patient communication. (shrink)
[C]oncepts like black personality or Negritude will remain empty slogans unless it helps black peoples to embark on a candid self-examination of their past, their present, and their future. It is the belief that black peoples are today leaving the substance for the shadow.
The question of racial identity in the process and outcome of aesthetic surgery is gaining increasing attention in bioethical discourse. This paper attempts an ethical examination of the racial identity issues involved in aesthetic surgery. Dominant moral values in Western culture are explored in the evaluation of aesthetic surgery. The paper argues that African values are yet to receive the universal attention they arguably deserve especially in the rethinking of values underlying aesthetic surgery as racial transformation. Through a consideration of (...) some moral-aesthetic values in the Yorùbá-African culture, this paper further re-evaluates the ethics of aesthetic surgery. The paper contends against the propagation of aesthetic surgery as a new form of bolstering racial divides and identity in the evolving cosmopolitan age. The position defended in the paper is that some values from Yorùbá-African culture are useful in the consideration of the ethics of aesthetic surgery and more importantly, in avoiding the racial identity bias embedded in aesthetic surgery. The paper concludes that if due consideration is perhaps given to some African moral-aesthetic values in the global aesthetic surgery industry, some of the evolving moral and racial complexities would be better mediated. (shrink)
O presente artigo pretende analisar a ideia de pessoa entre os yorùbás da África Ocidental, a partir da conceção de orí , i. e., a cabeça, entendida entre eles como portadora de personalidade e destino, ideia amplamente difundida pela literatura sobre a matéria da personalidade humana e sentidos de destino. A partir do orí , adentrar-se-á pela problemática da predestinação entre os yorùbás e o sentido do ritual de alimento à cabeça, o b ọ rí, entre os yorùbás, com referência (...) aos afro-brasileiros do Candomblé. A problematização conduzir-nos-á à constatação da pluralidade interpretativa do objeto, ao mesmo tempo que nos deixará diante da questão linguística da tradução dos conceitos, facto que influi na própria construção teológica. Ao mesmo tempo estaremos diante da construção histórica da religião yorùbá, notoriamente uma religião dinâmica e mutável que se fabrica nos diálogos com o cristianismo e islamismo. Processos de transformação que, aliás, são transponíveis para o Brasil, onde a celebração do orí se apresenta de modo diferenciado face à realidade autóctone africana. Palavras-chave : Yorùbás. Concepção de pessoa. Orí. Predestinação. Bọrí.The present paper aims to analyze the idea of person among the Yorùbá people of Western Africa, taking into account the conception of orí , i.e., the head, which is understood by them as the bowl of human personality and destiny. Those ideas are clearly present in the plural literature concerning the human personality and its destination among the Yorùbá people. Taking the orí as starting point, I shall problematize the predestination idea among the Yorùbá and the meaning of the b ọ rí , the ritual presented as ‘feeding-the-head’. Such process will be extended to Afro-Brazilian religious system named Candomblé. The problematization will guide my observation to the dramatic plurality of interpretations concerning destiny, while it will spell out the linguistic dilemmas around the translation of concepts. Those dilemmas influence, clearly, the theological construction of the object. At the same time, the paper will deliver us to the evidence of the historical construction of Yorùbá religion, which is a mutable and dynamic religious expression, highly crossed with Christianity and Islam (in African contexts). Those processes of transformation are also clear in Brazil, where the celebration of orí has different religious attitudes comparing to African native ones. Keywords: Yorùbá. Idea of person. Orí. Predestination. Bọrí. (shrink)
This paper posits that there are elements of oppression in some of the Yoruba proverbs that relate to women. It argues that these proverbs violate the rights and dignity of women, and that they are indicators of discrimination against women in Yoruba culture. The paper further argues that the most fundamental but neglected aspect in gender discourse lies in the proverbial resources of the community. The paper provides textual evidence of proverbial oppression of the feminine gender in (...) class='Hi'>Yoruba culture, and also underscores their pernicious effects on the struggle for gender balance. The paper contends that there is an urgent need to review the assumptions underlying these proverbs. (shrink)
The paper discusses the notion of authentic motherhood within the frame work of the traditional Yoruba-African society. It argues that an authentic mother, according to the traditional Yoruba-African understanding, is one who performs all her responsibilities as stipulated by the norms and precepts of society. It also points out that the responsibilities of an authentic mother are holistic in nature and when wholesomely fulfilled, have prudential, egoistic, and utilitarian justifications. The paper further provides a philosophical comparison of motherhood (...) in Yoruba-African and in Western understanding. The paper tries to establish that the Yoruba qualities of motherhood are essential to being a good mother no matter where in the world one lives, and irrespective of the culture one belongs to. It concludes that the Yoruba notion of authentic motherhood is relevant to the process of social reconstruction in the contemporary world. (shrink)
More involvement of sub-Saharan African countries in biomedical studies, specifically in genetic research, is needed to advance individualized medicine that will benefit non-European populations. Missing infrastructure, cultural and religious beliefs as well as lack of understanding of research benefits can pose a challenge to recruitment. Here we describe recruitment efforts for a large genetic study requiring three-generation pedigrees within the Yoruba homelands of Nigeria. The aim of the study was to identify genes responsible for keloids, a wound healing disorder. (...) We also discuss ethical and logistical considerations that we encountered in preparation for this research endeavor. (shrink)
In most societies, greetings are the expression of emotions such as friendliness or rejection, and form the basis of social and moral order. The symbolic dimension of greetings is frequently entwined in the cultural and metaphysical reality of a community. In African societies this ethical and religious dimension carries its own peculiarities. It is interesting to see how much of the content-meaning of greetings depends on cultural traditions. This paper presents an analysis of greetings in the Yoruba culture in (...) Nigeria. (shrink)
This book explores aspects of indigenous Yoruba philosophy of law and relates this philosophy to the Yoruba indigenous traditions of governance. It is written with an appreciation of the relevance of the Yoruba traditions of law and governance to contemporary African experiments with imported Western democracy in the twenty-first century.
Some foundations have been provided for the social validity of human rights in Western philosophical literature. Some African scholars have also sought to ground the notion of human rights within the traditional African cultural beliefs and practices. There is, however, a dearth in literature on the Yoruba notion of human rights. Perhaps this may be due to scholars’ attitude that any talk about human rights is incompatible with the communalistic social structure of the Yoruba. The present paper challenges (...) this prevalent attitude by providing some philosophical foundations for human rights within the limits permitted by the Yoruba world-view. The paper attempts a theoretical reconciliation between the Yoruba claim to communitarianism and the possibility of human rights. The paper concludes that, in spite of the seemingly antinomic relation they bear to each other, the idea of human rights is neither practically meaningless/unintelligible in a communitarian society, nor is it conceptually incompatible with the communitarian ideology. Keywords: Philosophical foundations, Human, Rights, Communitarianism, Yoruba. (shrink)
The most favourable explanation pertaining to the Yoruba origin is that of the Oduduwa tradition according to which he is the original ancestor of the Yoruba people. Although the Yorubas have reached a settlement on Oduduwa as their ancestor, they disagree on the origin of Oduduwa. Whilst some associated his origin with Mecca or Arabia, others say Egypt or Israel. Samuel Johnson, the most prominent writer of the Yoruba history, discussed various theories that pertained to the origin (...) of Oduduwa. He argued that Oduduwa or the original ancestors of the Yoruba people were Coptic Christians. Writers of Yoruba history from the 20th and 21st centuries had continued to build upon Johnson’s view of the Yoruba origin in connection with Oduduwa. This research is a study of the Yoruba and Johnson’s perspectives of Oduduwa in connection with the Yoruba origins. The research elucidates the circumstances of Johnson’s Christianisation of the Egyptian origin of the Yoruba.Contribution: This article shall contribute to a distinct understanding of the origin of the Yoruba in connection with the identity and the personality of Oduduwa. Students of history and cultural studies will find this research of utmost benefit because it explains the origin of the Yoruba from the perspective of Samuel Johnson, the first Yoruba man to document extensively on the Yoruba history, language, its culture and its people in a single document or collection. (shrink)
Many African scholars have expressed varied thoughts about the concept of a person, specifically about that which constitutes a person in African philosophy. These philosophers include Kwasi Wiredu, Kwame Gyekye and Segun Gbadegesin. What they have in common, though, is that their ideas on the concept of a person issue largely from the traditional philosophies of some West African peoples. Wiredu and Gyekye reflect on Akan conceptions while Gbadegesin carries out his discussions from the Yoruba cultural perspective. This paper (...) examines the thoughts of these prominent philosophers, with a particular focus on the constitution of the person and the nature of his or her destiny. (shrink)
Research is a global enterprise requiring participation of both genders for generalizable knowledge; advancement of science and evidence based medical treatment. Participation of women in research is necessary to reduce the current bias that most empirical evidence is obtained from studies with men to inform health care and related policy interventions. Various factors are assumed to limit autonomy amongst the Yoruba women of western Nigeria. This paper seeks to explore the experience and understanding of autonomy by the Yoruba (...) women in relation to research participation. Focus is on factors that affect women's autonomous decision making in research participation. An exploratory qualitative approach comprising four focus group discussions, 42 in-depth interviews and 14 key informant interviews was used. The study permits a significant amount of triangulation, as opinions of husbands and religious leaders are also explored. Interviews and discussions were audiotaped and transcribed verbatim. Content analysis was employed for data analysis. Findings show that concepts of autonomy varied amongst the Yoruba women. Patriarchy, religion and culture are conceived to have negative impact on the autonomy of women in respect to research participation. Among the important findings are: 1) male dominance is strongly emphasized by religious leaders who should teach equality, 2) while men feel that by making decisions for women, they are protecting them, the women on the other hand see this protection as a way of limiting their autonomy. We recommend further studies to develop culturally appropriate and workable recruitment methods to increase women's participation in research. (shrink)
Background With growth of genomics research in Africa, concern has arisen about comprehension and adequacy of informed consent given the highly technical terms used in this field. We therefore decided to study whether there are linguistic and cultural concepts used to communicate heritability of characters, traits and diseases in an indigenous African population. Methods We conducted Focus Group Discussions among 115 participants stratified by sex, age and socio-economic status and Key Informant Interviews among 25 stakeholders and Key Opinion Leaders among (...)Yoruba living in Ibadan, Nigeria. We used Atlas-ti v.8.3.17 software to analyze the data, using thematic approach. Results The study participants identified several linguistic and cultural concepts including words, proverbs, and aphorisms that are used to describe heritable characters, traits and diseases in their local dialect. These included words that can be appropriated to describe dominant and recessive traits, variations in penetrance and dilution of strength of heritable characteristics by time and inter-marriage. They also suggested that these traits are transmitted by “blood”, and specific partner’s blood may be stronger than the other regardless of sex. Conclusions Indigenous Yoruba populations have words and linguistic concepts that describe the heritability of characters, traits and diseases which can be appropriated to improve comprehension and adequacy of informed consent in genomics research. Our methods are openly available and can be used by genomic researchers in other African communities. (shrink)
_Education as Mutual Translation_ examines Hindu Vedantist and Yoruba philosophical concepts of self and mutuality with others, in a contemporary higher art education context. It suggests that resilient, original voices emerge more successfully from awareness of social interactions, than from individualism.
In an effort to explain the Yoruba concept of "emi" or self, an elder uses the metaphor of a house with many tenants--such as memory and imagination, and then says the 'key' to accessing them is self-consciousness. A consideration of impressive contextual dexterity.